by Rob McClure Smith

Setting:         The Blue Heaven Gentlemen’s Club, outside Davenport, Iowa.

Time:             May 2010

Character:     CHRISTABEL, 20 years old, an attractive and perky brunette

CHRISTABEL sits in a chair on a bare stage. She directs her remarks to her replacement.


The best thing is, not everyone gets in the door. Big Petie keeps the mega-creeps out. On the whole, I’d say the custom is nice, with exceptions. Of course, head’s up, they’ll want to know everything about you right off the bat. Me, I’m honest. I tell them I’m a student, just not where, obviously. Only question you don’t answer is: “What’s your real name?” “What’s your wife’s name?” ask back. That’ll shut them up quick every time. You need a good name, though. Something creative. Which is how come I’m Christabel.

When you’re here, you’re here, and what happens in Blue Heaven stays in Blue Heaven. That’s the rule. I bumped into a regular—only time ever—in this ice cream parlor in Iowa City. “I don’t know you and you don’t me,” he said. His kids were with him. Damn straight I didn’t.

Best advice is be a professional always. Always. Don’t drink at work, don’t curse, don’t share your troubles, always be in a good mood. Tell him jokes. Listen to his wife-and-work woes. Make him feel he’s the only guy in the room. Talk as long as he’s listening and the money’s flowing. Know what they call it in psychology? Counterfeit intimacy. Isn’t that great? I did an Independent Study last year. Anyway, just figure out what the guy wants and become it. Mommy or Catholic schoolgirl covers a lot of bases. He wants a pretty airhead? That’ll be you. “Like, why is snow so wet?” The sophisticated woman? That’s you too. “What do you think of the flat tax? Could it work without a fee at the point of consumption? Really? How interesting. I think you’re soooo right.” 

I’ve got a minor in Economics, which is useful. Definitely tip the waitresses each time you get off, extra for hook-ups to good tables with open tabs, tip the DJ for longer songs, give the make-up guy extra smears on the bondo, he’s so worth it, tip Miriam and she won’t ride you, or not so much maybe, tip Petey so he looks the other way when you’re upstairs. Good night, you’ll still clear $500, even after floor fees and tips. Speculate to accumulate—you got to.

Main stage is the most fun. First song is always clothes on, second topless and a thong. Bad music can ruin your stage tips. The best is old big-band stuff: Pearl Bailey, Glen Miller, Tommy Dorsey. I’ll make you a mix-tape. But don’t get lost in the moment. Be a quick study and figure what’s arousing to each man. Choose your mark. It’s about selection. Real money is always private. Law says three feet. Not going to happen. But it helps the local fundies sleep better dreaming how many stacks of bibles fit between you and the guy. Make your boundaries. Me, I’m bad. I grind, body-slide, the guy can touch my breasts. Come on: laps are a dry fuck anyway. Want to moan in his ear, fine. It’s a big Oscar performance. Christmas time is the caucuses. Primary season is when you make a real bundle.

See, for you I’d go with black boy shorts with matching top, black thigh highs, black mini-thong. Damn girl, I’d buy those legs off of you. How much you want for just the one?

Sure, it can get a tad depressing too. Not often, sometimes. I once had an old fellow pay me $200 to pee in a cup so he could drink it. Damn right I did it. I didn’t stick around to see him do it, though. I have my limits. Crystal—you’ll meet her in a minute—told me he was the minister of the Congregational. Unbelievable. I’d expect that more from your straight-up Lutherans. But your worst is the bachelor party. Last month, one best man (it’s always the best man by the way) comes up and asks, super-discreet, how much it will cost to “take care of” the groom. “You mean your basic blow job?” I ask. I say $300, $100 upfront. He forks it over and I go to the bar and order a blow-job shot—Kahlua, Bailey’s, vodka, whipped cream deal—set it down in front of the groom, congratulate him, hop back on the dais. Sure, the best man is looking daggers, but what’s he going to do? Complain that he solicited prostitution and the girl didn’t come through? Perfect arrangement: the groom got his blowjob and the best man got screwed too.

Just don’t do the Canadian ballet past 21, or the money and attention will get to you and you might never stop. Trust me, you’re going to be great, fit in fine. You’ll love it. Great money, real easy, supposing you never forget how much you wouldn’t want to be in a place like this for too long. Look at me: I never let it get to me and now I’m gone, out the door. Grad school actually.

This week, when I’m done with finals, I’ll e-mail you that link to the site with the cool pasties and T-bars.

Looks chilly out there tonight. Sometimes at 2 am, when the lights go up and the men stumble out all dizzy from the perfume and the alcohol, and the rest of the girls scatter like roaches, I’ll get in my car in the parking lot and sing along to the radio and just get to thinking about everything that’s better than this. You know, a clear night like this I can sit there with the heat cranked and the whole prairie spread out before me, the moon big and icy white in that sky, and get myself kind of prayerful and meditative just looking for a while at all those stars.

copyright © 2010 Rob McClure Smith. All rights reserved.

Rob McClure Smith has published his fiction in many literary magazines, including Gettysburg Review, Chelsea, Confrontation, StoryQuarterly, Fugue, Versal and Barcelona Review. He was a winner of the Scotsman Orange Short Story Award.

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