who knew sex could be so boring? 2
I rush for a stool at the bar inside and gawk. Not at the performer on the dilapidated, box-like stage. I’ve seen more angel winged men in gold thongs gyrating to the sounds of Donna Summer than you might think. But the place is so packed, sweaty, and dark, women are stripping off their dresses and standing around in bras and underpants. Panting. For a drink, I assume. Not sure if they’re sex workers. Or just hot. The man in the gold thong is replaced by the frenzied antics of an Asian woman in a g string with tasseled tits who slithers across the floor with a python around her neck. This isn’t exactly new, either. You’d be amazed at how many women walk around New York City with pythons around their necks.
When the MC/producer inches her way towards the spotlight and takes a bow, the house erupts in shouts and applause as she introduces the first performer. A lap dancer named Busty Kitten who proceeds to read a poem. (There will be way too many poems in the hour ahead) It begins with a free verse synopsis of a typical night in the VIP room with too many overweight men and ends with her reenactment of attempts to seduce a girl crush. I’m not particularly moved but the audience claps, enthusiastically. Next up in the cabaret is a male escort. A bearded, thirty’ish guy in a white linen suit. His poem/narrative is about borrowing his mother’s car at the family yard sale to drive to his first “appointment.” The “john” is a married man with a Porsche and two children. I don’t seem to be laughing nearly as hard as everyone else. (And neither are the two gay friends who’ve joined me.) Next up is Lydia Love. A delicate, pale skinned red head with demure little glasses who sits down and reads… Yes, you guessed it. Another fucking poem. This one is called The Priestess Who Gives In To The Goddess. There seems to be a lot of “thrusting” going on during the stanzas. When Lydia stands up, off comes the dress, and we see small breasts and a tiny penis. Transexual? Hermaphrodite? I’m not quite sure. Unfortunately, the wildly interpretative dance offers little by way of explanation. There is a lot more physical thrusting as well as suggestions of flight. Lydia seems so bereft, so vulnerable, she succeeds only in making me want to cry. And I decide it’s time to call it a night.
Now, please don’t judge me too harshly here. I didn’t go to this cabaret simply to gawk at sex workers. (The cabaret, by the way, is part of a celebration of LGBTQ month. That’s l for lesbian, g for gay, b for bi, t for transexual, and q for queer or questioning.) I went because it’s always a courageous thing for human beings to do. To stand up, metaphorically or literally naked in a spotlight, and talk about their lives. Lives that, in this case, are obviously wildly different than mine. But perhaps, or so I’d hoped, also similar. Similar in terms of the tragedy,humor, desperation, dreams, and disappointment that drive us all to extremes. I went because this is what New York City is all about. This place, as Martin Amis says, “where all life has slipped its leash.” But maybe as a married, 57 year old mother of two, I just didn’t belong there. Maybe I was trespassing. Or maybe a sex worker’s life isn’t a cabaret, after all.