I wanted to love strip clubs. Ever since I saw my first Mötley Crüe music video, I was enamored by the seemingly fun and sexy times to be had while sipping champagne and fanning yourself with dollar bills. I not only wanted to love strip clubs, but I wanted to be a stripper. At age nine, I would practice chair dances in front of my stuffed animals (my parents were so proud).
When I got to college, even after taking countless feminist theory and sociology classes, I was still into the idea of strip clubs. I convinced myself that they were a place of sexual freedom where empowered women celebrate their bodies and men admire them. I mean what’s the big deal about a few boobs, right?
But every time I’ve gone to a strip club, it’s the total opposite. Any glimmer of sexy is quickly overshadowed by sadness: lonely, manipulated men emptying their pockets for a chance to fulfill their fantasies, glitter-drenched women grinding for cash. The music is loud, the lights are flashy, the scene seems electric, but behind the noise and the eye candy, the overall vibe feels depressing.
As least it’s been depressing whenever I’ve gone, specifically to a strip clubs with female dancers. Strip clubs with males dancers are a whole other story. I don’t know if I’d call Thunder Down Under sad so much as it’s an enigma. I have yet to meet any woman that gets turned on by a waxed-up dude shoving his sequin G-string in her face.
Knowing that strip clubs always depress me, I should have learned to say no when invited to one, yet I always say yes. I say yes because I’m hopeful that this time it’ll be different. And I say yes because I think it makes me look cool in front of guys.
“See, I’m not some uptight lame girl, I’m a cool, laid-back, open-minded chick.”
So because I think I love but actually hate strip clubs, I end up going and ruining everyone’s good time.
Like in 2007, I went to a strip club with my then-boyfriend and his coworkers. After getting drunk at the office holiday party, the head of development suggested he expense a car service to take us all to the Golden Banana. (Why a strip club featuring naked women was called the Golden Banana, I will never understand).
I go, I have a few drinks, and I even agree to let my boyfriend watch me get a lap dance. I’m cool, right? After scanning the club for the lucky lady to dance on my lap, I pick the curvy, artsy-looking one with dark wavy hair and a star tattoo. Basically I picked me to give myself a lap dance.
While she/me was waving her boobs in my face. I was asking her about her hopes, dreams, and what she wanted to be when she grew up. This turned my lap dance into a college admissions interview. I reported back to the group that Kiki, my naked doppelgänger, didn’t really like stripping, but as a struggling artist this was the easiest way for her to pay her rent while working on her avant-garde safety pin sculptures and how gross the sex industry was and why were we even here, it’s Christmas for God’s sake! Before I knew it, everyone had gotten up to go home.
The next time I went to a strip club was in Florida where I joined my then-boyfriend on a business trip to Disney World, where one night he and his coworkers decided to hit a strip club (once again it was me, my then-boyfriend, and his coworkers. Don’t most offices have a softball team or something?)
We got into a cab and the driver told us the best club was 45 minutes away by the airport. Why are strip clubs always near airports? Do horny men jump off of their flights screaming “Must see titties!” The driver insisted this club was the best in Orlando and he spent the entire ride raving about it. He raved about it so much that it only seemed appropriate to invite him to join us, which he accepted.
So now it’s me, my then-boyfriend, his four male and one female coworkers, and our eager cab driver/new BFF all sitting in what ended up being a very brightly lit, sterile-feeling club, where very angry-looking strippers wore pasties (apparently there’s a rule preventing nudity within a certain mile radius of Disney World). The dancers were lifeless and moved like animatronic robots from the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.
Why did our cabbie love this place so much? Just then I looked over and he is shoving ones down a strippers panties and yelling, “Yeah, yeah I like that, I like that, yeah.” I guess when you live and work near Disney World, it doesn’t take much to make you go wild.
I got up to use the bathroom, which was located in the strippers' dressing room area. I was envisioning walking into a big girly pajama party where all the strippers are giggling, and playing dress-up, but it was just three women changing into their skintight evening gowns and thongs complaining about child care, electrical bills, and rug burn.
When I got back to the group, I reported what I had saw, that these women hated being here and we were all fools for thinking they wanted to strip for us and look at how gross we were for adding to this cycle of disgust. Somewhere around minute seven of my speech everyone decided we should go back to the hotel. We pried our cab driver away from the foot of the stage and left.
Again, mood killer. It’s starting to become clear to me that the strip club is not the place to teach your guy friends about feminism. No one is at a strip club to learn about women's issues or learn anything for that matter (except perhaps learn how to hide a boner).
Third time’s a charm right? A few months after the Disney disaster, I was in Chicago visiting my friend Jenny where, while at a bar, we befriended a group of guys that were all out for a bachelor party. They were very friendly and the bachelor was super sweet and very nervous at what his friends had in store for him that night. He kept talking to me about how much he loved his fiancée and how he was so excited to get married to her. After a few hours of chatting and drinking, Jenny and I accepted an invite to join them in their limo and head over to the Pink Monkey. (Who names these places?)
This time I didn't want to get all sociology major on these guys. I’m going to a strip club. I know what to expect. No one wants to hear my theories on women’s issues while an ass is grinding their face.
So I’m sitting in the audience, actually kind of enjoying the club. I'm talking quite a bit to the bachelor who keeps telling me how cool I am. The bachelor then gets up to use the bathroom and I notice him in the corner of the club having what looks like a panic attack. His two friends are trying to calm him down saying, “Dude, dude you’re just drunk you don’t know what you’re saying.”
Jenny goes over to investigate then returns, grabs my hand and says we are leaving. Apparently the bachelor decided he was in love with me and told his friends that he wanted to leave his fiancée and marry me. He said, “I am in love with Giulia, she is the coolest girl in the world, she goes to strip clubs!”
As Jenny and I headed back to her apartment I wanted to go back to the Pink Monkey and confess to the bachelor that I did not, in fact, like strip clubs. I wanted to tell him that I was just trying to like them because I wanted guys to think I was an open and awesome cool chick, but really I was just a woman that always ruined everyone’s strip club experience, either by complaining, lecturing, or in this case almost breaking up an engagement.
I wanted my strip club experiences to be like a hair metal video, but really they were more like some bad after-school special. I doubt I’ll ever go to another strip club. Because maybe being a “cool chick” means not doing stuff I don’t really want to do.