Monday, December 17, 2012

Dancing At "Flash" 2: What A Feeling...

WARNING: Adult situations and sexual themes are discussed Once again, this blog includes details about my encounters with male strippers! Readers' discretion is advised!

I wish I could cut together some kind of television-esque dramatic recap of my past events, like:

Previously on Frothy Pop Treats, Garth got more than he bargained for when he went to gentleman's club Flash!

[Camera pans to cute, shirtless guy] "You wanna go for a dance?"

After experiencing the dangerously tantalizing ins and outs of the club first hand, can Garth resist the urge to come back? Tune in tonight!

Seriously, though, after writing my first piece about Flash, I did want to check it out again to see if it would feel any different after breaking down all my feelings about the initial visit. And boy was it ever different. Admittedly I was coming into it a bit more lubricated than last time. (Thank you cherry brandy!) I also started to feel like an undercover reporter who thought he had it all figured out, but then succumbs to the temptation of the very situation he's supposed to be investigating. My previous experience brought out a heaping dose of cynicism about the ways that money and sexual desire intersect. This time I found myself more willing to surrender to the atmosphere, getting somewhat hypnotized by it in the process.

I started the evening having tasteful discussions with a friend about why I haven't been dating. I'm petrified about the idea of rejecting a person, and almost as squeamish about being the one turned down. That same feeling even applies to casual flings. My pal then offered the sensible notion that the potential rejection is part of the risk both parties sign up for. It makes total sense, but it's something I've never been fully comfortable with.

Cut to a few hours later where, after a few libations, I'm dragging reluctant pals back to one of the places you won't risk rejection, provided you pony up the money. I was craving more exposure to Flash, the "members only" strip club on Church Street in downtown Toronto. Depending on my mood, there are times I'm more okay with throwing cash around to buy an erotic experience than wearing my heart on my sleeve for free.

Being a tad tipsy gave things a slightly exaggerated perspective this time around. As soon as we paid our cover charges, I spotted ballots to vote for the "2012 Dancer Of The Year" and stuffed one in my bag as a souvenir. I then stared with jaw dropping awe as two guys slammed each other with gusto on the screen behind the bar. The neon lasers also made a dazzling light show across the stage as I watched a dancer reveal his red g-string with holiday bells dangling from it.

One of my friends was immediately cornered by the dancer who did a slow, melancholy performance to LMFAO's "Sexy And I Know It" during our previous visit. This time, the guy seemed much more lively and had a completely different spark to him. My pal chatted with him for a bit and I wondered if things had really changed that much in such a short time.

It also took me by surprise when I was recognized by VinTatum, my private dancer from last time. (In my last entry, I dubbed him VinTatum because he reminded me of a cross between Vinny from Jersey Shore and Channing Tatum.) "You're not so shy anymore," he teased. I held back from saying, "Well, actually I was stuffing dollar bills down a go-go boy's underwear in Syracuse a few weeks, probably not that shy!" Thought bubbles aside, VinTatum was super friendly, encouraging me to grab a couple of drinks and go for a dance with him later. Resistance was futile as I became putty in his roaming hands...

Despite the wandering gropes, my friends really weren't feeling it this time. However, VinTatum had an irresistible draw that provoked and inspired me, so to paraphrase Miley Cyrus, I couldn't wait to see him again. My pals agreed to wait for me outside, so I downed a Bacardi Breezer, found VinTatum and was ready for the sequel to our first adventure.

I made a joke about being "bad" during our previous encounter, since I was worried that I had been too grabby. "You weren't bad last time," he smiled. Sigh...swoon...faint. VinTatum seemed very eager to please, filling our tiny room with his intoxicating manliness, but coming across less cocky than before. I kept blurting out comments that he was a "sex god" and "so hot," to which he thanked me. Part of me wondered if he was friendlier because he knew he had me hooked. After all, I was back again, right? He invited me to feel his abs and asked, "Do I look more toned than the last time you saw me?" My eyes almost popped out wondering if he read my last essay where I said he was "slightly less built" than the others. In fact, seeing everyone upping their game made me feel like the restaurant critic that returns to the eatery after publishing their initial review. People seemingly pulled out all the stops, among other things, to please the patrons and snag a better rating.

Aside from hot men, one thing I will always praise about Flash is their abundance of amazing Diva music. I nearly squealed when VinTatum was all over me and Rihanna's "S&M (Dave Aude Mix)" began playing. I told him straight up, "Ohhhh...I LOVE this song!" Here I was with this hot guy, that hot track, and experiencing a major sensory overload. It was weird to also realize how well the lyrics fit the moment.

"Feels so good being bad...there's no way I'm turning back..."

If last time was an awkward initiation, this time I was more at home completely losing myself within the fantasy. It was a living, breathing, three dimensional erotic dream clouding my better judgement.

"Come on, come on, come on....I like it, like it..."

Rihanna's raspy insistence underscored the lurid appeal of our interaction. I even started singing along as audience participation reached new highs. Skin was squeezed, breath was heavy, bodies were writhing and making ends meet took on a whole new meaning.

"I love the feeling you bring to me, oh you turn me on. It's exactly what I've been yearning for, give it to me strong..."

There was a point when I looked up in the dimly lit booth and saw VinTatum standing there, radiating the most handsome silhouette. His killer smile sparkled, even in relative darkness. His tattoos and golden cross were the finishing touches on the striking figure he made. No matter how much guilt I held from society's conventions that it's wrong to pay for this, I didn't care. He was my fantasy and in this moment he was mine.

Funnily enough, Rihanna was followed by a return appearance of LMFAO's "Sexy And I Know It." I can honestly say the "wiggle, wiggle, wiggle it" refrain will never, ever be the same for me. VinTatum gets top marks for the passion in his pants that he wasn't afraid to show. It was also fun to drunkenly sing along with the lyrics while being up close and personal with my dancer's considerable charms. When else will I get the chance to chant "Look at that body! Ahhhh..." while running my hands all over a sizzling hunk of man?

My tipsiness made me more chatty overall, which led me to bust out some of the Spanish I knew. I thought VinTatum had some Latin flair, but when I probed further, he said he didn't speak any other languages. "You speak Spanish?" he asked in surprise. "Un poco," came my reply. Part of me hoped I could use that as a springboard to learn more about him. I was falling into the trap of trying harder to humanize my temporary object of desire. It's sort of like discovering a delicious cocktail, wanting more of it and then being curious about the ingredients that make it up. You're really not supposed to know the secret recipe, but I couldn't resist trying to decipher it.

The one thing that was easy to decipher was the sheer force of VinTatum's erotic magnetism. I had to think long and hard about how far I was willing to go with my dollars this time. I settled on a "high five" since five dances would be long enough to drink in everything that made me high off my sexy stallion. At times he was literally working his ass off to seduce me into spending more. Composure flew out the window and my face essentially dissolved into what Homer Simpson looks like when he's craving a beer. Everything felt so much more amplified compared to my last experience, but I tried to be blunt about my situation. "I work in retail...I'm not rich," I explained. "That's ok," he insisted.

He then sat down on my lap and asked for a massage. I think it was a moment we both kneaded, and I definitely had his back. After rubbing him down for a bit, our time was coming to a close. Pants went back on and I gushed once more about how good looking he was. He gave me a tight bear hug, momentarily lifting me off the ground. I was impressed, cause I'm not the lightest guy around and it was a fitting metaphor for the way he's swept me off my feet. When it was time to pay, he asked if he could "steal an extra $5" to buy a bottle of water. His brazen turn of phrase was oddly endearing to me, and if this moment were in a magazine, the headline would read, "Erotic dancers - they're just like Us!"

"You should come back next week," he encouraged. I almost looked down to see if that whooshing sound really was a vacuum attached to my wallet. "Maybe later, sometime in the New Year," I replied. His face then looked a touch more serious. "I'm not going to be here in the New Year." My words then spilled out faster than logic could intervene. "Ok, I'll be back next week..."

My mind raced through the Flash flood of dramatic potential in VinTatum's casual revelation. Was he leaving in the New Year to follow his true passion? Leaving to do something he really wants to do with his life? Leaving to bring his brand of sweltering sensuality to other hot spots around the globe? My visit to Flash started as a one time thing, then spawned a sequel and now it felt like sirens were calling out for me to complete the trilogy.

One friend shared his concern over how much I was spending, asking me, "What are you really getting out of this?" I almost replied, "Songs and stories and so much more!" But Polka Dot Door references aside, I really have felt creatively inspired by these events. When something sparks that process I crave more, especially when an attractive man is involved. But these encounters do run the risk of becoming addictive. In just two visits I went from being a jaded outsider, to snorting the fantasy like it was a drug. The more I enjoyed myself, the more I wanted and that meant more cash flying out of my hands. VinTatum's alluring performances were a luxury that took me away from my everyday stresses. Sometimes you pay a premium for that kind of experience, but I know my pockets aren't deep enough to fully support the habit.

But people buy all kinds of pricey things they don't need. Expensive purses, designer fashions, collectible dolls, concert tickets and so on. We all make purchases that give us a boost, however superficial they may seem. Yet, there's still a clutching of the pearls when it comes to money and sex. Is it fair to consider his work so much more shameful than anything else we consume? I admit my mind struggles with the idea of paying for something that could be found for free. But a fierce feminist I know once used the phrase "Our business is your pleasure" while advocating for sex workers' rights. I work in a store, VinTatum works in a private club, but our shared goal is to leave people happy and satisfied while making some bank in the process. We both have financial concerns to take care of. Are we really so different from each other?

The bigger difficulty is learning how to navigate my own conflicting desires. What am I really looking for? Lust or love? A pinch of both? It's as if my internal GPS broke down and I'm trying to download new maps to help me recalculate my destinations. Flash provides me with a dangerously tempting shortcut past the grittiness of more cost efficient hookups. I really don't feel like wading through online messages that insist on "no fats, no femmes" and other judgmental specifics just to find someone to share a thrill with.

Deep down I know Flash is just a temporary, pleasurable detour on the road trip of my life. (My bank account definitely hopes it's only a brief pit stop.) VinTatum fills the role of the hunky drifter with a dazzling smile who makes me feel really good before I get back on the road. There's a long way to go in the journey and a lot of uncharted terrain that I've been afraid to explore. Hopefully I can take some of that sparkly, lusty high I've enjoyed and incorporate it into my life in a way that's a bit more substantive in the future. As for VinTatum, I really do hope he's been enjoying what he does. (I know I certainly have.) But if he is, indeed, switching careers, I hope he takes on something that continues to bring out that dashing, vibrant grin to everyone he meets...

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