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                                                                 1.

This starts one Saturday night in 1998.  My man Hamlin (flush with tips from his bartending gig) ushers me into The Gentleman’s Club flanked by his boys Tim and John.  The place is packed with seated men of all kinds.  Smoke from squares and Black and Milds intertwines with that powdery perfume I’ve only smelled on glittered dancers.  I’m 22 and I’ve been to a strip club, one the infamous Magic City and the other a dive operation called Tygers on the Westside of Detroit.  But my prior trips had been about the thrill of seeking naked women, the rush of dwelling in a den of sin contrary to my Baptist upbringing.

When I think about it now she couldn’t have been more than 25 or 26.  Her hair was cut into a page boy and matched the burnt orange (or was that the lights?) of her bikini top and panties.  I watched her climb the slick silver pole and then will her  body into a series of Cirque Du Soleil/Karma Sutra-type movement. With the strength in one arm she literally defied gravity, no different than the ballerinas and modern dancers that celebrated and not shunned in the outside world.  Yeah, baby girl was there for the money.  But she had mastered her art too. And I was proud to support it.

                                                               2.

I enter a packed lounge in a city you might have heard of before.  The flyer says the attire is “after five”.  Back in the day there’d be some musclebound dude in front of the spot with a flashlight rejected cats with jeans and sneakers just because he can.  So I enter in slack, pressed shirt and sweater vest, looking like something in between Andre 3000 and my father in his 30s.  Let’s just say that the people inside looked at me like I was just coming from work or church.  Skinny jeans, hoodies and a lot of lycra that just looked lazy.

A girl with bright red hair cut into an assymetrical and a dress and heels that say she either just got off the pole or is offering two-hour specials at the motel across the street struts past me with a girl of similar age with dark hair, thigh-high boots and a bustier.  The female bartender’s breast implants look like she borrowed them from a XXX superstars.   And I can’t forget the pink and black animal print catsuit, fake eyelashes and matching platforms and v-chest-line on the woman wearing so much makeup that  I almost confused her for a man.  That burnt orange girl back in the A might have gotten all that she wanted from me simply by asking.  But what’s all around me now just seems…sad.  They don’t even dance. It’s like they’re on an auction block.    Either I mistakenly walked into the “Pimp of the Year” competition or the world has changed in the time I’ve been in seclusion.

                                                           3.

I think it was 21st century hip-hop video that brought stripper couture to the forefront.   Video Vixen “pioneers” like Leila Arcieri, Esther Baxter, the infamous Superhead and that girl they let have two lines on every third episode of The Game, imagery and apparel that was once saved for the dark and smoky rooms (and bedrooms) where men had their fantasies made real has became the rage for so many of the Black girls.  l assume the idea is that if that’s what men want, and that’s what the women getting money are wearing, when in Rome….

But it makes me consider the ideas behind relationships of all kinds these days.  In a social media, camera on 24/7 world, very little is left to our imagination.  And if enough people imagine something it spills into the limelight like champagne from a shattered glass.  I ask myself if I’d want the woman of my dreams to wear the outfit I fantasized about her in on our first date.  It doesn’t leave much left over for the next chapter, much less the whole book.  This is not to say that seduction has gone from art to science, just that young women out there need someone to tell them (as always) that they don’t have to give it all away just to get what they want.  That beautiful booty of yours outlined just the same in cotton slacks and blazer.  Seeing it that way is actually much more of a turn-on 😉