Every good girl wants to strip. Hence the growing popularity of pole- dancing classes; Safe-Slut Dreaming. I managed to satisfy the fantasy by taking voyeuristic distance and choreographing the dream for others. The chosen performers were my first visitors when I surfaced after mastectomy surgery.
“Visitors!” chirped the cheerful voice. I swam upwards, out of the liquid twilight into dawning vanity. I must be getting better if my first thought is that I must look like hell, and please God, don’t let this be the Mexican Prince. (My new, very new lover).
Prayer answered. It’s not the Prince, it’s two courtiers, David and Barbara, survivors from the ranks of lost street children. They are both grinning hugely and fairly bouncing with exuberance. They are dressed in identical denim overalls over tees with “Nude is Nice” emblazoned between the shoulder blades. Barbara, black pony tail swinging, plops down into a chair and places a long-stemmed red rose on my lap. The stem ends in a bulbous crunch of foil, secured with a gay yellow ribbon.
David stands at her side; long blonde bangs flopping into bashful grey eyes, and ducks his grin into the collar of his tee.
“Hold on a minute.” He swings behind my shoulder and grabs the curtain which he draws around the bed. We all three squish together conspiratorially as he motions me to unwrap the foil around their offering. Inside is the largest joint to be found outside of Jamaica, and a tiny parcel of foil a few millimeters square.
“Mescaline!” he whispers.
“My God, kids, I think that things are quite surreal enough already.”
“It’s not for here. It’s for when you go home. So things can be beautiful again. There’s enough for two. You and someone you love. It’s our thank- you gift.”
I cannot imagine what they are thanking me for as they have recently been fired from their job at a strip-club on Sunset, and it is entirely my fault because the manager just hated the numbers I choreographed for them.
David and Barbara were students in my Beginning Jazz-Dance for Adults at a studio in the Valley. About six months into their training Barbara stopped after class one Tuesday and asked to speak with me. Huge black eyes shining earnestly out of her scrubbed face, she told me a story that seemed incongruous given her demure and innocent demeanor. She and her boyfriend, David, who seemed even shyer and more soft spoken, had met on the streets of Hollywood where they joined the ranks of runaways. They scarcely minded being prey to the predators of the mean streets. Escaping from familial abuse that was unpaid to abuse that at least held a price tag felt like progress.
Barbara had looked for an “indoor job” (I avoided thinking about the alternative) and was employed in a peep show at one of the innumerable “Adult Boutiques” in Hollywood..
“I hate it! I can’t do it any more. We were wondering if you would arrange one or two dance numbers for us. Could you? There’s a strip club on Sunset that employs couples. We’d be safer if we worked together. That’s why we have been taking classes. We tried to do it ourselves, but it’s too difficult”
I said I would think about it and the next week accompanied the two of them to the club. The establishment exists on the south side of Sunset to this day and still announces “Live Nude Girls. Live!” on the outdoor marquee.
David and Barbara held hands and I lead the way out of the sun and smog of Sunset Boulevard into the funky cool of the Body Shop, ready to do some serious research into the art of taking off your clothes in front of strange men.
“Let’s look at some live nude girls.”