Don’t I know you? (excerpt)

tmg-gift_guide_variable_2xAs 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.

Mutherfucker.

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.”

 

Christine Macdonald

Back to the Clubs (from Waikiki, post 3)

The weather was perfect for an evening stroll. I started up Kuhio Avenue with the plan to hail a cab a few blocks in. I missed flagging taxi’s. Waikiki may not be your typical “big city” lifestyle but it’s still the type of place you can walk everywhere and when your feet tire, there’s always a cab to rescue you.

The familiarity started within two blocks of my walk. I noticed a man I used to party with – still passing out Booze Cruise tickets to young tourists. His hair was still long, like he was an extra in a Pearl Jam video. He did a double take at me when I walked by and for a second, we stopped with that “don’t I know you?” look. Not one for exchanging small talk with long-lost acquaintances from my party past, I kept walking.

The taxi dropped me off right in front of Femme Nu. This is the first [nude] club I worked in. I was just 21 when I started working there and didn’t know what to expect 21 years later. The bouncer at the door checked my purse, pulled out my camera and handed me a claim check ticket. As a tourist of Waikiki, I always have my camera in tow. I didn’t even think about taking photos inside the clubs, but it made me happy the security was tight. I worked in a different time where we didn’t have to worry if a nude photo was plastered all over the internet – there was no internet!

Once entering the club I was overcome with nostalgia, excitement and a little bit of fear. I sat at the bar, ordered a vodka cranberry and soaked it all in. The dancers seemed bored, as it was just 8:00 and the crowd was thin. After my second drink I asked the bartender for some ones and made my way to tip the girls.

“I have to support the ladies” I said, as I walked up to each of them smiling.

“Thank you!” They looked at me, smiling, wondering what my story was.

After introducing myself a couple of the gals and I chatted and they were excited to meet someone from “the old days” – someone who had stories.

I told them how different the club was, how the stages changed, the bar was on the opposite side of the club, etc. They marveled in my stories of how we used to dance on this jet stream runway – complete with shower stage and glow in the dark body wash.

I noticed each dancer had a personal pillow and was blown away by the fact that not one of the girls was actually standing up for long. They all knelt down and performed shows for the men on their knees!

“What’s up with the pillows?”

“Oh that started in the late 90s”

“It’s got to be better on your feet!”

“Oh yea – you used to dance, right?”

“Yea – in spiky shoes. Clear platform heels weren’t round back then.” I felt old but proud to be there, sharing my stories. It was nice to show them there is life after the pole.

After chatting a while with the girls I made my way to Club Rock-Za across the street. As soon as I walked in, the door man remembered me, gave me a hug and waived the cover charge. I was then greeted by Yvonne, the owner, who recognized me right away. I was so surprised to receive such a warm reception, and felt a little touched I was even remembered.

The ladies at Rock-Za had pillows too and I sat at the bar in amazement at the floor shows I was seeing.

In both clubs I noticed a lot more body art. Each girl displayed a fair amount of tattoos – something I don’t remember seeing back in my day. They also seemed younger to me, but I’m sure that’s because I am so much older now. I also noticed the lack of drugs. As a long time career party girl, I can usually tell if someone is high. I didn’t pick up that vibe once from any of the dancers. Another difference I spotted right away was the rise of their bottoms. Every gal there wore their bikini bottoms (or panties) very low waisted. I felt so old-school, thinking to myself how high-up-the-thigh we used to wear ours.

After a couple hours and a hand full of drinks, I decided I was ready to leave. I saw what I wanted, met some great ladies and came full circle.

I was surprised I wasn’t more emotional. I suppose it’s because I am at peace with part of my life I no longer feel controlled by. Walking in to my past was comfortable, but walking away felt even better.

Christine Macdonald