There are women who make their living, pushing costumes to exotic dancers. They roll wardrobe racks into the dressing room, well, bathroom, “Coming through, coming through” and hang the “latest ensembles” of spandex tube tops, fishnet halters and leather bikinis off the stall doors and steams pipes. Don’t get me wrong, some of these entrepreneurs were seamstresses, but mostly, former dancers who aged out of the business. They’d try and convince the girls, “This number’s real hot, you’ll make big money in it.” One of them looked up wistfully, taking a drag off their cigarette, “You wouldn’t know it by looking at me now but, I used to have a great ass”. Yep, it was a stretch, but I could see how you could really spread out if you weren’t hanging off a pole four or five hours a night. Some dancers bought new outfits every time that lady showed up; they couldn’t resist when she’d unveil G-strings in assorted colors, like lifesavers. Dancers would practically wrestle over them and spend half a night’s tips. I was the cheapest; my outfits were so nondescript. No cheerleader skirt, French maid or thigh high boots. No, I rotated the same three get-ups for years because I was under the mistaken impression that I always just one weekend away from retiring. I’d ask the lady, you got any specials, used costumes? Sometimes she did.
One night at Shakers Go Go Club, the dancers were buzzing about a well dressed man at the end of the bar. I sat down on the stool next to him, waiting to cash out my singles and girls squeezed themselves between my stool and his, vying for his attention and money. I had no idea who he was and ignored him, that’s probably why he turned to talk to me; the dancers retreated back to the dressing room. Having absolutely no experience with fame, I was surprised at our rapport. We talked a lot that night and he confided that he was jaded and unhappy from phony people with motives wringing the life out of him. With all of his wealth and status, he offered me a ride back to the city in his waiting limousine waiting. Ever the gentleman, he insisted we stop at my corner deli for goodies; muffins or juice perhaps. In his uptown voice, “Would you like anything else; anything at all?”
I had a feeling he’d asked that question of quite a few ladies, because he could deliver. He toyed with the Indian deli guy, wondering if he’d ever invested in his company’s stocks; of course, not revealing the company was his. Curiously, the fame he claimed to loath, did not stop him from boasting about it to strangers.
He requested to come up to my tiny apartment; just for a little while and cross legged on the bedroom floor, we leafed through my art books as he confessed that he owned more than one or two of those Monet’s and Lichtenstein’s, but that his girlfriend was hassling him to sell them or marry her; whichever came first. He’d have to get divorced first, naturally,
He was a scrunched up, odd looking man. But success makes a man more attractive; doesn’t really work so well for a woman; I’m not sure why. Men get older, grayer, fatter, no problem; still considered attractive as long as they’ve got money. I played him a few songs on my guitar and he looked up through his dyed blond lashes and told me he was envious of my connection to art; how free it felt to him. My passion for it was something he’d not experienced with his own creations for quite some time; with all the pressure from bankers and backers. This was a treat for him and could he possibly do something for me. He asked me why I came to New York because he knew lots of people who could set me up, really set me up. “Yes, anything you want to work at, get into, make happen.” And we both understood that he could make it happen.
I turned him down gracefully; partly because I felt uncomfortable with the offer and in retrospect, in all truth…I don’t believe that I knew what I wanted. Just art and I didn’t think that sounded lofty enough to a man like him; so I chose nothing. At 5am he asked if he could rest beside me and I said no, thank you, but no.
I never saw him again except on TV. Weeks passed, and I found it hard to believe that he was sitting on my bedroom floor and you know, he wasn’t so different from me; give or take several million.