Ever since I was a little girl I've wanted to be a dancer. I've wanted to thud my weatheredtoe-shoes together in three dusty repetitions and poof into a Debbie Allen Afro-ascent high in the sky like a flame. Or sport a Jennifer Beals wig and spread my legs like a stand-in, low on the floor, like a whore.
But it's somewhere between the two that I inevitably find myself, 32, sort of vertical, sort of sitting down, sort of unmotivated and definitely not working in a factory.
Hello, Orange Blossom Trail. I hear you calling. OK, I'll answer.
You see, it's only in the twisted mystique of the Trail itself that you can be both a dancer and a whore, never having to give up your crack habit and probably never having to do much of anything except ride, handjob, ride. There's charm in that, although sometimes it's hard to see the diamond for the rough.
In search of my small slice of the action, with cheese, I grab a friend and hasten to the Trail of broken dreams for a tour of dirty duty involving boobies and thongs and beers (oh my). At first it's not all that easy. Betwixt the three-toothed shirtless set that populate the sidewalks and the few unfortunates who have all of their teeth exists a world of condemned addresses, and a path that inevitably leads to the Parliament House. We want to dig deeper, though; we want to get our fingernails dirty and find some regrets we don't already have.
"Didn't there used to be a lot of dirty whore-holes on this parkway?" I drum my fingers in my friend's direction as we drive past some boarded blah called Play House a Go-Go, in front of which is parked a tow truck.
"We should just get a hotel room and some cocaine and find out," he offers unwisely.
We get to wondering just what kind of person wants a shanty hotel room in these parts, and concur that it probably isn't anybody who's ever seen a briefcase, or even a movie. But that kind of snobbery will get us nowhere, so we settle into something south of bourgeoisie and pull his truck into a breast-enhanced watering hole known as Temptations. There are tow trucks here, too.
"Two Drink Minimum for Minors," reads an ironic mimeograph curling up on the dirty entrance wall. A stack of Orlando Weekly papers lets us know that we've come to the right place.
"What does that say about your readership?" smirks my Trail buddy.
Nothing I didn't already know.
Inside the club is the standard fare: black lights, spandex and dirty poles, all set to a metal soundtrack. We muscle our way to the half-full/half-empty bar. We've decided to work our heterosexual Botox and try not to make expressions that might be perceived as handbags. Then I realize that I've girl-crossed my legs and all bets are off. I cannot be all things to all people. That's why I'm gay.
Now, the thing about tittie bars that troubles me the most and I know that's a stretch(mark) is the spite in the faces of the girls as they slither on the poles. It's a feeling with which I am all too familiar, mind you; but just the same, how come the icky guys who frequent these places don't see it? Does the misery of a teen mom in Donna Summer garb somehow turn them on? And aren't there also jobs available just up the road at Church's Fried Chicken? I guess it's just some evil cultural dance. But, then again, I tend to guess too much, and not eat enough chicken.
My friend smacks me back to reality when he reveals, albeit falsely, that he once was a dancer but was fired for leaving corn on the pole. This is the kind of humor that makes us no friends. We tend to like it that way.
"Give it up for SugarTang!" screams the overweight DJ while a girl gets up from his midlevel wiping her mouth. Clearly she's had some Tang, too.
Then the requisite goth girl slithers her way to failure while Marilyn Manson's "The Dope Show" plucks at her dignity. Yeah, we're all stars now, in the irony show.
"How fast can you drink two beers?" sneers my partner, partially because there's no liquor here and partially because of the migrant farmers ogling him on the way to the bathroom.
"This fast." Gulp.
Before we can exit, a ponytailed pony pops by to play with my hair. I'm very unhappy.
Fortunately, Temptations boasts a porn shop adjacent, and we figure it might be the best place to find lubrication for our uneasy laughter at the mess we are creating. Minding the invisible pull that lands us in the gay section every time, we do our duty to flip through and laugh at titles like "Rear Factor" while quietly crying on the inside.
There is one spot of joy, though: an inflatable sex doll called Cum Gobblin' Granny that boasts actual false teeth!
"Why wouldn't you just blow up your regular sex doll halfway?" asks my friend, all concerned.
And then, in a moment, it's all somehow explained by a patron talking to a clerk. "It's a long way to Montgomery," he drawls. Indeed.
Who are these people?
By now the Trail has wrapped its dirty fingernails around my throat, so when I catch a glimpse of another gentleman's club Cleo's I'm a little wary of entry. Regardless, we pull a U-turn mid-road and make some joke about being the opposite of Cops because we think we're really, really funny.
All the funny ends, though, when we walk into the bar to a set of security friskers aimed at our crotches and ankles. Turns out Cleo's is a, well, urban establishment, and we are really, really white ... and gay. "That'll be $10 ... for you," the help hurts. Wow, this is serious.
Fortunately, it's fabulous, too, as the distance between black girls and gay men is about a weave and a half. "I love your hair!" several pop by in white lace to say, before offering to wave their breasts in my face for a price. My lowbrow is fast furrowing to a highbrow as I stuff singles into the thong of my favorite, "Ice." She's dancing to the Outkast joint known as "Roses" and making her ass do things my ass would cover its eyes at. And before my ass' eyes can bleed, she's come over to give me a birthday dance, all personal-like.
Now, the next time somebody makes their asshole heave in my face, as if it's whispering sweet nothings to the hell that is my soul, I'm calling an exorcist. "We should get out of here," says my friend, wise to the cultural gap growing in the eyes of the men around us.
So we do. And it's safe to say here that I don't want to be a dancer anymore. I don't have the ass for it.