The holidays nearly killed me.
I didn’t have much time to sleep, much less keep up with this blog. I was a busy girl:
Following up leads on my “secret admirer”, working at the lounge, working for the radio station, Christmas shopping, multiple Christmas parties, and spending time with Ashlyn’s family. Did I mention I also went up to Canada as Jean-Michel Therriot’s (the original Ashlyn) date for New Years? Yeah, I did that—I ended up staying up there longer than I planned. But I’ll get into that later.
When Art first suggested I write in this blog, we hadn’t yet had our lives turned upside down by the Trading Post Inn, and I found writing in it to be an annoyance. Since the transformation, I’ve found it to be therapeutic. During the times when I get too busy to keep up with it, a little voice nags me in the back of my head: You need to write in the blog. What’s worse is when I something happens and I say to myself “that was halfway interesting, that needs to go into the blog”—but I procrastinate, and something else interesting happens, and then something else happens-- suddenly I find myself “behind” in the blog.
In the last two weeks, several things happened that I would define as “blog worthy”. I am soooooooooo behind on this blog.
I guess I’ll start basically right after my last blog entry. Approximately two weeks ago Art and I met at the mall, caught up on what was going on with our lives and did a little shopping. I mentioned to him then that I was going to go out to Anthony’s strip club to follow up on the lead on my “secret admirer”—and that is exactly what I did two days later.
Up until turning into Ashlyn, I was a single guy in his mid thirties, living in Dallas, Texas. Growing up in Texas, there are many stereotypes about Texans that I wanted no part of—I didn’t own a pair of boots, or even a cowboy hat, and could care less about country western music. I did, however, visit some of the area’s many strip clubs from time to time. It wasn’t something I did all that often, but it was not something I avoided either. I’ve even had a few business meetings at some of the upscale gentlemen’s clubs in Dallas.
So when I was standing in front of Anthony’s club, it gave me pause. My perspective was vastly different than the last time I visited a place like that.
I had decided to drop by Anthony’s place late in the afternoon, before the after work crowd would show up. On the phone Anthony said to come by “any time” but if I wanted to really see the place hopping, come by at night—but if I wanted time to talk, come by during the day. I went with the later. Anthony’s place was all brick with no windows. When I opened the door, Gun’s n Roses’ “Welcome to the jungle” came blaring out. Inside it was dark, and a large man with Italian features was standing just inside the doorway.
I’ve had guys “undress” me with their eyes in the last few months, but usually they try to be discreet; this guy didn’t care if I knew he was giving me the once over.
He gives me a smirk and asks if I am a guest to the private party they are hosting.
I tell him no, that I was here to speak with Anthony.
“Sorry babe, auditions are on Wednesdays. Why don’t you give me your number and I’ll pass it along to Anthony.” He actually made eye contact for a split second before his eyes returned to my breasts. I think he was attempting to appear sincere.
I decided to be pleasant. I gave him a little smile and tell him no, I wasn’t here for a job, I had business with Anthony. He grunts and picks up a phone. After a short exchange he points me to the bar.
“Anthony is detained with the private party, and might be unavailable for the next half hour. You can wait at the bar.”
The place wasn’t as empty as I had hoped—In fact, it was nearly full. Where did all these guys find the time to go to a strip club on a workday afternoon? On stage a hot blonde was doing her thing. My brain did two things: One, it acknowledged that the stripper was smoking hot; two, I wondered if I was as hot as she was. I walk over to the bar area, and find an empty table—but not without getting a lot of attention from every guy I walked by. I expected this, so I smile and avoid making eye contact. I knew when I decided to visit Anthony’s place that it was going to be awkward—I knew only too well how guys act inside these clubs. It’s one of a few places a guy can go and not worry about being respectful to women—you see a pair of tits you like, you hoot and holler. I understood it, but I could still feel all the eyes on me and it creeped me out.
Anthony had an upscale place. It was even slightly decorated for Christmas, including a large Christmas tree. Nothing says Christmas like a strip club.
An attractive woman dressed in a sexy elf costume sets a drink in front of me. She points to a table on the other side of the room. A guy waves at us. “This is from Dave.” She pauses, “I think he thinks you work here.” She motioned around the room, pointing out a couple of hot looking women sharing a drink with the patrons. “Management encourages the dancers to spend time with the crowd in-between their sets.” She pauses. “So are you looking for a job? Auditions are on Wednesdays.”
“No, I’m not. I just have business with Anthony, and I’m waiting to talk to him.” I take a sip and wave an acknowledgement to Dave. I know it’s going to lead to him walking over and trying to chat me up, but I know that sooner or later some guy was going to try, it might as well be him. The sexy elf takes off and Dave wasted no time, within moments he was standing beside my table.
I think it is in my nature to be a kind person—and I try to be non-judgmental of other people. 30 seconds after meeting Dave up close a personal I knew I couldn’t stand the guy. You would think that a guy who was hoping to get up close to a stripper would wear a shirt without holes in it. Yet it wasn’t his clothes that annoyed me. It was how he opened his conversation with “You have amazing body. When do you go on stage? I can’t wait to see more.”
I only give him a partial withering stare and I tell Dave I do not work at the club. He at least had enough manners to pretend to be embarrassed. He still asked me if I wanted to join him and his friends at their table.
I wondered what I was going to do until Anthony was free. Fighting off strip club patrons was going to get tiresome. Fortunately, one of the clubs bouncers noticed me. The man was all muscle. He was tall with brown hair--and I’m sure all the real women would consider him handsome. I could care less that he looked like he could bench press a car—what did get my attention was the sound of his voice: he had a Texas accent, a thick one. It reminded me of home.
I do not have a Texas accent—I have no accent at all when I speak. As a child I had a slight stuttering problem. It really only showed up when I was excited—but my parents decided to have me see a speech therapist. She made me read into tape machines, speak while holding a lifesaver candy to the roof of my mouth, listen to her say a sentence and say it back to her--and tons of other “vocal” exercises. She did help me with my stuttering problem, and in the process, she killed any accent I might have had. It was a slight problem for me growing up; everyone around me had an accent, and I didn’t. People would always ask me where I was from, and I would shrug and say “here”. My lack of an accent has been both a blessing and a curse since I have become Ashlyn. No, I don’t sound Texan, but I don’t sound Bostonian either. People in the Northeast speak like the letter “R” has been banished from the alphabet. My new mother notices I sound differently now when I visit.
The bouncer introduced himself as Troy and asked if there was anything he could do to make me more comfortable.
“Actually, yes there is. I’m waiting to speak with Anthony. In the meantime, is there someplace else I could wait? Like someone’s office?”
Which lead me to life among the bimbos. Troy couldn’t leave me alone in an office, but he could allow me into the dressing room of the dancers.
I wasn’t sure what I expected a dressing room for strippers would be like—maybe something sexy, and comfortable. You would think the club would want to take care of its main commodities, right?
The reality is not what you would expect. It was very eye opening.
The women were hot, and in varying stages of undress. That was what you expect. What you wouldn’t expect was that the dressing room was totally uncomfortable—no where to sit, no decoration what-so-ever in the room, and it was cold. Several of the women had brought little space heaters, trying to keep warm. The room was sterile and cold. The only thing on the walls was a water stain and a poster with various rules written on it. The room was bleak, and I mentioned it to one of the four strippers in the room. Her name was Dana. “It’s a part of the game.” She tells me.
We chat. I try not to stare as she totally undresses in front of me and puts on a naughty school girl outfit.
“What do you mean; it’s a part of the game?” I ask.
“How do you think the club makes money?” She answered a question with a question.
“I hadn’t really thought about it. I guess I thought the tips and liquor.” I answer.
“You’re half right.” She starts braiding her hair. “Liquor sales are everything for the club. The dressing room is purposely uncomfortable to keep the dancers from spending too much time in here. The club wants us out there mingling with the guests—and of course, getting bought expensive, extremely watered down drinks.”
She shares her space heater with me. “Dancers keep the tips from customers, but there are a few catches.” She continues, “First, dancers are not employees of the club. We can’t be because of sexual harassment laws. Dancers are self employed; we rent the stage from the club every time we go out there. Plus, we share part of our tips with the DJ, bartender, sometimes the bouncers. “
“Interesting. It’s a lot more complicated than I thought.” I tell her.
“Yeah.” She laughs slightly, “It’s more than just taking you clothes off. You thinking about giving it a try?”
I shake my head no. “Just curious.”
We talk until Troy, the Texan bouncer, came and let me know Anthony was ready to see me. Talking to Dana was interesting—she was smart and confident. I liked her.
In sharp contrast to the dressing room, Anthony’s office was warm, comfortable and well decorated. When I walk into the room Anthony stands up and walks out from behind a huge desk. He walks over, hugs me and kisses me on the cheek.
“You get prettier every time I see you.” He tells me. He offers me a chair and he returns to behind the desk. “I don’t suppose you’ve changed your mind and are ready to become one of my girls?”
“Not today.” I emphatically shock my head no. “I have been getting gifts from a ‘secret admirer’ and I am getting more and more uncomfortable with the things he sends. I was hoping to get the return address from the gift certificates you received in the mail—the ones you received from a secret admirer. I think they might be linked somehow.”
“That is very odd.” He tells me. I Shrug.
He opens up a drawer to his desk and pulls out an envelope. He hands it too me.
In the top left corner is the return address. It read:
Secret Admirer—and then had the address for the Trading Post Inn.
There was no second guessing anymore. My secret admirer knew my secret.
I had left my sunglasses in the dressing room, so I back there before I left. Dana was still there, about to go on and do her set.
“Can I ask a personal question?” I ask her.
“Why do I strip for a living?” She had obviously been asked the question before. “DUH! For the money! I need to do it to support my habit.”
“Your habit?” I was kind of shocked, Dana seemed so together.
“Yeah, my habit—shopping. I tried the old traditional 9 to 5 job thing. You can’t afford $400 shoes on a regular job.”
I’ll finish my Holiday recap over the weekend.