I visited a very specific kind of place over the weekend, a type of establishment I don't go to very often. I went to a strip club.
I've never been the type of guy who frequents nudie bars. If I think back, the last time I was at a strip club was my bachelor party, more than seven years ago. Now, I like naked women. Really, I do. They are a few of my favorite things. But the prospect of "strange titties" (as one guy in the bar was loudly looking forward to seeing) changes some men and makes them believe in fairy tales in which they're the star.
Strip clubs are like special effects movies: Everyone going in knows that what you're seeing isn't real, but we all agree, for the time we're in that darkened room, to pretend that they are. But me, I'm always aware of the artifice. And I'm unwilling to give in to that fantasy. Because I know—and have never been able to make myself forget—that it's not real.
The women who work at these places are very good at their jobs. But, oddly, their job is not really selling sex. They're selling the idea that you, the patron, are attractive, are desirable, are worth wanting. They are selling you your own manhood. And that is the thing that some men are willing to go into debt for. Every man wants to believe that they have it in them to attract women who look like these women look and who seemingly love sex as much as these women do. After all, these are women who could have their pick of any of the other schmucks who walked in that night. But she stopped to talk to you.
She will hug you, and hang on you, and let you buy her drinks, and give you a massage, and, if you really want to, she will take you someplace else. And do things to you. What, precisely, depends on how much you're willing to spend. And that is where the bargain comes in. Not "bargain" as in 30% off—in that respect, titty bars are the polar opposites of bargains: Everything is, like, three times as expensive as in the real world...including sex. (I overheard one guy, a few seats down at the bar, musing to no one in particular: "150 bucks for a blowjob?! I could buy a shitbox car for $150 bucks!")
No, when I say bargain I mean a deal, a contract. And it goes like this: She will take your money and make you feel like a golden god. You will pretend that you never gave her any money. And together, everyone gets what they want.
If you can make that sort of bargain, then a strip club can be a magical place. There were guys in there last weekend who, I'm sure, spent a shitload of money to feel like Jamie Foxx feels every night. Four, five figures worth. Once you realize that that's the deal, then its incredibly easy to understand how, in one night a couple of years back, that one guy dropped $100,000 in a Scores club.
I can't make that bargain. I've tried, in the past, and failed. And it's not because of the money. I spend money on dumber shit than my ego—I bought a laserdisc player. But I just can't make myself believe that these women believe in me. They don't. They can't. Would be bad for business. They can whisper whatever they want, but I know it isn't real.
And I'm all about the real. If it ain't real, I don't want it. I've already got real, and I like it.
But I can admire the special effects.