“Fifteen minutes ’til we’re out,” my boss said. I chuckled and pulled out my wallet, checking to see if I had any singles on me. I knew that they’d be needed soon. Ten minutes later, I got up from my chair and walked with him to the office door. He kept going towards the elevator but I waited for the remaining three coming along: a girl with long curly black hair and a valley girl accent, a middle-aged lifer that had been in the company longer that most of the executives, and the new guy sporting industrial earrings.
My boss jumped onto a closing elevator. The rest of us waited for another, giving us time to laugh at how ridiculous it was to be eating lunch at a strip club at one in the afternoon. When we reached the lobby, I could see el jefe out on the sidewalk texting. We met up with him and walked south on 4th St to meet up with the final member of our party, the resident gambler on our team, puffing away at a cigarette.
“So how many singles do you have in your wallet?” my boss asked the gambler.
“Uh, y’know, enough for the buffet an makin’ it rain.” he said as we all walked down Howard.
We continued down a few city blocks until I saw a blue carpet leading to a wall of a man in a black suit standing next to a door with the word Gold Lounge written on a royal blue awning. After the card check and paying the five-dollar cover to a disaffected cashier in a tight black dress, I stepped into the darkness and blue glow of the main floor of the club. The music geek in me immediately noticed the song playing, “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. Like in most strip clubs, you can tell a good deal about the girl on stage by their theme song before you even see her, so I assumed she was pale, skinny with absolutely no curves, and covered in tattoos. I looked over for confirmation and, lo and behold, I was right. I would have checked to see if there was any image of Cobain on her skin, but I was very hungry, so I made a beeline to the buffet line.
On the menu was lettuce with vinaigrette, churros, cake with white frosting, meatballs, something that I believed was beef brisket, and fried chicken. I stuffed a little bit of everything save for the cake (it looked like a cheap Betty Crocker piece) and started to hunt down my coworkers. I didn’t realize how annoying the prospect of consumption would be in this place. The combination of eating and darkness is as bad as a poorly made cocktail. I munched on the lettuce, careful not to spill the dressing on my shirt. The meatballs were playing a Sisyphean game with me due to the weak plastic fork in my hand.
As soon as I heard “Living Dead Girl”, the staring began. This girl was taller and wore a black bra and g-string that accentuated her thick posterior. She had a lot more ink than the previous dancer – she had tattoos down to her wrists. As I munched on my salad staring at her ass and pale breasts, I noticed they had unnatural curves. I sighed and whispered to myself, “Fake…” and turned away.
My boss motioned to me and the new guy. “We’re going upstairs and find seats,” he said. We followed him to the mezzanine, where a smaller crowd sat and ate in a well-lit area. We waited until a group of women around a small table right at center edge closest to the railing. We swarmed it with plates in hand, the lifer taking the furthest seat back. The plastic-bottomed stripper still had her 90’s metal set playing, but she wasn’t onstage beneath us. That’s when I noticed the almost story-high pole, and saw her legs wrapped on it hanging upside down. When the song reached its peak, she loosened her legs and slid down spinning, eliciting claps and cheers from the crowd below.
Her dance ended and we all started joking. “That pole must be dirty as hell,” the new guy said.
“They sanitize it with that smoke coming out,” My boss replied.
“And she must have hella rug burn on her thighs,” the lifer quipped.
“She’s probably got Vaseline all up her legs,” I said.
I turned back to my co-workers, texting my friends and casually asking what they were doing for lunch before I dropped my story on them, when I heard the opening bass line of “Feel Good Inc.” I couldn’t guess what she would look like, so I spun my chair to see what the girl on stage looked like. In the distance was a tattoo spread on her clavicle and a black corset with white trim at the bottom. That slight detail only came to attention because they sat right on her incredible hips, which led down to pair of legs with the right proportion of thickness.
“I’m gonna grab seconds,” I said, then stood up and darted to the stairs. I got back on the food line, snatched the first two things in bulk, and began my examination of the stripper. Her straight brown hair swayed away to expose the deep rouge on her cheeks. Her old-lace colored skin blended with the blue haze of the lights and smoke, transforming her into a space-age dancer from pulp covers.
She held the pole and made a long spin. She stopped with her back faced toward the crowd. Hips swinging, ass out, I could almost time it to the last pluck of the bass line, but it didn’t and the reptilian part of my mind was choking the music nerd in me. Another song started to play. I didn’t care about anything at that moment save for the slow unlacing of her corset, which she deftly threw it on the small black rack off to the right side of the stage. Another spin, and then she started unclasping her simple black bra. Her breasts were small, but her skin and the seemingly natural look on them met the criteria. As she started climbing the pole, I realized I hadn’t touched any of my food, and half of my coworkers were on the buffet line. I crept by them and went back up to the mezzanine. I found my seat, and munched on fried chicken as she made her barrel roll down the pole. At this point of the meal, my mouth was on autopilot, disregarding regulations and moving the standards to a level befitting the atmosphere.
I resumed my conversation with the new guy, chatting about how’s the job been so far.”I really like the Bay, Oakland is -‘ he was cut off from a blaring hair metal riff.”Aw, shit,” I thought, “I shouldn’t…turn…” my head had turned a good ninety degrees before common sense kicked in and averted my eyes. From my peripheral vision I could see a baby blue bra and blown out black hair. I turned back, to see a ballooned-breasted, Aqua Net-coiffed, “cougar” of a woman danced to what could have been Mötley Crüe, Poison, et.al. She had a broad smile on her face, a stark change from the sultry one of the Porcelain Gorillaz Doll, the nickname I gave to the previous girl since I hadn’t bothered to listen to her stage name.
While my coworkers joked at who’d sleep with her, my boss got up and headed for the stairs. The gambler followed suit, and within minutes took a chair at the front role of the stage. The 80s-time dancer moseyed over to them and bent over. I almost cringed as she jammed her falsies into my boss’ face as he put a dollar bill in her bra. My stomach had already started churning from the horrible strip club food – the sight of this stripper was not making it any better.
The rest of us went down and sat in the front row after the 80s set was over. I was hoping for another PDG-type girl to show up. I stopped paying attention to the stage when I saw a generic one come out. The only interesting thing of that set was actually my female coworker. The rest of the group almost had to drag the girl in our group to sit down with them. She sat on the side of the stage opposite from me, so from my point I view I saw her making it rain on the stripper enough so that she stayed in front of her for a good portion of her set. She was embarrassed, of course, and I after we had returned to the office she told me that she was pulling out a few singles from her purse to give the dancer out of courtesy. The fan behind her blew them away an on to the stage. Regardless of truth or reality, either version was still funny as hell.
The last dancer I saw before we left was a black girl. All I really remember was her popping her ass and telling me her stage name – Jada. She asked me for mine and I said the first name I could come up with – if she can hide her name, why shouldn’t I? I gave her my one dollar out of politeness, not to her performance in particular but for that almost understood rule that you don’t leave a strip club without at least giving something out for the entertainment.
My boss, the gambler, and I were the last to leave the place. The walk back to the office was unpleasant, partly because of my eyes taking a bit longer to acclimate to the harsh change from the dark bluish haze of the club to the sunlight bouncing off the impeccable beige sidewalk surrounding the Moscone Center. The real pain came from the growing boulder in my stomach from the mess I had just eaten. The gambler made a joke about the crappy desserts, but I boss pretty much summed up the last half hour of our lunch. “I’ve had enough cakes today.”