Driving out past the palm-lined strip malls and blinking neon motels, I knew that Swinging Richards was going to be the kind of place where you find trouble. After all, this place is far on the outskirts of Miami, near 174th Street with all the other titty bars where face-eating cannibals go before doing bath salts and robbing ATMs.
It's no secret that I love a strip club, but my boyfriend wasn't nearly as bullish. From the outside, it sort of looked like a Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, with its discreet sign and light-up red trim on the building. As the cab drove away, my boyfriend said, "We're never going to get a ride home." A large sign next to the door read, "If you're offended by male nudity, do not enter." Yes, we might be trapped forever, but at least there would be as many balls to juggle as two men could ever want.
After paying a $10 cover, we opened a curtain and went into the technicolor Oz of Swinging Richards. The bad house music blared as the MC screamed out meaningless names over the speakers and a siren wailed at random intervals, making my asshole tighten, rather than, as is traditionally desired in these circumstances, relax. The decor was typical of Any Strip Club, USA: two bars on either side of a small stage with a pole down the middle. There was a cluster of upholstered chairs and small tables where a twinky cocktail waiter served a bunch of men, most of whom looked like Ian McKellen on an opium bender.
I sat and watched as the guys, in teams of three, came onto the stage to dangle their dingles before canvassing the room and taking people off into rooms on the sides for private dances. After paying far too much money to the most beautiful straight French-Canadian college student I have ever seen to wobble his half-limp dick in front of my face for 15 minutes, I left our private love shack and found my boyfriend. We'd spent a few hours in this bubble, and it was time to go.
Worried about getting home, we called a cab, and the dispatcher said one would be by in 20 minutes. We sat by the stage, waiting, vacantly watching the dancers, and wishing we could be at home doing to each other what we dreamed all these guys would do to us. One of the men on stage was acting very erratic. He was doing the Hulk Hogan pose, with one arm pointing to the rafters and the other flexed to show off his bicep. He was walking like one of those inflatable flapping people in front of car dealerships in New Jersey. Naturally, we started laughing. Now, I know it's never nice to laugh at a stripper. They're up their being naked and alluring for our benefit, and they are mocked and disparaged in various ways already. But this guy, he was asking for it. Transfixed, we stared while he walked to the end of the stage and stared right at the two of us. He thrust his crotch forward as he ran his palms along his limp dick, and then pushed it out toward us. It was like he was offering it to us, sending us all the schlong energy he had to spare.
The car still hadn't called to say it was out front, so we were trapped when the stripper got off the stage and walked over to us. "Let's go for a dance," he said to my boyfriend, who fell into a goofy giggle (his default defense mechanism when put in uncomfortable situations with aggressive strippers). He stepped over my boyfriend and fixed his eyes on me. "What about you?" he asked, his junk close to my knee. "No thanks," I said, politely.
This is when it all went to hell. "What do you mean, no?" the stripper shouted. "Why are you such a negative person? Why are you an awful person?"
"No, really, I'm all set," I replied, a bit confused.
"Why do you keep saying no? You must be really unhappy. What is wrong with your life that you're always saying no?"
"I just don't want a dance," I shouted, while the disco lights swirled behind him.
"Your problem is that you just want to be negative. You just want to hold onto your money because it has power. You'd rather hold onto it than give me power. You should let go. You should stop being negative and be a better person," he screamed. This New Age "The Promise" approach to stripping didn't come off as nice as it sounds. It was hurled at me like an insult, like a threat, and wasn't nearly as enjoyable as the time I was extorted by a female stripper.
"No, it's not the money," I said. "It's you. It's that I don't want a dance with you."
"You're a horrible person," he said still standing there. For a minute I thought maybe it was me. Maybe everything that’s wrong in my life is due to the fact that I'm too negative and won't just do things and stuff. Maybe with a few minutes off my hands on his abs everything would get better, and I would never have a care again. The stripper almost won. Instead, I gave him the thumb-meeting-the-forefinger OK symbol with a healthy dose of side-eye, and mouthed, "Sure." He made the same gesture, mocking me, and finally walked away.
My boyfriend decided he didn't want to wait inside anymore, so we moved out front into the surprisingly chilly Miami night to wait for our cab. We sat down on the porch swing immediately outside the front door (its presence was as baffling as it was quaint), when one of the strippers came out with another male friend, a female friend, and one of the failed amateurs from the contest, a rather attractive, young black guy.
"They didn't like you because you danced like a white lady," the professional shouted to his amateur friend. "I told you that you were going to get nervous, but you didn't listen. You have to show swag. You have to show confidence. You have to take it slow. Just ask these guys," he said walking over to us, "would you have liked this dude better if he danced like this?" [paused to roll his hips suggestively and slowly take off part of his jacket showing a bare chest underneath], "or like this," [giggled and flapped his arms around crazily and jumped up and down like a little girl]. My boyfriend, again, broke into his goofy giggle.
The amateur then started shouting that he didn't dance "like a white girl," and his stripper friend said he did. They just kept repeating their accusations over and over again, louder and louder until finally, the stripper changed tactics and started shouting, "You came here and you don't respect my job. How are you disrespecting my job? This is my job. Why don't you respect my job?"
The fight began to intensify just as the cab pulled up, and we hustled off the swing and into the serenity of a stranger's car. I don't know if it was the testosterone, the desperation, or possibly the meth, but this was the most aggressive strip club I'd ever been to. As the car pulled down the empty boulevard, I asked my boyfriend if he'd had fun. "Kinda," he said, and then looked out the window and reached for my hand lying on the seat. There wasn't much else to say. And I don't think I'll be back at the strip club for quite awhile.
Previously - Are You a Slut?