Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I Like Being in the Company of the Other Guys

It’s not primarily for women that I go to stripjoints; it’s for the men. Sure, I enjoy watching naked women dance and getting a little sexual thrill. But mostly, I like being in the company of the other guys at the club—or maybe I should say, being a member of the club.

I think I’m a fairly normal, outgoing, heterosexual male. There have been times in my life, though, when I have seriously lacked for men friends. I met the woman I married early in college and started living with her in my junior year. That was wonderful in itself, but it probably didn’t do much to teach me to forge friendships with men once my years of schooling were over. I found it easier to talk to women then and never really developed a comfortable grammar of adult male friendship. I’m not a sports fan, which was probably a huge handicap in that area.

At stripjoints, though, I feel part of the company of men. Except at the extreme upper and lower ends of the business, stripjoints attract guys from all walks of life. I recall a club in Washington DC whose clientele appeared to be about one third bureaucrats, one third tradesmen and one third bikers. At my local favorite in the Midwest, I see doctors, students, mechanics, businessmen, carpenters, teachers, lawyers, auto workers, politicians, laborers, and men of just about every other occupation. Maybe this is just my experience, but I also think stripjoints tend to be more racially integrated than many ordinary bars. I feel more comfortable in this mix than I do among men of all one type.

I find it easier to talk to men in stripjoints than in other venues. If I were to go to a sports bar, I’d probably have to know something about sports to strike up a conversation. At a neighborhood bar or a biker bar, I’d have to be a member of the group to join in. But at stripjoints, the conversational gambits are dancing naked on the stage right in front of us. We can talk about beauty, we can talk about sex, we can talk about other women. There are no conversational prerequisites. And even if the music is too loud for easy conversation, I still feel a kind of camaraderie that I don’t feel in other gatherings of men.

The male behavior I see at stripjoints make me proud to be a man. The guys there seem more polite, more thoughtful, and less like macho men stereotypes than guys at other bars or gatherings. Maybe the strippers cast a spell on us all. I regularly see girls who are absolute knockouts leave the stage with only small handful of singles to show for their set; at the same time, I see strippers who are really very ordinary looking clean up a hundred dollars or more. Guys are voting with their wallets and they tend to vote not on looks but on attitude and personality. To me, this is a pleasing blow to the stereotype that all men really want is a nice big pair of tits and a scrumptious ass. Men treat women better at stripjoints than at other bars. Strange though it seems, I see guys treat the female staff at other bars far more crudely than they treat women at strip clubs.

Sometimes I go to stripjoints with my wife. While I do enjoy the extra attention that the strippers pay me when I’m accompanied by another woman and the erotic thrill of seeing my wife being aroused, I have to admit that I enjoy the envious attention of the men as well. In effect, I’m broadcasting that my wife is so sexually adventuresome that she’ll come out to strip clubs with me and even enjoy the sexual attention of the performers: I’m gonna get royally laid tonight. That’s obnoxious, I know, but it’s one of the rare times that I feel advantaged over other guys. Again, though, my focus is more on what I imagine the reactions, thoughts and behaviors of the other male customers are than on the strippers themselves.

Maybe this sounds like an I-read-Playboy-for-the-articles dodge. It’s not. I love looking at naked women and I’m unashamed of that. I am a little ashamed, though, that there have been times in my life when I have felt so disconnected from other guys that I’ve felt more connected to them at stripjoints than anywhere else.