My dawg Jett, a.k.a. the lezzy Nelly, has been ailin' of late 'cause she got dumped by her squeeze of the week, some fine hoochie-mama with bodacious ta-tas. The girl went Unabomber on me, and locked herself in her room with some bud and a bottle of Tanqueray.
"What you need, playa, is a night at Skin," I tell her on the celly. "After a few lap dances, you'll leave that chickie in the rearview and be ready for the next one coming 'round the corner."
My lipsticker homie hadn't scored in at least 48 hours, and her hormones were ragin' like a Fallujah firefight. So before you can say "I'm Rick James, bitch," we're forking over $10 at the door of the Valley's poshest flesh pit. (Normally, it's $8 after 6 p.m. during the week. But on Fridays and Saturdays, it's $10 after 10 p.m.) The Scottsdale club is small but swank, with dark comfortable chairs scattered all around a small runway with stripper poles. Well-heeled businessmen and Scottsdale boys pack the place at 1137 North Scottsdale Road, with some of the hottest gals in the biz crawlin' all over them in nothing but dental-floss-thin G-strings. (For the uninitiated, clubs featuring exotic dancers can't legally serve alcohol if the chicks are, as they say in the biz, "totally nude.")
They've got a 50 Cent joint cranked so loud it's turning my eardrums to mush, and on the big flat-screen TVs, a classic Beavis and Butt-head is playing. Onstage, there's a dancer with legs like Charlize Theron, but no one's paying her any mind. The action's on the floor, where it looks like everyone's getting a lap dance. At the bar, as per our master plan, we hook up with our girl Isabelle who used to work at Skin, but who, like many an erstwhile exotic entertainer, has since moved on to an even more lucrative hustle: real estate. I'd given Izzy a phone shout to ask if she could help me help the Jett-ster beat the blues.
Though fully clothed, Iz is the hottest honey in the joint, with golden tresses that look as soft and tasty as cotton candy. We grab some cocktails, and then some seats.
"It's freezing in here," says Jett. "Is something wrong with the thermostat?"
"Naah," replies Iz. "They do that because it keeps the dancers' nipples hard."
"Hmm." Jett rubs her chin. "Good idea."
I hand Iz a roll of 20s and ask her to fill Jett's lap with lovelies while I chat up some dancers taking a break. Personally, I don't go for the dry-hump, especially not when it's $10 a dance plus a $10 tip. I'd rather get laid than get played.
Nearby, some guy uglier than R. Crumb has a lass who's a dead ringer for Jolene Blalock draped over him. I spot dancers Stacia, 26, and Haley, 24, resting their tootsies. Stacia's a tanned beauty with full lips and wild, dark brown hair past her shoulders. She's wearing a sheer red bikini that leaves little to the imagination. Haley's a blond cutie with blue eyes and her hair pulled back, wearing a sort of pink "Lady Marmalade" outfit with fishnet stockings. They tell me they make anywhere from $200 to $500 on a good night. I ask what they do with all their lap-dancing loot.
"Pay bills," says Stacia. "I normally go to school at ASU. I'm a design major. A junior. I want to do background layout for photographers."
"I use the money to take a vacation once a month with my boyfriend to Rocky Point or somewhere else. I'm an ex-Marine," volunteers Haley.
"The few, the proud, the nekkid," I josh. "How long did you do that?"
"Almost four years," she says, laughing. "I was a diesel mechanic. I got introduced to this scene while I was still in the military, going out with all my buddies. At first, it was kind of a dare, then I just decided to go for it. I don't have any problems being naked in front of other people. I'm an exhibitionist anyway."
"That's a beautiful thing," I say, cocking an eyebrow. "Stacia, how did you get in the biz?"
"I've been into dance for a long time," she explains. "I pretty much look at the human body as a form of art. I've had seven years of ballet, three years of jazz and two of tap."
"Now that's something I'd like to see, strip-tap! Gregory Hines might come back from the dead for that one," I say, grinning. "So do you guys ever, uh, get excited while you're performing for a guy or a girl?"
"Nope, never," says Stacia. "I'm very professional. I try to be a very clean dancer."
"Well," says Haley, slyly. "If I come into work and I haven't had any for a while, then I can get turned on, yes. It's not an every-day kinda thing, though."
"Ever experience the Big O?" I ask.
"Noooo," laughs Haley. "I'd be at work all the time if that were the case, huh?"
Out of one eye, I see Jett getting the treatment from some big blonde with high hair and nay-nays to rival Anna Nicole, which prompts a query: "You gals look all natural, which makes me wonder, how do you feel about plastic surgery to enhance your assets?"
"It's a mutilation of the human body," declares Stacia. "I'm totally against it."
"We've both seen so many [body alterations]," says Haley. "And they're all bad. In the dressing room, some of the things we see are awful. I'd never have it done."
The consensus: Organic is best when it comes to bosoms. Stacia and Haley have to get back to work, so I let them hobble off on their eight-inch stilettos. I prefer bare feet, but the gals inform me that club safety rules prevent them ditching the FMPs (you know, "Fuck Me Pumps").
Jett's got her head nearly nestled in another stripper's cavernous cleavage, so I decide to converse with some of the clientele. Amazingly, I start by picking out the only gay dude on the premises. How's that for gaydar? Guy's name was Doug, and he had tagged along with some non-gay friends.
"Is this your first time to a het strip club?" I ask.
"Nah," says the handsome and buffed Doug, wearing a navy-blue terry-cloth version of a Gilligan cap, a white tee shirt and chinos. "I've been to Babes, Bourbon Street, Hi-Liter, the Alaskan Bush Co., and maybe one or two more."
"Sure you're gay? So what's the difference between this and the gay version, assuming you've been to one of those?"
"It's totally different," the 29-year-old explains. "The gay ones are more about hooking up. Almost a front for prostitution, in my opinion. Here, there are more rules."
"What's the gay strip club in Phoenix?"
"I can't remember the name, but when I went a few years back, it was pretty shady, and in the warehouse district. I saw one guy I was attracted to who was clean and buff, but everyone else looked like they might have a disease."
"Do guys get lap dances from other guys?"
"In public, and then they go into the back room for private dances. I'm sure that's where a lot of stuff goes down. Up front, they have dancers that get completely naked."
"So it's like, floppin' around 'n' stuff?"
"Yeah. They might have gotten boners, but I can't remember exactly."
"What do you do for a living?"
"I'm in real estate," he says. "You know, there are a lot of ex-strippers in real estate."
"No kidding," I say, looking at Iz nearby, who's watching Jett get her grind on. "Why do you think that is?"
"It's the only profession where you can make as much as a lawyer or a doctor without having to go to school. You have to get your license, but that's it. Like, I'm going to make six figures this year."
"Damn. That's a lot of lap dances," I say. "I'm definitely in the wrong profession."
Slightly depressed, I move on to Nate, 26, an all-American dude in a tee shirt and a Kangol cap who looks like he's a senior at ASU. Actually, Nate, who's in the house with a bunch of his buds, tells me he's an insurance agent.
"I've been here quite a few times," he relates while staring at a bombshell walkin' by. "It's a little-more laid-back and comfortable than other clubs. And the girls are better looking -- definitely on another level."
"Think you have a chance with any of these women, or is that just a fantasy?"
"Oh, believe me, I know a lot of girls who work here. I see them out all the time."
"So you've dated strippers?" I bow down with both hands, Wayne's World-style. "I am not worthy."
"Actually, it's hard on a relationship once you start to care for them," he says, growing serious. "You feel like you're carrying that person to someone else. I didn't feel right asking the girl I was with to stop. But it got to the point where I couldn't deal with it anymore."
"So you killed her and buried her in the desert, eh?" I joke. "Like Triumph the Insult Comic Dog says, 'I keed. I keed.'"
He shoos me away, and I start back to Jett, who has another chick wavin' her booty all up in her face. But before I get to her, I run into Versace, a stacked blonde in a bikini who looks at me like she just stepped in Triumph's poo. Still, she's got a bod that's thicka than a snicka, so what do I care if she hates me from jump?
"I've been doing it for 10 years," she tells me, holding a roll in one hand. "It's all about the money. Big money. I wouldn't do it for nothing else."
"Do men totally disgust you now, after doing this for all this time?"
"A little bit, yeah. I've lost a lot of respect for men," she says.
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"If you feel that way, how do you go about getting the big tips?"
"It's all acting," she tells me, haughtily. "Guys try to pick me up, but I just play along."
I let Versace get back to separating the fellas from their dollars as I collect Jett, who's run through all the dough by this time, and looks happier than Courtney Love with a pound of a painkillers.
"Thanks, Kreme," she smiles up at me, her face flushed. "I needed that."