oxymoron67: (dino head)
[personal profile] oxymoron67

The closet affected me in a lot of really negative ways. For instance, I developed a kind of two-track mind: one track was the “outside Sean”, the Sean everyone knew; the other was the “inside Sean”, the Sean who was always paying attention to his surroundings, always keeping people at arm’s length, scared that his secret would come out and his life would be destroyed.

As a result, I often felt detached from those around me, finding myself in situations where I was more an observer than a participant.

Case in point:

When I worked midnight shift at the gas station, friends would frequently drop in. So it was no surprise when two of my friends came into the store, but the first thing they said was a bit of a surprise.

“Hey, Sean, we’re going to the strip clubs this weekend, and you’re coming along!”

I… was less than thrilled.

Even though I had no desire to go, I didn’t think I was in a position to say no. It was necessary to maintain my “cover” as a straight guy. So, I acted like I was excited even though I was dreading the experience.

That Saturday night, we started our strip club crawl.

Honestly, I had no idea how to act. I figured that I’d watch the other guys in the bar and imitate them.

We got to the first club. It was this really run down building in a less than stellar neighborhood. We walked in and it was this dark, dank, creepy place. It had a dirt floor and the bar itself was decorated in American White Trash. It was a dive bar.

Honestly, it was the kind of place where people came to get drunk and then stab someone.

I looked around the room, and saw that the men were kind of sullen and listless. Of course, there weren’t any strippers on the stage, so I guess that wasn’t all that shocking.

But that didn’t bother me because I could work with this environment. I mean, listless? I could do listless. Everyone was drinking, though, and that posed a problem. I mean, I could drink a little, but I couldn’t get drunk or even buzzed. I needed to maintain control, and alcohol took that away.

I had to figure out how to juggle that, and do it quickly. After all, being outed as gay in a strip club/dive bar seemed like a bad idea.

Then, a few lights went up and some really bad dance music remix started. Even the stage was cheap. It looked like it was constructed out of old crates. A woman came out and started stripping. All eyes were on her. Well, except for mine. I was watching the room.

After a few minutes, I realized I could relax a little. With the mostly naked woman on stage, no one was paying attention to me. Seriously, I probably could have gone down on the bartender, and, as long as he was still serving drinks, no one would have noticed.

Not that I would have. Like most of the clientele, the bartender had “end stage alcoholic” written all over him, and I have standards.

What with music playing and the stripping and the men getting excited, the energy of the room had definitely increased, though there was a kind of desperation to it: a forced excitement.

It was like everyone knew that they were in a seedy dive bar and none of them planned to be in such a place, but, since they were, they were going to make the most of it, Hell or high water. It was sad in a way.

One of the strippers took a shine to my friends and me, mostly because the men on the other side of the platform were in that “We’re sloppy drunk and aggressive about it” stage of intoxication.

On the whole, I was unimpressed. My friends were enjoying themselves, though.

After about an hour, we left. My last memory of that place was the restroom. I walked in, but it was so disgusting… I swear the floor crunched… that I decided I’d rather my bladder explode.

My friends laughed. They said that they knew how disgusting the restroom but figured that I needed to learn.

We stopped at a gas station to fill up the tank and I used its much cleaner facilities. Now, let’s discuss how awful that bar’s restroom was that the GAS STATION RESTROOM was better.

Then we went to the second bar. I immediately noticed that this was a much nicer place. First off, there was a floor. The place was slightly better lit and the furniture was very standard issue barroom furniture. Nothing extremely comfortable, but you could sit on it without fearing that it would fall apart.

The clientele was different as well. This was where the college kids and working class guys went. The energy was different: that sullen desperation that marked the other bar wasn’t there. Here, folks were talking and the energy level was much higher.

My friends told me that this place was great because it served pizza. The pizza was out on this cart in the back of the bar. It was twenty-five cents a slice, thirty cents for pepperoni.

I went with the plain pizza because the “pepperoni pizza” had precisely one piece of pepperoni the size of a nickel on each slice. I didn’t see the point. The pizza itself was gross. Of course, I paid twenty-five cents a slice, so I didn’t expect gourmet, but still. Ick.

My friends said things like, “Beer, pizza and strippers! It doesn’t get better than this!”

I took a drink of beer and nodded in agreement, even though I wasn’t feeling it at all.

When the show started here, it was much more interesting. This place had a DJ and colored lights. The guys were much higher energy: shouting and applauding. This kind of enthusiasm was much harder to fake than the drunken listlessness of the dive bar, but I managed.

The strippers had more energy, as well. They looked like they were having more fun than the ones at the dive bar and the crowd wasn’t very drunkenly aggressive.

After about ninety minutes or so, we left, heading to our third and final stop. This strip club was near a hotel in the downtown section of Pittsburgh. It had a small marquee, where it announced which porn stars were performing there that week.

As we entered, I noticed that this place served a radically different clientele than the other two. This place was for businessmen. The furniture was actually comfortable, and the floor had carpeting. It was well lit, with several different small stages throughout the bar.

The energy level was very different, too. It was subdued, but not in the “end stage alcoholics at the end of their road” way of the first place. Most of the men here were professionals, probably in town for a business trip, and they just seemed to be tired or bored. They were here for the naked women, but they weren’t here to cheer for them or anything.

Seriously, my friends, who, by now, were feeling no pain, were the highest energy people in the place. I mean, they weren’t obnoxious or anything, but they weren’t comatose like everyone else.

I noticed that this strip club had a Sunday buffet. This made me chuckle. After eating strip club pizza, I was in no hurry to try the strip club Sunday buffet.

The strippers here were less high energy than the college strip club. These ladies were very professional, though. Every move looked calculated and practiced. I admired the work ethic.

We didn’t stay here very long, about an hour, but we saw several strippers.

As we left, one of my friends said, “That last stripper looked like a vampire. I think I’ll write a short story about her tonight.”

That was the oddest euphemism for masturbation that I’ve ever heard.

So I survived my night trolling the strip clubs. It was an odd experience. I almost felt like an anthropologist surveying some culture that I really was no part of. I guess the variation of it all is what amazed me the most.

I've been to strip clubs since, though not in well over a decade. I have no plans to go to another one.
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October 2013

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