Tall and lean, she approached. Her prey, a frumpy gentlemen who seemed lost as he blankly stared into the bar wall’s mirror. Looking back, sullen, time-melted features and thinning hair. He was a lot of middles: middle heavy, middle aged, middle manager (at best), perhaps even middle America.
They were in Lennox, CA, a lost and smoggy few blocks of L.A.’s South Bay. The city was architecturally a 1970s ghost town, and had been bleeding out since the 1960s aerospace boom busted.
A strip club is not usually so welcome in a suburb. But the city of Lennox, so desperate for funds (or so corrupt), quietly renewed the club, Jet Strip’s, license each year. Cramped between a dry cleaners and a liquor store, it was just another storefront — even with the blacked out windows adorned with pink neon tubes twisted and curled into silhouettes of busty sweeties. Cheaper and less gaudy than the flashy mega clubs downtown or the ones closer to the airport, Jet Strip’s ladies ranged from a substance-abused grandmother named Mel to Cindy, the slim, well-endowed 19 year-old, who was now seducing her mark, a man more than twice her age. She was a lioness who, with any luck, would soon be carrying back to her warren his cash and maybe even a ring or two. Quite a feat for a wide-eyed 19-year-old recently from the baked, hardscrabble flatlands halfway between Las Vegas and L.A. The others
liked her. She caught on early to the strip-club hierarchy, and she was funny, sometimes in spite of herself.
Cindy padded up to the man quietly and stood so close that he felt the heat of her young, bare flesh. It radiated into his tired suit coat and caressed his chalky, thin arms. His dull stare into the mirror was now interspersed with stealthy glances at her skimpy, sparkly bikini and the healthy flesh it enveloped. She finally caught him looking at her in the mirror and grinned. In return, he smiled a smile of coffee-stained, half Chiclets. He turned to her, and the scent of her expensive flowery perfume caught his underused imagination. “Can I buy you a drink?” he asked, with forced confidence. She smiled, feigned an excited “thank-you” and ordered a $5 energy drink. The bartender, a former stripper herself, took a small, chilled can from the refrigerator and placed it on the bar. Cindy, while reaching for it with her right hand, placed her left hand flat against the small of the man’s back as if to balance herself. Electric jolts sprinted upwards and downwards from his toes to head, short-circuiting his advanced grey matter and bringing online his small, waxy, reptilian walnut. “I’m Cindy,” she said.
Mel, another dancer, olive-skinned and older than Cindy, leaned against the far end of the nearly empty bar and took in the little scene between Cindy and her nervously excited client. The site of Cindy, now with one slender arm draped across the man’s small shoulders, like a San Quentin bull marking his bitch, filled Mel with the rage of the damned. And why shouldn’t it? Mel, now 30, was certainly damned here in the stripper business.
Mel saw the road signs everyday. Deepening and darkening crows’ feet, errant hairs, facial adipose that gave her a double chin when she looked down were saying it: her stripper life-cycle was nearing its completion. She was like a butterfly in reverse.
Mel felt time was personally victimizing her. And what made her feel most victimized was how cruelly age and gravity were dragging her once magnificent breasts down towards the center of the earth. “My tits are literally going to hell,” she thought as she saw Cindy masterfully accidentally brush hers across the man’s arm.
But Mel wasn’t going softly into the night. To fight her mammary droop, she was strapped into a reinforced gold-sequined stripper’s bra so tightly that it made comfortable breathing impossible. And when it was time to show the goods during her performance, Mel, with Herculean finger-and-thumb strength, unclasped her bra, thus unleashing so much stored energy that the garment popped off explosively and flew out over the audience like a rare, glittery tropical bird. The release left her sun-spotted orbs dangling like two hanged men.
Needless to say, Mel hadn’t been a headliner for quite a while. Something she constantly rolled around in her hair-dyed, chemical-burned head.