The Friday night after Christmas in 1975, I was heading off to work at another new strip club in Rochester, called The Gentlemen’s Playground.
Ironic name for a place that catered to men yelling things like, “Show us your tits!” Or “Bend over for me, baby!”
I don’t know what kind of business the club had been in its previous incarnation. It may have been a warehouse or an airplane hangar, judging by the size of the space. They had done it up with old fashion black and white graphics of shaving cream advertisements and men’s clothing ads from the early 1900s. They also had support columns throughout the club painted in barbershop pole colors, which was pretty cool. There were three stages located in separate partitioned rooms so that three dancers could perform simultaneously, without getting in each other’s space.
That could be good, and it could be bad, depending on the popularity of the dancers in each space. The last thing a dancer wanted to see was a migration of “her” audience to another dancer’s stage. There were three small dressing rooms. One behind each stage. Three girls were assigned to each stage every night, so there were nine dancers rotating on and off all night long. The club played its own music and we all had to dance to the same songs.
I was a little disappointed because that meant I had to put away my pre-recorded shows whenever I worked there, and the dance schedule was grueling. Twenty minutes on, forty minutes off all night divided up between three girls was a lot of dancing. The pay was a little higher than most other clubs in town, so that made up for a few of the difficulties.
There was a new girl in town, named Brenda. She was a little older- probably in her mid-thirties and her bust line was kind of droopy, but she was a lot of fun, and the crowd loved her. She managed to take the most boring songs and turn them into something kooky. Brenda had a fellow drive her back and forth to work. She had recently separated from her husband and this Jeremy wanted to pick up where her ex left off. He was madly in love with her, but she had put him firmly in her “friend zone”.
It was so uncomfortable to be around. He would all but lay his soul bare to her and she would give him a peck on the cheek and say something like, “You are so sweet! You need to meet a nice girl your age.”
Ouch. Brenda and I had both worked an afternoon shift at the Gentlemen’s club on that Saturday and had the night off. A pretty rare treat in the dancing world. Jeremy wanted to take Brenda, of all things, dancing, on her only night off. She insisted the three of us should go to one of the newest discotheques that had just opened up near downtown. Jeremy probably didn’t want a third wheel, but he was sweet and made room for me in his little Pinto. The drinks at the discos were outrageous and we weren’t willing to shell out big bucks at the nightclub, so we stopped at a liquor store on the way and picked up some pre-clubbing drinks.
“Hey, look! This stuff is only $1.99 a bottle. We should get a few and a bottle of something we all like. Who likes Southern Comfort?” Jeremy announced.
I only knew grasshoppers and 7&7’s, so I was OK with just about anything. “Never had it- whatever you think is good.”
Brenda had a more sophisticated palette than either of us had. “Jeremy- that $1.99 stuff is Mad Dog. That’s what the winos drink- are you sure we should be mixing that with Southern Comfort?”
“Sure. We drank that all the time in high school. It’s good- you’ll like it.”
So, off we drove, sharing sips of Mad Dog 20/20 during the drive. This was before DWI was a big deal. Usually, the cops would impound your car and drive you home if you were caught under the influence. Not good, but that’s how it was back in the 70s. Round and round the bottles went and by the time we finished the third one we all decided it tasted pretty darned good for $1.99 booze. Somewhere along the way we forgot about the disco and decided to go to Jeremy’s apartment because his roommates were gone for the weekend. We all stumbled up the stairs, giggling and tripping over ourselves. Jeremy ordered a pizza, and we opened the bottle of Southern Comfort.
To this day, just the smell of Southern Comfort turns my stomach.
By the time the pizza arrived the Southern Comfort bottle was about a third of the way gone. Brenda got the door and yanked the pizza box and the pizza delivery boy/man into the apartment and backed him into the wall with a lip lock that almost knocked him out. This was not Brenda. This was someone completely different that had taken over our friend’s body. Holy shit- no more Mad Dog and Southern Comfort for Brenda. Instead of running away crying, the pizza guy dropped the box and kissed her back. Pretty soon they were rolling around on the carpet with Jeremy looking dazed and confused. I felt so badly for him.
Even drunk, Jeremy could see he was never going to get anywhere with Brenda. He was shattered. I picked up the Southern Comfort bottle, took Jeremy’s hand, leading him to his bedroom. We sat on the bed and got completely absolutely, disgustingly blitzed together.
When I woke up in the morning, we were both naked and wrapped around each other like a ball of mating pythons. I couldn’t be absolutely sure that we did anything. Then again, I couldn’t be sure that we didn’t.
We awkwardly dressed on opposite sides of the bed, “Um, I think this bra is yours.”
“These must be your boxers”
We never spoke of it again.
He stopped coming to the club with Brenda though, and when he did visit the club, he sat and chatted with me. I think Brenda was annoyed, but I wasn’t the one who lip-locked the pizza guy.
I never touched Mad Dog or Southern Comfort again. Ugh.
About the Creator
My first book, G-Is for String, is now available on Amazon! g-isforstring.com
The sequel is coming out in the fall, as is my first novel, Save One Bullet.
I've dubbed my author brand: Broken Human Books