Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Non-Existentialist Conversations with Strippers

Treebeard: You must understand young hobbit, takes a long time to say anything in Old Entish. And we never say anything unless it is worth taking a long time to say.
”Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers”

Yesterday was a public holiday here in Sydney, meaning of course it was a long weekend – and two weeks before the wedding it seemed like the perfect time to have ourselves a bachelors party for the weekend, which included my first ever visit to a strip club. But that story will come in time.

Friday night, and the majority of the party had already arrived for some lazy drinks and a BBQ. We had bought ourselves enough alcohol to last the weekend, but that ran out by 11pm. It was a little while after this that we spoke about one of our friends who didn’t make the trip up from Canberra for the weekend (mostly due to some traffic violations), and after a few minutes of discussion and a quick look on the internet, we had booked him a bus ticket that left at 5am. We quickly phoned him to let him know, and it was all set.

We did play some poker, but I think everyone was too drunk to realise the game was still going or what the two little pieces of plastic in front of them were. I do remember doubling up twice in the second game with the nut flush and with top set drawing to a full house. Then somebody said it was 4am and I somehow ended up in bed 5 minutes later – I remember thinking that I wasn’t in the best position and throwing up was a distinct possibility, but it was all good in the end. I don’t remember leaving the game or what position I was in at the time, so I will just assume I was so far ahead that it wasn’t a challenge to play out the final positions.

In the morning we went to a driving range to bash a few balls, which was always going to be a recipe for disaster with the esky full of beer with us (here is another Australianism for my North American friends – Esky is actually a brand of “cooler”, large plastic container used to keep beer cold when filled with ice. Despite what brand you buy, it’s still called an “esky”). The driving range was the usual thing, until the little tractor drives out to collect the balls – then naturally everyone tries to hit it. We had a few “flesh wounds” on the tractor, but it wasn’t until the final drive that we had a confirmed kill when the ball smacked dead on the front of the mesh windshield. Even the driver got a laugh out of that one.

We had a kick of the footy and just hung around in the sun talking crap for a few hours, resting up which was pretty good. The main entertainment would be tonight.

This was a nervous time, for both myself and the Distraction. I had visions of what the strip club would be like, from the classy “Gentlemen’s Club” you see in the movies to the seedy ping pong ball shows you hear about from travellers. I pondered through all the posts of Dr. Pauly to garner further clues, but I don’t know if they were applicable being half a world away. My Distraction, my lovely wife to be, does have a bit of a jealousy streak. She was aware that a strip club was in the nights entertainment (which I didn’t know for sure, but could assume), but was still a little nervous about it. And I too, because I’m really not that keen on being the centre of attention on my first trip to such a fine establish, and certainly not to get any photos coming back to my distraction that would make life a living hell from there on.

Our flat mate had been to this club the week before – as research, you see. It was right in the city, not in the right light district of Kings Cross (I just put that in for future reference in case any readers decide to visit Sydney). According to the experts, this place was one of the classier joints available. First thing, the bouncer on the door. He was a Mauri guy, about 6’ 4” with a metal detector wand. Tried to make casual conversation with him, but he wasn’t having any of it. I hoped this would be the last we would see of this guy.

Up the stairs, and the warning signs at reception told us no cameras were allowed. Well, at least that was a relief. We were escorted to the “VIP” room, which in reality was separated from the main room by a big glass wall – the other difference being meals were served in the VIP room.

Before I get on to the dancers, the meal as this club was unbelievable. I thought a strip joint could get away with fish and chips wrapped in newspaper and no one would complain. The food could have been served at any restaurant in the city and not be out of place. It was a pleasant surprise.

The place had the tables set up with podiums in between, and the dancers would not leave the podiums during their routines, and had a no touching rule very much in effect. Since Australian currency does not have $1 or $2 notes in circulation, you could buy $2 tipping vouchers from the waitresses to give to the dancers. It felt more like a tradition than a tip to be honest.

Most of the dancers seemed to be English back packers, and as we later recalled they were all top calibre – unlike our waitress, who though very attractive seemed to be making sure the coke wasn’t showing on her nose whenever she came out to serve. All the dancers were gorgeous were sober and straight, and absolutely gorgeous – except one who looked like she was only a few months since the “chop”.

Some of the athletic talent on the pole was worthy of Olympic competition. Out of the 12 dancers or so we saw working that night, I think maybe 3-4 were not blonde. None would have been over 25 if they were lucky. To put it short, the HR department at this club was top notch.

As a side note, that morning and the night before we had been wasting some time watching the Chappelle Show DVD’s. Most of the guys have never seen them before, and they had immediately got on the “I’m Rick James bitch” bandwagon that was so popular last year, along with Li’l John’s “WHAT? YEAH! OK!” and “Is Wayne Brady gonna have to choke a bitch”? All night that was what you could here yelled from our table. I even tried to get a few of the dancers to give their best Rick James impersonation for extra tips. I went 1 for 2 on that deal. I then started to get more creative, and started to set challenges for the girls to earn their tips. I had several in mind, and started with if any girl could do a handstand, that would be level one. Unfortunately, none of them attempted it so we never got passed it.

My brother had bought an LED display belt buckle off eBay and planned on unveiling it for the night. Standing behind the glass wall that separated the VIP room from the main room, there was a small podium and pole right in front were one dancer was plying her trade and attracting a decent crowd. My brother was standing there on the other side of the window looking out with his belt buckle side scrolling, in bright blue saying “Show them titties” – not comic genius by any stretch of the imagination, but it was hilarious watching one by one the guys sitting at the podium look up…then read for a few seconds, and then cheer loudly and bash their mate next to them and point up to the glass. One by one the entire crowd looked up until eventually the dancer turned around to see what was going on. She too paused for a moment…read the belt buckle…then laughed and obliged. All in the world seemed right.

We were just drinking beer for the night, but before long there was a shot shoved in front of me. I hate drinking shots – and this one looks ominous. The bright green colour and sweet aroma meant it could only be one drink – The Green Fairy herself, Absinthe. I’ve never tried it, and am only vaguely aware of the urban legends about the hallucinogenic properties of it. That stuff burns your throat, and brought tears to my eyes. Not bad though, and to be honest it loosened me up a bit. I put down two of them in the night – which also included “vapour shots” with them, and experienced no visions or hallucinations to speak off. I don’t know if I was relieved or disappointed by that fact.

One of the friendlier dancers near our table was sporting a small tattoo on her waste of some Chinese lettering. We asked what it meant and she said “Would you like fries with that”. This seemed random enough, so I asked what was the inspiration behind such a tattoo – “It’s to go with my shake and burger!”. This must be one of those jokes that is passed down from one stripper to another around the world, but we in our drunken haze thought it was hilarious.

One of the girls whose name was “Hayley” was talking to my brother and revealed – shock horror – that Hayley was not her real name, that it was Emily. When she started at this club, they gave a sheet full of names to them and they had to pick one. He said “If you get in Playboy, do they retire your name and put it up on the wall?”. She obviously wasn’t a sports fan.

The really nice stripper with the “would you like fries with that” tattoo offered to do a shower show for our group, which the guys quickly agreed to. Unfortunately, the room could only fit half our number, so she had to do two shows. Fortunately, being the “Buck”, I wasn’t allowed to pay and got to see both shows. I told everyone in the first show that the second was better, and told everyone in the second show that the first was better. She was dressed as Wonder Woman to begin with, and her stripper name was Sienna. In a bout of stupidity, one of our party said the only other Sienna he has ever known was dead now. WTF? He got hit for that one. The lovely dancer in the shower exclaimed “But I’m still alive!”. Indeed, she was…

Between the two shows, I was talking more to the dancer and she was saying how well behaved and nice this bucks party was, compared to some trouble they have from time to time. One look at the bouncer on the door and there was zero chance of any trouble coming from our group. In fact, we didn’t see any trouble at the place at all, we were laughing it up with all the guys around the others tables as much as they were with us.

At one point around midnight, me mobile phone rang. It was my mother, who was at another family friends wedding in another state (i.e. – no doubt a few drinks better off) and decided to give us a call.

“You do know what’s going on this weekend, don’t you?” I said, and she should have known as my brother had flown in for the weekend for it.

“Yes I do know!” She proudly proclaimed. I didn’t sit and talk with mum while naked women were dancing around to be honest…but maybe the women did. I handed the phone to one of the girls as they were dancing in front of another bucks group. She was a bit shocked – the stripper, that is. I got her name (Monique) and told mum much to the cheers of those around. I then handed her over to my brother – my mum on the phone that is, not the stripper.

One of our party specifically wanted to go drink beer at a place with girls he had a chance at touching, so we were winding up at this club just as the best looking dancer took the stage – we further delayed our exit by 30 minutes or so. We walked out at about 1am much wiser for the experience. We tried to get in to a few other bars around the place, but with no luck. We ended up at the casino for a late night meal and a few guys made a bit of scratch in black jack and Caribbean Stud. Even all the bars here were closing, so it was a bit of a fizzer.

While having our late night meals, there was another fine looking female at the table across from us who was taking off her coat. One of the boys went to reach for a left over $2 tipping voucher, but he was caught in time. It was hard to readjust to the real world.

So there you have it, my strip club cherry has been popped. What can I say? I highly recommend “Pure Platinum” to any visitors to this fine city after such entertainment. While I didn’t get the chance to engage many of the employees in deep philosophical discussions, we still had a fun and the Distraction wasn’t too bad with it. The next day we were all in our lounge room going over the details of the night with her present – which seemed a little weird and I always thought what happens on tour stayed on tour. All the guys seemed pretty comfortable telling all the stories in front of my better half, but adopted the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy with their own girlfriends. She wasn’t too impressed with the whole shower show thing, but to be honest I think by any man’s standards it was a tame night. Our roommate tried to reassure the Distraction by saying “Don’t worry, he was getting into it”. With friends like these…

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