My brother handed me the T-bag G-string he had picked out for me from the adult store, Dreamers. I turned it over, wondering how this thin, animal-print spandex could possibly contain my modest holdings.
Mike and I took turns primping in the bathroom: lathering, shaving, and applying unwarranted amounts of lotion and cologne. Then we stood assembled in our outfits, examining ourselves against the mirror fixed to the back of my front door. We looked like children dressed up as the adults we imagined we would one day become. Mike wore a straw cowboy hat, boots, and a pearl-snap, western shirt. I sported a thrift store tuxedo and a pink, ruffled shirt that I hoped would dress up my dance skills.
Footwear presented a problem. For all the important life lessons fashion magazines had instilled in us, these publications never weighed in on the proper shoes a guy was to wear while naked. Dress shoes matched my outfit, but they didn’t provide the traction required for my dynamic thrusts. Realistically I knew I was the only person who would even notice my shoes, but obsessing over such details gave me a sense of control.
“You want to practice our routine?” I asked Mike.
At this point I still entertained fantasies of a choreographed performance.
“Stop fidgeting and have a drink,” he said. “You’re nervousness is making me nervous.”
I popped a beer. He grabbed the tequila bottle, lecturing me on how shooting straight liquor reduced bloating. After taking a few gulps to steady himself, Mike addressed himself to the mirror and let his jeans fall beneath the weight of his belt buckle. Crouching slightly, he bucked his hips, bringing his show pony to a full gallop. This was as close to practice as we would get. I let my pants fall and stood thrusting in solidarity with my brother. We looked like we were part of a perverse dance line. We were both so accustomed to the neutering effects of boxers and briefs that we were mesmerized by how the ergonomically designed G-strings accentuated our masculine bounties.
Mike and I were not the first choice of entertainment for the bachelorette party, but we were the cheapest and the most conveniently located. My next-door neighbor, Megan had been guilted into throwing a party for her cousin, Nicole, who had been a year behind us in high school. The nineteen-year-old was rushing to wed her boyfriend before he was deployed to Afghanistan. If married, he would receive a pay hike. In the event of his death, she would collect benefits. It was a storybook engagement. In planning the party, Megan did not have the time, money, or the faith in the sanctity of this particular union to invest in vetted strippers. So she bought me shots and propositioned me.
“This is the only way I’m ever going to ask you to undress in my apartment,” she had said.
My only excuse for saying no was the absolute certainty that I would humiliate myself. I still nursed long-standing crushes on several women who would be in attendance, including Megan. And yet, part of me suspected that there was virtue in agreeing to something that absolutely terrified me, particularly if that something involved stripping down and rubbing up against women who were paying for this privilege.
“Do you want to practice now?” I asked.
Mike slapped my bare ass hard enough to throw me off balance. A huge grin spread across his face, peeling back from eyeteeth that stuck out like fangs. His tequila breath was hot enough to catch fire. Like Dr. Jekyll or Bruce Banner, he had transformed into something else—into an ornery strip-osaurus named Mike-zilla.
The confines of my tiny apartment made Mike-zilla restless. He hammered his crotch into the wall dividing my apartment from Megan’s. Art school paintings shook on the walls and my empty beer bottle rattled on the table.
“Yee-haw mother fuckers!” he shouted, banging his fist on the drywall to pound home his point.
Muffled laughter returned through the thin insulation. In another moment the door opened. Megan peaking in at us.
“We’re ready for you now,” she said, grinning.
* * *
This wasn’t my first foray into the underworld of male stripping. Months before, my roommate Travis and I cruised West Campus in my Ford Pinto, looking for an excuse to show off the argyle socks we had slipped over the business-ends of our fleshy bankrolls with rubber bands. This had been the first chance I got to wear those fancy dress socks, or at least the right one. Travis wore the left sock as he thought it better complimented his natural curvature.
During pledge week West Campus was overrun with incoming freshman trying to secure bids from choice sororities. To Travis and me it seemed an ideal opportunity to launch our long discussed business venture: a discount stripper-gram service.
Like any of our other schemes to meet women, our plan revolved heavily around our outfits and alcohol. We took faith in the ostentatiousness of our costumes to lead the way. Travis’ hair was pulled into a ponytail. He wore glasses without lenses to add a hint of sophistication, female jeans with a snug crotch, and a vest in place of a shirt. I partially unzipped the top of my tracksuit jacket to showcase my shirtless chest and my pre-tied bowtie. My tear-away pants rode high on my ankles, making way for white Adidas shoes I sported in the likely event that a hasty get-away was required.
Travis sat in the passenger seat with an oversized stereo on his shoulder. He blasted sensual soul music to help drown out the protests from the voice of reason in our heads. I brought the car to a crawl as we passed lines of women waiting to get into sorority houses. They turned back in waves, glancing at us with a cascade of smiles, laughter, and offended stares. Apparently some thought our presence cheapened the solemnity of rushing a sorority.
On a whim I pulled over beside a group of women wearing matching Chi O shirts.
“Excuse me,” I called out to the closet one, feeling confident behind my cracked, aviator shades. “Do you happen to know where the Chi O house is?”
Her trepidation bloomed into a smile when she leaned down and absorbed the full magnitude of our getups.
“Are you pledges?” she asked.
“We’re entertainers,” I corrected, “and we’re running a bit late. We have an engagement at the Chi O house and can’t seem to find it.”
“Oh my God!” she said. “Are you KAs? Did Jeremy send you for Ashley’s birthday?”
“We really can’t divulged that information,” Travis said. “Discretion is big in our line of work.”
“You guys look perfect!” she said. “Just go down two more blocks and it’s on the right. You’ll see the letters on the house. Ashley is going to just die.”
Travis kissed her hand and gave her a folded slip of paper.
“In case you ever find yourself in need of our services,” he said with a wink and I pulled away.
Travis had the foresight to print off a bunch of business cards before we left the house. The card listed the number of our shared landline along with our company’s mission statement: “Have Cock, Will Travel.”
We hadn’t discussed what we would say when Travis banged the knocker at Chi O. In truth, any attempt to plan for whatever lay behind that door would just increase the likelihood of us turning back. Travis propped his stereo on his shoulder an upped the volume. The door opened.
“Hello,” a sorority sister shouted, straining to be heard over the music. “Are you…?”
We stepped inside while she struggled with an appropriate reaction.
“This open floor plan is going to work well,” I said. “This is going to be good.”
“Are you guys…?” she tried again, waiting for us to fill in the blank. “I’m Brittany. Are you looking for someone?”
“We’re actually here to see Ashley,” Travis said. “We have a very special birthday message to give her.”
I did lunging stretches across the open floor, measuring the space. Then I conducted a series of high-step calisthenics to test the floor’s bounce. Sorority sisters kept appearing from around corners, drawn by the music and the sexual vibrations permeating the house. Two collected on the stairs, holding onto the rail.
“Ashley just left with her boyfriend,” Brittany said as I pointed to the sisters on the stairs and directed a light flutter of hip thrusts their way. “I can tell her you stopped by. Would you like to leave a message?”
“It’s not that kind of message,” Travis said. “We really need to deliver it to her, personally, you understand.”
The more we merged with our characters, the more the scene unfolded according to the reality of the charade. What had started as a joke was becoming the real.
“I can tell her you stopped by,” Brittany said. “What are your names?”
“Our names?” Travis repeated, considering our identities for the first time. “I’m Dartanian and this is Alfonzo Thundercock.”
“Dartanian and Alfonzo,” she repeated, unable to suppress a smile.
She reached to shake my hand, but I leaned in to kiss her cheek. Travis followed suit, handing her a calling card.
“I don’t suppose there’s anyone else here who could use some entertainment?” I asked, addressing the room. “Would hate to think we got all lotioned up and shaved down for nothing.”
The sisters looked to each other for guidance. Travis cranked the music. I unzipped my jacket and Travis undid his vest. Instinctively we helicoptered these garments around our heads and grinded against any accommodating surface. The sisters did not cheer, but they also did not tell us to stop. They were mesmerized by our performance, their bodies awakening to strange sexual urges.
Then the sorority’s house mom stormed in and threatened to call the cops. She was completely unmoved by the sway of our hips. She snapped a dishtowel at us to herd us out the door. Travis protested that she was violating our first amendment right to express ourselves by stripping for money. I tossed a few of our cards into the house like confetti and shouted that we worked on referrals. The door slammed on our performance. We did not bother putting our shirts back on our turning down the music as we strolled back to the car.
* * *
Given my experience, I took the lead walking down the balcony to Megan’s apartment. I propped the CD player on my shoulder and preceded Mike-zilla through the door. He banged against the frame. Stumbling inside, Mike-zilla found himself in the middle of a room lined with young women sucking drinks through penis straws. I set the stereo down and pushed play. I had burned four songs onto a CD, thinking this would give us more than enough time to unload our repertoire of moves. The first song, “I’m too Sexy for my Shirt,” spoke for the entire playlist, toeing the line between sexy and absurd.
“Where’s the bride-to-be hiding?” I asked, scanning the room.
Nicole, a petite young brunette, cowered in the corner beneath her plastic tiara and cotton sash. She was so much more embarrassed than either Mike or I, which fed our confidence. I grabbed her hand and pulled her up. On her feet, she seemed more than willing to follow my lead.
Nicole sat on a stool positioned in the center of the room. Mike-zilla immediately ripped open his pearl snap shirt with a drunken yodel. The reaction was one of traumatized amusement. He swung the shirt like a lasso then used it to whip Nicole. I snatched it from him and tossed it aside. The closer he got to Nicole, the more the women cheered, mistakenly thinking they were beyond the reach of his circumference of destructive. Mike saddled up on Nicole’s legs and bucked against her, yelling, “Getty up cow girl!”
I bounced my crotch into her ass to keep her from tipping over backwards from the force of Mike-zilla’s thrusts. I slipped out of my jacket and dress shoes, then cut in, running Nicole’s hands over my shirt’s ruffles. She started undoing the buttons. Mike-zilla jerked off his cowboy boots, then got stuck stepping out of his jeans. He pogoed about on one leg, pin-balling around the room as women reached out to keep him from falling. In a final jerk, he ripped off his jeans and held them up in victory. A few women applauded. The metal finger-cuffs ornamenting his G-string popped violently against his hips and stomach, leaving welts. He tried to slap the cuffs against Nicole’s leg but I guided him away.
I unstrung my belt and wrapped it around Nicole’s neck. Stepping back, I let my slacks drop to my ankles. Cheers and whistles set my genitals into motion. I bounced with force, hoping the centrifugal force would pull some additional blood to my extremities. Gradually however, I slowed down and focused on style.
Mike-zilla rubbed his ass on Nicole’s leg, not unlike a bear wiping himself on a tree. A woman held up her drink in salute, which Mike-zilla took as an offering. He chugged the beer then shook the swill over the bystanders. Then he propped his leg on Nicole’s thigh and slammed his groin into her chest like an oversized dog humping his owner.
The four songs on the CD played four times through. Confidence overflowed from us like the crumpled dollars spilling out of our spandex coin-purses. I felt as though I was vested with King Midas’s touch, as though anything my divine scepter struck would become aroused. I felt transformed. I was Alfonzo Thundercock, the electric stripper prince. The women too were changed. They acted the way guys wished they could behave at strip clubs. Their groping bordered on sex crimes. They pelted us with balled dollars, twisted our nipples, slapped our asses, and swatted our tiny dancers. Megan ordered us to lie on the floor while her friends lined up to suck tequila shots off our navals.
“It’s time for Nicole’s private dances,” Megan announced.
She pushed Mike-zilla and me toward the back room where she had Nicole waiting for us.
In the shadowy back room, free from the scrutinizing gaze of her friends, Nicole was no longer a bystander, but a participant. Her lips dragged across our necks and her hands ran over every inch of us. The only thing dividing the fantasy from the act was a thin layer of spandex.
Nicole pushed us both down on the bed. Mike-zilla hit the mattress like a toppled building.
“I want to dance for you,” she said, kicking off her shoes.
Gone was the shy girl I had pulled from the corner, hiding behind her friends. Nicole attempted a seductive dance that only highlighted her youth and sobriety. Mike-zilla’s glassy eyes shifted between Nicole and me, unsure what to make of the scene. She got stuck trying to pull her sundress over her head. I tried to pull it back down, but Mike-zilla jerk it off and tossed it aside, knocking over one of Megan’s family photos in the process.
Nicole fell into my lap, her hand cradling my crotch. She leaned in for a kiss but I turned my cheek. She came in a second time so I lifted her back to her feet. She threw herself down into Mike-zilla’s arms. The pair went at each other like beasts in a b-horror film. Entirely too many teeth were involved. The longer I sat watching, the more self-conscious I became. In attempt to make myself useful, I tried patting Nicole’s back and pulling her hair out of her face. I considered trying to stop them, but I also didn’t want to get a finger bitten-off in the process. Mike-zilla had not pledged his allegiance to any sort of stripper code of conduct, nor had he made any promises to Megan about crossing lines. For him, the dance was not just a performance, but a prelude.
The eyes of Nicole’s friends followed me around the living room as I shuffled about, curtseying in my G-string while I bent down to collect my clothes. I piled my costume atop my deflating confidence. The stripper mix reached its end, again. In the silence a rhythmic banging rose from the back room. It sounded like Nicole and Mike-zilla would break through the wall.
“Nicole!” Megan yelled, darting into the back.
A bridesmaid hit repeat on the CD player to muffle Megan’s wrath.
“Get off of him right now!” Megan shouted. “I’m so disappointed in you. You know better than this!”
Mike-zilla moseyed into the living room looking like he had been shot by several tranquilizer darts. His hat sat crooked on his sweaty head and his finger-cuffs jingled from his G-string like spurs. The attendants backed away at his approach, giving a wide birth to his meandering boner. I grabbed Mike-zilla’s shoulder and tried to lead him out. He shrugged me off in favor of a bowl of chips.
Megan stormed back into the living room. She tried to rip the chip bowl from Mike-zilla’s paws, but he refused. She yelled at me to get him the fuck out of there. I eventually coaxed him out the open door with promises of pizza. He strutted out onto the balcony wearing less than nothing and chomping handfuls of chips like the bones of sacrificial virgins.
On the balcony, overlooking the alley, he threw up his hands in victory and sprayed a fireball of gnawed chips as he yelled, “Yee-haw motherfucker!”