Back in a Strip Club

I was thinking. My life in Eugene thus far should be titlted “my life with strippers”. Because when I moved here I was dating a girl who was a stripper, then I worked in a strip club, and now I am working in another strip club. Too funny.

Sunday night and I’ve awakened from a nap. But I should back up a few days. Friday I went to The Alaskan Bush Company to talk to Darrell. Darrell is the owner of a constrution company in Medford and four months ago he bought the Bush Company from Jim. Darrell was the guy who did the construction work at Divas before its opening. I worked basically for Darrell those first few weeks, doing painting, hanging sheetrock. whatever. When we opened I moved into my position of bar, head bar, bar manager at Divas. I was never really given any autonomy, Phil came along and he fits in the culture at Divas (implying the office and above) and amid all of that crap I left. I got a phone call a couple days ago from Darrell, he wanted to meet me Friday and see if working for him was something I’d be interested in. You bet.

I should inject here that two bars in Eugene have recently gone belly up. One of them was Doc’s Pad and I know that the bartenders and cocktailers that work there are much more into the scene than I am, and so they are more likely to get a job than I am at one of the bars that are on my list. It is a small town, everyone knows everyone, and when a bartender goes into a bar and talks with the bartender there about another bartender, both bartenders know the bars referenced and the people. It is the same people, they just move around bars. It is tough enough to get a job now, plus my qualifications, plus the added social cliche aspect. So it very well could be that the Bush is going to be the only opportunity for quite some time.

I took the bus to the club. It is a strip club and though I’d like to work in a place where I could take my nephew were he to visit, most regular bars would be off limits to him also. The place used to be a major dump. It was easily the rattiest place in town. Darrell has done a lot of cleaning on the place, but has made no improvements beyond cleaning. He told me his plans for the environment, construction plans, etc… and all of this after he is finished with a million dollar job he’s working on now in Medford. But what I’ve learned over the past couple months is that the perception about the Bush company has changed slightly, very slightly… for the better. When I went inside I noticed why. The girls are having fun. The barstaff is having fun, everyone is having fun. Darrell and I talked extensively about this aspect in the office and we saw eye to eye on everything. I told him why I left Divas and he told me what he wanted, a person he could leave the club with and go home and sleep knowing that all was taken care of… someone he could trust. He liked my work ethic when I worked with him a year and a half earlier and he felt that he could trust me.

The girls were ecstatic! I already knew four of them and they all were excited to see me. I went to the cabinet maker that night and worked my last night and told them that it was my last night. Saturday night I’d be working at The Alaskan Bush Company. When I showed up for work, I was greeted by a happy bunch of girls who knew me before at Divas. I never tried to take any home, I treated them fairly, I treated them like people and not “dumb bitches” (their words). It wasn’t long before some of the girls that I didn’t know came up to me and welcomed me, telling me that the word on me was really good and that they hoped I was all that I was said to be. I told them I’d do my best but they’d have to make their own mind up. I went on a candy run later on, and I acted my usual goofy self. I popped into the dressing room occaisionally and three times I’d have a little chat with the girls, getting a feel for where they were.

When the night was nearly over I had three hispanic guys in football jerseys mouthing off at one lone white guy in a basketball jersey. The white guy’s friend was back a bit sitting at the table, watching. I knew what that guy was doing, he was trying to be close enough to jump in and hit someone, but far enough from the male ego posturing to be a surprise to anyone when he did jump in. His posture was giving it away. I went to investigate, introduced myself to all of the guys. I was ignored by the mouthiest hispanic guy. The white guy was basically having his punk card pulled on him repeatedly. I decided that the white guy didn’t have the balls but it was the hispanic guy that I was worried about now. I went to his friend and pulled him over and told him that if there was a dispute, be a man about it (I emphasized “man”) and take it outside and settle it like “men”, but to not do anything inside. He said “I give you my word”. Now, whether or not his word is trustworthy is another matter, but I am learning the clientelle here and they are learning me. The guy that I replaced, Jeff, was a manipulative guy and when things came to push and shove at a fight at Divas once, it was me pinning a guy down on the pavement, shouting orders at the other guy to back the fuck up (the Marine voice works) and Jeff was standing in the back, not sure on what to do. It could be that everyone is used to nobody doing anything at this place. Okay, it might take a bit to change this perception, but it will.

The posturing by the guys didn’t end. To make matters worse, one of my girls went up between the guys and was involved now. Come to find out she is the girlfriend of the white guy. Great. Now if I go up again, there are a lot of voices up there, a lot of shit, and I’m just going to be a big wooden spoon to stir the shit soup with. I didn’t want to stir it up, I wanted to end the matter. So I went into the dressing room and grabbed another girl. I asked her if shed help me, she agreed. I told her to grab the white guy and tell him that she’s got something for him and to lead him away. I told her that she had 10 seconds to do this, no more, if it didn’t work, to walk off. I told her to take the guy, bring him to the bar, and sit him down. The bartender was instructed by me to give him one free beer if he would sit his ass down and not get up again, and to tell him this clearly. He was intoxicated but I was going on two over-riding factors here. One, his girlfriend was going to drive, and two, this was a manner to diffuse the situation. I could live with that. Well she took longer than ten seconds, but she got the job done. I went over to the white guy later and told him that I didn’t care who was right and wrong at the moment, (it appeared that both sides were equally guilty) but that I wanted the matter to end. The white guy got lippy with me. But he sat down and didn’t move and I watched the three hispanic guys. My cohort was back up there and was talking with them. I went and grabbed the first girl to go up there and told her to go up and grab the girl, tell her to come to the bathroom with her, but to get her the hell out of there. Again, I had results in mind. I could have done it myself, but it would have sparked a volatile situation. There are only three guys working at night, myself, the DJ who has a handicap and cannot walk very well, and an old guy in a wheel chair. Basically I am all alone and this was three above average sized hispanic males in their mid twenties who have all the signs of someone who doesn’t give a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut that I learned while working in a bar in Houston. If it was going to be a fight, I had no idea where it would end up. I doubted that I could handle three of them without doing some serious injury to one of them. If it were two, maybe, but three? No way. I went over various scenarios in my mind, and most of them involved the use of pool balls and sticks and broken stuff and someone going to the hospital. Not what I wanted at all. If I can get someone out of the door without a fight, but will have to allow myself to be called a name or something, that is a fair trade off. I knew that if I got the girl away from them that they’d leave. I knew also that if I went up and grabbed her, I’d be the next target of their aggression. If this happens I am back at square one when they had the white guy as their target. The whole purpose was to get things settled down, not change actors. My girl went and grabbed my other girl and they went straight to the bathroom. I took a defensive and authority position at the edge of the bar, between them and the white guy. I watched them in a manner that put the ball in their court. If they really wanted a fight so bad, they’d have to step over the line and go looking for it (come my direction) or they could leave. They postured for a bit and finally they left. I walked around without an ounce of discomfort. I had the situation under control from the beginning, and when it was all over I went to the girls in the bathroom, told them they were gone and to come out, and I went to the bartender and explained everything that happened. I think that it was something of a shock for some of the girls that I had manipulated things without having to raise my voice.

At the end of the night I was told that they loved me, that they hoped that I’d stay, that they felt good with me there. I was glad. I took a walk outside. I had a weird feeling and told the DJ so as I grabbed a flashlight and headed for the door. When I got outside there was the white guy standing next to a parked car with a half full beer on the roof. I decided to be a nice guy and I walked by and said that if the man was to come by and see the beer outside, we’d all get a fine. He mumbled that there was no beer. I stopped in my tracks (I had walked by him) and said “excuse me?”. I was shocked. The white guy was still giving me lip. I went over to stand next to him and told him again. He gave me the same answer. I leaned toward him and said “I’ll make this really clear for you. That beer has to disappear now”. He answered that there was no beer there. Fucking dumbass has no idea that I saved him from an ass beating, bought him a beer, and now he’s giving me lip. I grabbed the beer from the car and said that I was taking the beer and since there was no beer out here then it wouldn’t be a problem for him now would it. I walked away and poured out the beer on the pavement and spot lighted the back of the parking lot. He called over to me as I was about to enter the club. I turned. He walked over to me, drunk off of his ass and moving two steps sideways for every step forward. He was implicitly threatening me but he couldn’t really think of how to do it explicitly. I turned to face him, gave him a full posture, squared myself to him, raised my arms slightly, leaned toward him, all the little things that say to your unconscious “I am about to kick your ass”. You can’t talk rationally to a drunk guy, especially one who was called a little bitch over and over by three hispanic guys and now he wants to beef up his feeling of manhood. He said that he’d kill me. I said “fine, go ahead, I don’t care either way.” That was all he had to say so I turned back to go to the club. He interrupted me again. I turned back around, tossed the bottle back and forth in my hand, and told him that I was too busy to talk to him. If he had something to say, say it, if not, I was going inside. He tried to pick a fight with me, talking about my posturing to him (he did pick up on it) and such and was I going to be a bigshot and go write a report on his girlfriend (a dancer). I said that she was doing her job, I had no issue with her, my issue was with him, he was drunk, settle down.

When I got back inside, the other half of the duo was at the bar. He was sober. I went over to him and sat down, told him that his friend was getting on my nerves and that he needed to keep an eye on him. Delegate babysitting of drunk me to their friends when you can, for they will be punched instead of you. Not that I worried about the drunk outside. He would be easily beaten. But again, beating people up and such is not my mandate. Keeping the peace is. The sober white guy said that that no matter how drunk the guy was, he could have beaten up the three hispanic guys and even me. I looked at the guy and told him that I don’t know what cloud he lives on, but he was sorely mistaken. I had my culprit, right here. The whole thing was probaby instigated by this sober white guy because I got small clues from his speech. I told him that I was a good guy, and I didn’t kick people out for no reason because I’ve been kicked out of several bars and arrested plenty of times myself, but that I would 86 any trouble makers who tried any shit with me. Later, when everyone was gone I was telling all to the girl that is the drunks girlfriend. I told her that I felt that the sober guy gives the impression of the straight guy, but that I felt he was really one who pushes buttons on people secretively to start shit. She said that she’s known him for several years and that my description was on the nail.

Today I woke up and bought a CD wallet that holds 94 CDs. I put in most of my good rock n roll. The club doesn’t use a computer, it is old school DJ and cash registers. I am taking Jeff’s place as DJ three or four nights a week (getting tip out too) and acting as night manager on other nights. While sitting with Darrell we went over pay and he said that I’d average about $500 a week. It would be great! That would be my goal of $2000 a month! At this I could buy a mustang in seven months and have a chunk of college paid for. Especially if some things go our way.

Those things are simple. One is the girls. The girls have changed since Darrell has taken over. Now that I am here, hopefully some other girls will come over from Divas. One of the comments that I heard is “I know this place is a rat hole, but I’d rather work here than work for Phil.” My response, you can put a silk hat on a pig but it is still a pig. Phil (and Divas) is a pig. Another thing is our attitude. We rock. It is laid back, comfortable and the floor layout is very good. It is a nice cozy place that rocks. Third is the staff service. April has been bartending only since August (the bar is beer only, no alcohol yet, it is coming in January) but she is amazing, easily one of the best natural bartenders I have ever seen in my life. With her it wouldn’t be teaching, it would be molding. I told her that I was going to make her a star and that when I was done with her every bar manager in town would know her name and would have standing offers for her to come work for them. I do not doubt this in the slightest, it is the truth. The service is great, the girls are friendly, it is a “fun” place to be. Another thing is the club. The name is changing after we get our liquor license to Rock and Roll Caberet. Darrell has told me his plans for it. The easy way to describe it is to visualize a Hard Rock Cafe with Strippers. Add to this that three (or four) times they’ve had a local band come in and play. The reports is that the place was rocking, that they were packed, that the bartender rang $1,800 in sales with only two cocktail waitresses in a five hour period (she is good). Yep! Rock n Roll attitude. I’ve been trying to get Phil to let me to bring in a live band for months and months. Nope. He’s given me lip service but will not act on my ideas until later when he can steal them. When he does use them and I call him on it he says that he’s done this at this club in Louisianna, and that at that club in LA and that I wasn’t the first person to come up with these ideas. No? Well why didn’t we discuss this two months ago when I brought it up to you in that two hour long talking session? No. Phil’s a lonely insecure lying fucker and he is no competition. It takes more than fancy curtains, t-shirts, and videos to make a club happening. The customers pick up on the culture of the club and the culture is affected by the staff who are affected by the managers and owners. From the top at Divas (now called Hot Body club) it is all about lying, cheating, manipulation, and screwing people over for a buck.

It is 10 now. I’ve gone through some of my CD’s. I’m going to bust some Albert Collins (blues) and some Phantom Blue (girl heavy metal band) on the girls when I take on the DJ. Sitting here listening to CDs all day I feel like John Cusack in the movie High Fidelity. I love that movie. I am going to walk over to Divas and pay a visit to them. Phil doesn’t work on Sundays. I’m going to tell everyone that I am over at the Bush now. Phil probably already knows (because the girls at the Bush said that they’d call their friends who worked at other clubs and tell them that I am at the Bush now and to come work with them) and he’ll talk it down that I am nothing and that the Bush is a dump. He’s right on one thing, the Bush is a dump, but this is Eugene and in even the yuppies here there is a streak of hippie. People will go to a place they feel good at more than a place that is nice but they feel uncomfortable in. Divas is cold and impersonal, Bush is warm and friendly. Go ahead Phil, underestimate us, talk shit. You’re going to wake up in a few months and wonder why business is slowing down and why the new word on the street is about the Rock n Roll Caberet.

I need a vanilla coke!

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