There’s lots I love about strip clubs.
In the right frame of mind, with the right perspective, they can be a ton of fun. I love the sheer quantity of women in the bigger clubs, the variety, the seeming infinitude of women. Women of every shape, size, hue, style. There’s something glorious to me about that. And, the structure of the thing: fantasies are on offer, front and center. My fantasies are, within certain parameters, catered to.
And when I’m in the right frame of mind, in the right club, with the right stripper, and, most often, with the right company (because, for me, solitude is almost perfectly negatively correlated with “the right frame of mind,” at least when it comes to strip clubs) – then? It’s just a ton of fun. We all are on the same page, doing the same thing. I’m happily spending money in exchange for something that feels playful and fun and just a tiny bit transgressive. But there’s the sense that, never mind the commercial aspect, we all are having fun. Maybe this is good acting by a stripper, maybe not. I’m inclined to think that, if she’s acting, it won’t work so well on me. And while I don’t imagine all strippers love their jobs, or love dancing for/with me, neither do I imagine that none do, that none can, that none could.
I’m pretty sure dancing in a club is work, and that, like any work, some dancers love their job, some hate it, some have good days, some have bad days, some enjoy individual interactions with individual customers, some don’t. I get the artifice that’s central to the product, but I also don’t imagine artifice is, necessarily, inescapable.
Anyway…. All that is when things are good.
My life has brought me to strip clubs when things are good, sure. But it’s also found me in them when I’ve not been in that right frame of mind, when I’ve been sad, disconnected, lonely, hurting, lifeless. I’ve used strip clubs just as I’ve used all sorts of other sexual experiences, to numb myself, to escape. I’ve quoted Dan Savage before, even this line, but he has said that strip clubs are a place you can go to see a little part of yourself die. I’ve done that. Died a little, sitting in a strip club, miserably taking in the mirror image of the fantasy of infinitude, of possibility, I described above.
In this form, strip clubs are where I go not to remind myself of the power of fantasy, but of the depths of my undesirability. In this mode, strippers are stand-ins for all the women in the world who don’t desire me, who see me as, at best, invisible, and, at worst, a way of gratifying their needs – needs which are defined not with reference to mine, but in opposition to them. The way desire and fulfillment works in this context is zero sum, and it is reduced simply to money. The twenty I hand a dancer increases her account by precisely the amount it reduces mine, and that is the entirety of the transaction.