I had been on call with the Lesbo-A-Go-Go Agency for three weeks, and hadn't done much other than dance at a few housewife orgies and one or two "professional women's" parties. The pay was good, but it depressed me to see middle aged women stuffing dollar bills into my Calvin Kleins with a look of wonder, desire and condescension that saddened me. A few of them tried to do me after the show, and when they found out I wasn't "for sale", they treated me like dirt. I had thought dancing for women would have gotten me away from all the stupid shit that happened with men--silly me. Monday morning, I got a strange call from the booker, and went in to the office. I was supposed to bring pasties, a g-string, garters and fishnets. I thought maybe they weren't getting enough lesbian business and were branching out into the straight-men-who-want-to-be-lesbians market. I was definitely going to avoid this job. I grabbed some coffee, and walked in. I had never seen this many lesbian go-go dancers in one place. It was inspiring, and yes, a little exciting. I took the last folding chair and sat down. Laurie, the head of the agency stood up front and began to speak.
"I called everyone here today for a special job. Hey, stop that, you can date
each other when I'm done talking. This isn't just a job, it's a chance to
improve our lives and those of our sisters."
That shut people up.
"Lookit, we got a call from Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund. It seems that they've got a hold of something about a big Senate party that's going to be held next week. As we all know, the anti-discrimination bill is going before Congress next month. Lambda and The National Lesbian and Gay Task Force (small hisses broke out from parts of the room), hey c'mon. . .they know they blew it with the military ban, but they've wised up. It's our turn to play dirty now."
A few cheers and a lot of bewildered looks met this last comment.
"Okay, so like this party is going to have a heavy female presence. And I'm not talking representatives. It's a old-boy-only party. And if they're going to have any female companionship, it's going to be our team doing the companioning."
"I'm not doin' any wrinkled old white boy from Tennessee, if that's what you're saying. . ."
"You don't really have to do much. I mean, I think different situations will call for different tactics. If anyone is uncomfortable with this, tell me now, and you won't have to work. But remember, this could be the difference between freedom and continued oppression for all of us."
One or two women excused themselves, but everyone else waited for their instructions. This may not have been a dream job, but it was a far, far better thing I would do than I had done before.
We were to show up at the Sheraton by the airport in Detroit on a Thursday night for a briefing session the night before the party. (Detroit-brilliant, who would look for the Senate in Detroit). We met in a union hall. The agency, through a little help from some hacker-slacker dykes with telephone intercepts and a little ingenuity, intercepted the calls to the "house" erotic dancer agency, and took them as their own. There were 50 of us, primed and trained to perfection. The rooms had been rigged with sound and video, thanks to some queer intelligence experts.
Torie Osborn came up to the podium, and coughed. "I want to thank you all for
your dedication to the cause. We will win the struggle, win the fight and
win the war with more endeavors like this. Sometimes, you have to break
some eggs for justice. . ."
"Aaaggh! Is this going to go on forever? Shut up and dance, Torie!"
The women began to chant "Take it off! Take it off!" Osborn looked horrified, and ran off the stage. We laughed and left in groups, depending upon which sleazy motel the queer power brokers had booked you into. I was staying in a room with Tammy, a self-identified "former het", and an enormous mouse that shot out every once in a while, and made a run for the bathroom, missing the door every time.
"Do you think he's stupid, or poisoned?"
"Probably has sick building syndrome from living here. Are you worried about tomorrow?"
"Nah. What's the worst that could happen, you know?"
"Yeah, I guess. I'm just nervous."
"Hey Tammy, if it all works out, no one will ever know. And we'll be 500 bucks richer. Plus tips."
"Always the pragmatist. C'mere and kiss me, tough girl."
I was shocked. I was appalled. I kissed her.
Friday night, the security at the hotel was tighter than the stick wedged up Andrea Dworkin's butt. We each had to show the special IDs we had picked up at a secret location given to us by sleazy guys who looked suspiciously like FBI agents trying to look like sleazy guys. We entered the dressing rooms through the basement; it seemed as if the entire hotel had shut down except for this party. All of us changed, and waited for our cue to enter. There was an organized entrance to "Coming to America" (a Neil Diamond song that I guess held resonance for them.) After that we were on our own. We lined up, made our little, prancing entrance (no one broke a heel), and started to go-go. The gentlemen were loudly appreciative, or maybe just impatient for the end of the talent portion of the evening. After two hours, while the bad 70s soundtrack droned on,I noticed the crowd thin. A large number of the men had simply gone to bed: good marriages, fear of being caught, whatever, they had escaped the juggernaut. A few others had passed out from overindulging in the open bar. It was a pathetic sight to behold, and I just kept dancing, trying to avoid watching the "distinguished gentleman from Florida" puke all over himself and the crudite. I saw the party boys start closing in for the kill. One would approach a dancer, force them to lean over with her chest in his face, and then after a few words, she would come off the stage or platform. They would leave the auditorium, and walk towards the rooms. As time went on, fewer and fewer women were left to dance. I was one of maybe 5 left, when the women started drifting back. I walked over the one of the tables where they sat.
"So, how was Operation Snuggle Bunny?"
"Mine couldn't get it up, and passed out."
"Mine didn't even try. He kept talking about one of his pages he was in love with, some blond guy who he called 'Adonis'."
"Oh great," I said, "this is going to be a bigger flop than 'Days of Heaven.'"
"Hey, chill out. There are a whole bunch of women to hear from."
But it was the same thing over and over--either they were gay (which was great, except it meant they weren't going to paw us for the camera), or impotent, or snoring up a storm. This was a big fucking disaster. We went back to our hotels and got some sleep. I had a drink with Tammy, and we slept past our debriefing.
Showing up 20 minutes late, Torie Osborn shot us dirty looks. "Well, it appears
that Operation Ship of State was not quite as successful
as we had hoped. In fact, it was an utter failure. We didn't get anything, and
whatever we got was useless."
Various mumblings went around the room, to the effect that the Task Force couldn't hit the broad side of a barn.
"Unfortunately, because of this, we won't be able to cover your fees for the
A collective roar came up from the room.
"I can't very well tell my members that we shelled out tens of thousands of dollars to strippers that didn't get us anywhere. There will be extensive repercussions. . ."
"Like what? Your head should roll? It should you stupid, ignorant political dupe! I didn't come here for your cheap pay, lousy hotel room and skeezy guys to leer at me 'cause I liked it! It was a job, babe, and I GET PAID. It was for a cause, but you sure as hell don't work for free, do you Torie honey?" All of the dancers stood up, moving towards Torie. She was backing off the stage. "I'm sure we can find some way to compensate you for your work."
"I'm sorry, I have a meeting with Hillary. . ."
"Tell her we send our love, sweetie."
We all caught planes back to New York, and got paid for the job. But I don't think anyone is going to be volunteering for the next Task Force Dinner Dance.