Day Four: Bally's ($44 a night)
During my drinking days back in London, I spent a lot of time in strip clubs. But please understand I say that without a hint of swagger.
British men have no business being around strippers. At best, we're too awkward to enjoy ourselves -- and, at worst, we're too drunk to do anything but stumble and drool. Sometimes, as was frequently the case with me, we manage to occupy both of those states at the same time.
Still, my spending hours on end in places with names like "Secrets" and "Sophisticats" had little to do with strippers -- and much to do with the fact that those clubs were only places I could get a beer after 2am.
Since I stopped drinking, my desire to ever set foot in a "gentlemen's club" has completely evaporated, along with my urge to sing karaoke or to visit Boston. Booze is a very effective embarrassment suppressant but, even when wasted, there are few things more soul-destroying than catching a glimpse of oneself in a mirror, receiving a lapdance from a 19-year-old Ukrainian trying to pay her way through college. Sober, I think I'd have to commit seppuku-by-stiletto-heel.
That said, my sober avoidance of strip clubs mainly stems from the fact that I have absolutely no idea how to behave in them. Frankly, I struggle to feel anything other than sickening discomfort at the notion of paying a pretty girl $20 to pretend to like me for three minutes.
The idea of turning down dances is even more agonizing. Will the dancer be offended? Should I tip her anyway? Or -- oh God -- is that patronizing? Come to think of it, do strippers feel patronized -- or are they the ones doing the patronizing? I've listened to Wyclef Jean's Perfect Gentleman a dozen times and I still don't know the answers to these questions. (I have, however, learned a useful mnemonic to remember the difference between strippers and prostitutes, so it wasn't time entirely wasted)
Well -- enough! This Vegas adventure is supposed to be a learning experience -- and with Ruth still in town, I decided it was time to man up and learn the correct etiquette for visiting a strip club. "Let's go and meet my friend Daisy," Ruth suggested, "she's a dancer at Sapphire. She'll answer all your questions."
And so she did. I walked into the Shadow Bar at Caesars Palace a wide-eyed boy, and walked out -- two hours later -- a slightly disturbed man. Daisy, Ruth and Daisy's friend "G Cup Bitch" (don't shoot the messenger, that's what she calls herself) not only explained exactly how "gentlemen" should behave in clubs, but also included a field guide to some of the freaks that dancers have to deal with. I can't emphasize this enough: if you want to retain your faith in men, do not click play on the video below.
For those who can't watch videos of strippers at work (or who can't deal with my God-awful camera work) are the ten major takeaways...
1) If you don't want a dance, just say "no thank you". Don't say "maybe later". Dancers hate that.
2) Keep your damn mouth closed.
3) Some of the dancers put "bitter apple" on their nipples to discourage licking (see above)
4) No sweatpants, no Stars and Stripes shorts (or any kind of shorts) and always wear underwear (seriously). No-one likes "sweatpants boner man" -- or, for that matter, "linen pants boner man".
5) Clean your teeth and wear deodorant. Your body odor lingers on the dancers, and no-one wants that.
6) Keep your hands and arms inside the car, and leave the grinding to the dancers.
7) If you're sitting by the stage, tip at least a dollar a song -- to every girl. But a twenty is always appreciated.
8) If you have to ask "what am I going to get for my money?" you're probably in the wrong place (although for 50c, Ruth will suggest somewhere else you can go).
9) All of the above rules apply to female customers as much as men.
10) (An additional note to female customers: the pole is for the dancers, not for you.)
To be continued...