This weekend I'm going to be taking the stage for a poetry performance, so if any of you are on the Wasatch Front and want to come and meet me in person, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll send you the performance information. Sorry the performance is PG -- PG13 at the best, but you all know how Utah community standards can limit things, so I won't be taking off any of my clothes. Of course the picture above isn't me, since I'm blogging in quasi-pseudonym anonymity.
This isn't to say that I haven't ever performed and stripped in a more R-rated or NC-17 stage performance -- I have. As I reflect on getting up on stage again, of course it takes me back to 1999 when my ex-wife and I made a trek to San Francisco.
A slight word of explanation is probably in order here, since one of the purposes of this blog is to explore sexual topics in light of my cultural and religious upbringing in the Mormon church. When the magical switch flips and you discover that the Church may not be as capital "T", True, as fast and testimony meeting made it out to be, not only Joseph Smith, the Three Nephites and the Prophet become questioned, but the inhibitors that restricted behavior are also up for grabs and exploration. With the possible exception of the Word of Wisdom, nothing is as restricted and constricted in the Church as sexuality. This narrowness of behavior covers the polygamy undercurrent running deep underneath with its paradox of religiously connected hedonism as a potential promised reward for a puritanical present.
So basically, you get all pent up and when you can let loose you go sow some wild oats (not to be confused with the Health Food Store). Freed of the bonds of religious prohibition, I had frequented several stripping establishments. Now, if I had been normal, these would have probably all been out of my system by the time I was 22 or so, but I'd been such a Boy Scout, I'd never seen a live stripper until I was nearly 30. I'll have to save some of those ruminations for another post, because I wanted to get to my one experience as a stripper, in part because it dovetails into something that I think the Feminist Sisters of the APA completely failed to recognize.
Now, going to see female strippers is one thing, but finding decent male strippers in Utah at the turn of the century was another. Being equal opportunity hedonists, my wife at the time and I had gone together to the strip clubs and even went to a Deer Hunter widow's strip show one October, but none of the men got really naked. (Back in the 1990s, South Salt Lake still allowed its female strippers to get buck naked in non-drinking establishments.) So on a trip to San Francisco, we decided that Sodom of the West should be a good place to find completely naked men.
We were right of course. We got in one of the weekly entertainment newspapers and started looking for something that would suggest a totally nude male review. Right there in big letters was an ad that said amazingly: STRIP: A Totally Nude Male Review. Being a young, fresh off the Stake Farm Mormon couple, this seemed a ready made solution to balance out the sexual inequalities of our past strip club excursions -- she would get to see lots and lots of completely naked men.
The show was performed cabaret style, with each table of four having their own waiter and a glorious and over the top drag queen acted as the MC for the evening. My companion for the evening, being only one of two women in attendance was given a front seat for the festivities. I, on the other hand, had the unsettling feeling that I was being ogled -- by a room full of men.
Our waiter was monikered "Precious", possibly for "precious little dick" because he had the smallest penis I have ever seen -- less than an inch in length and less than a half inch in circumference. Nice naked guy, but what a small dick.
The evening proceeded with various strip acts as one guy after another got naked for the crowd of mesmerized men. An ongoing gag was some guy dressed as a blue collar worker (an obvious plant) who consistently was asking the MC if he had seen his girlfriend, who was supposed to meet him for the show. As the show wound down, the MC announced that there would be an amateur strip show for those who wanted to participate -- sort of a friendly competition. The waiters were sent out into the audience to drum up volunteers.
Precious immediately asked if I wanted to go up. Somewhat reluctantly I agreed, partially at my partner's prodding and partly because I was amazed at the attention I was receiving. Of course, the plant was also chosen as a volunteer, so four or five of us ended up on stage for a strip off. The first three contestants muddled through amateurish, self-conscious strip teases for the crowd.
Now you need to understand something about me -- I can't dance. I suck at dancing. A lithe strip tease is most assuredly not in my repertoire. Despite this I gyrated, I bumped, I grinded and unbuckled my belt, undid the top button. I've done a little performing in my life and there are moments when you know that you have captured the crowd. I've never felt a crowd in the palm of my hands (or the crotch of my pants) like this one. I had them. I had them, not because I was good, not because I was overly well endowed (although that didn't hurt), but because I was a straight male willing to get naked for a room full of homosexual men. I was touting sexual power and man, it felt great. Not arousing at all, just powerful and controlling. I had no fear, no anxiety, my sexuality controlled their gaze, until I felt worshipped. I think Precious was worried I would chicken out, so he urged my spouse out of her seat and on to the stage where she yanked down my unbuckled and unbuttoned pants and I stood there bare assed and flapping cock in front of the whole crowd. ( I had no underwear, having rebelled against all underwear after having to wear too much underwear for so long ). I sucked in the cheers, took a bare ass bow, pulled my pants up and resumed my spot in line.
Objectively speaking, the professional dancer/pretend straight guy plant kicked my ass as far as performing a strip tease. I remember thinking he was really good. I also realized that I had somehow altered the show off its intended course when the MC in all her regalia had the crowd cheer for each contestant and I won with raucous and riotous yelling from the crowd. At that point I gave them one last flash of my cock in triumph.
Apparently a real straight guy stripping was better than a pretend straight guy, no matter how well the pretend guy danced. I was the belle of the ball. It seemed like I talked to everyone in the room that night after the show. This was the rush of being a celebrity, fifteen minutes of fame. I even got a free T-shirt.
The attempt to balance out stripping experiences with my partner didn't turn out like I had expected. Instead of giving her a chance to sit in the objectifying male role, I got to feel what it was like to be the female. Damn, you girls have it good. The power I possessed was incredible, the power of the Peter priesthood (circumcised of course). Being objectified by a room full of men, while I remained in full capacity of my cognitive functions, didn't diminish me, didn't make me feel less of a man, but rather opened up a vision of the power that women can lord over men everyday if they are simply savvy and intelligent.
I look at pictures like the one below and yes, I'm arrested by the naked flesh. I've heard many people say they see God in a sunset, well I see the Goddess in a naked breast, a curve of the hip, or the dimple in the small of the back. Women in all of their forms of beauty are easy for me to worship and as I pray to these Goddesses, I remember that night in San Francisco, where for a moment, I got to feel what it is like to be a God in other men's eyes.