Ahhh…a new year brings a new attitude, a zest for life. I am truly, truly the happiest I’ve been in a supremely long time. So much so that it made me question whether or not to continue my blog. I know! I know! But 2.5 seconds later, I realized that I’m no quitter. I finish what I start and I finish strong. Plus, I really, really love that I’ve shared such intimate details of my life with absolute strangers and it just wouldn’t be fair to end it right before all the really, really good stuff. Just like a stripper. On my way to Atlanta and onto some of the best moments of my life. And, alas, many of my worst. But let me get you there first.
My last few weeks in Tampa generated quite a bit of excitement. Just like a new year, a bright new city held great opportunities and promise, so I took advantage of every hour of my final weeks and worked. But then little things started happening in Tampa that seemed to want to force me to reconsider:
I was making more money on average without feeling like I was pulling teeth. That definitely made the idea of staying in Tampa a bit more attractive.
The photographer I was working for was about to land an agency contract and they liked my work as well. I found out about it after I had already finalized my decision. It was a tough call, but I figured there’d be more work in Atlanta anyway.
Tampa strip clubs had quite a bit going for them: naked women, real real lapdances and smoking. Men love to kick back with cigarettes or a nice cigar and watch the ladies. But no liquor with nudity in Tampa – tsk, tsk. But that spring the Clean Air Act was about to take effect, just as I was leaving. Many a threat came through, aimed at this poor Act:
I’m not going to come any more if I can’t smoke!
This is a free country and I have a right to smoke!
Really? And what did your wife say to this revelation?
Y’all are gonna lose so much money if this thing passes.
Really? As opposed to a lung?
Why was this such a big deal to me? Well, imagine being an exotic entertainer working her skills on stage, sweating under the hot lights, only to finally see through the smokey haze, some money being offered. Awesome. But as you bend down, smile and whisper thank you, he blows a huge puff of cigar smoke right into your face. Sexy, right? Not as sexy as the convulsions that follow as you try hard not to retch all over the stage from the stench as the thought of how many germs and toxins just crawled down your throat. Not to mention having to drive home smelling like an overflowing ashtray with the windows down, no matter what the temperature was at 5:00 in the morning. It was horrid. So really, the only thrill for men to visit the clubs (besides naked women) was the ability to smoke and watch sports.
It used to get so bad in the dressing room at the Odyssey because of the lack of ventilation, that the owners agreed to build a deck and privacy fence right outside of the dressing room for the girls who smoked. Now, it must have been really bad for strip club owners to part with some cash to do something as big as construction for the benefit of a small portion of us girls. To be honest, it was probably on behalf of the housemom. I know she was practically hyperventilating just to work back there. The deck was especially nice in the summer evenings: cool, pleasant, quiet – perfect for a much-needed break. But the best moment of having that deck?
Not sure why strip clubs so very often fall prey to plumbing troubles. I suppose it could be several things. Like too many tampons being flushed, for instance. Or perhaps blatant diuretic abuse. Better yet, too many “stashes” being hidden. Or simply the amount of involuntary vomit that spews from dealing with some really repulsive men? Whatever the reason, one night in particular stands out when the toilets would no longer flush. None of them.
It went from bad to worse in a matter of minutes. A couple of dozen women in tight g-strings and 6″ heels who’ve been drinking red bull all night dancing around in the dressing room. Many too afraid to work the floor for fear of actually getting a dance and having to remove the one little barrier (albeit skimpy) that separated them from embarrassing relief. I felt the urge to tell them that at least it wasn’t in front of a stadium full of people, like my senior year of high school when I accidentally peed in my cheerleading skivvies after laughing so hard at a fellow teammate who fell during a sideline chat. When it’s ready to come out, there’s really not much a thin layer of fabric is going to do. But it really wasn’t the moment to point that out.
I’m not sure when someone decided that peeing outside in a cup was a fantastic idea, but by the time it was mentioned, my eyes were swimming. The problem was that I underestimated my bladder. There was this instance of relief as I crouched in the furthest, darkest corner of the deck and finally relieved myself. But the relief kept going and I was running out of cup. I yelled to the girl nearest the door to get me another cup…now. Luckily, she listened well, ran in and back out with another cup. By that time though, I had already blessed the deck a little bit. Thankfully, I switched to the new cup. When that was running out of room, I had to inch my way over to the deck edge so I could dump the first cup and catch even more overflow. Yes, it was a sight, I’m sure. A bunch of women in bikinis, crouched over cups, peeing. Thank goodness the housemom had an abundance of baby wipes.
Baby wipes. Those aren’t flushable, are they? Maybe that was it.
So many great changes in Tampa…I admit. I was tempted to just stay put. Make it work. But I had to do what I had to do…but the biggest hurdle? Leaving my friends, one in particular. So we made a date to spend one last drunken evening out on the town. It was awesome. How awesome? So awesome that I’m going to leave you hanging for a few days. But I will say that it was one heck of a pre-Atlanta hoorah…And the hoorah had a name. It was Frank. I think.