Strip Teased

If you aren’t aware from recent posts, my roommate, Brynne and I, just moved houses. This, in addition to moving offices and adopting a dog 3 months before planned, has made for some very stressful weeks. As of 11pm last night, we FINALLY got everything out go our old apartment with the huge help of my dear friend Jane who worked way harder than she expected when she offered to come over!

When I got in the car to head to work today, it struck me that I now live within walking distance of one of Orlando’s few strip clubs. This is odd, because there are not many in the area and I am definitely not used to passing one every time I leave the house. Like other clubs, it is a depressing building with no windows, neon signage offering $1 drinks and free wings, and the parking lot has cars and trucks in it day and night. I can’t help but get a sinking feeling every time I pass by, mixed with a certain level of fascination and curiosity.

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I have never been in an actual strip club, but I didn’t fall off the watermelon truck yesterday. In college, I attended a party where the hostess had hired a male stripper, and I would give anything to have those images removed from my memory. Lots of body oil and leopard print. I will stop there. I have obviously seen dancers and dance clubs in movies and in passing, but I can honestly say I don’t know what it feels like to sit in a dark room and pay someone to turn me on sexually.

So I guess that is where the curiosity comes in. While I don’t find the concept appealing, I have felt the urge to get some dollar bills and go to a place like a strip club and pay a dancer long enough to stick around and just have a conversation about who they are, what got them into dancing, and where they see themselves in five or so years.

I work with former dancers and prostitutes in the counseling office and, from my experience, I can tell you without reservation that none of them got into the sex industry because they wanted to do so. They did it out of desperation or because they were forced. They hate dancing, but at the same time equate sexuality to power.

This is where my heart sinks when I pass the club by my house. I want to go in and just tell each girl, one by one, that they don’t have to do this. That dancing naked isn’t power and sex isn’t love. I want to sit in the private rooms and just talk to them, get to know them, and tell them that there is more to them than what is between their legs and on their chests.

I remember sitting in the backseat of our family car as a little girl when we would pass the big strip club at the corner of White Station and Summer Avenue in Memphis. I would watch the men walking in, notice that it was a large building with no windows, and I knew what the place was I just found myself wondering who was in there and why. I had a vague idea, because I had seen Jamie Lee Curtis strip for Arnold Schwarzenegger in True Lies at a Drive In Theater when I was supposed to be watching Angels in the Outfield. I knew women took of their clothes and wiggled around, I just didn’t really get why.

I guess I can wrap my head around why people are drawn to strip clubs. They provide all of the thrill and fun of sex without the intimacy or commitment. It’s a fantasy world where every girl is willing and wanting (well, they maintain that illusion at least), and there seem to be no consequences. It’s like R rated Never Never Land. All play and no responsibility, other than tipping your bartender and keeping enough cash at hand.

I don’t have the disposable income to go into the club down the street right now to pay to have a conversation, so I guess I will just be curious from afar. I don’t want to contribute to the sex industry, I just want to talk to people and to treat people like people.

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