January 1997
s m u g
bumping uglies
by Todd Levin

The Man Who Loved Cat Dancers...

While trying to find an appropriate subject for the flagship installation of this recurring feature, pounding my head against the rubberized wall of my converted apartment bedroom, and slowly realizing I know about as much about healthy, open sex as the average Cosmo columnist -- which is, of course, absolutely nothing (I read recently, in Harper's Conspiracy Bazaar, that the articles in Cosmo are written exclusively by freelance robots whose computer brains register a falsified set of personal experiences based on a single large memory/experiential information receptor known as the Zalman-RSD chip, named so because this memory chip is supported exclusively by an endlessly looping string of broadcast Zalman King productions, mastermind creator of the Red Shoes Diaries series. If you carefully piece together Cosmo sex advice columns over a seven month stretch, and try to actually mind-visualize the perfect Cosmo man being blabbed about month after month, you will discover that said stud is not Jon Davidson or David Hasselhoff -- although that Hasselhoff centerfold with the Shar-Pei puppies, by itself, ought to dispel any hope one might hold that Cosmo is actually run by thinking, fucking, crapping humans -- but that he is, much to your chagrin, no doubt, none other than Mickey Rourke, the quintessential baggy-assed, no wits Zalman King first-class pussyhound), I became slightly pants-peeing nervous.

I thought, okay, I sure talk about the stuff enough, I know what things smell like, taste like, look like in mid-afternoon. I have probably worked every pore on my body for knowledge on this subject, but I have no formal qualifications and, ultimately, besides the stains on my sheets and that one stain on my ceiling (don't ask. I'm still in litigation on that particular item), I am probably a bit detached from the subject, all things considered. Anyhow, that didn't stop me from proposing this feature, nor is it going to stop me from pursuing it. In fact, that inability to approach the subject formally due to a painful detachment is exactly what I think I am going to exploit time and time again (I have precious little choice). That aside, I'd like to talk today about strippers. After all, what could be more detached from pure sexual experience than sitting in a chair with a crumpled up Members Only jacket stuffed in your lap, handing your hard-earned money to a mostly naked lady for absolutely no services rendered except the production of aching testicles?

It's not Just a Job

I know really good strippers won't date me. I have thought short and hard about this subject. A little while after my brief fascination with dating models (not supermodels, mind you. I would prefer to be in a relationship with someone who still has something left to which she can aspire), I started entertaining the idea of what it would be like to have a stripper girlfriend. And when I say "stripper girlfriend" I am not speaking about someone who is stripping as a means to a remote end but, rather, a serious career stripper. Someone who has invested serious capital in wigs, heels, and body glitter.

For one thing, getting undressed for bed would be a long, arduous but terrifically arousing process (though it would become unnerving undressing every night while Guns 'N' Roses' "Paradise City" blared from a portable stereo by the bed). But, all in all, I think we could have a nice, normal life together, when I wasn't alone and obsessively thinking about strange, drunk guys staring into her asshole like they were picking out a lobster in a fish tank. Essentially, in the female-stripper world (I know absolutely nothing about male strippers, except that they don't get all the way nekkid, which you will know is a very good thing if you've ever had the displeasure of witnessing one dance totally naked with a free-spirited flaccid dick. It is, understandably, quite distracting, and completely ridiculous), there are three different breeds of naked dancer. They are as follows:

1. The Bionic Stripper
2. The Runaway
3. The Zing-o-Stripper

A Career Choice

I will say right now that if you are interested in testing your Stripper Dating Potential, you are going to be very disappointed when you discover your chances of dating a Bionic Stripper are almost zero. These women are very, very focused. They have really made stripping a big priority. In many cases they have managers. If you are at a gentleman's club (really cool strip clubs are called gentlemen's clubs although you would be hard-pressed to find a gentleman anywhere on premises, unless your definition of gentleman allows for guys with loosened ties and uncontrollable boners. You will know if you are at a gentleman's club when the bouncers are really soft-spoken and the drinks cost like $15 each. Personally, I find $15 drinks really distracting and have noticed that they severely impede my ability to produce and sustain a satisfactory boner) you will find the Bionic Stripper. She doesn't look like a stripper. In fact, she usually doesn't look like a regular woman. The Bionic Stripper makes a shitload of money and actually kicks some of that salary back into her career.

Breasts, lips, butts, legs, skin, younameit, have been cosmetically and genetically altered to perfectly accommodate the art of High Power Stripping. You can literally bounce a quarter off every square inch of these strippers' bodies (I have done this and, as a result, been barred from some of the better clubs in the metropolitan area. Mental note: 20 quarters does not necessarily equal a five dollar tip). You cannot date the Bionic Stripper. Get it out of your mind right now. They have other, more career-oriented things to think about (although they have had one less thing to think about now that the steamy late-night hit series, The Hitchhiker, has long been canceled from HBO). They have to manage their way into Penthouse pictorials, guest spots on Xena, and perhaps wrangle their way into one of those provocative straight-to-video Gregory Dark films like Naked Cop Lady or whatever the hell they're called. Bottom line: they have no time for you, so save your small bills for Beech-Nut gum.

My Little Runaway

With The Runaway stripper, you have greatly increased your chances of pursuing a meaningful monogamous relationship. The Runaway Stripper is typically from a broken home, with substance abusing dads and/or moms and the occasional case of weirdly religious, yet sexually creepy parent or guardian. They have moved to the Big City (or, ideally, are employed in the very town in which they grew up and attended high school) not necessarily to take off their clothes and dance slowly and tediously to "Superfreak", but that's usually what ends up happening. Unlike the Bionic Stripper, who dates very rarely and when she does, it is generally rock stars, her professional manager, or someone who could beat you so shamelessly that you would actually have to leave the particular county in which the beating occurred and quietly relocate to another stripper-friendly county, the Runaway is constantly dating and at times, it seems, even goes home with generous and quietly attentive customers(!). The beauty of the Runaway Stripper is that she is down-to-earth, can usually entertain you for hours with stories of fellating a second-string roadie because she thought he could get her into Kip Winger's hotel room, and is constantly searching for the kind of dad she never had. I'm not saying these things are the perfect ingredients to a long relationship but they are probably enough to warrant a second date.

Be careful though, because it is very easy to get wrapped up in the whole "I can take you away from all of this" deal with the Runaway because, when it comes down to it, the Runaway actually does want to be taken away from all of this. It is no coincidence, then, that the Runaway attracts a much higher stalker contingent (upon seeing Hollywood's smash, Striptease, I couldn't help but be bothered that this little weaselly guy who had an unnatural crush on Demi Moore's Stripping Mom character, was able to get as close as he did to Demi's Hemis. There are two fallacies at play here. First, there's no way a stripper with the kind of elaborate costumes Demi had would be shaking her booty at a club called The Eager Beaver. And second, if Demi was working where her costumes -- but not her crappy dancing -- seemed to indicate she should be working, that little weaselly guy would have been beaten into lumped-over vanilla pudding by a 'roids-raging bouncer before he got within 20 feet of Demi). There is something undeniably sad and sweet about the Runaway, but lasting power in a Runaway Stripper relationship is totally unpredictable. You never know when her real biological dad may show up at the club to "take her away from all of this."

Zing! Went the G-String!

Finally, the weirdest of all strippers is the Zing-o-Stripper. This is the "strictly office parties and private birthdays" variety of stripper. While unquestionably a career-style naked dancer, she is more or less a fakey sort of stripper. The Zing-o-Stripper has derived all of her stripping knowledge from bad Hollywood films (in that respect, we already have something in common and are probably off to a pretty good start compatibility-wise) and it shows. I was trapped at an office birthday party once with a Zing-o-Stripper, who danced to -- everyone say it along with me now -- "Wild Thing" and moved with the boring predictability of an episode of Walker: Texas Ranger with about 1/10th of the action. It was more embarrassing than anything else, especially since, after seeing her overfed thonged ass in broad daylight, there was no chance she would be inhabiting any of my twisted fantasies presently or any time in the future. In fact, all I could think of while she was jiggling (and when I say "jiggling" I am speaking of a sort of unpleasant below-the-waist style of jiggling) was, "don't I have some inter-office memos to write or something?"

The Zing-o-Stripper is sketchy in her dateability. This is not because she is unattainable because, except for an unusually high instance of marriage and legitimate children when weighed against the rest of the exotic dancing world, she is not completely unapproachable. Rather, I have always felt that the Zing-o-Stripper does not take her job as seriously as I would like her to and this sort of grates on me. There is always a tongue in cheek factor worked into her performance and, honestly, if she can't concentrate on her job, how can I expect her to be able to concentrate on building a serious stripper-stripper groupie style relationship? Therefore, in sizing up the Zing-o-Stripper for a casual dating relationship with potential for toothbrush sharing, one must consider this: is the Zing-o-Stripper's sense of self-parody infused with clever irony, or is she just copying some moves she saw in a Simon and Simon rerun on the USA Network and simply happy to be dropping her kids off at daycare getting out during the day with a little career? Proceed with caution.

While I do not know if I will ever date a stripper, just as I do not know if I will ever get used to the smell of cooked asparagus, I think it would be premature to rule it out entirely. In the meantime, I'm saving up my ones and fives and stocking my record collection with L.A. heavy metal CDs because I have had my eye on an intriguing gal named Tia over at the strip club near the freeway exit ramp, and I'm pretty confident that, if given the chance, I could take her away from all of this.


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