Thursday, April 19, 2012

The real strippers who inspired BELIEVE IT OR NOT

People often ask how I research my romantic comedies. In the case of Believe it or Not – which stars a hero who owns a bar featuring male exotic dancers – what they’re really asking is whether I got paid to watch men take off their clothes.

The answer? Sorta.

My first exposure (ha!) to the world of male strippers was more than a decade ago. I was sent with a female colleague on a business trip to Scottsbluff, Nebraska. Within 24 hours, we’d exhausted all entertainment opportunities available within the city limits.

Then we saw it. A flyer for a troupe of male exotic dancers called, “The Men of Texas.”

We got there a full hour before showtime, which gave us the opportunity to watch the arrival of every female Nebraska resident between the ages of 21 and 101. By the time the men took the stage, we were packed like sweaty sardines alongside several hundred women attired in more Spandex than is legally allowed in most states.

We held our breath as The Men of Texas filed out one by one. There they were, in resplendent glory – a well-tanned musclehead wearing a knee brace. A balding man in a cowboy hat who appeared to be the approximate age of my father. A vacant-eyed blond who would eventually become the inspiration for Jamie in Believe it or Not.

These were our strippers.

The crowd went wild, and bartenders circulated with test tubes of neon-colored liquid. I knocked back two, assuming it was a required step in fully enjoying the performance.

The first entertainer to take the stage was the older guy,who’d traded his cowboy hat for a polyester Air Force uniform secured with Velcro. Another performer cued up a battered boombox with a crackly version of “Danger Zone” from Top Gun.

It didn’t take long for the performer to thrust and gyrate his way out of the Velcro uniform. What remained was a g-string so tattered, I’d hesitate to scrub my bathroom floor with it.

He began to gesture with a pair of flashlights covered in red cellophane, an apparent pantomime of bringing in an aircraft – or in this case, a second stripper. As the two gyrated side by side, one of the flashlights kept flickering out.

I made a crack to my colleague about the sexual dysfunction symbolism, but she didn’t hear me. Her attention was diverted by the third stripper, who had approached from behind and began to hump the back of her chair. So exuberant were his efforts, he knocked her glasses off her face and onto our plate of hot wings.

I couldn’t make this up if I tried.

By then, the other two strippers concluded their act. The blond one approached with a dollar bill and pointed at my cleavage. “I want to put this in there.”

I looked at the crumpled, sweaty money, and tried not to imagine where it had just been. “Isn’t this supposed to work the other way around?"

He stared at me, the neon beer sign flickering in his eyes.“Huh?”

“Never mind,” I said, fishing a dollar out of my purse and feeling a little sorry for the guy. “Here you go.” I stuffed it in the side ofhis thong and reminded myself to wash my hand before eating any hot wings.

He smiled and sauntered off, his well-oiled butt cheeks glistening beneath the lights of the disco ball.

So that, my friends, is my most memorable experience with the world of male exotic dancers. Not very exotic, perhaps, but certainly good inspiration for a romantic comedy.

Got a stripper story of your own? Please share!

I need to wash my hands again.


Jessica Lemmon said...

A group of my friends thought it'd be fun to have one of these guys perform after a Pure Romance party. Which I had to host (but of course!) and half way through his act, he tugged his g-string and said, "For an extra $50 I do all nude." Now I should mention, he was a very attractive guy, but no joke, 8 pairs of hands raised up in a STOP motion and in unison we all shouted, "NO!"

...that's the difference btwn men and women! ;)

Diane Henders said...

Back in the day, there was a bar here in Calgary where they took everything off. That was where I learned this valuable life lesson: don't sit too close to the stage. Those guys do a fast pirouette, and you're going to end up with more than a pair of glasses in your hot wings.

'Nuff said.

Jason said...

I want to wash my hands after reading about you needing to wash your hands. I've been a couple times with bachelor parties and it really isn't my thing. And they never have good beer at those places.

Kristina L. Martin said...

Back in my college days when everything was less affected by gravity, I dated a guy who paid his way thru college by stripping.

I saw one of his performances and let's just say I wasn't surprised he was graduating from a private college with no debt.

Anonymous said...

Ha! So that's how you "research". You just take from experiences past. Maybe I should add in a stripper scene to my Chick Lit novel. My sister had a male stripper at her bachelorette party a decade ago! That was a crazy night. I'm embarrassed just thinking about it :/

jkmahal/supernatural betty said...

On my first night after moving to Key West, my gay uncle took me on a tour of all of the male strip bars in the city. I saw men dancing on bar tops, handling themselves with discreetly placed cloth, I saw a guy do the equivalent of a pole dance. Then we went to a bar with two guys in the whole place watching a 20-something-year-old with the aforementioned vacant eyes strip to his skivvies.

After, the stripper asked if he could buy me, the only girl in the bar, a drink and then asked me out. He was sweet, but it was clear he really hated what he did. He just couldn't figure out what else to do. I said no thanks and never saw him (or the inside of those strip bars) again.

I also saw a crazy all-male revue in New Orleans with the same aforementioned uncle. It was a much more crowded experience.

Strip bars, not my thing.

middle child said...

Stripper story? Sure. Way back in the day we went to this club and one of the male strippers kept wagging his "floppy disc" at me. I was possibly the only one who thought this was NOT sexy. I had my mouth covered so I wouldn't laugh out loud.

Now the stripper we hired for my daughter's bachelorette party? Bring it on! He was an Adonis!!!!

Linda G. said...

When TG and I were first married, we took on all kinds of projects to make ends meet. One of the more *cough* creative things TG used to do was build props for the dancers at a male strip club. My favorite was the vibrating billy club he made for the "police officer." Fun stuff!