Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Strip Club Schiele

Huddled under three layers of chenille and still shivering from a chill that seems to have penetrated my bones, I'm so burned-out I can't seem to put my thoughts in an orderly sequence. They run over one another in an overwhelming, indistinct blur of female body parts and mordant juvenalia (I'm drawing a lot of pictures of the cutesy little tchotchkes in my room and they all seem creepy). All around me, facades of beauty are crumbling and morphing into carrion (ever seen an aging stripper cry under the harsh lights of the dressing room, makeup running down her face in black rivers as she run out the door, straight to her drug dealer?) so that I feel as though I'm channeling Egon Schiele or something.

However, I'm not sick, just overexposed. I feel like one of those delicate Victorian women who got fed up with her hopelessly static, unrewarding existence and decided to join a progressive, edgy organization to get as far out of her element as possible, only to end up dead of tuberculosis or scarlet fever.

Sometimes the wheel of progress crushes the unprepared unmercifully and spiritual deep-sea diving in the name of routing ennui seems to eat nice ladies alive.

I wonder if I am about to be devoured?

Shades of Flaubert! But I always hated Madame Bovary... if that's the kind of curious cat I am, after all, I welcome the poison. Time will tell, and if I am going wrong, I trust Virtue to throw me a lifesaver and myself to spot it before I go under completely.

Lately my cause is exploring subjective reality in the controlled environment of a strip club, but I must admit the pursuit seems a bit hollow lately. I've been viewing the events of my life with "the sovereign calm of aesthetic emotions" Sartre always seemed to be talking about. It nips drama in the bud, yet seems to have rubbed the bloom from some of my experiences, mainly because it seems I only know how to be joyful on the edge of hysteria or a great revelation.

I've also been meditating with Megan a lot, which frees me from my egoic machinations a little bit more every day. Bonus: I secretly get to pray for her, too, with ease and total confidence she's on the proper wavelength to receive the positive vibrations I send her way.

As to my recent activities...

After a series of look-sees and auditions I'm dancing at a new club in the Wall Street area. It's small and relatively low-key with intelligent customers, and, since a couple of smart punk-rock girls with feminist sensibilities work there also, I feel a little bit more in my element than at the working-class club in Queens where I was before (I knew it was my last night there when the dj on the mic started making up random obscene nursery rhymes which charmingly included words such as "twat".).

Notable occurrences at the new place, let's call it "Tryst":

1.) On Friday I was paired with a slightly chubby blonde girl for stage dances. Although her dance moves were unremarkable and she didn't do any pole tricks whatsoever, the way she moved very slowly, deliberately and sensuously, watching herself without any inhibition in the mirror made her-- as if by magic-- a thousand times more attractive, instantly. She was busy all night. Ever since then I have danced more slowly, practiced touching my reflection in the glass with as little shyness as possible and am even speaking at a less rapid clip, choosing my words more carefully and conveying my meaning by using a slow, sonorous, measured tone. This place is a goldmine! What a valuable lesson that girl taught me without even knowing it. However, the mystery of how I got to be 27 without figuring out such a basic tenet of female sensuality as "slow and self-aware is sexy" makes me shrug and cringe. But the idea that things are amplified and expedited in a strip club gives me hope I will figure these things out a bit more rapidly than has been my wont in the "straight world".

2.) Lexi is a totally nondescript brunette Greek/Latina girl with a large nose, long hair and average body, with the exception of her voluminous rear end, which she bounces in an ungraceful but effective manner, like a frog.

Watching her dance is painful for me, so often am I disgusted at the way she manages to isolate and exploit one part of her anatomy with as much undignified carnality as can possibly be imagined. It's like throwing a huge, bloody steak to a prim vegan, I guess, which I am.

As politely as possible, I asked,

"Is she from the Bronx?"

Her fingernails are like claws and, during her stage dances, her smile never reaches her dead eyes. I can't decide if, sadly, she is the only one of us who can't pass for a lady on the street or simply the smartest piece of meat in the room. Either way, she's a hustler who makes money. I'm mystified, and I know my pathetic feelings-- undeniably visceral as they are-- and ego-based judgements ultimately signify nothing. Nothing. After all, our minds will both be quiet in our respective graves, and till then I know it's my place to experience and radiate joy, not judgement.

3.) I have learned to accept compliments without involving my ego whatsoever. I follow up each compliment I receive with:

"Thanks you. Do you think so?"

And listen for the response with as little mental analysis as possible. I treat everything I hear in response as a koan and feel the tell-tale Zen *drop* in the urgency of my thought process when I repeat what they say. ie the manager, Jimmy, watched me practice pole spins on the small bar stage when no customers were around, and we had this conversation:

me: "I suck at these now. I know I look pretty ungraceful, but give me a week and I'll figure it out!"

Jimmy: "Oh stop, you have a beautiful body."

me (*drop*): "Thank you."

Jimmy: "And you KNOW it!"

me: "I do? (*drop*)?"

This really works. If I become totally unsusceptible to flattery as well as insult I suppose I will be on the royal road to peace from inner turmoil.

3.) From my inner thighs to the top of my feet, I have enormous, disgusting bruises on my legs from learning those pole spins. I appear to be legitimately battered. I actually gasped in pain (involuntarily) when I took my tight jeans off last night, feeling the sharp stab agony caused by the friction of the denim sliding along the egg-sized bruises. I'll have to buy pancake makeup to hide them when I go back for my shift on Thursday.

They look bad now, but I'm gonna reserve the money shots for later on in the week, when they'll be EPIC: