Thursday, June 28, 2012

Empire State of Mind

I went to a bachelorette party last weekend in New York City. This was my third trip to the Big Apple in eighteen months, after having never been in my entire life. Every time I go all I want is to live there, soak it up, experience everything it has to offer. I imagine I'm in a chick flick, a rom-com, a crappy sitcom where I complain about my life while everything goes right and exactly as I planned. This last time, I felt almost at home while I walked around. Not that I had any idea whatsoever where I was geographically at any time, but I knew I could find my way. And if not, there were plenty of cabbies willing to take me on the (very) scenic route to my destination.

Anyway, that whole opening was actually just a lead-up to what I really wanted to talk about: male strip clubs. I mean, it was a bachelorette. It's what one does, right? I honestly don't know. I've only been to one bachelorette party in my life, for my very best friend, and we went to dinner and went dancing and there was penis shaped candy and a huge inflatable penis but other than that, a pretty normal night out.

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See? I'm wearing a Care Bear shirt for christ's sake.

This party though, it was well thought out. Beautiful hotel, plans for a show (finally saw Rent! Hollerrrrrr!), classy dinner, we went sightseeing. And then, Mantasia happened.

So with Magic Mike coming out, I feel it's only right to let ladies know what they're actually in for at these joints. Obviously, the movie's not yet out so I haven't seen it, but I've seen previews (and movies) so I can guess how this goes. There are elaborate shows with actual dancing! Human connection! Brutally hot guys! Well, with my highly scientific sample of one male strip club, I can tell you that all you're going to find is #3. True, in abundance, but if you want to touch one of them in their underwear, that's extra.

I went because everyone else was going, which sounds really pre-teen and peer-pressure-y, but it wasn't. Your bosom pal only gets married once (don't you piss on my parade here, THEY ARE MEANT TO BE), and if she wants to go to a strip club, you go. I had a wonderful time watching everyone and buying unsuspecting friends lap dances, but I myself did not touch a single washboard ab. Though I did have a nice conversation with a fellow who was dry humping the girl behind me (the place was seriously like the basement at an eighth grade party... or-- how I think one of those parties would have been, if I'd ever been invited). There were tons of married ladies and bachelorettes there and I figured out why, just yesterday. Single girls can get insincerely flattered at any club, any night. For someone in a committed relationship, a male strip club is paradise. You get to flirt and touch and be coy without any feelings of guilt whatsoever (until you realize you've put the grocery money down that dude's pants). Single girls though, we get that shit all the time.

For example, I am NOT in any way a "hot girl." I go days with no guys but homeless ones talking to me. No one stops me on the train to ask me spontaneously for coffee or even for my name. I'm lucky if I get an "excuse me" as they trod across my feet. Yet, put me in a club on the weekend, say, a Friday night in NYC, and guys can't stop telling me how beautiful I am, how good of a dancer I am, and ask me to come home. Sometimes, I even get a drink out of the deal. If I want to be insincerely flattered, I don't need to pay twenty bucks for a lap dance, I can just go to any place that has dancing within a couple of hours of last call!

Now for sure, many of the women there (my friends included) just wanted to ogle the models and laugh about it later, but so many women there were clearly just dying for someone to tell them they were beautiful. Honestly, why else would these guys lead with that?

I was talking to my friend Holli yesterday and was so taken by the disparity between male and female fantasy. In strip clubs for men, no touching is allowed, there's no emotional connection, it's just raw nakedness. In this strip club for women, it was all about emotional connection. "You're so cool," "You're so pretty," over and over. Not only touching, but simulated sex acts on stage. These guys are working hard for their money (not that lady strippers don't!). It's just interesting, isn't it? For men, just flash some bewbs and grind on their lap without expectation. For women, make us believe you like us. While we know deep down that this is a job, the expectation is that we'll still feel targeted.

I wish I could come up with some brilliant sociological or anthropologic explanation for it, all I can really say is that it shows how much deeper women are than men. We appreciate a beautiful form, but man. We still want to believe we're special. Even if we're one of two hundred screaming in a room, adding to the belt of dollar bills in your drawers.

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