6-30-03, 8:30 AM -

Strange things go through your head when you're getting a lap dance.

No, don't hit 'delete', this is the right letter. But sometimes one must tackle the big questions. Like strip joints.

Some may find it odd that a man of 29 would be a strip club virgin. Some may find it even odder that his wife would allow him to post such an experience on a website read by...well, anyone. But actually, ye olde Wifely has been encouraging me to go partake in the ultimate bachelor-party activity for some time now, mostly because it's the only way she could find out what kind of weird shit goes on behind those black doors.

And there's plenty to tell. The genesis of this jaunt came from my old friends Hippie & Gustavson, in town from Texas for the week. We had just witnessed a somewhat half-assed burlesque show in Williamsburg, and I guess it was disappointing enough that the boys (both single) wanted to see some damn follow-through.

When it was mentioned, my instant reaction was to laugh it off. Titty bars have always been like Shriner's conventions to me: I know they exist, I know lots of people flock to them, but they exist in a lifestyle that bears so little resemblance to my own that I don't even take notice of them most of the time.

Unlike Shriner's conventions, however, titty bars are incredibly easy to get into. Just a check of the ID to make sure you're old enough to see boobies (13? 12?), and in you go. Well, not quite. First the Mafia doorman has to ask you if you're aware of the fascinating fact that Texas can secede anytime it wants. Haven't heard that one in a while, I must say. Efforts to tell him that this scenario has already been tried and refuted by the Union Army will of course come to no avail.

When you at last pass through those black doors, it is with a sense of alarm that you suddenly feel about 45, bald, & rather sweaty. That's mostly because this big velvet room is strewn with plush couches seating such specimens, who all appear to be creating certain other specimens in the crotch of their slacks, courtesy of...let's call them the Crank Yanker Dancers.

For this bar, contrary to my preconceptions, is not about onstage pole dances and the proffering of thong donations. This bar is about chicks rubbin' your rocks off.

There have been many brave attempts by many brave psychologists over the years to explain why the market for male illicit pleasure is so much larger than that for women. But I think it's pretty simple: Our stuff is on the outside. Male staffers at a dick bar would have to work quite a bit harder to accomplish what these girls did in the course of one techno song.

Or at least what they appear to have accomplished. Adding to the surreal tableau are the faces of these men as they attempt to blow their wads with some measure of composure. Orgasm is traditionally a rather private affair, but here you have to share it with the whole club. How to remain cool?

Well, if the experts I observed are to be believed, you stare straight ahead, twist your face into a tight rictus, & drive holes into the upholstery with your fingernails. Though I suppose I'm glad they're self-conscious, since one thing a straight man never needs to know about another man is what his orgasm voice sounds like.

It would be much cooler if men could just treat it like drinking shots.

"Unh, unh, UNH, WHOOO!!"

"Good'un, Bob! Now watch me!"

It'll never happen. At least not to people I know.

So anyway, after surveying this vista, you now have to sit down somewhere. This is best done without any hesitation, because if you give yourself time to ponder the history of the chair you're being offered, you may end up standing all night.

After settling yourself, you begin to feel eyes on you. They come from every direction, out of dim shadows & writhing silhouettes. The looks of interest are more disturbing than alluring, more like a cat sizing up a mouse. The closest parallel is a used car lot. Casual browsing is not an option here, you're gonna get the hard sell.

"Hi, baby." Yikes. Hmm. Brunette. British accent. Nice. A bit Austin Powers, but whatever. The snaggletooth suggests she's not a faker from Wisconsin.

"Umm, hi."

"Are you here to party, baby?"

What's the right answer?

"I am indeed. Most certainly." Way to go, Poindexter.

"What's your name, baby?"

Do we give real names? Probably not.

"Gandalf." For the love of...

"What's your REAL name?"

So we're going for honesty. Or maybe just something that's not completely stupid.

"Mark." Sure, why not?

"Well, Mark, I'm feeling a bit NAUGHTY tonight."

I have no response to that.


"Would you like a DANCE, baby?"

Well, I said I'd try it. And I could do worse than an English brunette.

"Most definitely." Who the fuck ARE you? Bunsen Honeydew?


Now, this part is all right. I ain't gonna lie. I'm also not going to give you the play-by-play. I will say, however, that if I were single & hadn't been getting any on a regular basis, I would likely have spent much more than one dance worth of cash on this chick. Regardless, she was quite enthusiastic.

Until she found out I was a One-Dance Johnny. You never saw someone shift personalities so fast. I mean, less than a second after I gave the word that she could move on to hornier pastures, this woman-shaped storm of slinks & jiggles suddenly becomes the semi-conscious cashier at Burger King.

"$20.00, baby," she states simply, & bammo, it's off to find a lonely old insurance salesman. My friend Paul tells me that all the strippers he's known have eventually had to quit because they started hating men. I think I understand that. The longer we stayed, the more I hated being one.

We like to think of ourselves as thinking beings, particularly arrogant fucks like me who go around assailing R. Kelly lyrics & WB teen dramas. But it's hard to stay up on your high horse when you take pleasure from anonymous women rubbing themselves on you and pretending they care that you exist.

I might as well be a bonobo chimp.

"Whadda we do?"

"I dunno, let's fuck!"

Humpa, humpa, humpa...

"Whadda we do now?"

"I dunno, let's fuck again!"

Humpa, humpa, humpa...

I will say, however, that my compatriots beat the hell out of me vis-a-vis bonobo chimp imitations. Hippie got himself invited to the Private Room, even. Not that he went, of course, because the only thing in the world poorer than a married musician is an unmarried one. Which does justify the volume disparity between their chimpings & mine.

Actually, it was a hell of a week overall with the guys here. The problem with living in New York is that you get used to it. You forget how many cool and freaky places you can go after work besides your tiny apartment. So it's nice to have someone to show around now & then.

I drank a LOT, though. I think it's more than safe to say that I have never before imbibed such prodigious amounts of alcohol during any one-week period. I didn't really get drunk, though, just kinda stuck with a permanent buzz.

And it was on the way to a local whistle-wetting station that Wifely, Paul, Gustavson, & I nearly got into a rumble. Sort of.

We're moseying down 9th Avenue, stopping periodically to peer through bar windows in search of The One, & I notice this guy behind us. Little wiry guy in a backpack, kinda high strung (actually looked a bit like our friend deanpence...sorry, but he did).

He kept getting stuck behind us as we stopped, and I could tell he was getting exasperated. I felt like saying something, given that I've been trapped behind loping tourists before, but I figured he'd do as I've often done and step around, thereafter going about his business.

Instead, he goes around and proceeds to make a demonstration of blocking our way. Fine, fair enough, now go home, fella. But no. Now he leans in, makes a snide comment of some sort (I can't even remember what), and darts away. Okay, something's going to be said.

"Thanks a lot, we appreciate it."

"Don't forget your medication."

"Hope Hell works out for you."

And so on. Which I thought would end in dismissive waving, muttering, and revisionist storytelling later. It began looking that way as we receded from each other's worlds. But then Gustavson, who has the volume control of a bulldozer, weighed in.

"Yeah, you FUCK!"

Fuck. It seems a harmless word. It's so common anymore that you might as well say "poopy-pants" for all the reaction it gets. But apparently this word was the cue for Mr. Poopy-Pants to go COMPLETELY FUCKING INSANE.

As if a string had been pulled in his back, his arms and legs shot out crazily, jerking him towards us on the sidewalk, which was rapidly clearing now. His eyes flashed with long pent-up rage.

"Fuck? FUCK? You fucking Nazis, I'll fuck you all up! I will fucking kill you!"

Jesus Herbert Christ. We are going to die.

Paul, gallant knight that he is, decides to step in front of the advancing beserker and attempt to calm him down. It isn't working.

"You fuck! What the fuck do you want? Fucking touch me! Make my day and fucking touch me! I will fuck you up!"

Damn. How do these things end? Not well, I suspect. But Paul is steadfast.

"Look, man, calm down and go home..."

"Do you want it in the face? I'll give it to you in the face!" But he doesn't. "Do you want it in the balls? I'll give it to you in the balls!" But he doesn't do that, either. The words 'Impotent Rage' begin glowing in his retinas as he jerks back & forth in front of Paul. A few minor shoves, & they are left staring each other in the face.

"This is not your sidewalk! I am not a fucking toy!"

Wow. I look around and see Wifely hiding in an entryway. Me & Gustavson are simply speechless. But not the Sidewalk Freedom Fighter.

"Leave me alone, you...flat-headed Nazi!"

I suppose it doesn't show that Paul was raised Jewish. But sense will not prevail here, and eventually Paul gives the dismissive wave and we mosey off as nonchalantly as possible. Which is difficult, because Impotent Rage Man hasn't budged from his spot, and continues to hurl...well, rather odd insults down the avenue.

"I live here! This world is not for you! You FUCKS!!!"

So when at last we found a bar and a 400-pound man in a Mexican wrestling outfit began dancing from table to table for no particular reason, we didn't even find it remotely odd. Okay, maybe a bit odd.

I insist on believing that I would've jumped in if Mr. Nutcase had gone Von Erich on Paul. I did have my eye on a broom lying nearby on the sidewalk. I never fight crazy people unarmed. Or at all, really. Yay, Paul.

So like I said, I did a lot of drinking. Hooked up with a Jersey friend of Hippie's on Thursday & ended up at a dart/pool joint on the Upper East Side. I say dart/pool joint, but in reality it had one dart board and one pool table.

We were going to team up & start royally sucking at the pool table, but up from the corner there rose a man. He wasn't a big man, but you kind of got the impression that he ran the pool corner. Imagine Lyle Lovett with short hair & a black suit, collar unbuttoned just enough to show he doesn't give a shit.

If we wanted that table, we would have to play him. Or rather, Gustavson would have to play him. See, people are always challenging me to things I'm no good at. Lunatic street fighting, eight-ball, the SAT's...no one ever says, "All right, stranger...songwrite!"

So anyway, Gustavson threw down. And Gustavson lost. Though only 2 to 1. And I didn't beat this guy up either. I suck.

Went to Central Park on Saturday, where we ran smack into quite the most alarming street performer Mankind has ever laid eyes on. Lock up yer earholes, it's Thoht:



Picture a wacky-toothed man in a loincloth (pictured above), pounding his jingling sandals on a board & screeching pseudo-opera over a violin. Oh yes, my friends, the Apocalypse would kill itself to be half as terrifying as Thoht. Dang.

We took dinner in the Village, at a joint called 1849, which, of all things, is filled to bursting with mounted animal heads & cacti. I'm not sure how long they'll last down there in the land of Gardenburgers & tofu. Damned fine steak, though. Just like Cookie used to make out on the range 'afore he fell on that chili spoon and we had to bury 'im in Arizona.

After dinner, we decided we had to get us some live entertainment. Among the 'no-cover' offerings, we decided upon the Assrockers at Luna Lounge. And our asses were not disappointed.

I've been wondering about the future of mullet rock, now that we're all self-aware and the pain of Satan has been replaced in metal by the pain of the tattooed psychological breakup torture. But now I'm here to report that the Assrockers are the answer. Oh, they're self aware, but not so self-aware as to be self-mocking. They really like mullet rock.

ALL the mullet rock. The slow, pounding, Sabbath death chants, the power-riff AC/DC cowbell stomps, even the Iron Maiden mythological fantasy suites, guitars turned up to 11. And no covers, mind you, these are fully original ass-rocking gems with titles like We Will Rock Your Ass Till You Bleed, Real Doll, & Et Tu, Brute, in which the epic of Julius Caesar is recounted with much fist-pumping and rock face.

The only thing missing is the theatrical wardrobe, but somehow just looking like a bunch of grease monkeys rockin' for the weekend works for the Assrockers just fine. Check 'em out if they come to your local dive.

Upon cessation of Assrock hostilities, we visited the venerable Sidewalk Cafe, and found that while New Wave Psychedelia may sound like an interesting combo, it ain't necessarily so. At least not if the singer isn't sure where all the notes are.

I used to dream about wandering around Dallas, handing out pocket tuners to all the out-of-whack guitarists I kept running into. Shame that doesn't work for vocals. Or does it?...

Damn, gotta wrap this long-ass letter up. Last but not least, my old pal Jehosafat has arrived in NYC at last. She's glad to have her daddy back, mostly because I spoil her rotten, & I sense she's even more glad to have a new litter box. Extra special thanks to deanpence & Hippie for taking such good care of her over the past year. Nary a scratch on her.

Though she did claw me a good one while she was still stoned, just after we got off of the plane. Damned disorienting, all of that, but she seems to have put it behind her.

And oh, yeah, the biggest thanks in the whole damn universe to Hippie & Gustavson, who not only drove 26 hours straight through from Weatherford, Texas, to New York City just to bring all of our remaining household shit up in a van, but also showed me a hell of a time in my own city.

And big, monstrous thanks to Little Jack Melody for renting me that van. You're a peach.

And thanks out the wazoo to Mom & Dad for storing all of that shit for over a year. I guess we've officially landed in the big city. Sure took our goddamned time about it.

And the rest of you, if you ever want a recommendation on a good lap dance, I'm your huckleberry. If you want protection from an insane sidewalk-space activist, I'll have to give you Paul's number. Y'all come back now, hear?



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