Saturday, October 23, 2010

Heart On

I met the most awesome guy at work the other day! He was Lebanese American, about 50 years old, and was born and raised in the U.S.

In other words, he was Tony Shalhoub! Adrian Monk! Absolutely adorable! He showered me with bills when I was on stage and told me to come sit with him. I did; he asked me where I was from. I did my standard "If you guess correctly, I'll sit on your lap. If you guess wrong, you buy a dance from me." Irani? Nope! Well, you're too well spoken to be Hispanic. (I'll pretend he didn't say that.) Afghanistan? Nope. Finally, I told him.

He was great, because he kept sticking four or five singles down my dress every few minutes, telling me I had wonderful breasts and should never get implants. (To me, that's code for "I like 'em sort of small!")

"Jesus, you're driving me crazy. Let's go for a lapdance." On the walk over to the lapdance area, he told me that he'd just had a _ put in his heart (can't remember the word) and that he was recovering nicely, but was supposed to avoid overexcitement. Halfway through the second lapdance, he gets up and says "I just got an erection, and I'm not supposed to get an erection, so I need to stop." He paid me for more than the two dances, and excused himself.

So I just got to thinking about erection stuff in the strip club. (If it were a dissertation, it'd be "De-Boned: The politics and poetics of erections in the gentleman's club scene".) I mean, I sort of assume that all guys get a boner during a lapdance, especially if it's high contact, and that ALL guys get hard with the heavy grinding/contact of the champagne room. But every once in a while, you get a character who says something like "sorry about that, I guess you can feel that I'm excited." And I'm like, umm, yeah! Isn't that the whole point?

But then of course, you DO have the other extreme, the rare guy with the raging hard-on sitting and watching the stage set, titillated by all the public displays of breasts, thighs, and ass. I actually met a guy once who came INTO the strip club wearing a condom (and a pair of pants, of course), sat around for a long time, and then blew his load during lapdance grinding. And who can forget the lanky guy in the suit who used to come into the club, sit in a dimly lit corner, and actually jerk off through his pants while watching the stage set!?

I guess we'd be in grave error to essentialize penis behavior in the strip club environment. The sexual fulfillment these boys look for can range from something shy of an erection to something that ends up requiring a mid-lunch hour trouser change!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

No Common Ground (Zero) Between Us

Tiffany: perhaps the most stereotypical embodiment of what lay people think of when they hear the word stripper. Tall, slender, very tanned, bleached blond hair, a couple tattoos, fake breasts. Constantly in the middle of drama. Last week, it was that her boyfriend was doing steroids and lying to her about it. The week before was a feared accidental pregnancy.

She's also quite the freelance artist. She has one customer - a middle-aged Jewish lawyer - who comes in to drink with her and point out the other girls he likes. She plays broker between the other girls and him, convincing the girls to meet with her and the guy outside for a thousand bucks, and all they have to do is engage in two-way oral sex. Apparently, a lot of the girls are down for this.

Whatever, her and I don't interact too much.

But during a lull, her, me, my stripper friend Sheila, and the house mom are chilling in the dressing room and Tiffany begins with how much she hopes Donald Trump buys up the Ground Zero mosque property while she sucks on a cigarette and adjusts her clip-on hair extensions.

"We definitely don't need any more of that Arab, Muslim stuff. This is New York."

Sheila glances at me nervously and sympathetically. I shrug at her. Our exchange goes unnoticed.

The housemom responds like it's a no-brainer. "For real. I don't understand why people have a problem with Trump fixing this whole problem."

Remember the good old days when people would keep their bigotry private? You know, wait till the brown Muslim woman isn't in the room before you even go there? Or, is there something about the fact that I'm in a thong and clear heels that de-links me from my Islamic identity?

The whole "what Muslims are like" has surfaced several times at the club among the girls (and on my favorite Stripperweb forums as well!). I've heard girls talking about Muslim/Pakistani/A-rab customers as, of course, repressed and hypersexual. Well, what do you know, the military aren't the only people still subscribing to the bullshit put forth in The Arab Mind!

You know, for imperial armies it was/is often important to know the culture and psyche of those who were being conquered so that total domination would be that much easier. (Hence, the recruitment of "culture experts" for the Iraq/Afghanistan war efforts!)

But, I wonder if the same is true of strippers and sex workers? Like, are there off-the-book ethnographies of "how to be a good sex worker for your (insert race here) customer"? If so, my people sure do have a bad rap. They don't treat their women right; they are undersexed and oversexed all at once; they're really bad in bed; they cheat on their wives; they honor-kill when their daughters wear tight pants.

Also, there are ways that black, Asian, and Latino sexualities are essentialized as well, in this context of commodified sexuality. What goes unmarked is white male middle-class sexuality - totally normative and unmarked.

The already-depoliticized identities of terrorists are evident in the sexual identities attributed to them too. Of course, you don't have to hit a strip club dressing room to hear that: we already know that the War On Terror has gained mainstream gay and feminist supporters through the rhetoric that the Arab world's gender dynamics are fucked and need to be fixed. In other words, the need to bring our sexual-rights superiority to the rest of the world justifies bombing the fuck out of Afghanistan.

Alas, Muslim women DO really need saving. It's just, we need to be saved from hearing anti-Muslim sexualized bigotry while we're just trying to eat some animal crackers in the dressing room during a break between lapdances and stage sets.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Hannibal Lecture

Last week, I met a couple of guys who were visiting NYC from Puerto Rico. They both took a liking to me, but weren't quite generous enough to be noteworthy (I.e. one lapdance each). One of them (his middle name is Hannibal, FYI, and no, I don't normally share any "real" info about my customers but it was just too perfect to pass up the pun) was very friendly and asked for my email address so he could get in touch next time he was in the city, and of course I obliged. Sit back and enjoy the following e-mail "exchanges" (if you can call them that) that ensued:

him: its the PR guy you met

me: was great meeting you [please note: this is my first, last, and only response to him]

him: I wrote poem last year in a dream of this woman believe it was you I wrote as soon I get back I will send it to you I really enjoy it

him: In few hours I will be flying back to the island I wish I had the guts to take u with me

him: here's me [photo attached]

him: i wrote this a few years ago
Por el fuego de esos ojos...
Me he perdido en mi mismo
le declare la guerra a mi razón,
conocí el cielo y el infierno
una historia de amor...

Yo que era palabra.... me volví silencios,
y fui prisionero de esa luz
tenían esos ojos, el misterio,
el Cristo y la cruz.

Por el fuego de esos ojos...
Que dolía mirarlos,
era el mar más azul... Una risa
era el negro más oscuro... Una herida
y un color de adiós.

Gitana de magia y sombras
quiero ser tu aliento,
para estar en ti
cuando me nombras...

Por el fuego de esos ojos...
He mentido y he pecado,
tengo un padre nuestro
y la marca de los clavos en mis manos.

Llevo en mi pecho tu nombre
y en mi corazón diez mil latidos,
y cuando te marchas todo se vuelve oscuro,
si hasta la luz he perdido...

Por el fuego de esos ojos...
Vendería mí pasado
mi Dios.... Y mi destino.

Como morderé tu boca en el aire?
Como regalarte la ultima lagrima
de mi andar cansado?

Como decirte que soy el que esperas?
Si nunca...
Nunca me has mirado...

him: I never got your name but that’s one of the things i don’t like about NY, you never get warm enough. Just giving you a piece of me to remember me by, I don’t expect much but I would love to hear from you. Let me know the real you and if you don’t have any trouble this is my number xxx-xxx-xxxx Have a nice day and fulfill your destiny

him: i'm back on the island

him: here's a translation of my poem [for some reason the translation was into Hindi, in Devanagiri script; he must have gotten his hands on google translator]

him: How are you today? I know you wont answer my email but i will keep my promise to write to you. Today under heavy rain we were workng for a new project for homeless person, a construction of a safe heaven. Though we dont have a winter as yours we do have rainy season like this one. We hope to build this project in a few months / Well have to go , kisses

him: here, you can translate this with Babylon translator
Hay maderas oscuras y profundas
como tus ojos y tus cabellos.
Porque tus ojos y tus cabellos son
como maderas profundas y charoladas.

Hay maderas suaves y livianas
como tu piel y tu alegría.
Porque tu piel y tu alegría son
como maderas suaves y livianas.

Hay maderas recias y macizas
como tus piernas y tus espaldas.
Porque tus piernas y tus espaldas son
como maderas recias y macizas.

Hay maderas húmedas y rojas
como la piel de tus labios y de tu lengua.
Porque la piel de tus labios y de tu lengua es
como una madera roja y empapada de savia.

Hay maderas olorosas y vivas
como el olor de tu cuerpo.
Porque el olor de tu cuerpo es
como el olor de las maderas
cortadas en los tiempos de lluvias.

Hay maderas que al ser trabajadas
dan notas musicales y perfectas.
Tu amor es una nota musical y perfecta
como el sonido que dan ciertas maderas
cuando son trabajadas.

Hay maderas que se quejan en las noches de lluvia
y en las tardes de tormenta.
Porque eres triste, y esto te embellece y purifica,
te pareces a esas maderas que se quejan
en las noches de lluvia y en las tardes de tormenta.

Hay maderas que tienen un sabor y perfume
tan propios que, cuando se las huele o se las besa,
ya no son olvidadas nunca más en la vida.
Porque eres fatalmente inolvidable,
te pareces a esas maderas que se recuerdan
hasta la muerte cuando se las huele o se las besa.

him: Hi , Im still waiting for that miracle to receive a email from you. The last two days has been wonderful, sunny and breezy very nice for the beach. You met my brother that day and all my family is the states. Im the only one living in Puerto Rico. Just to give you some information about me. I was born by accident the six day of _ of 1957 in Fort Brooke, in the left side of landmark of Puerto Rico call the Morro (fortresses build seventeen century by the Spain). The accident was that I came to this earth two months earlier. The reason my mother was a singer with a big band called the Nighthawks and they were celebrating the day after they play at the Escambron Nite Club for member of the US army. At midnight she went to a fairy’s wheel at the third turns she broke water and this kid was born in a US military base in the old San Juan near a fortress a 3 king day at 2:17 am by name _ Hanibal _ ,jr.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *
I'm assuming this isn't the last I'll hear from Hannibal...But can someone please tell me what his problem is? Feel free to submit thoughts in any language; I can use Babylon translator if need be ;)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Guy Ritchie/Gigolo Complex

Okay, my title is a failed attempt to come up with something like the gender-opposite equivalent of the "Madonna/Whore" complex. You know what I'm talking about; the psychological complex in which a male begins to see all women as either (and only) pure and non-sexual, or dirty and whorish. Fine, fine, Guy-Ritchie/Gigolo does nothing for this. Celibate/Stud or Priest/Player?

I think I'm starting to embody something like the female equivalent of Madonna/Whore! You're either a strip club perv OR a regular guy I'd be into.

This goes against everything I (theoretically) believe in! I certainly don't think there's anything inherently wrong with strip clubs, pornography, or paid sex. But you (o blog readers!) are familiar with the frustrations I've dealt with relating to customers. In general, the fact that a guy is a strip club regular, or pays for sex, automatically just serves as a turn-off - even if he's attractive in all other ways.

I found I've (problematically) divided the world up into two types of men: The guys who (1) lie to their partners (i.e. cheating when they're supposedly monogamous) and/or spend spare time and cash at strip clubs, and (2) the guys who aren't "overly" into porn, ogling women, or getting more sex than they already have in their lives. And the former category of men I want nowhere near my vagina. This sucks for me. I believe that sexual freedom between consenting adults is necessary and should be unstigmatized. And I think it's sad when women "don't let" their husbands watch porn (or get into watching it themselves!) or forbid their boyfriends from a lapdance or two at the strip club.

But at the same time, I can't deny the rising resentment I have toward straight men who (and not that these are necessarily connected factors) suck in bed because they're oversaturated with images of a world of plugging various holes being the definition of sex. Who secretly cheat on their partners. Who assume a sense of entitlement to getting themselves off, or see getting you off as a favor of some sort rather than a sexual act itself.

At work, I'm obviously confronted with the "Gigolo/Player" type (though certainly not all guys at strip clubs are that way!), and in my personal life I'm close to the other "type" of men. Of course, in recent months this dichotomy has become more and more complicated - with nice guys in the strip club space and pervy sketchos in my personal space, and I'm ending up frustrated!

But regarding my world view: what kind of dichotomy of heteromasculinity am I dealing with here? What would Freud say (other than to give birth to a boy...)?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

How much do you want Tibet he's crazy?

My Tibetan-Indian customer who sells t-shirts in Times Square is interesting. Married, 2 children. We converse only in Hindi with each other. He's very easy - he never forces me to drink, never forces physical contact, never tries to get me outside the club. He's good for about $150/visit, plus a few drink tickets. He's also, notably, the ONLY desi guy I've ever met with a serious foot fetish. He'll grab my foot and put it on his crotch during a dance, or simply gaze at my big toe.

Anyway, last time we were talking, and he asked me (in Hindi): "Did Gandhi-ji have a wife?" I went into way too long an explanation of how Gandhi was married, had several children, and then declared himself celibate. I was looking at the stage while I told this story, not at him, so when I felt a drop of moisture hit my foot, I assumed it was my sweaty "fake" vodka tonic. Not so! It was a tear from his eye! He started crying during my Gandhi story!!! I was puzzled, but he said (in English): "I just like Gandhi so much." (Okay, but if you like Gandhi so much, wouldn't you have known about his celibacy proclamation?) Then I went on to tell him a few more facts about Gandhi, including his romps in the sack with the "bed warmer" Abha, and he fought back tears.

I'm sorry, but if you're going to cry about Gandhi, wouldn't it be when you hear about him shedding his South African English-speaking lawyer bullshit and spinning cloth in India? Why, oh, why, would you choose to get all choked about Gandhi's unusual celibacy? And why, when I google "Gandhi celibacy" does a photo of Nadia Suleman come up? Great, great mysteries...