Jay Michaelson
The Queer Guy at the Strip Club, p. 3

Some girls (it seems improper to call them 'women,' both because so many seemed very young, and because of the infantilization of their roles) were better actors than others. The single most absorbing sights in the entire night were the brief moments when the facades would crack. Suddenly, there was a real person there, really annoyed that some guy didn't buy a dance, or just really tired. These were tragic moments, and total buzz-kills. No one is there to see real people with real emotions - no one is there to be one, either. We are all there for an escape, and these shocking reminders of what is really going on instantly punctured the illusion. They were fascinating.

At a certain point, my amateur sociology became tedious, and I became turned on. It was amazing to watch it happen. Not only am I primarily attracted to men, but everything about this place was repulsive to my moral and aesthetic being, from the objectification of women (even if it is chosen by the women, it's very bad for the men) to the choice of music. Plus, I was paranoiacally sure that everyone knew I was gay, and wanted me to get the hell out of their macho sanctuary. And yet - the system worked. My arousal was undeniable. I was attracted by a particular dancer, and even more particularly by the notion that, for a mere twenty bucks, she would dry-hump me. All I would have to do is pay, and she would feel my cock underneath her, would feel my hardon; her breasts would be in my face. It was all up to me - here was the control after all. If I chose to spend the money, she would definitely do it. There was no fear of rejection.. I knew that, ironically, I would be choosing to be passive; I knew that it was power that I felt, not libido; I disapproved; but I held all the cards. So I did it.

I bought the dance (or had one of my friends buy it for me, actually), and the dancer was good. She actually had me convinced (with the help of the booze) of an entire narrative line, which went something like: Yeah, I know, I'm just a working girl and you're just a customer. We're in a mediocre strip bar, and no amount of shiny silver denies that. But I really like you - you're a lot hotter than most of the guys here. And, wink-wink, I know you're being ironic. I'm being ironic too. But doesn't this turn you on? It turns me on. You turn me on.

Amazing - a whole narrative, which I bought hook, line & sinker. No wonder people think that strippers really -- no, really -- like them. They're pros. I would like to say that I woke up from this fantasy, but I didn't, because I didn't want to. I realized after a minute or two that I had been conned - that I was being played just like everyone else. But I preferred it that way. Really, which would you rather do: wise up, or have fun? So I let myself go. I shut down my mind and conscience, and let the system work. It worked. I'm pretty sure I was among the more hyper-critical and self-reflexive johns in the club that night, but it worked. At its fundamental core, I understood, that what the strip club essentially reduces to is a hot, naked woman simulating sex with you. All the rest is commentary.

And yet, I didn't get off. No one does. You can't touch the girls, and probably can't touch yourself either. Certainly I didn't see anyone do it - though there is the 'champagne room,' where maybe this stuff goes on (Chris Rock song notwithstanding). I guess the intended course of events is that afterwards, the men go home and masturbate, or maybe have sex with their partners while thinking about the girls, or maybe try to pick up girls in bars or on the street, needfully, sleazily, hopefully not violently. I couldn't understand this kind of sexual consumption: desperate, ineffectual, without satisfaction, although it made a lot of sense that so many SUVs were parked outside.

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August 2003

The Queer Guy at the Strip Club
Jay Michaelson

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Zeek in Print
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David Stromberg

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