Stripped in Pornland
Flash-fiction based on real and rumored events in the Portland strip-club industry.
Rat Face’s snake eyes scan the tiny downtown club from the front door. She walks over to me and the booking agent Daniel. We represent Ca$h Me Out Agency.
“How’s your relationship with alcohol?” Daniel asks.
“I don’t drink,” Rat Face says.
Her jagged nose bulges from her sunken face. Shark teeth shine from her freebase grin. She turns to the bartender.
“Two Long Islands,” she says.
Dave and I shrug at each other when we see she’s just contradicted herself in front of us. We’re desperate, so we hire her anyway.
Fast-forward a few months. Rat Face says she can’t find a babysitter. I work in the office more and dance less, so I am eager to take on any job off the pole. I go to her house to watch her two-year-old daughter and seven-year-old son.
I step into her one-bedroom apartment in Gresham. Newspapers, plastic bottles and fast-food wrappers cover the floor. Her daughter rolls toward us in a walker, sucks a binky. An empty plastic 2-liter bottle blocks her path.
Rat Face introduces me to the kids.
“I’ll be back in six hours,” she says.
Rat Face leaves.
The kids and I play games, read some books and bowl inside.
The son says he’s hungry. I walk to the fridge. Milk, hot dogs and bread peer from the bleak shelves. I open the freezer. Two T.V. dinners and two ice trays sink in the void frost.
They ask for hot dogs. I also grab a can of potatoes and a can of green beans from the cupboard. We sit at the scum-encrusted kiddie table. The children eat every morsel on their plates.
Rat Face arrives. She pays me in cash. I say goodbye to the children. They scream and cry for me not to go. I wipe tears from the two tiny faces of neglect, then leave.
Skip to the incident.
Rat Face, at the same tiny club where she auditioned, leans over to the dude at her rack. She puts her arms around him. She bites his neck.
He pushes her away and jumps up. “What the fuck,” he says.
“You like it,” she says.
He touches his neck then looks at his hand. Blood.
“You crazy bitch,” he says as he runs over to the bartender. He shows him the bite from Rat Face’s snaggle teeth.
Agent Daniel calls Rat Face on the phone.
“Why did you bite him?” he asks.
“It turned me on,” she says.
“You’re fired,” he says.
She doesn’t even change into her street clothes. She just grabs her dancer bag and walks out the door.
I wipe the mouthpiece and the keys on the payphone inside the bar. I dial Daniel, the booking agent.
“Sarah is licking Shannon’s ass, while she’s on stage, holding the pole,” I say. “I can’t take this shit anymore.”
“Well, it’s her club,” Daniel says, and coughs out what I guess to be a giant bong hit.
“But I have to see it, here, at work,” I say as I look over and see Sarah stand at the rack. “The OLCC says customers are supposed to be a foot away at all times.”
Sarah thrusts her nose right into the center of Shannon’s ass cheeks. Then glides the side of her face along one side of Shannon’s crisp apple bottom.
“Is she licking the hole?” Daniel asks.
“Right now, she is licking the sweat off her cheeks,” I say, my stomach in knots.
“I’ll call you back,” Daniel says. We both hang up. I go back to the dressing room and pack my makeup and stripper shoes into my roller bag.
Daniel calls the same in-club payphone to talk to a sober minor, Kat, to verify my story, even though I hadn’t been drinking.
“That’s what’s going on,” Kat says, waving a customer down from the bar.
“Stop her,” Daniel says.
“I can’t,” Kat says, then hangs up to give a private dance in a curtained alcove to the guy she just called over.
Daniel calls the bartender Keith, Sarah’s ex.
“Is Sarah licking Shannon’s ass?” Daniel asks, yet again.
“Yes,” Keith says while pouring a Bud draft.
“Well, you gotta stop her,” Daniel says, blows out more weed smoke and coughs in Keith’s ear for a solid 30 seconds.
“It’s her club,” Keith says, gives the beer to a loner guy at the bar.
“Keith, even though she’s a woman, she can’t do that,” Daniel says. “Even if they’re the same sex, the OLCC says it’s not okay,” Daniel says.
“I’ve been trying to get her out of here all night,” Keith says.
“We really can’t kick her out of her own club,” Daniel says. “But the OLCC could bust her, so let’s just let her deal with that herself.”
“Exactly,” Keith says. They hang up.
I get dressed and go home, with permission and without getting fined $50 for leaving early.
These stories originally appeared in Exotic Magazine, May 2017.