It’s a Jungle Down There

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10-stripper-movies.w529.h352Nobody dreams of becoming a stripper. Little girls aren’t playing with Barbies sharing visions of clear heels. They don’t swing on the monkey bars thinking about the pole, and there certainly aren’t any high school career aptitude tests that prepare us for Champagne Rooms and table dances.

With the ink on my high school diploma barely dry, I made my stage debut in 1987. At just 19, I was a mere hopscotch and skip from Easy Bake Ovens and Lee Press On nails.

Angela and I were hanging in our neighborhood stomping grounds on the beach in Waikiki cultivating our cocoa-buttered tans. Walking back to our towels after a quick dip in the ocean, we sauntered back to our spot in front of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel (famously known as the Pink Palace). Just as we were adjusting our each chairs, not realizing we were clearly showing off our g-strings and freckles, we were approached.

“You ladies want to make an easy hundred!?” Smelling of body oil, this dude was textbook Strip-Club-Promo-Guy.  I was so distracted by his curly-haired mullet waving in the breeze and neon green Speedos that were suffocating his wet, hairy skin gleaming in the Waikiki sun.

“A hundred bucks?” Angela chimed in, dissolving my amusement.

“And all we gotta do is enter a dance contest?” She threw one of her looks. She had the exact persona of a gal who intentionally touches the wall marked “Wet Paint” out of sheer excitement that she was breaking the rules.

“Yea, you gotta dance, but in a bikini and white tank-top. Its a wet t-shirt contest. If you win, it’s an easy hundred bucks.”

Sign us up!

A few hours later we made our entrance to the club. Walking through the velvet drapes upon opening the dark-tainted double-doors, I immediately felt like a grown-up.

The room was dark and smelled of stale beer. Traces of sand decorated the floor and Jon Bon Jovi’s ‘You Give Love a Bad Name’ serenaded my entrance. Angela arrived before I did and was already working the room for voters. The contest winner was chosen based on audience applause, so the girls were all over it. I was too scared to hobnob with the young military boys so I ordered a Bud Light and found the dressing room past the tiny stage in the back.

“You here for the contest?” A tall black woman with dreadlocks and stoned eyes greeted me.

“Uh huh.” I pushed out the words in-between excited breaths.

“Well okay honey, put your name down. You got a t-shirt?” She handed me a clipboard. Her marathon-long pink nails mesmerized me.

“Yea.” I nodded, pulling out my Hanes men’s tank top to prove my preparedness. She smiled, directing me to an empty locker while greeting another girl who walked in after me.

Before I knew it my stage name was called.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, coming to the stage we have the sensational Stephanieeeeeee.” I chose my middle name because it was easy to remember.

Cloaked in a beer buzz and adrenaline, I worked my shit on stage. My Wife Beater tank was soaked and you could see straight through to my b-cups. No shame, just showmanship.

On stage I was flawless. I worked my Tawny Kitaen hair and pretended to have porcelain skin. I was worlds apart from how I felt off stage; the scar-faced Freddy Kruger girl they bullied in school. On stage I was home.

The audience loved it too and, to my surprise, I won the contest. I left the club that night with a crisp Benjamin and a new job.

Working at the club was a little different than shaking my moneymaker for a contest. Like all the girls I had to double as a waitress. There was a small fry-cook stand next to the back stage where you could feast on greasy fries and chicken wings while you watched the girls strut their stuff.

Because food was involved, wearing pantyhose on the floor was required by law. It took a certain skill to master the assembly of wearing sheer hose underneath a g-string. I rolled each side down, belly to butt crack, then fastened the nylon to the tiny patches of Lycra/Spandex covering my business.

So there I was – loving my new career as a showgirl on stage: Fabulous Stephanie. Perfect everything. Hip popping, Aqua-netted head rolling, kick ass money making Steph. I was having a blast. Bending over, taking a tip, head up, and moving on. The customers seemed like they were flocking to me, staring at my ass and smiling.

Cha ching baby, I’m a rock star.

After Mötley Crüe sang their last note I saw Angela upside down through my legs. She waved my attention and I walked off stage to meet her in the dressing room.

“Honey, come here.” She sounded serious.

“Take a look.” Angela placed my back to the floor length mirror and made me bend over, looking at my ass through my legs. Holy shit. Fuck. I was blown away. I never shaved or groomed my pubic hair. Ever. Add to that fact, the visual of my pantyhose smashed up to my g-string. It was like a scene from Alien – only hairier. A bushel of pubic hair, flattened out like a dead spider under my pantyhose. It looked like my privates were robbing a bank.

“Oh my God.” I couldn’t believe I was on stage bending over with my Bank Robber Business for the world to see. And I was smiling, asking for money! And I thought the customers were smiling because I was hot. I needed more than a razor. I needed a cocktail.

I took the rest of the night off – sneaking out the back exit so no one would see me.

After running home in shame, I turned on the TV and ran a hot bath. I grabbed a pair of scissors and a hand mirror and started lady-scaping immediately. In the background I heard Sigourney Weaver speaking. I stood up, scissors in hand and walked in to the bedroom. There she was. Ellen Ripley in all her bald glory.

I took it as a personal omen that Aliens was airing and decided to pay homage to my little freak show on stage by shaving myself completely.

If it was good enough for Sigourney, it was good enough for 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