"Olivia! Lady ‘O’! As in Oh my god!" Says one of the guys from behind a grimy-looking mustache. "I bet you make some lucky bastard feel really good!" His buddy empties more money out of his wallet, throws it on my feet and says, "Yeah, or really miserable!" That was the first time I smiled that night. A bug-eyed weasel wags a dollar bill in front of me. Graciously I accept his measly dollar and collect the money covering the floor. On my hands and knees. "Thank you" (smile) Ooh, a twenty, "Thank you very much." (Special smile) I stuff the money into my tiny, black hand bag, which I bought at a garage sale from a little old lady for one dollar.
Swanking, sauntering, candy long legs cross the bar and disappear behind The Red Velvet Curtain. The dressing room, which would better be described as a closet, is cluttered with sequins and fringe, stiletto heels poking me in the ass as I sit cramped in a chair counting twenty-dollar bills.
Saggy breasted Stephanie walks in with her black cloud hovering over her, cigarette oozing out of her mouth. Shrieking and whining about the two dollars she just made on stage. One would assume it may have something to do with the fresh track marks on her arm. But of course "Olivia" couldn't care less. Last time we worked together, Stephanie wanted to kick off her stilettos and throw some punches at me. There she was, sitting with a rocker dude, swallowing the long neck of a beer bottle. "This is your dick. This is my mouth on your dick. Any questions?" Hateful girl that I am, I said, "Yes, would you mind doing the ashtrays next?"
The fake Gucci watch on my wrist says 10: 30. Do I go home with $150? No, I should stay, because there's rent of course, and those shoes I really want and oh yeah, headshots.
Back on the other side of The Red Velvet Curtain. Loud, blaring fuzz and buzz. Men are talking too loud, over music so hard it deafens reality.
Calista sits in a corner, alone. She skinnier then I am and hunched over as if she were a hundred years old. She is wearing a most ridiculous get up, covering her with straps and belts and vinyl twisted throughout her frail, almost contorted body. It reminds me of a piece of string tied tightly around a piece of meat.
Devin sits at another table. Blonde with her watery blue eyes. Wearing an open mouthed blank stare. She sits in a dark corner with "The Sheik" He comes in regularly with an older (much older) man named Erwin. They have their favorite girls and I am not one of them, I am not a blonde. When The Sheik and Erwin walk into the bar, all the men who work there, the bouncer, the bartender even the owner come out to greet them as if the pope himself had just graced the titty bar with his presence. They make quite an entrance for a guy in a turban and a man using a walker.
Time for Lady "O" to make the rounds.
"Care for a lap dance?" I purr.
"Maybe later, sweetheart."
"How about a dirty little dance?" I let my hair graze his mangy shoulder.
"How about a trip to a motel room?"
"How about solicitation of prostitution, you fucking pervert!"
So I try a more passive approach. "How about a drink, handsome?"
"How about you show me your tits, beautiful?"
"You know what, Sport? If you had tits like this in your mouth, you wouldn’t know what to do with them."
Two men sitting near the entrance catch my attention. They each have a fresh drink and more importantly, an immense pile of money covers the table. There's rent. Surveying the rest of the bar, the usual sad sight. Erections cleverly disguised as men. Covered in a filth you can't just wash off. It’s encrusted upon their skin from years of being dishonest and untrue.
However these two men by the entrance don't seem to emanate that sort of debauchery. I couldn't remember what the man on the left looked like. I never saw him again after that night. But the man on the right suddenly appeared as if in the center of a bull's eye. He was clean, in a Hollywood, fashionably sloppy way. Although his Indian, black hair barely grazed his shoulders, I immediately noticed the stressed receding hairline. And the very skin on the top of his head suddenly became endearing to me. You dear, sweet man. The stress in your life is taking its toll. I noticed the weight of his leather jacket and imagined the warmth inside that jacket should I put my arms around him. And how the lining would be soft and warm. And the downward curve of his mouth didn't smile, neither was it discontent.
I couldn't tell you what song was playing, or who was on stage, but I remember the way I crossed toward the man, guarding myself behind the chair that separated the two of us and how I leaned forward just a bit . . . as if to comfort him. "Would you gentlemen like some company?"
Now I could tell you every detail of our conversation, ravage through the whirlwind of drinks and laughter; the coincidences in our lives and all the people we knew in common. Oh, the gentle flow of golden, true compliments that warmed me just as I had imagined the inside of his jacket would. And yes, at some point I mentioned my boyfriend, who I loved, who didn’t mind about my job whose name escaped me for a second. Just for a second.
At one point I dared imagine what it would be like, being married to this man. I wondered if everything he had been saying was in fact true, could I find myself waking up beside him? Sitting across the breakfast table from him, discussing car payments and soccer practice? Entertaining such ideas with a client! The nerve of me.
It sounded like a cattle call for all the drunks in the coral when the DJ started shouting, "Last call! Last call for alcohol!" I got up to check my wine-stained lips. All that champagne had found its way to my knees turning me into a stumbling, slurring stripper again. And the man with the Indian, black hair; balding on top, sensitive behind wire framed glasses looked at me. He looked at Olivia, Lady O and silently begged her not to go. And silently part of me wanted to take his arm there and then and walk out the front door with him. And disappear into his life, and become his world, his woman, and his possession. Somewhere in the fog of my intoxicated mind, his phone number lingered in and out of my consciousness.
I tried to leave him on the other side of The Red Velvet Curtain. I tried to leave his image and all the sweet, drippy, luscious words that washed through my mind and began to vibrate between my legs. And that energy followed me through The Red Velvet Curtain, it held me up and made me look sober, and followed me right out the door.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
was born in Caracas, Venezuela. She currently lives in LA pursuing her talents in writing, acting and comedy. Her work has also been published in the '97 edition of The Citadel
and the upcoming 2001 Winter Volume of Nature's Echoes
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