All photos by Dieu Pham
Jeff Tetreault is a screenwriter with a produced movie to his credit— Bad Johnson, about a guy whose penis detaches from his body and turns into a person—by day and a go-go boy in the Los Angeles gay bar scene by night. He dances several nights per week, rotating among the most popular West Hollywood hotspots. Every night he oils himself up, puts on tiny underwear, fluffs-up his dick, slides on his cock ring, and gets to work. There's just one catch: He's straight. And as it turns out, many of the other West Hollywood go-go boys are too. "There are easily 50 straight go-go boys that you see working regularly," Tetreault claims, a number that he estimates makes up "at least half of the total scene."
Typically, go-go boys are either swinging their dicks on stage or perched on a platform at the most eye-drawing vantage point in the room. With cash bursting out of every pelvic fold they're equipped with, they're aggressively vying for all of the eyes and dollars in the room.
Jeff sat down with me to explain the complexities, competition, hustle, and heartbreak involved in the go-go scene.
VICE: How do you separate yourself or outdo the other go-go boys?
Jeff Tetrault: Well, I have a pretty good bulge and that's kinda my M.O. when it comes to dancing. I always want to go out with a well-fluffed dick, I want to look the best I can, have the best bulge, and I want to earn money. I don't want to be outdone by someone. I don't like when I see another dancer get more attention. I'm extremely competitive and this is why I'll never be in a male-male-female threesome, because I'd want to out-fuck the other guy.
What tips and tricks do you and the other guys use to get through the night? Cock rings? Alcohol? Adderall?
I use cock rings. Different jobs call for different pressure. If I know I'm not going to get a break for a long time I'll use something with a little looser pinch so it doesn't constrict too much. By the way, I just want to put this out there, cock rings are not magic, they don't get you hard unless you really tie the motherfucker up. Basically what they do is delay the flow of blood out of your penis, almost like an hourglass. Where as if you were just to "fluff up" and go out you'd shrink because you're not turned on, you're active, and the blood is going everywhere else. The cock ring pinches the passageway and keeps you hard for slightly longer.
I drink way too much when I dance because I don't want to go out and do a bunch of blow—that messes me up downstairs anyway—so I don't do any of that. One of the main topics of conversation I overhear in the dancing rooms when we're getting ready is what cycles the guys are on, what stacks everyone is doing. A lot of guys will take Viagra, which I don't understand because Viagra only works when you're turned on. There is a lot of coke in the background, there is a lot of K, a ton of G. I've seen one guy inject his dick with caverject, which is the stuff they use in porn to stay hard for three hours. Here he was doing it on a Wednesday night because he thought it would earn him ten extra dollars. Basically, I see the guys doing any recreational drug you can think of: weed, alcohol, and a lot of coke.
What kind of propositions are you guys presented with while working?
Everything. I get very insulted when people like to call me a hooker, whore, prostitute, or man-whore because I don't do that stuff and I miss out on a lot of fucking money by not doing it. I routinely get offers to accompany people back home. They're called "privates," to do anything from cuddle with someone, masturbate for them, or let them blow me. The price range varies. I've been offered anywhere from $200 to $5,000, and I can't bring myself to do it.
How do you feel about being objectified when you dance?
It's part of the fun. I mean I'm not going to lie, this is the thing, I basically get to go out and party. I liken it to a Saturday or Friday night. I get paid to go out and drink and be the center of attention, rather than paying to go out and drink and trying to get people's attention.
Have you ever felt degraded while working?
I've been condescended to many times. I'm essentially a zoo animal and a piece of meat at work. You know, people think because they have a dollar bill they have a magic wand of some sort. Since you're there for their entertainment they can treat you how they want. It's frustrating sometimes. I try to be a good sport but when you have people hanging back taking pictures and videos secretly in dark corners it is hard. This is the thing; go-go dancing is kinda like a stripping loophole. Go-go dancers aren't afforded the same protection that strippers are. In a strip club they're very up front about no photography, no touching. Since go-go dancing primarily occurs in gay bars that aren't strip clubs, security doesn't do much to enforce that stuff. It's usually the guy with the lone dollar bill that wants the most from you. The people with money don't make a big deal about making you dance for them, or treating you like a bear with a tiny hat on a ball.
Do you think perhaps you're getting a glimpse into what women are sometimes subjected to?
Definitely. I empathize with women so much more now. Men, we're pigs.
Related: Take a trip to Atlanta, the stripping capital of America.
What's the worst experience you've had while dancing?
One night I had made seven dollars in two hours and it was so demeaning and humiliating, I left early, came home, and punched a fucking hole in my door. Nobody was tipping me but everyone wanted to come up to me and squeeze my dick. It's nights like those that really make me question why I'm doing this. Most nights are pretty decent, though. People are always trying to touch me and get their hands in my underwear; I've become desensitized to it. It's more about the money than that.
Are you secretive about being a go-go? Does it interact with your personal or professional life at all?
It's not something I'm ashamed of. I see it as part of my journey. It's my job—it isn't my identity. Sometimes I play it up; sometimes I'm not too forthcoming about it. My friends use it as conversation-starter with girls. It has opened doors for me professionally. It has made me a more interesting character. I have a produced movie I wrote; I have agency representation for screenwriting. It got me my Playgirl magazine spread. I did a music video with Willam Belli and Courtney Act who are two famous drag queens. It has created an interesting narrative for myself and I feel like it's because I'm open about it.
Do the customers know you're straight?
So much of dancing is acting; you really have to play it up. You see these guys who go to female strip clubs, you see how nice the strippers are. You've got to essentially be the stripper and talk and flirt and all of that. One of the skills of dancing is that you have to learn how to reject someone but remain endearing at the same time, which is not easy to do.
What's the farthest you've gone in terms of appeasing your customers?
God, there have been nights where I'm not making anything and you know, a dollar bill is oxygen... and sometimes it isn't about the money, you just don't want to feel like a complete piece of shit. I've had guys reach in my underwear and grab around in there, and they just leave a dollar in there and you just smile and you thank them. And I feel like such a piece of shit. Like, I basically just thanked you to grope me for a dollar. Those are the moments where I ask, "Who the fuck am I?"