Phillip Lopate told me this was a good story. Needs better ending though.
Neon lights make the strip club seem less dank. The bartender is a large white woman, her heaving chest marked by an undiscernable tattoo on her left breast. She throws a bowl of chipped, chips on the table. A woman, swinging elegantly on a pole just a breath away doesn’ t bode well for the chips. Who would eat such things in a place like this?
There’s nothing remotely sticky or putrid about the place. It’s emptiness on an off night isn’t in any way something other than what you would d expect. There’s nudity, but nothing particularly mind boggling.
The clientele is a cross section of the neighborhood. Several asian men, maybe Chinese, walk past the bouncer. It’s obvious that this location isn’t for the meek. Maybe early isn’t the time to come to the bar.
There’s an unsettling linearity about the place. Somehow the space seems engineered to accommodate bodies, moving along the side paths, sitting in chairs symmetrically positioned at an odd angle to accommodate more people along one side of the stage.
The bar shines and reflects both colors of neon light. It shines with its own lacquer finish, one polished and rejuvenated more than it was supposed to be.
It’s not hard to imagine this place as a bastion for the working class and as a place that’s still standing in the deserted industrial area of Sunset Park,Brooklyn.
The dancer near the door had a body that was ample and chubby, in the fashion of a work by the Colombian artist Botero.
Body movements. The work of it. It seems like a job to some of these women. A job that has no resemblance to the proper ways of an office. It’s easy to fantasize that the dancer is simple doing a service. A girl working her way through college. What a way to romanticize. There must be a reason why these types of movies don’t do well in the theater. Strip clubs of this stature only appeal to one type of individual.
The strip club operates on a plane of desire that’s much more primitive than we think. In a place like this girls want to make the most money in the shortest amount of time. From 10pm until about 3a.m. they have to shake, gyrate, slowly wind and fulfill desires that can’t be attained at home.
The brightest light that shines on the clubs patrons is a pink neon. Somehow this technology, which uses a complex chemical combustion to create light leaves a glow cast on the faces of men who come by to chat with a woman walking around in her underwear and bra. Sometimes, for a crisp $5 you can see a breast. Then there are the guys who like to pretend they are with a date, or with their girlfriend.
Around midnight, the local is pretty vacant. A short and brown bouncer, stocky like a bull dog politely directs all the patrons to empty their pockets. It’s essential to protects the nudity from violence. The drinks are plentiful and the prices are steep. Another little caveat, your pen has to be left at the table near the door guard because there’ll be no scribblings on the walls of the bathroom. Actually, an excellent policy, if only it makes note-taking and phone-number getting a totally technological affair.
As low tech as this centuries old practice is, women, skin, disappearing clothes, hands, money, pick-up the money, there seems to be no push to modernize. The only modern thing, aside from the equipment the inaudible DJ uses in his booth, playing healthy servings of Nikki Manaj and other rappers famous in strip clubs nationally, is perhaps the silicone that the most ambitious of the dancers use to enhance the fantasy of perfection.
The blue neon lighting rims the ceiling of the place, while pink colored tubes ring the two small stages on the floor. One edge of the stage has seats, all facing the same direction at a tilted angle. Early in the week, these seats sit mostly bare, as the morning progresses, they fill up. Dollars fly out of hands all manner of forward sexual activity prevails. A touch and feel here, a grab there. As long as there money floated across the stage, it’s okay.
A thick black woman with a cherubic face, perfectly groomed extensions and tattoos running down her backside proves that she’s the most agile of the 2 midnight dancers. She periodically hoists herself up the pole and slides down sideways, wrapping one leg around the pole, while letting go of the other. She makes it look easy. You know not to look too hard at her, because although she looks like she could use some more time on a treadmill before showing off her goods in that way you know her spectacle requires cash payment. To keep your money in your pocket in a place like this the key is moderation, not only in your gaze, but also in your imbibing. The last remaining strip club in Sunset Park, Brooklyn may be legendary, but it’s definilty not affordable.