Last night, a friend and a few of the girls from work and I headed to a strip club for the annual sausage fest. One night a year, this club shuts down, kicks the female strippers out, and brings out the male strippers. Pudgy Midwestern housewives and sassy eighteen-year-olds alike pour into this place, begging to see men with beefy bodies and thong-draped dicks. So much so, that after the release of Magic Mike this past year, the very large multi-level club had to start taking advance reservations just to get in the door.
My group had such a reservation, and on stripper-time we were early. (By early, I mean, a half-hour late.) Parking was spilling out into the road. Approaching the door, several people told us to turn around and go home; they were only letting reservations in. Ahead, we heard chants of “LET US IN, LET US IN,” from over two hundred angry, horny, determined women. I’d seen male strippers before, and I knew women were generally poorly behaved in strip clubs…but this? There wasn’t even a sausage in sight, yet.
We made it through the crowd of hornballs, and were escorted to the cashier. It was twelve bucks to get in, and we were told there was no available seating remaining. Excellent. The first dancer started, a completely decked-out Fireman, and coworker AI and I knew what we were in for. We’d seen this guy before. He tried to jackhammer AI to death [?] at the last small male revue.
I guess male strippers are in short supply in the Midwest.
Around us, women were creating a cacophony of chanting, screaming, squealing, shouting, cheering, yelling, clapping—insanity. I believe the first wide-eyed words out of my mouth after my wristband was slapped on were, “Men would never be allowed to act like this. Never.” It was something I found myself repeating over and over throughout the night, in utter disbelief of the things I was seeing. So much so, that my friend must have been quite tired of those words in just a few hours. In four years, I’ve never seen anything like it.
The building was at total capacity, maybe a few more. I’d worked in this club before, a few years back, and had never seen it half as busy on its best nights. Women were stacked two in chairs, women were piled in around railings, women were leaning over the stage, women were pressed against walls three deep. Women sitting on trash cans and blocking exits, women everywhere violating fire codes.
As the show went on, I watched in horror as camera phones lit up like strobes. I made mention of it to one girl, who told me that the manager had told her she could take pictures. I told her she should really have the performers’ permissions before taking any photos, and she gave me hell, as though I was asking her to crawl on broken glass. I held my ground, insisting it was the right thing to do, and she finally asked. He granted her permission, but his face said, “I can’t stop any of this, and I’m just trying to get out of here with as much money in hand as I can.”
Her response to getting permission was to whip around and tell me that she should shove my face in his dick and take a picture. You’d be so proud; I walked away from that one.
The bitches didn’t tip him, and a few of the local female strippers mentioned that they’d been pests to the bouncers on duty. They were climbing all over a satellite pole in a corner, settling for posing next to it with some terrible tongue-out-of-their-mouth faces after not being able to lift themselves off of the ground.
If that wasn’t bad enough, one girl on a main stage took her paid turn in the “hot seat” with a Policeman Dancer, reared back and slapped him across the face, and used the other hand to shove a dollar into his open mouth and down his throat when he opened his mouth reflexively in surprise and pain. When he exclaimed that she couldn’t hit him and awkwardly fished the dollar out of his gagging throat, she reared back, and slapped him across the face again in the other direction, harder, hard enough to turn his head on top of his bulbous 20″ neck. She was asked to get off stage, and she sat by the steps, pouting like a child.
Others grabbed and touched and peeked and pulled and licked. Some leaned over the stage or sat on top of the rail, grabbing at ankles and knees and dicks and hands and arms and faces. Some held on for dear life when the performers picked them up, grabbing anything available to clutch. Some of the women tried to steal the show, trying the pole in their jeans and winter clothes, and I wished out loud that they’d fall and crack their skulls open. To show them that it’s not easy. To punish them for being terrible to these men. To punish them for their beliefs that led them to believe that they could treat human beings this way.
The performers were making $5-10 for each eight-song set in tips, and collecting shortened dance fees was their only reward at $10/each. There was no shortage of women trying to get these dances, and the lines just grew longer and longer as the sweat poured.
The club was trashed. The seven or so regular staff bouncers were doing their best just to pick up empty bottles and watch the entrances and dressing room for trouble from the crowd. The club simply couldn’t handle the spectacle that male strippers in this town had become. It was nothing short of a stripper’s nightmare.
After a couple of hours of stripper-nightmare torture, my friend and I decide to leave. I couldn’t take it. I’d been without nicotine gum for hours, and being stuffed into a wall-to-wall crowd of shrieking assholes was hitting the point of sensory overload and patience fail.
I don’t think I’ll be seeing male strippers again. It wasn’t the men. It was that women in this city are simply unprepared entirely for male strippers. They’re cast into that world once a year, and expected to act appropriately. But they think the rules are bullshit and only apply to savage men-beasts, and they don’t think that the performers deserve respect and the right to consent. They simply take whatever they want. I can’t be a part of that; I don’t want to be there.
I think tonight is the first time it’s made sense to me when men apologize for their entire gender when they hear that a women has been assaulted or mistreated. I’m ashamed of having been a chick in that crowd.
A version of this piece originally appeared on http://whatsyourrealname.wordpress.com/