My Worst Date
An Excerpt from the Chapter "The Bomber Club"
I needed money. For a lot of things. The real estate business was dead in Miami Beach so Mom was just squeaking by. I suppose I'll go to college when I finish high school in two years so I ought to be getting ready. I'm not really into clothes, but even so, the Reeboks, the Gap T-shirts, the leather jackets aren't free.
I knew if I
just took care of things Mom wouldn't notice, and I could always
say I worked down at the Perfect Pizza with Macha.
Macha has a thing about asking her parents for money. She does real well on tips. One of the old men there the other night said, "What's a shiksa like you doing working in a place like this?" She said, "Oh, come on. Wake up and smell the cappuccino. I'm not a shiksa." He said, "You're not, with that cute little nose?" And he tapped her on the nose and left her a big tip. It's the long blond hair that does it. But as Macha says, "In this day and age, if you don't have it, you get it."
It was really Macha's idea that I work at the Bomber Club, the male strip disco down on Washington. She goes down there all the time even though she's only sixteen. She was going there when she was fifteen. Her best pal graduates this year and has her own car so with the car and fake ID they both hang out all over town. They tell Macha's parents she's staying overnight with Elouise, and she does, eventually. Macha's parents have a lot of mileage, you'd think they would have figured that one out, but evidently after forty the "figuring it out" switch goes off. Even Mom's is pretty closed down.
I said, "But you have to be eighteen to go into the Bomber Club." And Macha said, "You may have to be eighteen to go into it but I don't know that you have to be any age to work there. Look, you dance like gangbusters. You have a very nice body and you could make it even nicer if you went to my gym once in a while. You're blond. You're no movie star but you're young. Let's go to Fred Faricanelli, who owns the place." It seems she knows Fred well. Chats him up at the bar all the time, even though she never drinks anything but Evian. Macha could chat up the Pope and make him think it would be nice to be Jewish.
So I practice a little at home. I think House sucks myself, but if that's what they're going to play, I'll make my moves to it. And I look in the mirror. I'm not Marky Mark, but he isn't blond, either.
And we see Fred Faricanelli. Macha called him up and we drop down after school. "Is he eighteen?" Fred says. It's a little like I'm invisible. Or maybe like I'm the product. Macha is the saleswoman. She says, "Would I bring him in if he wasn't?" She's so smart.
"So," says Fred, "let's see what you can do."
"Should I take my clothes off?" I ask. Fred just looks at me like I'm speaking Swahili.
"You've got your jams and T-shirt on. Just take it from there," Macha suggests. So I get up on their little stage, Fred turns on the music, and I pretend I'm at home in front of the mirror. I hear Macha yell over the music, "How long is each number?" Fred holds up one hand with all five fingers up. "That's long," she shouts back. Fred tucks his thumb in. I take off my T-shirt and pull my jams down so you can see the top of my skivvies. I thought I'd wear boxers and under them Calvin Kleins. So I show Fred this move I thought up where I move on one foot kind of like the twist while I pull my shorts off one foot and then shift to the other to get them off all the way. I do my boxers the same way. This is the longest five minutes of my life. I pull my Calvin Kleins down a little and the music ends.
Fred says, "Will you go all the way?"
"I'd rather not," I said.
of the guys want to," he says. "Gives ya more longevity in the
club. You can show them something later if they get tired of you."
Macha says, "You're going to use him?" I can hear a little hint of excitement in her voice. Fred probably can't. But she's *so* cool, a little bit of uncoolness shows.
"You his agent or something?" Fred asks. "How much do you take off the top?"
"How much is on the bottom?" Macha asks. For sixteen this woman is incredible.
"Okay. He only works Friday and Saturday nights. I don't need him during the week. He does three shows a night. I can give him a hundred dollars for the two nights."
"What do the other boys get?"
"They get more
because they're professionals. And they do other stuff."
"Well, that's their business. And please, professional. You forget
I hang out here a lot. Hugo dances better than most of them do."
Fred says, "He's a little stiff."
Macha says, "Don't you wish." (Where does she get this dialogue!) "I think he should get a hundred fifty. And two hundred in six weeks if people like him. After all, he's a nice boy from a nice home who's doing this to earn money for college. He's not some twit off the boat from Cuba."
him here Friday at ten o'clock. We'll see how it goes." And Fred
bids us adieu. When we walked out the sun seemed twice as bright
as usual. Really bright. I squinted. And now I had to keep my
nerve up. Mom was no problem, I'm always out on the weekends and
she's asleep when I come in.
Friday night I go in a little early. Macha and Elouise go with me, to wait and take me home afterward. I could walk, actually, but it will be late and I'll be excited.
We go in the back door and Fred's cousin Walter is there. "This the new kid?" he asked. I nodded. "You girls can't hang out back here. No women in the dressing room."
"You probably let men in," Macha said.
"Give me a break, Macha," Walter said.
So the girls left and I went to the dressing room. Go-go boys don't wear makeup but they sure look at themselves a lot in the mirror anyway. There was a long counter, a big mirror over it, and a row of chairs, each one occupied. I held out my hand to introduce myself down the line. "Hi," I said. "I'm Hugo." "Oh, what a great name," said the short dark boy with an extremely beautiful body in the first chair. "We'll call you Huge. Are you?" I let that one pass. "I'm Coco Rico. That's what I work under anyway." And there was Maximum Shell. Very big. Very blond. A Dolph Lundgren look alike. Very beautiful. And three others. Only one was swishy. He worked under the name Myrtle Beach and did a kind of drag strip, I guess. But he had a great body. They all did. I closed the door, bang, on any cubbyholes called Romance. This place was the Gaza Strip of sex if I ever saw it. With land mines under every step.
I didn't feel so nervous. I already had on what I was going to wear. And I was doing what Macha does. When I asked her how she could be so swift when she was talking to Fred, who is after all a grown-up, if a kind of unimpressed one, she said, "I just pretend I'm my mother. You know what she's like." So I pretended I was someone like Matthew Broderick playing the part of a teenager going to work in a disco strip club.
Walter came and said, "You're on, Coco." I went out and watched a little bit from the wings, but that made me nervous. "Just go out and hit it," I thought. "Don't think about it." Though I could hear a lot of yelling going on over the music. Some of the other guys worked. They all did pretty much the same thing.
I heard Walter's voice over the mike saying, "An' now somebody new, just in town from San Francisco. Hugo. Some people call him Huge." He must have heard Coco in the dressing room.
So the music started. Not "Blue Hotel," which I'd requested, but a really bad cover of "Besame Mucho" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I walked out. It was surprising. The club was full of guys but I could hardly see them, the lights were so bright on stage. I just kind of pulled my clothes off as though I was just undressing. I mean, I didn't even know what they might like so I couldn't very well be suggestive. I was down to my Calvin Kleins when I could see well enough to see Macha and Elouise at the bar. They were looking enthusiastic. Next to Macha, who was turning to him from time to time to talk, was Glenn Elliott Paul. Mr. Paul. He didn't look anything at all. Very deadpan. And I split, leaving Walter to figure out what to do with the rest of the music.
1997, David Leddick.
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