Not only was the bald fella damn cute, he was killing it at live band karaoke and definitely impressing what looked to be the other half of a first date (too bad for my friend, who noticed the situation when she tried to sidle her hips closer to his microphone). He was singing AC/DC’s mercenary classic, “Dirty Deeds (Done Dirt Cheap),” and my collection of just-this-side-of-tone-deaf friends were trying to drink enough to decide that throwing our names (and tips) at the emcee was a good idea. Of course, the first step in the fantasy is choosing the perfect song, right after you down ¾ of a fruity cocktail that doesn’t taste at all like it contains 4 shots of rum (I went with a “Jet Pilot,” because of course I did) and try in vain to get the umbrella to stick in your chic 4” long bob.
There are songs that seem to have been made (or at least definitely found their highest and best purpose) for karaoke: Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer;” Journey’s….well, anything; the Village People’s “YMCA.” We do not want to be those people, who sing those songs, natch, although I have to admit that “What Does the Fox Say” was a downright magical cacophony when sung by an entire drunk bar and was mildly envious of its singer.
Some brave lady steps up to stretch her cords on Bon Jovi’s “Wanted, Dead or Alive,” which always makes me think 1) Young Guns II was actually a really enjoyable movie and 2) generally of strippers, since it is one of the most classic stripper songs ever produced. The subsequent table conversation revolving around songs to karaoke vs. songs to seductively remove your clothing to is both inspirational and possibly disturbingly revealing of some of my friends’ more peculiar sexual proclivities. (I’m pretty sure “The Internet Is for Porn” from Avenue Q is definitely more suited to karaoke, unless muppets are your jam, and although stripping to “Friends in Low Places” does appeal to my overstimulated sense of irony, I can’t see it being a turn on.)
We agree that musicals in general fall into the singing-only category (although the striptease version of “Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair” would certainly explore some fetish territory), but “Touch-a Touch-a Touch-a Touch Me” from Rocky Horror can easily go both ways if your bedroom audience has a sense of humor. Buckcherry has essentially crafted his entire career out of yelling strip club anthems, but loyalty to this kind of angry fuck-those-bitches-rock is far outweighed by a strong contingent who are partial to 80s hair rock generally. This, I suppose, makes sense, since for your average 40-to-60-year-old patron listening to “Cherry Pie” (Warrant’s not-even-thinly-veiled ode to pretty ladyparts) it’s a TARDIS ride back to when they were full of youthful vigor and could actually convince an occasional co-ed to snack on their fruit basket.
As Portland has the highest number of strip clubs per capita (close to 9 per 100,000), the market saturation would seem to demand that there be a broader diversity in the musical offerings, too (although Stripperoke just embraces the crossover and combines both pursuits). In general, pulling in successful money as a mainstream stripper in Portland already requires you to be a second-stringer for Cirque du Soleil with an aversion to wearing clothing rather than just a single mom working her way through college as was traditional in my Midwest hometowns, so maybe “choosing more creative music” is just one of those yearly review action items that never gets addressed. Or, you know, maybe stripping to Spanish flamenco doesn’t get the weeds whacked.
Whatever the music, this town has a booming market for all kinds of niche preferences: entertainers ranging from supersized BBW to pocket rocket little folks, in ages from “barely legal” to “proud members of the AARP,” in absolutely any shape and size you can imagine. A friend who is a Native Portlander hosts a yearly XXX Christmas pilgrimage to sample a host of the year’s new offerings and old favorites, in a northwestern twist on Jewmas (minus the Chinese food). On the inaugural outing, she saw a woman fold matchsticks under her nipple rings, light them hands free on the stage, then climb the pole and shimmy them out, after which she knew this would be a yearly event. Strip club hopping is as much a reasonable outing as any other here, especially since you can choose from such a diaspora of talent, but strip club bingo is another level altogether, especially when it entices participants normally unmoved by the spirit of burlesque but who are suckers for octogenarian entertainment pursuits.
One friend tends to decline invites to strip-club outings because they’re rarely to one of the few male clubs and he’s gayer than a cock-flavored lollipop. He agreed to go along on one outing, however, because he’s also Asian and there was going to be bingo. As one of the most competitive individuals in North America, he promptly undertook a campaign of bribery and cheating to ensure he could check off as many of the positions, outfits, and scenarios on his card as possible. (Stripper hangs from ceiling like batgirl? Check. Projectiles propelled from a bodily orifice? Check. One-legged stripper? Have to add Mary’s Club to the itinerary.) As he’s wielding his paint marker triumphantly at the rail, the dancer flips grandly and lands in a spread-eagled handstand, giving him a Georgia O’Keefe close-up of her blooming orchid. Surprise and revulsion take turns before the Wheel-of-Fish facial expression generator stops on “confused horror” and he blurts out shakily, looking much like Rowdy Roddy Piper witnessing the portal to hell ripping open for the first time, “WHAT. IS. THAT.”
Turns out he’s never actually seen a lady garden since he gave up the sticky comfort of the maternal incubator, which causes the rest of the bingo bunnies to double into choking, sobbing laughter and the stripper displaying her completely ordinary vulva to look more than a little confused. Despite having to surrender their ante to the night’s winner, the rest of the players have always considered the night’s money well spent for that priceless peek into his flaming gay soul.
After recounting this story, our Gaysian slams the rest of his Hula Hoochie with a flourish and swoops up to the stage, shamelessly belting out a spectacular version of Fever that most certainly didn’t make ladies want to take their clothes off, slowly or otherwise.