As we circled the block in search of parking close to the restaurant, my eyes honed in on it – a fabulous sign that would dictate the course of our evening, unbeknownst to Todd. He was too busy paying attention to any open pockets of asphalt, to understand my laughing out loud moment after reading the words:
“1000s of Beautiful Girls & 3 Ugly Ones.”
Putting my plan of action to kidnap Todd after dinner, taking him to see female strippers aside, we enjoyed a long-overdue date. It’s always a hoot to catch up with old friends – and when they’re like family – even better.
Todd is one of my people; of a small crew of family, where time spent with each other is too few and far between. We all share the same tattoo – on different patches of skin, applied at different times in our lives. It’s our wedding rings to one another, a permanent symbol showing undying, and unconditional love. Too corny? Fine, it’s our Gang Sign.
Three of us – Tattoo is a symbol for “Friendship”
We are a diverse bunch, from different backgrounds, ages, ethnicities and sexual orientations. Our common denominator is Love, which really, isn’t that what’s it’s all about? It bears no weight saying Todd is gay, other than – for the purpose of this story – it just makes for a better [true] story.
A couple toasts, flirty gazes around the room and a fun game of “is he, or isn’t he?” – and Todd and I were off to our next adventure.
“C’mon, let’s go.”
“Okay, girl. Where we goin’?”
“I told you!” (I didn’t.) Pointing to the fabulous sign across the street, I held Todd’s hand and encouraged his direction when the light turned green.
“Um, uh-uh, honey…” His feet said maybe, but his words said no.
We arrived just outside the club, where there were two twenty-something’s wearing black Spandex mini dresses, perched under the sign, smoking, chatting it up with a couple of dudes on the sidewalk.
Todd leaned up against a street sign and lit up.
“Hi, you work here?” My voice attempted hip, but came out old-lady-desperate.
“I was a stripper – twenty years ago!” Still trying too hard, but won their amusement.
Todd was watching in the wings, puffing on his cigarette, smiling at my fortitude.
“Oh, um, we’re waitresses, we don’t strip.” Their judgment permeated the Hollywood air with each exhale of smoke.
“Cool.” If I didn’t feel archaic enough, I now felt old and cheap. Any attempt at stripper-sisterhood banter fell by their 24-inch waist side.
Among certain circles, and in my day, there’s a certain strip club hierarchy, an unwritten caste system among the girls; if you were a strip-bar waitress, you were somehow deemed classier, less whore-ish than the actual strippers. Back then, I wasn’t too young to wrap my head around the thought, but now, I was old enough to appreciate the irony.
No sooner did I reply, did the night sky flash with blue and red police lights, followed by a deafening siren. Todd and I perked up at attention, checkin’ out the events across the street. It’s funny, even now, when I see or hear police, part of me still feels busted. I wonder if that ever goes away.
“There they are, dude, same time, same block, like fucking clockwork.”
“I know, right?”
It was hard not to overhear these guys, who were standing in the doorway of a pawn shop next door.
“So, you guys work here, and see this all the time?” I chimed in.
“Pretty much. It’s the same shit, every night.”
I offered a chuckle underneath my middle-aged armor of wherewithal and sensibility, but the conversation quickly fizzled. What did I have to share with these two young store clerks on Hollywood Boulevard – and why was it so damn important for me to fit in – still – in this world?
Taking a very reluctant Todd by his arm, I promised a quick visit, and we started up a dimly-lit hallway with black carpeting and walls. The familiar purple hue of neon lights peeking from the quarter-inch space between the floor and bottom of the tinted double-doors were waving me inside.
This would be Todd’s first time, and my first interview with a dancer who called herself, Valentina.
You can find the continued story HERE.