As the fourth and final song faded and the DJ worked the crowd for applause, I made my way off the center stage. The balls of my feet were throbbing and I couldn’t wait to release my toes. Beads of sweat tickled the small of my back and my cocaine-fueled heart thumping inside my chest served as a reminder I was alive.
As soon as I reached the edge of the stage I kicked off my stilettos and prepared for my final set in the shower, complete with jet-stream runway.
Still naked from performing, I grabbed the bills and garters from each thigh, threw them in a ball on the floor and covered the stash with my dress. After exchanging non-verbal assurances that my loot was safely guarded by my favorite bouncer, Tuli, I stepped in the shower and turned on the water inside the Plexiglass stall.
Waving a smile to the audience, I began to sponge up with the bottle of Prell shampoo that was provided by management. Prell gave this cool neon green glow under the black lights. We all looked like The Hulk but with better hair, slimmer waists, bigger tits and hairless vaginas.
The shower stage always drew in a big crowd. A nude chick, sudsing up with wet hair, strutting up and down a jet stream runway – what’s not to love?
Deana followed my set and I loved her taste in music, which meant I’d have a ball performing my wet-n-wild show while she worked the center of the room. I threw her a smile from my corner, nodding in appreciation as Faith No More vibrated through the overhead speakers. We both mouthed the words to the crowd:
“You want it all, but you can’t have it… It’s in your face, but you can’t grab it!”
Teasing customers was a blast – even more so when the music was rad.
Receiving tips in the shower was different from collecting them on the main (dry) stage. Customers loved slapping the bills on our wet bodies. Never one to disappoint, I always bent over standing on the tips of my toes and my ass in the air, allowing spanks with every dollar bill. The guys took such pleasure in sneaking a ‘touch’; I took pleasure in their cash. Some girls hated the spank-tips but I didn’t mind. As long as they stayed on my ass and didn’t get south of the border, I was cool.
As the final song began my ass-slappers started to thin out leaving me alone to survey the audience. My hips swayed to Fire Woman, by The Cult; another ass-kicking Deana choice. I was all smiles in tune with the guitar riffs until my eyes landed on a familiar face from high school walking through the red velvet curtains.
My eyes bolted off the runway to the dressing room and I thought of running; but my body was frozen seeking comfort in the pockets of my breath. The cigarette smoke-filled air served equal parts drama and suspense and he walked straight toward me as soon as he saw who I was. Pretending not to see him, I spun around whipping my water-soaked hair like I was a back up dancer in MTV’s Beach House.
My world was suddenly in slow motion. The butterflies inside my belly were choking on the reality of his presence.
“Hey, hey… !” I knew he was talking to me but kept dancing.
“I know you. Christine, right?” He pushed.
Christine? Nobody called me that name. Nobody even knew me as her. My stage name was Stephanie; Christine was buried in the chaos that was my life.
Realizing he wasn’t going to stop, I replied with the same volume as the thumping in my chest and the base vibrating the walls.
“Nope. My name is Stephanie.” My voice was shaking and my knees struggled to support me.
“No, it’s Christine. I know you.” His smirk was the same as I remembered.
“Wrong girl.” I said without blinking. Suddenly I wished I really was The Hulk.
“No, you went to Kaiser High School!” He actually smiled.
With unabashed purpose I lowered by body leveling to his eyes. I was still trembling but there was no way he was going to win. Not this time.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. My name is Stephanie. You got the wrong girl.” I looked him square in the face, determined to take back that night seven years ago when I was a 13 year old girl away at camp on the beach.
He shook his head and threw me a smirk. He knew I was full of shit. And I knew that he knew.
As I straightened up and walked away the DJ began to speak and I was saved. I grabbed my towel from the floor, leaving my cash, shoes and dress on the stage. I bolted past him through the crowd to the dressing room. He tried to block me but I navigated my ass and kept walking.
In the safety of the space with the other girls getting ready for their set, I pulled a breath from the well of my past and began to cry. My body was trembling and I clutched on to my friend Alison, who was lining her lips in front of the mirror. I couldn’t speak.
“What, honey? What is it?” Alison held me close and rubbed my back.
Still, no words.
“Did someone try to touch you?” Her tone was firm, and I could tell she was ready to kick someone’s ass.
Shaking my head no, I opened my locker and pulled out my purse. I couldn’t stop panting.
“Holy shit, Stephanie, what the fuck happened?” She went from pissed to worried.
I dumped some blow on the dressing room counter and snorted.
Alison kept rubbing my back.
“It’s okay sweetie.” Her voice shifted to maternal.
Sitting naked on the stool with my towel draped around my hips, I wiped tears from my face and found the words.
“I saw him.” My breath was heavy.
“Who?” She offered me a cocktail napkin as tissue.
“The motherfucker who raped me.”