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10.02.02 11:51 PM

for the love of art and money part III

Flesh for Femme (continued)
by Lynne d Johnson

On the dancefloor, atop a small stage, are two women, one playing butch, the other femme. The butch is in hot pants and tank top. She is full-figured with cropped hair. The femme is in lace top and g-string. Her hair is long and flowing. A few women watch them pump hard to the HI-NRG, musical vibrations. Most of the women are in their own world, never glancing up. Some seem a little embarrassed and rather calm—calculated even—in their response to the women dancing.

Caroline tells me there are girls upstairs. In the new Catwalk Lounge the music is softer and sensual. Women sit at tables in pairs, or in chairs facing the stage in semi-circle fashion. One of them, who says she hasn't been here in four months, says she prefers this lounge better than the scene downstairs. "I get to have closer contact with the dancers," she says. "It's more intimate."

A white dancer named Christine jumps onstage in a suit jacket and work boots. Her body is slightly chiseled and flexible. She take off her jacket, drops to the floor, spreads her legs in a V, then turns on her stomach. A woman hops to the stage and places a ten dollar bill between the cheeks of her buttocks. Christine, a student at NYU and a lesbian, is dancing, she says later, "predominantly for fun and not for money. I like to do it. No matter what the money. If I hated it, I wouldn't do it. I like that people want to see me naked."

With men, Christine says, it's all about fantasy. Unlike her tomboy outfit at HER/SHE, when she goes to men's clubs, it's all glam—spiked heels, stockings, garters. "You have to be specific to their fantasies when you're simulating sex acts," she says.

Uptown, at The Body Shop, where a man can fall in love for one night, a few women are in the dressing room, fixing their weaves, attending to their makeup and nails. The competition is on for the last few men at the bar. Some girls are out on the floor—socializing, teasing, flirting. For this they get paid, too. In the dressing room, the women say it's frustrating work and they hate it, but they're addicted to the money. "I can make $360 in one night, tax free," one dancer says. "It'll take a week to make that elsewhere, and taxes come out."

The women in the dressing room say this is strictly work. Guys just want you to take it off, they say. These women say that dancing has given them a different outlook on men. "It's hard to trust them," one dancer says. "They come in wearing their wedding bands. Others treat you like you're cheap or an object." Some girls have to get very drunk or high to perform their routines. One lesbian dancer, who will not dance for women, tells me she has to imagine being sexy for her lover when performing for men.

Paris is a promoter who throws Chocolate Dreams, a women-for-women party in Brooklyn. "Mentally, it's different for a woman to dance for a woman," she explains. "I've seen women be uptight with men and then go and put it right in a woman's face. They feel more comfortable."

The Body Shop is set up specifically for men to watch women dance. Dancers stop by a guy who makes eye contact or waves money. They bend down over the bar, a guy talks dirty to them, touches them, and they come back up with money held between their breasts. If a dancer stops by a guy who doesn't find her sexy, he'll profanely and obscenely tell her to get out of his face. Once her routine is over, she'll work the crowd to find a man who will buy her drinks and pay her to sit on his lap and spend time with him. This rarely happens at women's clubs.

At Scores, a sportsbar cabaret, the women are mostly tanned, pumped-up, buxom or breast-implanted blondes who look like Pamela Anderson Lee. There are a few ethnic exceptions thrown in. You can tell that this gig is totally about skill and technique. They know how to get that money. Just the other day, Howard Stern said of the Scores' dancers, "They'll tell you anything you want to hear. These girls are professionals."

Twenty-dollar lap dances are the main attraction. Men are gawking, oohing, ahhing. They make eye contact with a dancer, and she comes over and sits in their lap. They guy asks her how she likes it, and paws all over her as she grinds on his groin and peers into his eyes.

I sit behind a male and female couple getting a duo table dance. The woman smiles eagerly. Her man does, too. At women's clubs, couples hardly ever share a dance. Too much female competition.

After the dance, I follow the woman to the bathroom. She's all jittery. She jumps when I approach her.

"How did that feel?"

"Like nothing I've ever experienced."

"What do you mean?"

"She aroused me, but I couldn't touch her. She messed with my head. I think I want some more."

Somewhere downtown, a buxom, dark-haired Latina in four-inch heels named Nicky is onstage, halfway through her first night dancing for women. Mesmerized female onlookers are at her knees, waving dollar bills at the bisexual, two-year exotic-dance veteran with her baby's father's name tattooed on one cheek of her ass. Nicky leaves the stage and dons a long, pink, slinky dress, then takes it off for an admirer at the front of the stage and begins dancing between her legs. Nicky's back is to the woman who is laughing and slowly stroking the top of Nicky's thighs. Nicky cancelled a gig at a men's club to dance for women tonight. She says she will dance for women again.

for the love of art and money part I
for the love of art and money part II

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