Sunday, October 14th 2012Tweet
Sunday, July 1st 2012
Male strippers were an important part of my youth. My Mom was friends with a troupe (is that what a group of male strippers is called? a gaggle? a murder?). They were called The Loverboys and were the Chippendale’s rivals in the upper-midwest. The leader of the gaggle was called Vic. Momma bought me this Ken doll because he looked like Vic:
I used his shiny silver jacket on my Julia-Roberts-In-Pretty-Woman Barbie for the scene where she’s wearing Richard Gere’s jacket over her hooker get-up.
One time Momma and her best friend Sandy tp’ed Vic’s house and Vic called to tell them that while he was taking the tp down from a tree, he fell and broke his beautiful bronze leg and Momma cried. It’s ok though, Vic was just joking. Haha! Good one, buddy!
Another member of the throng was called Hollywood. That was not his real name. He danced for me at my 11th birthday party. It was the most mortifying experience of my life, and probably one of the happiest of my mother’s. To prepare for the horrifying experience, Momma asked me to explain the difference between a ‘dork’ and a ‘nerd’. I remember with perfect clarity drying dishes as she washed, explaining in intricate detail who I felt was a ‘dork’ and who I considered a ‘nerd’. I don’t even know why this was prep-work for my disturbing birthday surprise, because the routine Hollywood did was just a clothed version of one of his stripping routines.
On my birthday, wearing a fuscia button-up with a sassy hot pink bandana tied jauntily around its collar, I met my two best friends, my cousin, and Sandy’s daughter at the friend’s house. I wasn’t even suspicious as to why we weren’t partying at home (it was because my Dad loathed the stripping cluster of men), I was just excited to have a day with the girls. Then, in the midst of my pretty awesome party where I believe we were discussing Dirty Dancing and NKOTB, a knock sounds at the front door. “I wonder who that is,” Momma said while waggling her eyebrows. I trusted her completely and answered the door when she asked. Imagine my horror when a 27 year-old man stood before me, wearing a ‘nerd costume’, looking like Slater did in the Snow White and the Seven Dorks episode of Saved By the Bell. He busted in, performed a routine about how lonely and sad it is to be a nerd (I told Momma nerds were worse than dorks, is that why he chose nerd? What if I had chosen dork? Would my life have turned out completely different?). Mid-way through the routine my homosexuality was sealed when Hollywood shook out his mane of layered, moussed, frosted, permed waves and did a shimmy-shake in front of my terrified face. Horrible! Just awful! I will never forgive my Mother.
Hollywood did, however, have a beautiful girlfriend. I can’t remember her name, but her hair was a sunny blonde and she was also a stripper. One time she came over to do her make-up and she let me watch! I sat in the bathroom and gazed at her as she gazed at herself in the vanity and watched her turn herself from girl-next-door beautiful to bombshell-beautiful. She wore cut-off jean shorts and a tiny t-shirt that fell off one shoulder and bared just the loveliest little bit of flat, tan tummy. I used to imagine we were best friends, that she would teach me to apply foundation and I would teach her how to work her VCR. She would never have any need of Hollywood and we would be very happy together, the two of us.
The most important member of the clutch of gentlemen was called Rocky. His real name was the same as my Dad’s. Rocky and Momma had this beautiful emotional affair that I probably shouldn’t have known so much about, but there weren’t a lot of barriers between me and my parents’ personal life. I met Rocky once and, like with Hollywood, was frightened of his intense charisma and male sexuality. Momma took me to his apartment and we went out to lunch together. Rocky was playful and flirtatious the way attractive adults are with awkward children. Rocky was also unaware that, even at 11, my sexual development was already well under way, and I just felt like he was making fun of me and like I would never find anyone to love me. I liked watching my Mom with a man she adored though; it was very charming. Rocky’s last name was Krueger and I wanted Momma to leave Papa so Rocky could adopt me and I could change my last name to Krueger and finally be a member of Freddy’s family. Rocky and Momma fell out of touch and he died of cancer a few years later. I think Momma still grieves him. It’s frightfully romantic.
There were other characters in the bundle: a beautiful gay man called Nick (Nick was too beautiful to need a nom de plume); a man who lit his thong on fire; a guy who did a routine to Black Velvet, which Momma thought was the ultimate in sensuality. Mom’s music interest during the years she knew the strippers was supplied by their routine numbers, and that made for a pretty kick-ass playlist.
The most difficult part of having a mother who was friends with a swarm of male strippers is that I had no interest in their bods, and that my rampantly heterosexual mother was disappointed that she couldn’t bond with me as a fellow lover of men. Mom thought that, because I mooned over Johnny Depp and Luke Perry, that she was raising a heterosexual daughter, ignoring the fact that I mooned even harder over Samantha Fox and Shannen Doherty; that I cried with longing for Cindy Crawford; that I desperately wanted Winona Ryder to love me.
Mom encouraged me to hang up a promo picture of the horde of fellas on my wall, which didn’t go at all with my ripped-from-Seventeen-and-Bop-magazine decor. Instead I hung them on the outside of my bedroom door (a life sized poster of Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey already covered the inside). It was great! I could hang the stupid poster and never had to look at it! Papa, however, had to look at it every time he walked from his bedroom to the bathroom, and insisted that if I could have a topless men poster hanging on my door, then my brothers could have topless women photos hanging from their doors, nevermind the fact that none of us should have had topless people pictures hanging from any of our doors. The poster was removed soon after the argument was raised.
Even though interacting with these young robust men was a little scary, the stories of my interactions with them are still some of my favourites. I mean, c’mon! Hollywood! Rocky Krueger! Flaming thong! That’s a childhood most kids only imagine in their wildest Candy Land dreams! Not me. I lived it.