Fascination Street: A Dream Journal Entry.
Kevin and I were parallel parked next to a cliff in what seemed like an empty piece of land off the Hollywood hills. We were in separate cars. He, in front of me and I was parked directly behind him. The scene below was bustling with the typical energy of big city afternoons preparing for the night. Street lamps and storefront signs began to open their eyes while the sunburned horizon melted in to its haze. The air around us was still.
We spoke to each other while sitting in our driver’s seats with the windows rolled down. We each had our wallets on our laps and were counting out loud the money we had saved. We were excited and happy.
I saw her spring on to Kevin first. An amped up girl armed with a long black cane with a metal tip. The cane looked more like a prop than a weapon but we knew what she was using it for. She slammed the roof of Kevin’s car and pierced through his open window on the driver’s side. Neither of us screamed, but were surprised enough to jump a little in our seats. I sat in my car watching every move she made through the window. She leaned in over Kevin, peered in to his car and noticed me watching her through his rear window.
Suddenly I was the one who was nose to nose with this girl. I looked in her eyes and noticed thick false lashes were caked on, like they had been worn far too long. Her dark hair was thick and long and her bangs covered most of her face.
“You are really pretty” I was unafraid and wanted her to know I could see her through her mask of make-up. I held on to my wallet, almost waiting for her pull it from my grasp.
For some reason, our little friend did not take our money but she waved her cane in our personal space long enough to remind us that she could have.
After she walked away Kevin and I heard the voice of a hiker in the distance. We assumed he was a social worker or police officer who knew this girl. “She is just looking for a place to sleep tonight”. He assured us we were out of harm’s way.
Kevin and I remained in our cars but shared a conversation through our smiles, letting the other know we were okay. We still had our wallets and took comfort in knowing we did have a place to sleep, a place to call home.
After closing our bedroom curtains together getting ready for bed, the ground began to rumble. The rumble morphed into a shake and almost as soon as it began, we saw coverage of it on the nightly news. Another jolt quickly followed. Having already lived in southern California ten years, I was used to earthquakes but they still made my heart thump a little heavier. I looked at Kevin, now sitting on the bed watching the news coverage and could see he was unaffected.
Kevin fell asleep and I found myself walking down the hill in to the city streets. I dressed in an old stripping costume and made my way through the crowd, under the lights looking for the club.
The tiny hot dog stand was still across the street and the old Vietnamese man who owned it remembered me. The humid air coupled with his musky cologne carried me back to a place that was hauntingly familiar yet comfortable.
The view after walking in the dressing room reminded me of what I imagine any college dorm room would be like, but with much more sequence and make up. I caught a glimpse of myself in the smudgy mirror behind the door and noticed I was wearing purple Velcro rollers in my hair. The other girls stared at me but I was unaffected. I was confident in knowing I was retired and in their eyes, an old housewife. Why not work the angle and make the rollers part of my shtick?
I had a vague memory of songs I wanted to dance to so I quickly made my way up to the DJ booth before I forgot them. The booth was perched above the stage like a tree house and I needed to step up a ladder to meet the man in charge of the music. A stout, handsome African America man with a shaved head greeted me. He wore a navy blue t-shirt, flip-flops and khaki knee length shorts. He was smoking a cigarette, sitting on a tattered mahogany bar stool with hundred’s of CDs surrounding him. I didn’t want to disturb his chaos but wanted at least one song to call my own on stage so I extended my hand.
After telling him my name I placed my request. “Do you have Fascination Street by The Cure?” It suddenly occurred to me I was older and he may not know who The Cure was. After a little mind search behind his eyes, the DJ nodded and spoke.
“Oh yea, yea, yea, yeeeeaaa, I got that one”. He seemed cool enough to show his appreciation for my taste in old school alternative.
Before I waked on stage I noticed a barrier blocking the entry steps.
“Oh!” My voice turned up a notch in surprise. “This is… new”. I spoke to anyone who was listening and could explain this metal contraption to me. It reminded me of what you walk through when you go to Disneyland.
“Oh here, we have a new way to track how many girls we have a night”. I heard a voice within the thick wall of smoke in under the DJ booth at the foot of the stage. He was a pale, lightly bearded man who looked like a cross between David Caruso and Dog The Bounty Hunter.
“Let me take care of this for you”. He placed two quarters in the machine and guided my steps through the carrousel. My hips felt the clicking of the stripper counter. It felt like walking through a time machine. I took comfort in knowing Caruso Dog liked what he saw, hair curlers and all. It felt good to think, after all these years I still had it.
Assuring him that my special performance was just a one-time thing, I looked back over my shoulder. “Thanks. I won’t be here every night”. He just nodded and took a drag from his cigarette and walked away.
Before I started to dance I heard the introduction to Fascination Street. The base guitar pulsed through my veins like an old lover coming back for more. I forgot how much I loved this song. The base was soon welcomed by electric sounds of the guitar and I before I knew it was off, floating in a sea of melody and movement. Standing four feet above the crowd, beads of sweat responding to the neon lights, my body along for the ride. My head swayed in unison to my hips and my eyes closed to breathe each pulse of the notes. I could feel the crowd watching me. Apathetic to the money or my competition on stage, I continued to float down Fascination Street. Fucking awesome place to ride.
Hearing the DJ’s voice shifted my presence some. I expected to hear the familiar rumble of a baritone voice mixed with radio-type exuberance so I didn’t stop dancing all together. What I didn’t expect was what he called me.
“Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for…Christineeeeeeee”.
Christine? CHRISTINE??? How did he know my real name?
My mind traveled out of myself in to the DJ booth and suddenly I realized I introduced myself as Christine. I was used to having people “give it up for Stephanieeeeeeee” not “Christineeeeeeeee”. I felt completely off my game. I tried to move but was frozen so I looked around the room.
There were two other girls I shared the small stage with. One wore a white leather bikini with shiny rhinestone studs and the other was in all black. The girl in black had heavy bangs and day old false eye lashes. As soon as I passed her by on the runway I knew she was the same girl who tried to scare Kevin and I up on the hill.
I could feel her drug induced energy so I stayed out of her way. This was her territory and I remembered she needed to make money to find a place to sleep that night. My plan to steer clear backfired because when she noticed I didn’t pay her any attention she immediately approached me. We were standing next to the pole and the song was coming to a close but still loud enough to fill the silence between us. She spoke first.
“It’s you,” She was trying not to laugh at the sight of my Velcro curlers.
“I think you are really pretty” I was telling the truth. She didn’t thank me but I could tell she was happy to hear the compliment again even though I knew she didn’t believe it.
She kept working on stage, and I tried to stay out the way of both girls. My head ducked under a couple of times and I was almost hit in the head with a six-inch stiletto. I laughed inside knowing that my rollers would provide some protection.
The next song on stage was En Vogue’s Something To Believe. It’s a very slow, strut-worthy song and perfect for stripping.
Still feeling out-of-place after hearing my real name over the loud-speaker, I decided I was ready to leave. Before the song was over I took off my shoes and made my way down the side steps next to the back bar. I stood there anticipating the familiar throb of pain that rushed from the balls of my feet through to my heels. No one noticed I got off stage. I took a moment with myself to observe the crowd.
Aside from the new girls and customers, the bar was exactly the same. The room was still dark, filled with cigarette smoke and smelling of stale beer. The music was still played way too loud and the dancers all seemed way too skinny.
Carrying my stilettos across my shoulders, walking with bare feet on the dirty carpet, I couldn’t wait to leave. I looked down to my right thigh to see how much money I collected. Only a couple one-dollar bills lay flat under my garter and I didn’t seem to care. I was going home.
It’s been nearly fifteen years since I worked as a stripper. I’ve remembered many dreams from drug use to abusive relationships. This is the first dream where I woke up feeling a sense of enlightenment.
I love that I wore curlers on stage and my real name was announced. I feel empowered knowing I was not afraid of the girl who tried to scare Kevin and I up on that hill. The fact that I complimented her twice, through her mask of pain makes me realize I am coming full circle.
The girl on the hill with the cane, the same girl on stage with the day old false eyelashes was me. I needed to tell her no matter what, she was beautiful. I woke up this morning knowing that it was true.