I went to see Magic Mike at the movie theater on opening night. The movie itself was okay, but Channing Tatum’s dance moves were the highlight. As I watched him gyrate onscreen my mind kept wandering back to my very own encounter with a male stripper. I went to the movies with new friends and did not want to share the story with them, still too embarrassed about the incident, even though it happened almost ten years ago. Only a few people know the truth of the night with the stripper.
The year was 2003 and I was in my last year at a small liberal arts college in Massachusetts. I had preceded my final year with three years of equal parts drunkenness and an earnest interest in getting my English Literature degree. Nights at the library were often followed by nights at dive bars, making eyes at the unsavory man with whom I shared classes, and later, in the early morning hours, finding myself either in a state of undress or at the take-out Chinese restaurant that was open for business until 4am. It is only now that I can truly appreciate the sense that, at that moment in time, I was just like everyone else, displaying the kind of unabashed debauchery that only comes when I think I have nothing to lose and a future laid out for me; a future that will no doubt bring me money, success, and love.
In the first month of school my six roommates and I, barely able to furnish our apartment, found ourselves responsible for planning our friend Emily’s 21st birthday party. Emily was the last of our group to celebrate this milestone birthday and we wanted to do something different.
At a serious brainstorming session, one of proportions only equivalent to that of United Nations peace talks, we decide to hire a male stripper.
A week later, twenty five girls gather in our small apartment. We toss back Bud Lights and enjoy the soft buzz of anticipation spreading through the party as everyone, except the birthday girl, learn of the surprise we have planned for the evening.
There is a knock at the door and the stripper is standing there, not wearing a costume like a police uniform, firefighter gear, or army fatigues, but instead is in sweatpants and a sweatshirt. He has a shaved head, cut arms and chest, and a small, tight ass. The group is excited and drunk. He asks for a place to change and I show him into my bedroom. Within seconds he changes and emerges from the bedroom wearing a red g-string. He immediately starts dancing for us, exhibiting his obvious skills as a performer as he bends and twists his body. As if he was a gymnast in a former life, he twists his body in different and inexplicable directions. We hoot and holler, giddy from the beer, and watch the nimble contortionist in a banana hammock dance in our living room.
The next day we would learn that our male neighbors, who live a few doors down from us, could hear us cheering and chanting, as we screamed with delight and disbelief at the stripper’s dance moves. Our male neighbors appear uncomfortable when they tell us they could hear the wickedness of our voices. They look at us, their sweet and respectable female friends, and they are rendered almost speechless at the idea that we could get riled up by a naked male ass.
The stripper continues to energize the crowd and then suggests private lap dances for the birthday girl and whoever else has the cash to stick into his red g-string. I grab a chair from the kitchen and put it in the birthday girl’s room. She goes in alone with him and we try to subdue ourselves by waiting outside, ears pressed against the door. One of the party guests decides to break into the lap dance room and the party moves into the bedroom as we watch the stripper put his leg over the birthday girl’s shoulder, his crotch a few inches from her face, sweat pouring down his back. Then he looks at me, and says, “You are next.”
I blush. His eye contact is unnerving and I feel both appalled and flattered. The birthday girl runs out of the room and suddenly I am sitting in the chair. The moments are hazy and I had questionable judgment due to my high intake of alcoholic beverages. He picks me up, no easy feat, and puts his mouth next to my ear.
“Do you want me to stay and hang out?” he asks me.
I am taken aback by his question. Confusion sets in. Why is he asking to hang out with me? Initially I think that he is a professional, merely singling me out and complimenting me because I look like fun and will give him the few singles I have crumpled in my hand. A part of me supposes, or hopes, that I entice him and appear so irresistible that he wants to sleep with me. It suddenly becomes a game. Out of all the girls at the party, the male stripper wants to spend more time with me. The alcohol does not allow me to make a lucid decision and I enjoy the drama of the possibility. I am going to sleep with a male stripper. When will I ever have this chance again? I question myself. This is a sort of test of my limitations. Am I ready to go this far? I crave the adrenaline rush of my possible riskiness.
“Sure,” I tell him, “if you want to stay.”
He and I make a quiet agreement and I sneak out to tell my roommates. They are used to my dubious decisions and patiently request that we send him home. I say okay to them but know that I will later blame the alcohol for my decision to sneak the stripper into my room. Truthfully I know that it is not the alcohol but the pursuit of the high I get from lying to my friends that causes me to make my decision. Later when I tell them the truth of what happened between me and the male stripper, I will watch their faces express shock and dismay at my actions.
The sex is forgettable and sweaty. Halfway through the act I can barely contain my repulsion with myself. I am disgusted, not with him, but with my inability to turn down his offer for sex. After he finishes, we lay in my bed and he tells me about his ex-girlfriend and how he is heartbroken about their recent break-up. With his head on my arm, he talks and I barely listen. Instead I look up at the ceiling and pray for the moment when I can interrupt his story and tell him politely that I want him to leave.
Eventually, he leaves. For the next week, I shower at night, after my roommates have gone to sleep. And each night I cry, hoping the sound of the water will muffle my pathetic weeping. I recognize that I have no one to blame but myself for my actions. My friends had attempted to stifle my need for the thrill of having gratuitous sex. It is not the sex that I wanted; instead it is the spectacle, the very strangeness of the fact that I have now had sex with a male stripper. For years I can’t decide if it’s a humorous anecdote to tell friends, or something sad that happened—an incident in my past that I wish to forget. I still do not know where I stand. The reality is that I had sex with a male stripper.