Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Existentialist Conversations with Strippers: Sunshine, Jesus Freaks, and the Afternoon Shift

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

"This work is an attempt to understand the time I live in." - Albert Camus
Bad Blood flew into Las Vegas for a little post-WSOP hang time. After five summers, he's the only one of my friends who figured out that poker media types have zero to little time to socialize during the WSOP. He strategically picked the days after the completion of WSOP to get sloppy as we embarked on some of the best misadventures that I had in a very long time.

Bad Blood and I go back, way back to the warm and fuzzy Party Poker days shortly after Moneymaker's epic win in 2003. We used to play several times a week together and developed a bond that has lasted over a half of a decade. Bad Blood was the one who introduced me to the Procedure; a three-pronged evening that entails drinking, strip clubs, and poker.

I've been fortunate to have taken part in more than one Bad Blood-captained sojourns to strip clubs in both Las Vegas and his hometown of G-Vegas. In fact, just a month earlier during my time away from the WSOP, both Professional Keno Player Neil Fontenot and I had the pleasure of tagging along with Bad Blood to one of the local South Carolina gentleman's clubs. Talk about the other side of the tracks. The best looking dancer in G-Vegas could possibly hump the day shift at the Rhino if she could somehow kick her meth habit and drag her three kids across country with her.

The afternoon shift at the Rhino features the bottle of the barrel for Rhino girls, however, when compared to the rest of the stripping gene pool, they are still the tip of the sword. Most of the girls who end up on the afternoon shift at the Rhino are usually damaged goods in some form or another. It's a place for newbies to the pole who are desperate for cash, 40+ year old strippers a few years past their heyday, and single moms with multiple children who couldn't find decent day care. Where as some work places in Europe have day care centers on site for their employees, the Rhino doesn't exactly have a swing set out back. There's a Romper Room in the darkest corner, but the activities in that place should not be viewed by anyone under 21. Let's just say, that the Rhino does not actively promote "Take your daughter to work day" unless she happens to be a 18 year old former gymnast that knows how to shake her booty to Flo Rida's latest album.

Bad Blood arranged free passage from the cab driver since they get kick backs to funnel horny walking ATMs to various clubs around Sin City. The Rhino looked different during the day as you approached it. It was 110+ degrees and the mid-afternoon scorching sun gave everything outside a white glow. Even with shades on, your eyes were bombarded with the glare. It took several moments to adjust to the darkness inside the Rhino. Murky figures moved quickly in the shadows, sort of like the Vietcong ready to spring an ambush on a batch of fresh grunts in the jungle.

In the past, I made a beeline to the bar since it was the only lit area in the place. I was able to inspect the goods better that way. That time, however, we sat down at a table near the stage. Bad Blood turned down the first young girl in a plaid skirt who saddled up to him. He did not resist the second wave... a 6 foot tall Nordic beauty with breasts the side of medicine balls... sat down next to him.

Someone snuck up from behind and put her hands over my eyes.

"Guess who?" she said in in twang.

It sounded Southern maybe even East Texas. I didn't know who it was. She was just a random bleach-dyed blonde stripper with collagen injected lips who decided to pounce on me. It was her lucky day. My girlfriend approved of the trip to the Rhino and I had a wad of bills in my pocket after a score in the Dream Team Poker event.

"I'm Sunshine. Can I sit down?" she asked.

I nodded and a waitress wandered over. I had a two drink tickets and offered to buy Sunshine a cocktail.

"Sorry honey, I don't drink," she said as she leaned in to whisper, "I'll have an ice water. Get a double and ask for a water back. That way they won't charge you for the water."

I nodded and repeated her suggestion to the waitress. By that point, Bad Blood's bald head had disappeared into the bosoms of his girl.

"Where are y'all from?" asked Sunshine.

"I'm from South Carolina," said Bad Blood. "And he's from... where you calling home these days?"

"L.A.," I answered. "These days it's L.A."

"How do you know each other?" asked Sunshine.

"We went to school together," said Bad Blood.

"Yeah, we played hockey at Cornell together."

Bad Blood's girl stroked his head and Sunshine hopped on my lap.

"So you're hockey players?"

"Not anymore. That was like 15 years ago in a galaxy far far away."

"What do y'all do now?"

"He designs hot air balloons. He used to be a pilot but now he's a designer. Me? I'm a writer."

"In Hollywood? For who?"

"I'd rather not say."

"That's so cool. I knew there was something special about you. We're very similar. I'm a creative person too. I wrote, directed, and acted in my own film last year."

For the next five minutes, Sunshine revealed the intricate details of her film... a low-rent inter-galactic gangbang flick with sci-fi undertones.

"I even did my own stunts and we have special effects! In the final scene I fuck this alien with two cocks."

"Are you influenced by Philip K. Dick?" I asked wondering if she was also a fan of my favorite sci-fi writer.

"Bill Dick? Is he the black guy with the 14-inch cock who gives all those girls facials in Cumfiesta?"

Philip K. Dick. Bill Dick. Same guy.

An aging porn actress latched herself onto me. Luckily she seemed more interested in discussing the arts instead of trying to hustle me for lapdances in the VIP room.

Some of the entertainers perform under a persona and role play during their shift. You never learn anything about them since they're supposed to be globs of clay and become whatever erotic fantasy that you wish. Others just change their name and have no qualms telling you their daily bad beats and tragic "how I ended up on the pole" stories. Within three minutes Sunshine gave me the run down on the last three decades. She grew up in Texas near the Louisiana border. She got pregnant in high school and had a back alley abortion that got botched. So she could no longer have kids. She lived in New Orleans for a spell and married a Cuban coke dealer who went to jail for killing an undercover narc. She was afraid that the thugs who he worked for were going to come after her, so she fled for El Paso, then worked in Las Vegas for a spell before she ended up in Chatsworth, CA. If you know that little enclave in the Valley, then you know it's the porn capitol of the world.

Sunshine was one of the thousands of workers who fell into the booming sex industry in the 1980s. VCRs made it possible for any pervert to wank off to pornographic material without leaving their own homes. Dingy and sticky porno theatres became a thing of the past. At the time, she was a raging sex addict and cocaine addict. The porn industry catered to both of her needs. One year turned into a decade. Her 20s were a daze. All of a sudden, she woke up one day and it was 1999 and she was strung out, completely broke, and accumulated thousands of dollars in medical bills for a lacerated rectum after a tragic dildo incident.

She spent the last decade in and around Vegas. For a while, she hustled whales at the Mirage as a high end escort but that didn't work out after she got thrown over a couch by her pimp and broke seven ribs. While she healed, she worked in a call center specializing in bondage fantasies. She did everything possible to extract the credit card numbers and other personal info from her sex-deprived callers. One of her bosses used that info for an international identity theft ring. She got arrested but her boss fled town. After a short stint in jail, she was released and ended up on the pole to pay her legal fees.

In the last few years, she used the money at the Rhino to fund her own porn films. She told me her website name and made me say it out loud five times so I would not forget. Since she loved sci-fi stuff she wanted to incorporate those themes into her orgies on film.

"That's a remarkable way to target multiple audiences," I said. "Plus sci-fi geeks usually can't get laid so they'll be the ones buying this porn in bulk."

She offered up a lap dance first before we headed into the VIP room.

"I want you to test drive the car before you buy it," she said as she stood up and pulled me into the corner.

Before she danced, she asked if she could give me a psychic reading. She closed her eyes and put her hand on my chest above my heart. She said that she then asked the universe for a sign. Images pop up in her head and that's her psychic vision.

"I'm envisioning your father. He's not a creative person like you. He wore a gray uniform. I'm seeing a large bus. Was he a bus mechanic? I have this vision of a man in gray fixing a bus."

I told her she was wrong. However, she was almost correct and onto something. My old man was a suit who humped a desk job for an insurance company in midtown Manhattan. He wore a gray suit every day and took the subway to work. Either Sunshine was somewhat psychic, or full of shit and got lucky.

I arranged a very good deal for the VIP room at a discount. I even greased the bouncer to make sure we got a few extra songs. Bad Blood was in one of the dark corners while I sat in the other. Sunshine revealed her average sized breasts under a bluish light. She was in her mid-40s but her body was well maintained and had curves like a 30 year old.

"You used to have implants?" I blurted out.

"How did you know?"

I rubbed the scar underneath one of her breasts.

"I'll probably get them again in ten years when they really start to sag. For now, all of my money for cosmetic surgery goes to my face."

She pointed to her lips, eyes, and forehead.

Over the next few minutes, she gave me a sampling of her raunchy phone sex lines. She also revealed that she hasn't done coke since 9/11. She's been sober from booze for thirty months and that she attended Sexaholics Anonymous meetings twice a week and had not had sex since Christmas 2007. She admitted that she blew a guy on July 4th of last year, but that was because he offered her $5,000 for her a suck and a swallow. She was late on her rent and the AC on her car broke. Everyone has a price. Even those who are recovering addicts trying to live life on the straight and narrow.

She abruptly changed the subject and spoke about her recent relationship with Jesus that had been intensifying. She mentioned how she tries to channel all of her sexual frustration towards the heavens. She has been getting into a couple of Christian rock bands and often masturbates to the Kronicles. At that point, I had to cut her off. I didn't like the path she was leading me down. I was either trying to convert me or about to tell me some freaky shit involving a crucifix that I really did not want to think about. After all, I was on vacation and all I wanted was to have her rub her titties in my face while she told me some great stories about her daily encounters of life as a sex industry worker. Jerking off to Jesus was not one of the topics listed on the Rhino's afternoon symposium.

Before I left the VIP room, she asked to give me another psychic reading. She put her hand on my chest and close her eyes. She quickly opened them and said, "I had this vision that you gave me a $100 tip."

Talk about a sneaky hustle. I shrugged my shoulders and started to walk out when she grabbed my arm.

"I know you got it. I felt that bulge in your pocket."

"I'll tell you what. Why don't we play a game. You close your eyes and count to twenty. That will give me enough time to pull out my ca..."

Before I could finish, she put her hands over her eyes and started counting loudly.

By the time she got to seven, I snuck out of the VIP room.

Editor's Note: This originally appeared on Tao of Poker.

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