By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
One thing you should know about cops and bachelor-party strippers: they don't mix. I reached this rash conclusion the night before my buddy, who is now a sheriff's deputy, got hitched years ago.
As a bunch of us guys formed a semicircle in the best man's living room, a much-better-looking-than-expected stripper in a cop's uniform entered, toting a boom box. The first thing she did was recite a list of ground rules. No touching, no tonguing, etc. She concluded by making it quite clear that she had a beefy bouncer waiting in the car.
She placed the Man of the Hour "under arrest," flipped on the music and started gyrating. Suddenly, one of the groom-to-be's new cop colleagues said something degrading, like, "Ooo, baby, you're so fine I want to cut your arms, legs and head off and make sweet, sweet love to your blood-oozing stump."
Though she had not covered this in the ground rules, saying you want to cut the arms, legs and head off a much-better-looking-than-expected stripper is apparently NOT the thing you do in polite society. For with that comment, she stopped swinging those hips, bent down to shut off the boom box, wrapped herself in an overcoat and backed out the door while still facing us—once again mentioning that beefy bouncer waiting in the car.
All the other horny young men were ready to kill the disturbed cop. In fact, someone mentioned ripping off his arms, legs and head—and pissing into his blood-oozing stump—before someone, probably a police negotiator, brokered détente. We would all relieve our pressure by carpooling over to a strip club that one guest (not Officer Stumpy) seemed to know intimately.
Though I was newly married myself, this would mark my first visit to such a place. At my bachelor party, all we did for sexual hijinks was watch lame pornos. The club, in an industrial area of industrial Azusa in the eastern LA County foothills, was dark, dank and—worst of all—alcohol-free. All we could drink to get primed was warm near-beer that smelled quite like the similarly colored liquid stuck to the floor.
The show started, and three naked women danced on a table-high stage ringed by the male half of the next day's wedding party. Some guys got the gynecologist's view of the best looking of the three dancers. Other guys took in the plump backside of the first runner-up. Me? Jiggling just above my head—and only my head—was the pregnant belly of a stringy-haired, concave-chested, dentally ambiguous woman nearing a 40th birthday and a return to rehab. There was absolutely nothing attractive about her on the outside, but I'm sure she was a wonderful person inside.
Of course, this night was all about my friend, so I sat there and took it like a man—even when the other dancers switched places and mine stayed directly over me, trying to shake awake the fetus inside her while asking, "You like that, honey?" "Lady, is that the kid's head poking out?" Someone loudly suggested I tip this mother-to-be, a process that would have involved tucking a bill in her G-string. But that thin piece of thread was impossible to locate due to the bouncing flab enveloping it. And damn if I was going to lose my new wristwatch trying to find it. The only joy I could muster all night came by looking past the dancers to my soon-to-be-betrothed friend and his beaming face. At least he was having a ball.
Unfortunately, the Azusa stripper-club story doesn't end there. At the wedding reception the next day, my wife and I started talking with another married couple, Fred and Kate, friends I'd gone to school with.
"So did Alex go with them to the strip joint last night?" Kate asked my wife—and it was at that very split second it occurred to me that when I itemized the previous night's activities for my new wife, I had somehow neglected to mention the side trip to Azusa. She shot me the first of many browbeating glances to follow in the years ahead.
As I fumbled with "Uh . . . um . . . well," Kate continued: "Well, Fred came straight home instead of going to the strip club because he said he had something better waiting for him at home."
Fred shrugged as if to indicate, hey, that's the kind of guy I am. But when my eyes met his peepers, they were sympathetic, and he did see fit to remain totally silent to spare me further public humiliation. Meanwhile, you could tell from Kate's smug tone she knew exactly what kind of hell she'd wrought me. And my appointment with the devil began with the first shift into first gear during the car ride home, with my wife saying how she could never trust me again and how perverted I was and how come I wasn't happy with what was waiting for me at home.
This taught me a valuable lesson I would carry with me the rest of my life: the next time I would be presented with an opportunity to go to a strip club, I would make extra damn sure there would be no way my wife could ever find out about it.
That opportunity did not present itself for several years. A business convention took me and some co-workers to downtown LA, and during the down time there, our boss wanted to take all his boys to Hollyweird's seediest nudie bars. We hit a couple more upscale gentlemen's clubs, but those places weren't, ahem, graphic enough for the Big Cheese, which is understandable considering how he loved playing the role of conservative Christian around the office.
Our final stop was the Seventh Veil, the infamous club that frequent Nixon Library speaker Bruce Herschensohn was spotted coming out of before he went on to lose a U.S. Senate race to Barbara Boxer. Some girls there were quite friendly, especially if you tipped well, but it was hard to get all worked-up because of a certain customer sitting in a corner. He resembled William "The Refrigerator" Perry, the former supersized defensive lineman for the Chicago Bears. This Frig spoke in a helium-high voice and—most distressing of all—held up a furry animal puppet ŕ la Mr. Garrison on South Park. At some point during the girls' routines on the stripper pole, Frig and his puppet would pretend to be agitated, at which point a dancer would have to stop whatever she was jiggling and go over to hug or kiss the puppet until Frig screamed his falsetto approval. Suddenly, that cop who wanted to make sweet, sweet love to that other stripper's blood-oozing stump had competition in the Freak Olympics.
I survived the Seventh Veil and managed to stay out of strip clubs for a whole year—until I had to attend the next convention with the same boss, this time in San Jose. As usual, once the business was over, we all had to cram into a taxi and set out for the city's unseemly underbelly. Our first stop was a kind of sports/bikini bar. The dancers were some of the most beautiful women I'd ever been that close to, certainly the most beautiful to pretend they liked me. However, they also did not get totally naked, and we could not touch them, although, if you lavished them with the appropriate tips (which our boss did), we could get down on our knees, put our arms around our backs and have one of the women give us a private dance—and by private I mean in the middle of an empty dance floor with a spotlight on you and about a hundred drunk, horny guys cheering you on.
I must admit that while I wasn't ready to trade in the wife and kids for my private dancer, she did have me smitten enough to request something I'd never asked any woman, even my wife: "Would you please bite my ear?"
I have no idea from which recess in my brain that came from. Surely there had to be a better fantasy inside me somewhere. But, trooper that she was, the woman—sort of a Latina Demi Moore—complied. And right after that, we made eye contact. Well, I made eye contact. Her brown eyes had that faraway-stripper look, that I-wish-I-was-somewhere-else-right-now look, that God-I-really-really-really-hate-all-men look.
Like my other strip-club encounters, this one proved in the end to be just as empty—even with the dental impressions in my right ear lobe. A little later, we wound up at a more hardcore San Jose club, but it was too gross—even for my boss! By now totally shit-faced, our roving boys' club ended up back at our airport-area hotel, and someone had the bright idea of barging into the room of an extremely attractive female co-worker who had wisely brought her fiancé along with her to the convention. The consensus among many men in our group was that our co-worker's boyfriend was soft, that the mere sight of all of us at her door would lead her to dump him and . . . well, who the hell knows what else. Like I said, we were totally shit-faced.
As our boss got ready to knock on her door, I finally piped up with a question I should have asked earlier in the evening and the previous year in LA and years earlier in Azusa.
"Guys, what the hell are we doing here?"