Another Story About a Stripper

A lot of people swear they are going to do a lot of things when each new year rolls around. Promises of drastic life changes are ritually made and ritually broken: Money will be saved, bad habits will be curtailed, more attention will be paid, etc.

Miss Candy Cantaloupes has a few vows that she is determined to keep, vows that dwarf the usual stroke-of-midnight, Andre-flavored pledges. She is giving up her life of four years as an internationally featured striptease artist. That means no more headlining tours to Tokyo, London, Montreal or New York, no more high-paying layouts in Bra Busters, Club International or Gent--Home of the D-Cups, no more appearances on Rolonda, Maury Povich, Sally Jessy Raphael or Howard Stern.

She will be leaving her plush Valley home to study biology at New York University. She will be dyeing her blond locks black. And, in one momentous act that will guide the fate of all others, Candy will have her surgically enhanced "115 ZZZ-cup" breasts returned to the way God made them. Which, she says, is "about half that size."

Candy sits in a small room off the kitchen at a west-side club called Centerfold's Cabaret. She smokes a cigarette or two, drinks a Coke. She has two shows left to go tonight, the last two she will ever do. You can hear waves of applause through the orange walls, men shouting in manly ways. The emcee, with his slick deejay voice, goads the boys on for Candy's next set with phrases that don't really seem to make sense when you think about them: "She's so smooth, she can steal the ice cubes out of your drink and it'd still be cold!!" And, "She's got more breasts than a bucket of chicken!!!" But nobody seems to be thinking about them.

For all her success in the industry, Candy isn't beautiful, she isn't a ravishing knockout, and, when she gets up onstage to dance, well, Twyla Tharp has nothing to worry about.

Candy, as she will gladly tell you, owes it all to the size of her chest. Many dancers--and countless movie stars and basic citizens--have enhancement surgery. But few feel the need to enter that Russ Meyer level of development where "healthy" becomes meaningless and "buxom" is stretched to the limit.

"My ex-husband talked me into it," says Candy, who married at 19 (she's now 23). "I was really big before. I remember I was going to walk away [from the operation]; I was in the bed saying, 'I do not want to do this.' I was so scared, to me my breasts were really large, they were perfect. But when you're that young, you listen to other people, and I didn't have my family guiding me. Nobody was giving me advice except this guy.

"He went and got the anesthesiologist, and he came in and gave me a shot to calm me down. I went to sleep for two hours, and when I woke up, I had the surgery. Afterward, I woke up and was like, 'Oh my God!' I thought, 'Well, I'm going to be married to him forever, I hope you like it, baby!'"

"Baby" liked it, all right. Candy says he recognized a meal ticket when he saw one. Or two. "He was what in the industry you call a dancer junkie--guys who go from dancer to dancer. They date no one else; they're into the strip-club thing. All they want is to get involved and take your money," she explains with an exhale of words and smoke.

"I still had braces on; I was so innocent. I had no idea what [topless] dancing was, or strip clubs, never swore or anything. This guy took over and was like, 'Oh, we need money, I've got knee problems, I can't work, blah, blah, blah.'

"And I was young and stupid, and I believed him."

Though Candy is not in search of sympathy--she plays her conversation for laughs more than anything--the lady has an almost Dickensian tale of woe to tell. She was born in the Bay Area, ran away as a young teen to escape abuse at home.

"I'm proud of myself," she says. "I made it. I didn't do drugs, I didn't party, I didn't sleep around, all the stuff you hear that dancers do. I could have ended up in prostitution, messed up on drugs, living on the street as a child. Nobody helped me out, nobody was there to pay for my college education, so I get put down for being a dancer. But society didn't give me any help to do anything else with myself."

After meeting up with the man who started her in the exciting world of professional show business, Candy got her first job at Phoenix's Cheetah I club: "When I auditioned, I was too scared to take my hands off my boobs." The hands came off, and the money came in, but not enough. As a "featured dancer," she could use her assets to travel the world and make the big money. In perfect Star 80 fashion, hubby stayed home keeping the money warm while Candy heated up the global strip-club circuit.

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Peter Gilstrap
Contact: Peter Gilstrap