Thursday, March 23, 2006
As I now have at least one reader of this blog, I thought I'd explain the title. Go-Go-Rama is a strip joint, or, as they say, "Gentleman's Club," in Laurence Harbor, New Jersey. I find the name to be jaunty and welcoming, and found it to be a good choice for this blog. As it also happens, I have for many years trolled through the demimonde of sex. Mom, if you're reading, stop now.
It all started with my father's Playboys. I used to read them when I was about 13, and I haven't stopped. Like marijuana leading to heroin, I advanced to porn, strip clubs and hookers. I even turned it into a career--in 1987 I was hired by Penthouse Variations, a digest-sized magazine devoted to alternative sexual practices, published by the Penthouse media group. For over ten years I was an editor there, and it was great. I loved my job. It was ideal for me. There wasn't a hell a lot of work--we were a monthly, and there was nothing about the material that was timely, so deadlines weren't an issue. I could zip out of my office and be on a train home in five minutes. There was no need for overtime. And I know what good erotica is. I ended up writing close to a hundred different stories, and knew how to write good captions, pull quotes, titles, etc.
Better yet, it gave me access to the world I felt most comfortable in. I came to know nude models, strippers, porn stars, dominatrixes, and prostitutes. I was fascinated by them and liked them as people. Sure, some of them fit the stereotype--women with little self-esteem, perhaps battered or abused. But most of them seemed as emotionally healthy as anyone else I knew. In my eyes, they were performing a service for the many socially inept men who would otherwise be completely alone. In my own way, I put them on pedestals.
During the nineties I burned quite a swath through this world. I must have been to every strip club in New York, and dropped a lot of dough there. Even now, the exterior of a strip club, with the neon lights, and the punny name, gives me a little chill. Walking into one is even more intoxicating. The pounding music, the lighting, the smell of the perfume of the dancers--it's bliss! But I finally wised up. After bottoming out financially, I realized that this was a complete waste of time and money. Strippers, bless their hearts, are paid to be nice to guys like me. As I am a romantic, deep down I was expecting something more fulfilling that what they offer. At least with a prostitute you get what you pay for.
In January 1999 my cushy job came to an abrupt end. Working for Penthouse was like negotiating a mine field. Every few years, due to mismanagement and the changing landscape of the porno business, Penthouse would absorb huge hits, and staff would be let go. My turn finally came and in a matter of hours I was on the train home, my belongings in tow. I still have some connections to porn--I write film reviews for Adam Film World. I won't mince words--I love watching pornography. I watch it every day. It gives me pleasure, and like I said, I've met a lot of people in the business. They're not doing it with a gun to their head. I don't find anything degrading or humiliating about it, and those who condemn it, either for religious or feminist principles, are full of it.
Am I addicted to porn? It's a good question. I think that if I were in a sexual relationship with someone my interest in porn would wane dramatically. I'm not so twisted as to think porn is preferable to actual sex. But right now I'm the Single Guy, so I have my trusty DVDs, magazines and what have you to keep me company.
Back to the Go-Go-Rama. I was there only once. My friend, Micky Lynn (probably the only porn star who lives in New Jersey) used to dance there occasionally. She invited me down for a visit. It was like going into the Emerald City. This particular establishment sells no alcohol (the term is juice bar), thus allowing the dancers to perform nude. A stage is ringed by the bar, so a guy can sit there and sip his Coke while watching the gyrations. While this goes on, dancers who are not on stage walk from patron to patron. If you tip them a buck, you are allowed to fondle their breasts. In the private dance area, guys pay twenty bucks to sit in what looks like a barber chair. His girl of choice will then climb in his lap, topless, and dry hump him to glory.
I haven't been back, and I haven't been to any strip club in about five years. The last time I went for was my step-brother's bachelor party, at a Goldfinger's in Fort Lauderdale. I went, but wasn't going to spend any money. Well, a sweet young thing who kind of looked like Julia Stiles caught my eye. She wasn't one of the over made-up sharks circling the club, looking for chum. I ended up spending a few hours in her company and dropped 100 bucks. That's why a romantic should never set foot in a strip club--it's too easy to fall in love.