A bachelor weekend in Vegas is never complete with a visit to a strip club. It’s a tradition that been going on since the dawn of time. Before any caveman could drag a woman by her hair back to his hearth, his mates would first have to take him out to “That Cave” over the other side of the hill with the bright lights, thumping music and ladies dancing round spears.
Fast forward to 2011 and it’s an industry in Las Vegas. I’ve written before about the town, but when I’ve been here with my gay friends it’s all nice restaurants, Cher and Cirque shows and a little flutter on the Blackjack. This time round it was nine straight guys, one getting married, 5 in from Australia and 52 hours of little if any sleep. And me. If I’m honest, I’ve always wanted to do the town this way just once.
Herding ten guys around Vegas is no easy task. Every suggested location is met with discussion, hands in pockets, deep thought, blank stares, grunting, nods, consensus and an eventual general move into a limo to get there. So went the weekend where every dinner and activity was never quickly decided upon.
But when it comes to strippers, it strikes a primal chord.
You cannot be in Vegas and not broach the subject. Someone’s going to say it. And eventually someone did. After all the steaks were eaten and all the wine was drunk and all the other options ticked, dessert is always going to be a stripper in this town.
And it’s kind of hilarious to watch. Being gay I have absolutely no interest in it, other than a sociological mission into the jungle to see the behavior of the species in the hallowed strip club. For the guys, it’s like they found a box of fireworks and a silent dare goes around the group to be the first one to light one up and throw it into Mr Williams next door’s backyard.
So of course the SS Bachelors changes tack and we set sail for the club.
I’ve only ever been in a strip club once, way back in Germany. I was so green to the whole thing that when my friend bought me a lap dance, I couldn’t stop giggling. To the point where the stripper grabbed my face, shook it and told me to stop laughing. To make it up to her, I bought the cheapest bottle of champagne (just 200 Euros!) and we had a drink. She told me her name was Xena. “Oh,” I replied, “that’s a lovely name, what made your parents call you that?”
She deadpanned, looked me right in the eye and said, “I don’t know, you’d have to ask them.”
Suffice to say that I was determined not to be the biggest tit there on my sophomore effort in the big breasted playpen.
The place we arrived at, like everything else in Vegas, was enormous. And there were girls everywhere. Basically, anything that you ever thought you might like in a woman is there and on display; blonde, redhead, brunette, black, white, latina, asian, american, european, african and all wearing less clothes than women in manga cartoons. After finding a table and a drink, the next thing that happens is that girls come by and ask you if you’d like a lap dance. The conversation goes something like this:
Stripper: (sitting next to you) Hi, how are you doing?
Me: (crossing arms) Good, how are you?
Stripper: Good thanks, where are you from?
Me: Australia but I live in LA.
Stripper: Cool, would you like a dance?
Or something like this:
Stripper: Ok, young man, this is the point where you man up and make room for me on that lap.
Or something like this:
Stripper: I’m from Romania, and I go CRAZY!!!!
Regardless of the intro, this is the point where I freeze up. I don’t want to insult her, make her think that she’s not attractive or anything like that. But I was warned against saying that I was gay in the Berlin strip bar, my friend told me that it’s cute outside but not in a place like this where sexual desire is how women make a living.
So instead, I lame out with a, “No thanks, maybe later.” And with a shrug, they are off to the next table of businessmen in town on a, ahem, “conference”.
After a while I feel like a bit of a heel. I’m turning away a half-dozen girls in the first half hour and thinking that I need a better strategy. So I decide that honesty is going to be the best policy.
Lime green thong comes over and smiles at me over her Double Ds.
Lime Stripper: Hi there.
Lime Stripper: Where are you from?
Me: Australia. And you?
Lime Stripper: Paris.
Me: Nice city I like it a lot there. The George Pompidou Centre is great. So uh… listen, I think I’m wasting your time here. I’m actually gay.
Lime Stripper: (Laughs) You know, a lot of guys say that to get out of a dance.
Me: No really, I’m gay.
Lime Stripper: (giving me the once over) Sure you are.
Me: Your shoes are Fredericks of Hollywood, right?
She laughs again, but this time there’s nothing predatory in it.
Lime Stripper: Oh my God, what are you doing here?
Me: Sociological expedition.
Lime Stripper: (smiles) You’re funny. Have a great night.
Then she gives me a kiss and a little hug and off she goes. There, that wasn’t so bad. Emboldened now I take a photo of Paul and our cat that I have in my iPhone and save it as the screen saver. Like Wonder Woman’s magic bracelets, this photo is my weapon to fend off all attacks.
Black Nightie comes over and begins her play as I pull Paul from my pocket.
Black Nightie: C’mon, you’re not really gay.
Me: (holding forth picture of Paul in full beard) See that. That’s what I’ve got at home. Now, you’re lovely, but you are about as far as you can get from what I like.
Black Nightie looks at the photo of Paul and then at me and I can see that she’s genuinely charmed.
Black Nightie: Oh, that’s so sweet, how long have you been together?
Me: Two years.
Black Nightie: And that’s your cat?
Black Nightie: Oh, she’s so cute. I have a cat.
Black Nightie and I talk about a very different type of pussy for a bit before she had to continue on her rounds, but not before she puts both hands on my shoulders and gives me a squeeze and a kiss on the cheek.
Black Nightie: Thanks Karl.
Me: No worries, bye!
Perhaps my bravest one was with White Knickers.
White Knickers: So this is Paul in the photo?
Me: Yeah. Handsome huh?
White Knickers: He looks big.
Me: He is. Six foot two. That’s how I like them. So I tell you what, if you can organize me a lap dance from one of the security guys here, that would be awesome. Especially that guy there with the shaved head and the goatee, or that one over there with the beard.
White Knickers thinks this is the funniest thing that she’s heard all night. She actually guffaws and I see the real girl under the working girl.
And so it goes on. I charm strippers with my tales of my home life, commenting on their outfits and having little chats before they once again have to go shake their moneymakers. And here’s a few interesting facts that I learned about the strippers while I was at the club.
– They can’t do drugs at all while at work.
– Most of them are from LA. They come in to Vegas for the weekend to work so that they don’t run into anyone they know.
– One was a single Mom, but the rest were students, business owners, office workers. They were just girls working hard during the week and picking up extra cash on the weekend.
– A girl can make a lot of money in this line of work. It’s not unusual to pull in $1500 over a weekend. Six grand a month. Seventy two thousand in a year. All cash.
– And here’s a weird one… all strippers smell like powder. I don’t know why this is. But it’s true, you really can tell a great stripper if there’s the slight waft of talcum in the air. Maybe it’s a mother thing.
By the end of the night, I would be walking around to grab a drink or something and I’d pass one of the girls that I’d had a talk. All would respond with a little wave here, a big smile there but by far my favorite was Black Nightie.
Black Nightie: Hey! Are you still gay?
Me: I am indeed.
Black Nightie: Can I get a hug?
Me: Of course (spreading my arms).
And so there I was in the middle of a strip bar in Vegas, giving a young girl a hug as the music and the dancing and drinks and the men and the women all wove around each other. A gay oasis for a girl in next to nothing, who just wants to be loved.
This is fun. I should bring Paul next time. Maybe the cat too.