Wednesday, October 24, 2012

I Was 15

I was fifteen when I saw my first naked woman in the flesh.  It occurred at a strip club in [redacted] ON. called the [redacted].  I didn’t actually enter the club, of course, being underage at the time.  Instead, I approached it from behind.  The bar was attached to a motel and a lot of the dancers, if they were from out of town, stayed there. The windows in the bathrooms were usually kept open an inch or two in the summer, and if you were lucky you could catch a glimpse of a dancer rinsing off before or after her set.  That’s what I did. I peered through that 1 or 2 inch crack and spied on the dancers showering.  I’m not proud of my behavior, but there you have it.  It can’t be taken back.  Judgmental types will be happy to know I’ve had worse done to me in my life.

I didn’t enter a strip club through the front door until I was a nineteen-year-old student living in [redacted].  It was a big deal for me the first time I went because I was in a new city where I didn’t know anybody and I was lonely.  I thought so many naked women in one place would cheer me up. All I remember of the night now is that I got a bit drunk, became very maudlin and fell in love with a 22 year old Sophie B. Hawkins look-alike who finished each set by disrobing to “Damn, I wish I was Your Lover.” To this day, I’m still moved by that song.

I went to the club about twice a week, usually with my roommate, [redacted].  He was a good-looking catalogue model and very free with his money.  The strippers loved him.  They’d sit on his knee, run their hands through his hair and say things like, “Oh, [redacted], you’ve got such beautiful eyes.”  All while they were emptying his wallet.  It was amusing to watch but after a while it just made me depressed.  Strippers will talk to you but every conversation leads to… So do you want a dance?  Pretty soon you realize that they aren’t even listening; they’re just looking for an opening to ask their question.

One night [redacted] bought me a dance.  To my surprise, I hated the experience.  It wasn’t at all what I expected.  Often you will hear about strippers experiencing a sense of power when they strip; often you will dismiss this as a load of horseshit – you will always be wrong when you do so.  Really, there is nothing more uncomfortable, nothing more emasculating than to be sitting fully clothed in a bar while a naked woman undulates in your lap. You can’t do anything.  You can’t touch her and you can’t kiss her. If she gives you a hard-on, she has you right where she wants you. 

And mentally there was so much I couldn’t get my head around.  My big-hearted roommate bought me a dance to watch me get turned on.  I had watched him get turned on numerous times. I got turned on watching him get turned on. Fuck, the whole bar was full of rugged, hockey-loving, macho men from Northern Ontario, all of them watching one another get turned on by women.  Is it weird that I find this weird? I’ve tried my entire life to get comfortable with these sorts of situations and I’m still not there.

I live in Toronto now.  I love the city, but it isn’t the type of place where I could visit strip clubs regularly.  It’s cold here.  The women won’t even make conversation with you, won’t even pretend to be interested in what you have to say.  It’s all hustle, hustle, hustle and move on.  Some of the women, if they are older, harder, more desperate, can be very persuasive.  They might grab you by the balls and remind you that the menu in the V.I.P. area is much more open than the menu downstairs.  You’re best just to drink your beer and leave.  But….

It isn’t all bad.  I remember once, years ago, in a place long since closed, I had a memorable experience.  It was a second floor club on [redacted] Street called [redacted], or possibly [redacted], I can’t remember.  It was Toronto’s non-alcoholic strip club.  You paid ten dollars at the door and could spend all night drinking orange juice and watching the girls.  No one bothered you to buy a six-dollar beer, no one hustled you for a lap dance. If you didn’t want to drink, you didn’t have to drink. The crowd was a quirkier, lower testosterone collection of older guys than you would find elsewhere. When I walked in the door, I knew I’d found my place.

The women were different, too. They ranged from young students to older housewives and no one had fake tits or walnut tans. They danced to odder, less commercial music. Some of them put on performances more burlesque in nature and some of them performances more … gynecological.  I had a great time watching. I even picked out a girl for a private dance. 

She led me down a hallway lined with small booths.  There were no doors on the booths, just acrylic bead curtains, and I could see that some of the activity going on wasn’t quite above the board.  I was nervous and I even started to shake a bit; part of me wanted to run out.  We entered a booth containing two small stools; she sat against the wall and I sat almost in the doorway the booth was so small.  When a new song began she started to move herself against the wall and run her hands slowly up and down her body.  I knew she must have been acting but it seemed real.  I shifted on my stool and tried to hide the fact that I was getting aroused. I wanted to look unimpressed and leave after one song. 

“It’s okay if you want to make yourself a little more comfortable.”

I ended up staying for four songs.  Afterwards, she shook my hand and said her name was [redacted], told me to come back some time and choose her again. I’d never been so excited by a woman in my life and I wanted to ask her out. I didn’t have the nerve to do it, though. How do you ask such a question after you’ve just paid $60 to jerk off with someone?  Maybe you just ask.

I’m forty-one now and I don’t go to strip clubs anymore.  I find them dreary places. I think I still have some things to work out but I’ll do the work elsewhere.           

Saturday, October 20, 2012

I Was Terrified of Women

My visits to strip clubs started out as aversion therapy. I was terrified of women and in my early thirties I was not only single, but had never even had a relationship. I think perhaps that this should be explained in more depth because it will make things clearer for you.  I think I first asked out a girl when I was about 20 and only after an immense amount of soul searching and terror. She turned me down and I have to say, so did the rest of the girls that I asked out subsequently. So after ten years of rejection I decided to try counseling, which didn't work, largely because I didn't want to admit to myself what the real root cause of the problem was. Dating agencies got me on dates, but I tended to freeze up and run out of things to talk about, so people tended not to want to see me again. I had a problem without a solution. 

As I said, I suffered a crippling fear of women and this was due to a schoolteacher I was unfortunate to have when I was about 6 years old. Always shy and a little afraid of things and with an abiding fear of being 'told off', the teacher had an unfortunate tendency to interpret lack of understanding on the part of her pupils as a disciplinary issue. I distinctly remember her trying to teach me to tell the time, but I could not grasp the hour-minute duality of the clock face. In the end she gave up and made me stand outside the classroom for the rest of the day. In my year with this person she physically assaulted me, screamed at me everyday and I was thrown around and out of classroom on a weekly basis. I can still see her face clearly today. 

All of this left me with an abiding fear of women and also asking questions, largely because I had learned to be afraid of the consequences. I developed self esteem issues as well and became socially isolated. Most of this I conquered, but getting a girlfriend was always the final thing to be overcome. But first I had to overcome my fear of women. I then had a brilliant idea. I reasoned that if I was too scared to even speak to a girl in a normal bar, if I could muster the courage to speak to a stripper in a club it would be like aversion therapy. Strippers were very frightening to me, but it was a controlled environment so nothing could go wrong. Also as attractive girls were there all of the time, I could try as many times as I liked....

It took me a year of visiting clubs on a weekly basis before I actually managed to strike up a conversation with a stripper. Slowly my fear started to recede. My first ever date was with a stripper, although it wasn't exactly a date, she said she was hungry and I blurted out that maybe we could get something to eat. She agreed and after carefully leaving the venue separately, I had my first time out in a restaurant with a women. 

If you are thinking that this is a happy ending story, it is and it isn't. You see, the issue was that I started to get a reputation as being a 'nice' person to talk to for the dancers, so soon I was never short of people to talk to and sometimes I even asked them out and by and large I was successful. I ended up living with a dancer for 18 months and despite breaking up, we are still friends. Later I tried to transfer my new found confidence and skill to the outside world and sadly I failed again and failed repeatedly. You see, I overcame my fear of women, but only if they are strippers. 

In recent years, now I am well into my 40s I have decided to be content as I am. I still visit clubs, but for different reasons now. They are a good place to be alone or have company when I want it. I could't really care less about private dances and most times don't even look at the stage. I know most of the male customers and it works for me. Its like 'Cheers' with tits. Its a community that I like to be part of. When things in the rest of my life are bad, I know that I can escape from the problems for a couple of hours in a club and its the best therapy ever (cheaper than a therapist as well).

So going to clubs turned me into a better person. I soon stopped harbouring thoughts of revenge on that awful school teacher. I remember her and at times I wonder who else she may have damaged, but that's the extent of it. The one thing I do know is that the respect I showed the dancers was mostly returned to me 10 times over and without the clubs, I dread to think what would have become of me. So my initial purpose  for going to clubs no longer exists and to some extent the whole thing is running on inertia.  One day I know I will stop and not return, but for the time being, that's always next year.

I found peace with myself and that is priceless.

Friday, October 19, 2012

I Was Playing Along

The first time I went to a strip club it was by accident. I shall explain. It was many years ago and we were trying to find a pub that was showing the England game. The game had already started and as we (myself and two mates) passed a fairly inconspicuous place the door opened and we heard the roar from a crowd that was in celebration of a goal. We dived in, bought some drinks and stood in a busy pub with a large screen with the football being projected onto it at the back. We’d missed most of the first half so the whistle for half time came quite quickly. The screen wound itself back up into the ceiling, some music came on and a very lovely olive skinned woman in her early twenties walked onto a small elevated area underneath the screen. The crowd respectfully quietened and the woman began to dance. At first I thought she may have been a stripper-gram but seeing as she wasn’t picking out anyone in particular from the crowd I remained unsure. She was an incredible dancer; someone with total control over her body and with a natural grace and repose. As her clothes came off the crowd certainly became a bit more animated but more with an air of encouragement rather than a ‘get’em off’ series of leers. When she was topless my friends and I exchanged looks of ‘blimey’ and when she became totally naked they became ones of ‘Jesus’. She did not stop there. Totally unabashed she showed off her body to everyone in the audience, smiling provocatively at times and cheerfully laughing at others. She was pretty with good skin and my guess was that she was a trained dancer. The music ended, everyone applauded and gave a few whistles, she collected her clothes and walked off behind the bar waving at us as she left.

It was the first time I had seen a naked woman in the flesh other than girlfriends. I was quite taken with the lady as she had displayed an assured and yet open and playful dance which was very sensual despite being incredibly pornographic. I was surprised that the pub wasn’t seedy and equally amazed that the clientele weren’t knuckle dragging yobs or sleazy city boys. This seemed to be a decent pub (with a pool table) that just happened to have young women stripping.

Please forgive the lengthy preamble but I felt it was key in setting up why I have often frequented places that have strippers. For me, that first dance was the quintessence of what a strip should be; feminine, erotic, slightly mischievous and impressive. As it was also completely unexpected it made the experience all the more wonderful.

I was working in the City of London at the time and soon came to realise that there were quite a few of these places to be found. This was back in 96-97 just before the lap dancing craze really took off and the McStrip clubs emerged. I was single at the time so would be out most evenings enjoying my bachelorhood. When I started to go to these places fairly regularly (once or twice a week) it was not because it replaced going out to talk with/meet members of the opposite sex. Rather, it was more like respite that gave me and my chums an excuse to forget about trying to ‘get off’ with someone and just enjoy a decent pub where very attractive women took their clothes off twice an hour.

The reason that the first strip was important is also that it was not typical. Often, the woman dancing was clearly not interested, rather unattractive, overly anxious to get your money and then even more eager to get off the stage entirely. These were not enjoyable experiences. In one of the places I went to I clearly saw track marks on one of the dancers and had to leave. Please do not think me a coward with delicate sensibilities. I tried to talk to one such young woman who clearly wasn’t having a good time and was brushed aside by her enormous minder. For every good, fun, energetic and seductive strip there are at least five that are the antithesis. Once I realised this I began to choose when and where to go with more care. By now I had found two or three places where the dancers were pretty, well treated, enthusiastic and polite. It never got to the stage where they knew my name but I certainly had my favourite performers. These visits did not preclude any amorous liaisons with women I met socially. Patronising these pubs and clubs never became a fixation for me. They were simply entertainment.

I have never visited a prostitute but always, naively, wondered if I would have if they were all like the dreamlike Le Chabanais of Paris or others of its ilk. If one could be involved romantically with one of the girls and whilst there meet authors and artists and languidly drink absinthe then perhaps I would. From what I have seen, read and heard it is much more likely to be a visit to a small apartment where an ill-looking Eastern European woman jadedly entertains you. So, after I had found the places and dancers that I did want to see I began to see the romantic side to some of the strip clubs. This might sound very different to what many people associate with the now ubiquitous, coked up, besuited city boys leering at silicone crammed Barbie dolls coated in slap. But these experiences of mine are not through rose tinted specs. On many occasions talking to the dancer after a strip or a lap dance would prove just as exciting as the kit-offery itself. I did not delude myself into believing they were as infatuated with me as I was momentarily with them. I was playing along as they were. But watching a woman knowingly trying to seduce you at a distance with a very certain boundary between the two of you, prohibiting any long lasting emotional bond, is exhilarating. Sometimes, it is also not about you, the customer. One dancer I remember vividly seemed to lose herself entirely in the dance. She wasn’t trying to please me or anyone else. She was just concentrating on the dance and enjoying herself. That is equally as sexy for me. On another evening I had three lap dances with one young lady as she was simply exquisite. I am quite a flirty chap and I enjoyed the eye contact, the knowing smiles and frankly her simply perfect naked body flowing inches around mine. We talked during her second dance and she asked why I had seen her again. I pointed to her reflection in the floor to ceiling mirror behind me (the d├ęcor was not always subtle) and told her that she already knew why. She laughed. We talked quite a lot that evening so when I had the third and final dance with her it seemed even more sensuous and intimate as the barriers had been broken down by then.

As above, I have seen dancers and places that I wish I hadn’t. Sometimes it feels exploitative and that does not sit well with me. But when it is done well it can be about many different things. Yes, it can be a turn-on but that goes for the dancer as well as the customer. But, most importantly, and most often overlooked, it is fun. To watch a healthy, athletic, curvy woman act seductively knowing that it is the seduction itself and not the end result that is the exciting act (journey not the destination) is fun.

I would add to this that I believe myself to be a polite bloke and a generous customer. As with a kiss it can only ever be good if both parties enjoy it. I wouldn’t ‘perv’ as I saw other men do. I would be courteous and not overly questioning or personal. I knew it was unrealistic to expect a relationship to blossom with any of the dancers and I also had my fair share of regular relationships that allowed me the luxury of not fixating on any of them the way I saw other lads do.

I went to these places regularly for about three or four years. I even took one girlfriend to a couple of them at her behest a few times. I only really stopped going as I moved. When I was back in London I revisited them but they had soon changed into big doormen/money in/collagen bloated doll type places.

For me the thrill is all about the ephemeral intensity. In a few minutes you have witnessed a pretty woman dance for you whilst undressing and if you are receiving a lap dance you also get to smell her skin, her hair, feel her breath and look into her eyes. Let’s not overlook or shy away from the fact that one also sees her genitalia. Sometimes it is in a coy manner, other times blatant. Either way, it is incongruous with daily life and as such fantastical. It is rude and naughty but it’s okay because for those few minutes you are allowed to look. You are allowed to peek. You are allowed to have fun.

Monday, May 7, 2012

I Am a Man

I’ve been to strip clubs twice in my life both in different circumstances but both for the same basic reason; to prove I could do it, sit in a testosterone filled room and pretend the women there wanted to dance for me because I am a man.

The memory of my first time has faded, fuzzy like memories of all 18th birthdays are, tainted by alcohol and regret but I think I liked it, I think I did feel like a man for the first time in my life. Having just finished school and moved out of home it felt like something only the truly free could do. Staring at breasts unapologetically is essentially screaming to the world “I am a masculine stereotype and proud”. As someone who had/does struggle with not being a typically masculine man I can remember that for sometime afterwards being to a strip club with a group of friends was like a vaccination against attacks on my manhood, though like all vaccinations my immunity to criticism weakened over time.

The memory of my second visit is far more vivid and, perhaps as a result, distressing. After drinks at a friend’s new house close to the clubbing district me and another friend, at his behest, headed to the closest strip club. For 3 hours we stared at women with sad eyes dance on a stage, some were middle-aged some young, some high, some pretty and some not – but all, in their own unique way, sad. While we watched waitresses in skimpy outfits brought us drinks and prostitutes propositioned us, the men around me willed themselves, no doubt with the aid of some strong drinks, into believing the fiction. One pretty but clearly high young girl danced to Coldplay’s “Paradise”, the grossly inappropriate lyrics still make me feel ill (“when she was just a girl/ she expected the world/ but it flew away from her reach…). She finished and dressed herself, sat at the bar by herself and stared vacantly into the distance.

Its unfair to say that all women in strip clubs are weak pawns in a male dominated world, some entries here suggest the opposite, but it was true of this place. I went to a strip club to prove to the world I was a man, maybe I did but as the brother to 3 sisters I don’t think I can justify it on the basis of my self esteem again. I’m pretty bad with women but I prefer rejection to guilt.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

I Am in a Fantasy World

I go to Strip Clubs because it's about control. Isn't it always about control? In the world we live in control is simply measured by the almighty Benjamin. I have a few hours and few Benjamin's to pretend I am in a fantasy world where men dictate the rules. As men, we have always been a slave to this desire for control. Would a strip club even exist if it wasn't for this false promise? In the end strip clubs are just this false promise because even through men like to think we have control, we really don't.

Perversely I also like strip clubs because I like woman who are in control. A confident woman, comfortable with who they are, playing the game allowing me to think that I might matter in their little world that evening is worth the price of admission. It's like being in high school again. Trying to get into a girl's pants but this time you have the Benjamin that says this is my night. This is probably what I most like about strip clubs and that is this give and take. Women pretend you matter and men pretend they matter.

While most Feminist would say that a strip clubs demean and objectify women, I believe any woman who has the ultimate control in this situation, really, has the upper hand. Does it bring them self confidence? Perhaps this is just a slimy justification on my part. I imagine most women dance; not because they enjoy it, but because they have to feed their families or something else. This is the cold reality of strip clubs but I prefer to think they dance for the pleasure of making me poorer. Regardless of what I think; I will pass along my Benjamin's, and when that Benjamin is passed along there is always that look in the girl's eyes that says I got you sucker...

I probably put way too much thought into a strip club. I'm a married man. My wife fulfills me in the bedroom and engages in my fantasies by wearing stripper like clothes. I have no complaints. So why then would I want to go to a strip club? Bottom line - it is helluva a lot easier to pay someone to dance for you then to go through the marital minefield of give and take to wrangle some time to get your significant other into a mood to fulfill those fantasies. It's like walking on eggshells sometimes around the house just to get the stars aligned and feel like for once I am dictating the bedroom. Therefore when a guys only weekend to Vegas is on the horizon, the desire to be someone else and have that control is worth every dime. Two to three hours of fantasy, to forget your mortgage, your day job, and feel like a player. Relive those days when you thought you always had a chance. It is a kind of pathetic but it's nice not to have to wash dishes or mow the lawn to get a woman willing to grind in your lap and make you feel like a man. In today's PC world it is nice not to have to think about playing the game and just sit back and have a few tits thrown your way.