Trip length: 32 minutes. Trip distance: 16.3 miles.
Fare: $19.48 Year: 2016
Song of the trip: “Hey Boy Hey Girl” by The Chemical Brothers
The Nissan rolls into a tiny space in front of one of the frat houses, and I'm already a little nervous about this fare. The San Jose State kids are a mixed bag at best. Sometimes they're fine, but they also have the potential to be hot messes. Still, it's early enough that I don't feel like I need to worry about it too much. I stab my finger at the big button on the dash board to turn the hazard lights on and glance at the clock. 11:35 pm. The five minute timer is on.
I turn it off almost immediately, though, as four guys move to the car with intent. They don't really look like the frat type, but then again, I wasn't in a frat, so who am I to judge? One guy opens the front passenger door and says, “You my Uber?”
“I dunno. You Arturo?”
“Ayup. C'mon boys, let's go.”
The four of them pile into the car as I swipe the bar on my phone on to start the trip. I pip with a single laugh as I see the destination. The Pink Poodle. I tap the hazard button to turn off the lights, glance over my left shoulder and then shift the car back into drive and pull out onto 11th street again. “Four brave souls, I see.” The mirth in my voice is hard to conceal.
“You know this place that we're going to?” the guy in the middle asks. He barely looks old enough to be out of high school, and he's definitely not native Californian. I heard him telling one of his buddies to “don't bring your pop in the car” and nobody west of Colorado refers to soda as pop. It was one of the first words I dropped from my vocabulary when I moved here from Minnesota. He's blonde haired, blue eyed, so I decide to call him Kansas. He looks like he's from Kansas. My brother-in-law is from Kansas. There's a type.
“The Pink Poodle? It's been a long while, but I've been in it a couple of times. The sign outside says it's world famous, but if you believe that, there's a bridge in San Francisco that I'm selling cheap.” I turn left on San Fernando and then again on 10th street, heading for 280. Sure, I could take surface streets and drag out the fare a little bit, but we get paid far better by the mile than we do by the minute, so it's sub optimal for me to do that. “I'm guessing by you asking that question you haven't?”
Kansas shakes his head at me, all puppy dog and wide-eyed. “None of us have. This will be the first time any of us have gone to a strip club.” If he had a tail, he'd definitely be wagging it.
I shake my head a little bit as the car pulls up onto the interstate. Apprehension is plain in the tone of my voice. “And you chose The Pink Poodle? I mean, sure, it's the closest but...”
Arturo, who chose to sit up front, leans towards me a little bit. “But what, man? We don't know one strip club from another, so if you know something we don't, you should let us in on the little secret.”
I've only got a couple of minutes to convince them to change destinations, but I figure if they're going to go to a strip club, they should at least make an informed decision, rather than blindly just picking the place that's closest.
“Okay, so keep in mind, I haven't been in The Pink Poodle for...” I pause a second and whistle, thinking it over, “eight years now, so maybe they've improved the place, but when I was in there, it was more like a dive bar than a strip club. The seats by the stage were usually blocked in by giant mountains of guys who were more round than muscular, and if you didn't sit at the stage, the place was so poorly lit, you might as well have been watching on a tv in a smoky room.”
“How were the girls?”
I shrugged a little bit. “I mean, everyone's got their own tastes, but the heroin look doesn't do it for me. I went with a couple of friends after I got dumped, and most of the girls... I didn't want a lap dance, I wanted to give them a hug and a sandwich. I don't think there was a single girl whose ribcage wasn't displayed prominently. And a couple of tattoos can be pretty, but a lot of the girls were covered in them, and forgive me for being a snob about it, but they were poorly done tats. If you're going to get tattooed and you show your body off for a living, shouldn't you at least be sure you get great art on it? Worst, though, was the attitude. They weren't friendly – they were borderline confrontational.”
“You probably just got too aggressive, man,” the Filipino guy in the back right of my car says, trying to put on the airs of the world traveler. “My older brother says that's the biggest mistake most dudes make at strip clubs. They're too pushy.”
I shrug a little bit. The Parkmoor exit's coming up, and that means we're down to two minutes, tops, although the few stop lights along the way are notoriously fickle. “Except we didn't approach them at all. I wouldn't call myself a connoisseur of strip clubs by any means, but I know enough to not make most of the amateur mistakes, unlike you boys.”
Arturo frowns. His alpha dog is being questioned, but I'm doing it so casually, he's already on my side. When the voice of experience speaks, the smart disciple listens. “What do you mean?”
“You're wearing jeans. Made your first mistake before you even left the house tonight.”
“I told you!” the guy in the back left, the most bro of the bunch, says. He's wearing dark slacks, the only one of the group who is. “These guys didn't believe me.”
“Why does that matter?” Arturo asks.
“Jeans chafe. If you're getting a lap dance, those girls prefer something smooth and gentle on their skin, because they're spending a lot of their night rubbing up against folks, so anything that makes that job easier is welcome relief.”
“You ever dated a stripper?”
“Ha! I mean, I don't have anything against strippers. If I met one I liked, it wouldn't bother me that she stripped to pay the bills. Far me it from me to scoff at what people do for a living. But I don't even know where you'd hook up with a girl like that. You certainly don't try and pick them up at work. It's their job to sell you on the fantasy that they like you. They rarely mean it.”
Kansas decides to chime in again as we're pulling up to the street light on Bascom. Normally, I'd just turn right on the red, but I want to give these boys one last chance. “So if you were taking someone to their first strip club, would you take them to this one? We want our first experience to be a good one.”
I cock my head and smirk a little bit. They're on the hook. “Absolutely not, man. I mean, if you absolutely positively don't want to go more than ten minutes from downtown, you're stuck with either here or The Gold Club, but that place barely even counts.”
Bro jumps in, eager to stake his place as the most knowledgeable of the bunch, or maybe just put the others in their place a bit. “Topless only, dude. I told you. I Googled that shit.”
Arturo clenches his hands together for a second. “What are our other options?”
“Depends on how far you want to go. Add another 15-20 minutes, you can get to Cheetahs or The Brass Rail. I'm told Cheetahs is the better of the two, but I've never been inside of either. Cheetahs is an actual strip club, anyway, and certainly the outside of Cheetahs looks nicer than the other two.”
“And if we wanted the best possible experience?”
I click my tongue. “Then you're probably looking at the hour up to San Francisco, but at that point, I can drop you off on Columbus and Broadway, and you're a stone's throw from a dozen or more strip clubs, so you'll be overwhelmed with options. I've only been to a couple of those, but Centerfolds is particularly nice. Friendly, good looking girls, decent lighting.”
“San Francisco's too far,” Kansas whines. “We'd blow two hours just getting there and back.”
The light turns green and we turn onto Bascom and Filipino whistles a little bit apprehensively. “Dude, this neighborhood looks sketch as fuck. We just drove past an abandoned strip mall that looked fucking condemned.”
He doesn't know how right he is. The strip mall he's talking about used to have a bunch of different places in it – a Mexican grocery store, a second hand children's clothes store, a comic book shop, a vinyl store, an antique collectibles shop... But they'd all gotten kicked out a few years back and the owner basically abandoned the property. There'd been a cleaners there at one point, and so chemicals seeped into the ground, I'd heard, and the walls had been lined with asbestos, so the place was just shy of a disaster area.
I'd also heard rumors that the owner was trying to let it sit there long enough that the city had to buy it from him, so the clean up would be on their hands, and that he wasn't even trying to sell the property. I'd been in the vinyl shop fairly regularly until it shut down, always flipping through the stacks of records for stuff I'd enjoy listening to at decent prices. I miss that shop.
The entire neighborhood around San Carlos and Bascom is going to go through gentrification soon enough, and man does it need it, but between The Pink Poodle and the Hollywood Hustler store that's sprung up recently, it can make it a little more difficult to convince people it's going to be a family friendly neighborhood. I suspect that hadn't helped the guy with the abandoned strip mall either.
The four guys in the car can see The Pink Poodle up ahead. The 1970s style sign has been up there longer than I've lived in Northern California, with the name proudly displayed – “The World Famous Pink Poodle” – although the sign's pretty badly faded at this point. As I pull to the side of the road just a little bit from it, Arturo says, “Can we change the destination?”
“You sure?” Kansas asks, trying to weigh time versus quality in his head.
“Bro, I'm paying for the ride, okay? Let's just go a little further.”
“Take us to Cheetahs. I don't want to go to the city, but this place looks like a shithole.”
“Probably a wise choice, fellas,” I tell them.
We hang a left at San Carlos so I can jut over to the 880 interchange and start heading up towards Sunnyvale. It was going to double their fare, but I think I'm probably doing them a favor. Maybe The Pink Poodle's changed. It's been a while since...
“Holy shit, you are fucking tipping this man cash money, bro,” Filipino says. “I just looked up that place on Yelp, and it's got like two stars with almost a hundred reviews. Fuck. That. Shit.” This is the world we live in now – kids comparison shopping strip clubs on their phones in a car while some stranger drives them there.
Arturo cranes his head to look back into the back seat, and there's a sigh of relief in the entire car, like they all just dodged a bullet. “Fuuuuuuuuuuck. Look up this Cheetahs place we're going to.”
Kansas raises his left hand. “Way ahead of you, bros. Oh man. 4 stars, 150+ reviews. You could tell that just by looking at the place from the outside?”
“Well,” I grin, “not just that. I had a fare a few months back when I picked up a guy, drove him to Cheetahs and waited outside while he went in to drag his brother out and haul him home. While I was waiting for the dude to convince his brother he had to leave, I chatted a bit with one of the girls who was taking a smoke break outside.”
“Oh, absolutely. Gorgeous, curvy Japanese girl. Said she'd been living in the States since she was 14, so she still had some of the accent. Claimed she was a student up at Stanford, but you know the old myth.”
Filipino laughs as the rest of the kids turn to look at him, wondering what the shared joke is. “They're all working their way through medical school. Yeah, my brother told me that.”
I shrug a little bit. “Might well have been true. She certainly seemed smart enough. She had a tattoo in Elvish on her lower back. You know, from Lord of the Rings? We spent most of the time talking about Japanese electronica bands.”
“Sounds like you were in, man,” Kansas says. “You get her number? Hit that shit?”
I lift my right hand from the wheel to wave it in the air dismissively. “You missed the key detail up front. Gotta work on that or you're going to miss a lot in life. I said she was smoking. Not even vaping, like hard core chain smoking. Both of my parents were smokers. I couldn't ever put up with that shit.”
“You said she was hot, bro,” Bro says. “You could just hit that shit and bounced.”
Like that hadn't occurred to me. This kid was adorable. I shake my head as we're shifting from 880 to 101. I could've hopped onto the 87 to shorten the time on 880, but getting off the freeway to weave around the airport isn't worth it at all. Best to stick on the highways as much as possible. “You young guys, that's definitely an option, but me, I'm too old for that nonsense. Once you're in the back half of your thirties, you're going to learn to start being a bit pickier about the people you bring into your life. But you're young! Have fun! Do stupid shit! When you're young's the time to do it. Just don't get handsy with the strippers unless invited to.”
“Wait, what? They invite you to?” Kansas says. “Holy shit, really? Like, they ask you to touch them?”
“Not specifically. Not most of the time,” I say as I shrug a little bit. “It's a thing you're gonna have to play by ear. The first rule of a strip club is that the level of control you have is to say yes or no to a lap dance, and then to negotiate what level of lap dance you want.”
“It's negotiable?” Oh bless your heart, Kansas. I hope I wasn't that doe-eyed when I moved out from Minneapolis, but I bet you ten to one I was just like him.
“More like, there's a base price, and then you can load up on options if you want.”
Arturo's enraptured with this. He had expected some random guy to just be ferrying them from point A to point B, not giving them a step-by-step 'how to avoid screwing up your first strip club adventure' lecture. “You are a fucking treasure trove of info, dude. This rules. What are the options?”
“It varies from place to place. But the last time I was in a strip club was about six years ago, Centerfolds up in San Francisco. My girlfriend, Kennedy, had just dumped me, and my friend, John, had just been left by his wife for another woman. So four of us decided, fuck it, we were going to go up the city and pay a little money for a little attention.”
Female friends of mine have long struggled to understand the appeal of a strip club, because they keep struggling to see past the inherent flaw in them. 'You're never going to fuck a stripper,' they say, 'so aren't you just paying a lot of money for a case of blue balls? Why would you pay to get teased and not get anything out of it at the end? That seems stupid.' And if you really weren't getting anything out of it, I'd agree with them. But I disagree on what it is you're actually paying for.
You're not paying for the tease so much as the chance to feel like the center of attention for just a little bit of time. It's amazing, but I've never understood why so many women don't get that men love to be fawned over just as much as they do. And men are often happy to do what it takes - vacations, jewelry, expensive shopping trips, shows, whatever - to make sure a woman knows how much affection he has for her. But when it comes to the reverse, I've met loads of women who think it's just enough to 'be there.' As if that was enough to even the playing field.
Men have to spend much of their lives on the hunt - for work, for love, for security, for money - that every so often, to feel like we're the prey, it's a nice change of pace. Not every guy feels this way, of course, or will admit that he feels this way, but a strip club is a chance for any Joe Schmoe to get a taste of what it's like to be Brad Pitt or Channing Tatum or whoever your particular stud of the week is for a couple hours at the low, low price of just a few hundred bucks. When a man walks into a strip club, he knows he's going to be pursued, to be chased, to feel wanted. The solitude, the isolation, the loneliness creeps away, even if only for a little bit. That's why men go to strip clubs.
That, and to have naked women pressed up against them and know we're not going to get slapped for looking.
I don't generally go to strip clubs myself, but I understand the mentality of them. They're a business, like anything else. One party knows they're lovely, the other party knows they're lonely and in possession of spare money. The two are both perfectly happy to trade a bit to the other. But yes, I tell my female friends, I think most men want more than a momentary distraction in the long term, but the allure of feeling wanted, no matter how fleeting, is hard to pass up. Being desirable is a high no one can ignore, even if you know it's just an act.
I suppose there's also that rare fantasy of being a man who dates a stripper. I'm sure it happens - it seems like everyone knows someone somewhere who dated a stripper once - and those men tend to tell tales of epic sexual encounters, flexibility and sexual gymnastics the likes of which the common man can't even begin to imagine. Girlfriends brought into threesomes, foursomes, moresomes. Public encounters. A level of sexual satisfaction that all of us who haven't been so lucky will simply never be able to comprehend. But I suspect that's mostly just good PR, myself...
“You get a dance from a girl like that hottie you were telling us about at Cheetahs?” Kansas asks.
I grin. “About as different from that as possible. Let me set the scene for you. So the four of us got a table, and we chilled for a bit. I don't know what it is about strip clubs, but apparently I always look like some kind of gangster mob boss at these places, because I always get approached first.”
“You're a big dude, man,” Arturo says.
“I bet it's the mustache,” Kansas adds. “It's hard to pull off, but you make it look mean, like a biker or an outlaw.”
“Well, I always tell the other guys that I think it's because of the attire. They show up in jeans or maybe slacks and a t-shirt, but I go slacks and button up shirt. Not a suit, though. And never a tie.”
“Why no suit?”
“Because if the girl wants to get handsy, a suit is like three layers between you and them, and at a strip club, time is the enemy.” Time is also elastic within the confines of a strip club, but that's a lesson these young lads are going to have to learn for themselves. “So a nice silk shirt, short sleeve if at all possible, and slacks. And that apparently works, at least it does for me. Girls approach me first, but I'm super picky, so I sort of redirect them to my friends, based on who would catch whose tastes.”
“You know your friends like that?”
“Shit, don't you?” I laugh. It's clear these guys aren't old friends. They probably just met a few months ago, and while they think they're going to be best friends forever, they've got a lot to learn, both about the world and each other. “Turning girls away gives you a tiny bit of power in that kind of situation, I wager, and maybe they sense that. I dunno. Anyway, the first girl comes up to us, and I swear to you, she's a doppleganger of my ex. Korean, short and beaming with a grin from ear to ear. She approaches me and she's about to sit down in my lap, when I sort of politely push her over towards my man Nate. Now Nate had just moved out here from Kentucky, and let me tell you, there's not a whole lot of anything but white girls in Kentucky, so he was over the moon. So she takes him off to the back area for a lap dance, just around the time this tall thin black girl wanders over. Too thin for my liking, but I know John here loves girls way taller than him, and she's gotta be like 6'3” and John's 5'8” on a good day. So off they go, leaving me and my friend Miles.”
“Man, I can see why the girls think you're a mob boss. You always make sure the crew you're rollin' with is happy.”
“You gotta keep the family well-fed.” I give him a little wink. “Take care of your people and they take care of you. Anyway, I'm talkin' to Miles, and I don't see that we're being stalked, and next thing I know, this tall, athletic blonde girl in a UCLA track suit practically jumps into my lap, and man, she is tripping all my triggers in all the right ways. Now, you don't know me from Adam so I wanna point out that this is a strange thing for me...”
“Why's that, man? She sounds hot!”
“Oh, she was, kid. She was radiant. But she was blonde, and normally, I don't go for blondes. See, I moved out here from Minnesota long ago, back when the dinosaurs ruled the earth, and so all the girls I grew up around were these blonde Scandinavian looking girls. I don't generally get turned on by that any more, because it was all I saw as a kid.”
“And yet...” Filipino starts.
“And yet,” I add with a laugh, pausing just a moment, tapping my fingertips on the steering wheel. “Gotta hand it to her, she was flipping every cylinder I had. She was wearing glasses, although I'm pretty sure they were just plastic and not real lenses. She was giggling, but far from dumb, because we'd been talking jazz – Herbie Hancock specifically – when she wandered up, and asked if I liked Thelonious Monk, because she said I dressed just like he did.”
“What's that mean?” Bro says.
“Monk had a list of notes called 'Monk's Advice.' One of them was 'What should we wear tonight? Sharp as possible!'”
“Oh, she had your fucking number from the jump, bro,” Bro says.
“Might do,” I admit, “might do. Anyway, she's got this megawatt smile turned on me, and she has settled into my lap like it's her turf, and I barely even noticed that she'd brought a friend with her, who has already spirited Miles away, leaving me sitting in the seats alone, until I turn to look and Nate is on his way back with a grin from ear to ear. The girl tells me her name is Caroline, and asks me if I want a dance now that there's someone back to hold down our seats for us. I ask her what it'll run me and she tells me '$20 for a lap dance, $40 for topless, $60 for fully nude, but if you go to a $100, I'll give you the works for three songs instead of one.'”
“Entrepreneurial,” Arturo says, admiration in his voice, while the other guys look like they're starting to wonder if they have enough money with them to make this adventure worthwhile.
“Right? Offer a discount if it locks you in for longer. Money's paid up front, so the girls can wheel and deal any way they see fit. Everybody's hustling. So she's teasing one fingertip along the shell of my ear, and at that point, I am fucking done, mate, as my friend Nicky from London used to say. Not only has she got my number, she's got my whole fucking Rolodex.”
“What's a Rolodex?” Arturo asks.
“It's like the Contacts section of your iPhone, moron.”
“How was I supposed to know that?”
“Anyway, I agree to the hundred rate, and she slides off my lap slowly, like she's enjoying catching her prize. When I got back later, John tells me that apparently the four girls were friends and had bet money on who could get me to get a lap dance from them.”
“No fucking way, man. I don't buy that shit,” Filipino says.
I shrug. “Maybe John was making it up, but Caroline had her fingers intertwined with mine and led me the long way back to the private booths, like she wanted to show me off to everyone in the whole club, and she was practically skipping. 'Course we had to stop by the ATM for me to get cash out. I'd mostly planned to just sit and hold the seats down while the other guys went to get lap dances.”
“Damn, that is some hilarious shit right there,” Bro says. “You got picked off.”
“So, what did a hundred bucks get you?” Kansas asks.
“Well, I got four songs instead of three, so I was in there almost fifteen minutes.”
“Wait, what?” Arturo says. “Shouldn't that be like twenty?”
“Twe-? Oh, right. New fish. They tend to use shorter versions of songs, so the average song length is about 3 minutes. That way they can bilk you out of more money.”
“Enough about the time, dammit!” Kansas interjects. “I want to know what he meant when said don't touch unless you're invited!” We're turning off 101 now, so we're only a few minutes away, and he's right to quiet the others down if he wants to hear this.
“Fair enough, so stop asking questions and let me finish the damn story,” I laugh. “We walk past the bouncer outside of the private booths and he says 'No touching,' so I'm already thinking, right, hands at my sides, don't piss them off. She leans in and whispers into my ear, 'I'll decide which rules we follow and which we don't.'”
All four of the boys erupt into laughter and Filipino and Kansas slap hands together, as Bro says “Dayuuuuuuuuuum.”
“So we get into the booth and she pushes me down into the seat as the first song starts to play and peels off her track suit top. Underneath, she's got on a lacey white bra, and that blonde hair of hers is in a sporty ponytail, so every time she twists her head, she's lightly slapping me with it, and she giggles every so often, but not one of those annoying squeaky giggles, one of those sultry almost purring giggles that winds me right up.
“By the end of the first song, she has stripped out of everything. She is fit as a fiddle but not too thin – the track outfit's a good gimmick for her, because she seems almost like a volleyball player, and mercifully, she hasn't gone in for the beach ball sized breast implants that it seems like one out of every four strippers goes for. I mean if you're into that kind of thing, more power to you, but that's not my bag. She's busty, but natural and not out of proportion and that makes all the difference.
“The angle I've got is practically looking down, too, because she's grinding her bare ass against my crotch, her back against my chest, with one hand rubbing against the side of my neck as she's nuzzling my ear, breath hot on it, as she whispers into it, 'getting your money's worth?' When her tongue flicks against my earlobe, I gotta tell you fellas, I am doing everything I can to try and keep my cool, but that shit was taking every bit of willpower I had.
“I can't help but nod to her question, and that's the point she reaches her arms back and slides her hands onto my biceps and slowly drags them down until she's clinging on to my wrists. When she starts pulling my hands forward, I know better than to fight her. She's decided she wants something and in a lap dance, what you want means nothing, and what she wants means everything. You are paying to give up the power and let a girl decide to give you as little or as much attention as she wants, and you do not get to say one fucking word about it. So she brings my hands onto her hips and sets them there, so I can feel as she's swaying her ass from side to side.
“Now I know there's a bouncer watching on camera, but he hasn't busted in yet, so I'm guessing the girls really do make the rules, and if she's happy with my hands there, well, then there they shall stay, but we're at the end of the second song and she's only just getting started. 'Don't you want more?' she purrs into my ear, and I had to have blushed but I drew together my last bit of composure and said, 'yes ma'am,' which made her giggle again, as she said 'good boy... I think you deserve a reward.'
“Here's the part where I was worried as hell that a bouncer was about to come and beat my ass, because she grabs both of my hands and pulls them up to cover her breasts, laying her fingertips on top of mine and then moans right into my ear. Now, rational brain Billy knows this is all a show, that it's an act and that she's simply working me like an instrument, but rational brain Billy has gone buh-bye and I am a quivering mess of hot frayed nerves at this point, so I caress and fondle this girl 'cause she's encouraging me to do. What the lady wants, the lady gets. She's even pushing my thumbs so they flick against her nipples, which are all stiff, so while rational brain Billy would tell you she's just excellent at this act of hers, lizard brain Billy's running the show now, and he thinks, 'shit, man, maybe she's really into you.'”
“Holy fuck,” Kansas says, his voice hushed with a smattering of awe.
“But remember how I said she gave me four songs?”
“Oh yeah! What happened, bro?” Bro says.
“As the third song is coming to an end, she slowly pushes my hands down onto her stomach and I'm thinking, she can't be...”
“She wasn't. She pushed them back to her hips and then slowly moved to stand up, and I'm thinking, okay, I got my three songs worth, but then she stands up and I'm starting to get up as well when she lifts one of her legs up and puts her bare foot on my chest and shoves me back down into the seat.”
“And then she says, 'and this one's on me,' as Motley Crue's 'Kickstart My Heart' starts blasting in through the speakers. This time, she slides one knee on one side of me and the other on the other, straddling me, and she grabs my hands and pulls them both onto her ass, so I figure, okay, fuck it, I'll try one thing and if she doesn't like it, this girl's confident enough to tell me no and I'll stop, so I pull her closer to me, so she's grinding right up against me.”
“You were hard as hell, weren't you?”
“I have a fucking pulse, man. Shit, you kids are probably hard just hearing me tell you about it.” And they all laugh at that, maybe a bit more defensively than they'd intended to. “Yes, I was a Redwood tree in a pair of slacks at this point, and she knows that, because she can feel it, but instead of pushing my hands off her ass, or pulling her hips away, she leans in a bit and rubs her tits in my face, and I'm thinking, sure, I can keep my face buried here between them, but she turns my head over and pressed my mouth right up against one of them until she's practically shoving her nipple between my lips, so I flick my tongue out a little bit, and she shivers and runs her fingernails against the back of my head and starts to bounce her hips in my lap like she's riding me cowgirl.”
“Don't tell me you came in your pants, dude.”
“Oh thank god, no, but believe you me, I was breathing hard at the end, and she was panting like she'd just run a race as the song finally came to an end and she slipped from my lap and helped me to my feet. She leaned in and kissed my cheek, then whispered into my ear, 'That was fun, thanks! You're a good sport. Buy a girl a drink, though?'”
“Damn, son!” Bro says.
“So yeah, I bought her an imported soda...”
“You didn't get her like a Whiskey Sour or something?”
I shake my head. “No alcohol in the fully nude places, fellas. State law.”
“And she sat on my lap again as soon as we got back in the main area. Relaxed with us for like ten minutes before she kissed me on the cheek again and wandered off to get changed because it was her turn to be up on stage. So yeah, that's what I mean by you let them set the terms. Be friendly, be kind, let them steer. If they say no touching but seem like they're teasing when they say it, you can try and touch just a little bit, but start small. Hand on a hip, for example. Don't get grabby. If she pushes your hands away, don't try it again, and just keep your hands at your side. Be polite, charming and respectful, and you're already ten steps ahead of most assholes who stagger in the door. Don't rush straight for a lapdance. Talk to them a little bit first, if you can. Lets them know you understand they're people, and you're not just looking at them like slabs of meat. The better you treat them, the better they'll treat you, generally. It's a good rule of thumb for people and life, honestly, but it's twice as important here, where they're expecting every client to be an asshole.”
We're pulling into the parking lot at Cheetahs as I'm finishing laying down the last of the advice for the guys. “And most importantly, above all else, don't look desperate. A desperate man is an easy mark. He and his money are soon parted. Take your time, decide what does and doesn't turn you on, and remember that the more lap dances you get, the more broke you are at the end of the night. I usually tell my crew, better to get one lap dance that you never forget than half a dozen all of which are over before they even got started.” I bring the car to a stop in the parking light and tap the hazards on again. “Good luck fellas.”
Arturo takes my hand and shakes it. “Thank you, man. You're, like, the guru to us. Okay, everybody pony up.” All four of the guys pull out their wallets and each of them pulls out a five dollar bill, and Arturo gathers them up and hands me all four. “Least we can do for all the advice, man. Maybe we'll get lucky and you'll pick us up on our way home.”
I grin. “We'll see, guys. Final words. Believe what Chris Rock said.”
“Oh snap!” Bro says. Then half a second later, he looks at me all confused. “Wait, what did he say?”
“'Just remember one thing – there is no sex in the champagne room. None.'”
All four of them burst into laughter again, and hop out of the car. Both back seat doors close immediately, and Arturo has to get the last word in. “Five stars, man. You rule.”
He closes the door, I pocket the four bills, tap the hazards off, and I'm rolling back onto the streets.