Gee, I missed you. The sabbatical I recently took to finish my book was,
among other things, sheer torture when it comes to audience deprivation.
Every time I wrote a chapter I longed for those prompt letters urging me on
or even flattering me with passionate dissent. So often I wanted to take a
break from the larger issues of my manuscript and just riff on the day's
headlines. The topics I itched to tell you about included my double-trouble
Halloween costume: My lover Jon and I dressed up as Linda Tripp and Monica
Lewinsky. Jon was Linda, of course, and with his strong chin, broad
shoulders and glue-on witch nose, he was a dead ringer. His costume made me
a credible Monica with my average little gal with a come stain on her dress
look. The crucial task in impersonating celebrities is to approximate their
hairstyle. On a trip to my local costume shop I learned that there's a
wholesale catalog with two full pages devoted to the wigs of Bill
Clinton's Women. There's the Paula, the Gennifer, Miss America, Linda,
Monica, Hillary and even a little number called "The Young Hillary."
But all that's past now. My Halloween glory has faded, and we can only hope
that Monica and Linda's will as well. Currently, I've been fascinated by
the recent scandal about a slumber party of suburban California high school girls that was entertained by
a male stripper. They stuffed his G-string with tips, screamed their heads
off and one guest even gave him money to stand still while she showed off a
few strokes of fellatio. The mom of the house -- known to all as the "cool
mom" -- was so unflappable that she didn't stop a darn thing. She says now
that she wasn't even in the room. Yeah ... I'm sure there was something
better on TV.
Apparently this stripper and the Cool Mom are unaware that there is a
national sex panic going on about protecting our precious innocent children
from sexual knowledge. This panic has very little to do with shielding kids
from sexual abuse and is intended to inflame adults with a passion for
prosecution. For these crusaders, the lovely flower of white,
upper-middle-class girlhood is the ultimate vision of chastity and hope,
and that is exactly what they expect to find at Amador Valley High School in
I have a special insight to this school because my own mom taught English
and German at Amador Valley High School in the 1960s, and a more well-scrubbed
bunch you'll never meet. I'm looking right now at the old yearbooks my mom
saved, and I see a bunch of "Senior Wills," in which each graduate lists
what she's leaving behind. One girl writes, "I, Marsha Adams, will my three
year's worth of smelly cheer-leading outfits to any incoming cheerleader
who thinks she can have as much fun as I have had in making them that way."
Now, don't you dare twist her words! My mom got reamed out one year by the
vice principal because she decorated her room with UNICEF Christmas cards.
He told her in no uncertain terms that UNICEF was a communist operation!
Anyway, back to our stripper story. One of the guests tattled the whole
story to her mother, who told the school principal, and he in turn called
the police. Now the mom and the stripper are both facing criminal charges,
and the prosecutor on the case, Deborah Streicher, says, "The community is
realizing we've gone one step further into that abyss. We see our morals
and values disintegrating -- and it's scaring people."
Well, I'm certainly sure that she's scared the shit out of the
Schmitt, charging him with lewd and lascivious behavior and oral
copulation with a minor. He says he didn't know it was an underage party.
The mom is facing three years imprisonment for allegedly exposing minors to lewd and
lascivious behavior, but she says that the strip show was her daughter's
Talk radio and the national press have run wild with the story. Some reasonable
voices are reminding us that this was all consensual. It is highly unlikely
that the stripper is a scheming predator or that the mom is selling her
daughter and friends to the white slave trade. Do we really think these
people should be sent to jail for corrupting Pleasanton's youth?
Sue Hutchison, a columnist for my local paper, the San Jose Mercury News, writes that the whole thing is sexist rather than
immoral. She says that when girls or guys are found "groping a
tootsie-for-hire," it only raises the question of "why kids, male or
female, should think it's OK to have so little respect for themselves and
members of the opposite sex."
Watch who you're calling "tootsie," Ms. Hutchison. You're sounding mighty
disrespectful -- and ignorant -- of what a striptease performance is really
about. It's a very different experience from having sex with another
person, and it has little to do with everyday male-female relations. Have
you ever been to one of those performances of "The Nutcracker" where
afterwards the children in the audience get to sit in the Sugar Plum
Fairy's lap or pull the evil Rat King's tail? Nobody leaves with the
impression that they can now accost strangers to kiss their cheeks or pull
at their behinds.
At these private male stripper showers, the dancer comes in with a boom-box
full of music and a costume that strips away in pieces to a hilarious
succession of tinier and tinier jock straps. Sometimes he'll bring a
companion to help with the show or provide security. Believe me, they don't
want you to disrupt their performances with spontaneous grabbing and
pinching -- the dancer wants to stay in control and only offers his body
for touching and lips for kissing in a very stylized way, always for tips.
The idea is to put on a show and keep the tips rolling in, the audience
enraptured. When it's over, he collects his dough and makes his exit.
I'm telling you this as someone who's hosted the same sort of party, been
to dozens of strip clubs and, one occasion, even violated the rules myself.
One Christmas a few years ago, I went to a holiday office party at the
O'Farrell Theater, a prominent San Francisco strip club, where a lot my
friends have danced over the years. For a turn-the-tables treat, the girls
hired a troupe of male dancers to entertain us on the same stage where
women usually dance for men.
Halfway through the revue, we realized that the boys weren't undressing all
the way -- keeping on that last thong was the rule for their act. Well, we
weren't going to stand for such inequality. My friend Lori, who stripped at
the O'Farrell a good 10 years ago and now looks like any nice mom at the
supermarket, sidled up to me, and said, "Let's get him."
At that moment, "him" was a hunk in a purple bikini grinding to vintage
Prince. We approached him from the back of the runway, fully clothed and
ready for anything. Actually, we didn't have an inkling of a plan. Lori
sauntered up first and encircled his waist from behind. He obligingly sank
to his knees and arched his back -- all the better for her to finger his
nipples to the delight of the crowd. With Lori holding him in a secure
embrace, it was easy as pie for me slip down the front of his bikini. There
was his penis -- what should I do with it? Many options are possible, and
who knows what the crowd was roaring for, but it just seemed right to take
him into my mouth -- just long enough to show off. As we left him to his
curtain call, I felt the tiniest bit of guilt for pouncing on him. I kissed
him on the cheek for being a good sport and whispered, "I didn't hurt you
did I?" He shook his head, and his eyes were glazed. I have no idea whether
he was in ecstasy or was privately vowing to never perform for a group of
women strippers ever again.
By comparison, when I was 14, I went to a slumber party where the
ringleaders made us smoke a carton of cigarettes to "get used to it." The
hostess put guinea pig turds in my sleeping bag and then offered some to me
as "candy" to see if I'd fall for it. Another guest cornered me in the
bathroom and demanded that I show my breasts to her -- and that if I
didn't, she'd tell everyone I was a lesbian. (This is typical teenage girl
perversity.) I don't know how I survived the night. Now, if there had been
a male stripper ... wow, I'm sure I would have been shocked, but it would
have been more positive than nicotine, gerbil shit and homophobic threats.
I would have been amazed to see a man in the role of harem dancer, his body
seductive and playful, not a menace or an unapproachable mystery. At 14, I
would have been too scared to touch his G-string and mortified to get a
kiss. At 15, I would have gone for it. At 16, I would have been dancing
right next to him.
Maybe Cool Mom isn't clued in to the persistence of the double standard for
young women, but I don't think she hurt anyone. I know some of those young
women were probably embarrassed by the nudity and the erotically charged
atmosphere, although the only one who has gone on the record has called the
experience "awesome." But don't tell me that embarrassment is going
to turn anyone into a sex fiend or a paralyzed frigidity case. Don't tell
me that the sight of a naked dancing boy is going to ruin those girls, or
their morality. I'll bet you a dozen jockstraps that they're going to
survive this just fine.