One of the things I love about strip clubs is how alive they can make me feel.
One of the things I hate about them is how dead they can make me feel.
Much depends on my motivation on walking in.
I’ve been to strip clubs for the purpose of having fun – to look at beautiful women, to touch and be touched by beautiful women, to admire. When this is my purpose, I have fun. I crave, seek, and sometimes find human interactions. Sure, they’re with performers, and sure, they’re performing. But in this mode, I (like to think I) have something of a nose for the women who enjoy their work, the ones who aren’t dissociating to survive, but who are working at a job that’s shitty sometimes, fun others. And I hope to be part of that fun.
But I’ve also been for the purpose of escaping. Escaping deadness, pain, boredom, sadness, anger. When this is my purpose, I tend to dissociate, to leave my “self” at the door. In this mode, I’m a ghost, a shadow. I escape what I’m looking to escape, but at a high cost. The women dancing, waiting tables, massaging, aren’t real to me. They’re objects, there for my stimulation. What matters to me isn’t a woman’s attitude or experience, but solely her looks and her touch.
The ethos of strip clubs leans heavily in this latter direction, with dancers and patrons both gazing into the middle distance, struggling mightily to avoid any real connection, any acknowledgement or confirmation that either is a real human being, making real choices, present in a tawdry space together.
I hate this.
From time to time, I imagine a different kind of venue, one designed not to extract the maximum amount of money from the maximum number of men, but rather, to cater to my preferences, to feed my fantasies.
In this strip club, hiring would be selective, ambitious. As would admission. Women would be dressed as they dress for the rest of their lives – in jeans, leggings, suits, what have you. Admission prices would be hefty, but would include time with the women. Not dances, but time. I could direct the women as I see fit: open your legs for me. Take that off. Touch me here. Women would be free – genuinely free – to decline. Tipping would be prohibited.
It’s hard to know how this would work, but I’d like to see it tried.
Did you know that Portlanders call this city the strip club capital?