The XXXmas Coolio Concert You Always Needed But Never Experienced

The XXXmas Coolio Concert You Always Needed but Never Experienced
By Rod Johnson


Editor’s Note: The author’s views on vaginas do not reflect the official opinions of Cream City.

It’s the day after Christmas and life as I know it is going to end. I am about to become a man.

In my thirty-two years of existence, I have neither attended a strip club nor have I seen an actual female vagina. As a self-identified chub-chasing gay man living in today’s world, my sexual exploits have largely transpired through the Internet—and believe me, I have been busy. Tonight, that’s all going to change because my childhood idol, Coolio, is playing at a local strip joint. But before I dive into details, let’s rewind a bit and construct a context for this story.

I grew up in a blue-collar family located in the Bible belt that attended our local Southern Baptist church every Sunday Coolio1(morning/evening) and Wednesday. I don’t remember much from my religious training other than sex is bad, don’t fuck till marriage, and you’re most likely going to burn in hell no matter what you do. Nothing too heavy before adolescence. This theological agenda only made sense when the pastor was busted for fucking his secretary. Go figure.

Whatever, anyway, needless to say I have a lot of ideas about what strip clubs mean and what type of people frequent these establishments. These decadent sin dens are filled with powerful, evil forces that cause AIDS, drug addiction, and mass murder. (My mother often warned against pornography because “that’s how Bundy got started.”) In strip clubs, demon women seduce desperate men into selling their souls to the devil. To quote a classic, “you can check out anytime you like, but you can’t never leave.” Is this place going to transform me? Will I become a regular? What if people question my disinterest in lap dances and strip teases? Will I be threatened with taunts, violence, or worse? Will I need to get a tetanus shot or delouse myself after the show?

I imagine that most men confront these fears once they turn eighteen. I, fortunately, never went through that stage of male adolescent development. In fact, on my eighteenth birthday, I got kicked out of my first club because I was rolling balls and barely able to stand up. The off-duty cop most likely saw an ambulance ride in my near future. But if that were the case, why did he attempt to buy pills off me? Who cares, that’s not the point. The main issue is that I never learned what it means to be a strip club patron and, hence, an American Man™.

But all of that is going to change this evening because the award winning, hip-hop legend-turned-chef Coolio is touring Wisconsin and stopping at a Juneau titty bar. (Note: the phone number on the flyer is actually incorrect. Juneau has a 920 area code. Not 902.) Never heard of Juneau, Wisconsin? Well, that makes a lot of sense because it is the whitest and lamest city in the United States.

A small rural town siCoolio2tuated in southeastern Wisconsin, Juneau brags a population of approximately 27,000 people that is 94.4 percent white (all statistics derived from the U.S. Census Bureau). Of this population, 1.9 percent is foreign born, 4.2 percent of households speak a non-English language, 18.7 percent qualify for social security, 12.4 percent of the population possesses at least a bachelor’s degree, the median household income is $45,000, and the median value of owner-occupied homes is $116,000. Unsurprisingly, this city is really fucking conservative. Incumbent Republican Gov. Scott Walker easily won this area by a comfortable 64.4 percent in the last election.

This is all to say that this is going to be the most ironic concert in American history and there’s no fuckin’ way that I am going to miss it. Unfortunately, all of my friends are pathetic losers (that’s what you get for living in a liberal college town) that refused to come along on this fantastic voyage. “It’s Christmas and I have familial obligations!” “I’m going to be out of town.” “My vagina hurts.” Blah. Blah. Jesus, people. Do I have to spell this out? Coolio is playing a strip club in rural Wisconsin!!! So like most rites of passage, I am doing this alone.

Determining Logistics
I initially tried to purchase tickets online, but the website indicated that none were available. WHAT!?! How? Why? Will I have to suck dick in the alleyway to get inside? Panicked, I contacted the venue. The young woman that answered spoke in a stereotypical Wisconsin accent, “Oh noooo, we have plenty of tickets both general admission for $15 and VIP for $30.”

I interrupted her, “Wait. Did you say VIP? What does that include?”Coolio3

She enthusiastically replied, “That includes a buffet, a meet and greet, and pictures with Coolio.”

Gleefully, I responded, “Get the hell out of here! You mean I get to meet Coolio!?! Should I purchase tickets now or do you expect them to be available at the door.”

“Oh no, we have plenty. You should be fine.”

So fuck, this shit just got serious, yo. Not only do I get to see Coolio play at a strip club in Juneau, Wisconsin. I get to hang-the-fuck-out with him and possibly obtain an interview. Could this Christmas get any better? Answer, NO!

I’m stoked. The big day arrives and I’m nervous as hell. I rent a Ford Focus and hit the road. I have no idea what to expect and I’m driving one hour to the venue while jamming Moby’s “In This World” and “In My Heart” on repeat. There are no streetlights on the freeway so I can only see the twenty feet of concrete illuminated by my headlights and the occasional car passing by. This shit is so country, there are no road signs notifying me that the turn is approaching. So I have no clue when to exit until, BAM, the sign appears out of the fog and ten feet in front of the road that I am supposed to join. Unbelievable! I pass my exit and have no idea where I can turn around. This is a six-lane highway separated by a large grassy median. Fuck! Traveling at 65 mph I see occasional gaps in the median that could be police U-turn lanes, but I cannot tell. WHY?!?! Because there are no goddamn street lights that enable me to navigate this space! Finally, I find a farmhouse and turn around. In the process, I nearly fall into a ditch and, again, miss the turn.

Arriving to Town
I finally come correct and re-situate myself on this highway to hell. I pass large dairy farms with massive trucks parked next to two-story houses that include wrap around porches and American flags posted in the front yard. Vast wheat and cornfields separate these homes by several acres or miles. As I approach the town, I am greeted by a small, outdoor shopping mall that includes a Piggly Wiggly grocery store, Subway restaurant, Landmark Credit Union, and car wash.

Coolio4There are long rows of Midwestern style homes irradiated with large, multicolor Christmas lights and plastic, glowing statues. Locals wearing Green Bay Packers sweaters and Milwaukee Brewers jackets pull their oversized trucks into the local Kwik Trip parking lot to purchase snacks and booze before returning home to the family. Police officers park on side streets and monitor the comings and goings.

Just around the corner is Silk Exotic. Readers may be familiar with this club if they regularly read The HuffPo. This is the same venue where two strippers (one pregnant) were arrested last year for fighting on stage for an unclaimed dollar that was contributed by a guest. The large concrete columns constituting the façade are dyed by fluorescent green, pink, blue, and purple lights that fluctuate to garner attention from onlookers. This club is attached to a small strip-mall that overlooks the county administrative building and local law-enforcement department. In front of the police station is a dirty SUV with a “Don’t Tread on Me” sticker placed on the bumper to express the owner’s white supremacist orientation. How adorable! A large douglas fir is decorated with Christmas lights in front of the administration building and the streetlamps are ornamented with plastic candy canes, bells, and wreaths.

The streets are basically empty besides an occasional car or two passing through the downtown district (Yes, this is downtown!). The strip-mall is lined with cars parked in front of a saloon, a glass studio, a tanning salon, a closed public defender’s office (with a “For Rent” sign posted in the window), a bowling allCoolio5ey, and empty storefronts. Old white men stand outside the saloon smoking cigarettes while eyeing me suspiciously as I jot down descriptions of the scene. At the other of the block, a local family exits the bowling ally while I snap photos and marvel at this contemporary Norman Rockwell portrait. Welcome to Pleasantville!

Entering the Club
After touring the three block downtown center (which also includes a standalone Dollar General), I finally park next to the entrance and approach the club. There is no line to get inside. I pass three women smoking cigarettes and crowding the walkway. They politely acknowledge/greet me while I hurry into the building. I open the dark tinted glass doors and life, as I know it, changes. A tall, muscular, bald man wearing a black suit and holding a metal detector immediately confronts me.

“Do you have any weapons?” he asks before rubbing the plastic wand around my testicles.

Upon paying the entrance fee—which turned out to be $40, thank you very much—I enter a large, dimly lit room surrounded by a balcony with neon signs reading, “Silk Exotic,” “VIP Lounge,” “Sky Boxes,” and ”Shower Shows.” Loud music vibrates the building with TLC—“What About Your Friends”—and the portly announcer screams things like, “Invite these hot babes to the shower or a lap dance,” “It isn’t raw if she’s wearing a thong at Silk,” and “Who’s ready for Coolio?” Maybe three people scream or express any awareness of the event each time the headliner is announced.

In the middle of the room is a large stage divided into three sub-stages with metal poles that extend into the second story ceiling. I wonder to myself, “Do women really climb to the top? And, if so, how they got down?” Clearly, I am having a Gump moment. I soon observe women desperately pulling themselves to the top sliding down into splits. Fuck. That’s when I realize all of these women could beat my ass and so I better be on my best behavior.

Coolio9I survey the room for an empty seat located in a corner where I can blend into the background. Quickly, I notice a few seats at the bar and take refuge by what I think is a popcorn machine. You might be wondering, “Why would there be a popcorn machine at a strip club?!?” Relax this is common in Wisconsin. Cheese heads LOVE (notice love is both capitalized and emboldened. That wasn’t a mistake) popcorn and, right hand to God, there is a fucking popcorn machine in nearly every bar. This is Dairyland, USA, son. These people don’t give a fuck! They have two dope football teams and their own food supply. If you try us (I’m looking at you, Stanford), our dudes are enormous and they’ll beat your pussy ass. So go ahead, laugh at our popcorn machines and our bubblers (water fountains). See where that gets ya, mister. That said, the mysterious machine contains, get this, limp, overcooked hot dogs that patrons can purchase and dress with Heinz Ketchup, Mustard, and/or Relish. That’s right folks, this strip joint enables you to simultaneously enjoy cold beer, hot dogs, bare tits, and shaved pussy.Coolio11 How the hell are you going beat that?!

Taking in the scene, I locate the lap dance room and—wait, what is that thing in front of it, get the fuck out of here! It’s a BEER PONG TABLE with cups positioned and ready to go! Not only that, the announcer actually uses the loud speaker to brag about this amenity and encourages patrons to use it! They’re proud of this shit! Several young men take the Pepsi Challenge and begin beer-ponging. Wearing blue jeans, Underarmor sweaters, and camouflage hats, one patron eventually misses the cup and a ball flies at the stage. How appropriate!

I quickly learn two important things. First, I am struck by the amount of camouflage, football apparel, and blue jeans that is worn by patrons. I start to wonder how these people got into a self-identified gentleman’s club with such shabby clothes. Duh! There’s no dress code. Meanwhile, the employees wear black coats and slacks like this shit is supposed to be classy.

Second, in my Christian hometown (Tampa, FL), where we believe in Jesus Christ, the church, wholesome family values, and unregulated markets, strip clubs are governed by a six-foot rule and women are prohibited from being completely nude. Juxtapose that with Silk Exotic where anything goes. Women spread their legs, expose their vulva, and give titty/twat face rubs for a couple dollars. So to be clear, this is a FULL contact/nude titty bar where women will ride you on stage, during private lap dances, or in a private shower.

The Dancers
Silk patrons have a wide variety of women to choose from. The dancers are surprisingly diverse: black, white, and Latina. Second, men can

Coolio12select from a range of body types. For example, some women will make you think that you are drowning in Lake Michigan when they start twerking in your face; others will remind you of anti-drug PSAs; some have enormous tits; and others look like teenagers that recently got their period. Third, some women look old enough to be your mother while others are clearly in their early to mid-twenties. Fourth, some women can fucking dance. I mean these bitches tear shit up and make dat money. A couple, in particular, work the pole with the elegance of a cheetah stalking its prey. They enthusiastically slide down, spread their legs, and moan like they were getting fucked with a Ron Jeremy size cock. Still, other women are clearly amateurs and uncomfortable with their profession. It was like watching malfunctioning robots twerk to the beat of “How Low.” Needless to say, the latter category makes little money. Finally, some women go full nude while others do not. The former group freely drops their panties (shameless LMFAO reference) and work that ass on stage while the latter is much more modest. I assume the club owner delegates discretion to the dancers regarding whether they remove their clothing and to what degree.

The Patrons
Unsurprisingly, the patrons are overwhelmingly white and from the surrounding area. Consequently, the crowd is filled with frumpy, corn-fed, farm boys looking for some holiday action. Heaven to a chub-chaser like me! Mentioned above, camouflage sweaters, blue jeans, and sports caps are common attire; however, it is also true that this group REALLY enjoys Bud Light. I mean, side tables are filled with empty bottles and patrons walk around sipping longnecks while throwing dollar bills at dancers.

Moreover, the sexual tastes of these patrons seem to lean toward thin, white women with huge tits and tattoos on their lower backs. This claim is evidenced by the flurry of dollar bills that litter the stage when these women dance. In contrast, nonwhite women of any size often experienced crowd dispersion upon entering the stage and frequently complete their performance with fewer tips. This could be because they lacked the dancing skills of their white counterparts; however, in many instances this was clearly not the case.

Customer-Staff Interactions
Female and male patrons wave dollars across the stage to lure naked women in their direction. Once their attention is grabbed, these women spread their legs, shake their ass, rub their bare breasts across the patrons face, wrap their legs around the customer’s neck, shake their shaved pussy in the client’s face, retrieve strategically hidden dollar bills located in the shirt collar or waistband of the customer, slap their ass, clack the heels of the knee high leather boots, and move onto the next customer.

During these interactions, some customers gently massage the twat and taint of dancers lying on their backs with their legs spread open while others just straight up throw cash at the exposed vaginas as though channeling Tony Montana—“Filthy whore, I’d fuck that shit if I wasn’t a post-adolescent scrub that still lives with his parents and possesses zero disposable income.”

At this point, I begin to feel disgusted. Not over the objectification of women, but due to the exposed vaginas. Meaty. Pink.Coolio13 Raw. Clap traps. Shudder. This is the first time I have ever seen one in real life and I am horrified (which is weird because I didn’t blink when a human-puppy shit on the carpet of a swanky hotel in downtown Chicago). I desperately try to conceal the displeasure, but my face automatically winces as though I have just witnessed a rosebud (inverted asshole produced by excessive fisting) or human decapitation. I promised that I wouldn’t descend into immature faggotry because it’s, quite frankly, basic and expected, but ignoring this part of the story would be disingenuous. Plus, this is an opportunity to connect with heterosexual readers. I finally understand why straight guys commonly grow sick when I discuss hard, melting cock. We’re even, guys. You’ll never hear me bring up fag shit again, but know that you’re heterosexuality disgusts me as much as my homosexuality disgusts you.

The reactions of customers to the dancers vary. Small groups of young men cluster at the stage and smile nervously at each other after receiving some action. To their left are heterosexual couples paying for mutual body contact (and, Christ, do I want to fuck some of the boyfriends). To their right is a rotund mother wearing a sequenced tank top congratulating her son who just received his first strip tease. In each instance, the women snatch their dollars and accumulate large piles of money at the center of the stage. The night is constituted by hundreds of interactions such as these that repeat like clockwork.


Coolio Enters the Building
Where the fuck is Coolio? The announcer keeps teasing us with updates that Coolio is almost to the venue. It’s nearing 11:30pm and I’ve seen more strip teases than I care to and the dancers have processed through three cycles. I’m bored and cannot help but suspect this place is a little heteronormative and possibly sexist. In addition,

Coolio14it’s getting late and I have to drive an hour home. When the hell is the dude going to get here? Finally, an entourage of black men enters the VIP lounge (forgoing a buffet that includes pulled pork sandwiches, chicken wings, sliced ham, and a vegetable tray). The small group heads to the back corner of the lounge where the management has placed iced Champagne at a reserved table.

One thing that I learned about Coolio is that that motherfucker is an amazing entertainer that knows his motherfucking audience. Check it, dude walks into the venue with, get this, an Aaron Rogers Green Bay Packers jersey, a Green Bay Packers hat with holes that allow his braids to poke through like antlers, and rhinestone glasses. Come on, yo! This guy just showed the fuck up for Wisconsin. How’s that for Christmas cheer? Bitch!

Rather than mingle with us (as promised with our VIP passes), Coolio says fuck it and just chills in the corner with a woman on his lap. Everyone’s like where’d he go? See, he’s hidden behind the entourage. He’s really just chillin’, overlooking the club from the balcony, and taking in the scene. Eventually, he stands up and starts stretching. I’m all like, fuck yea! I’ve been waiting my whole life for this moment. Thoughts race through my mind: What will he play? Will he start with Fantastic Voyage or Gangster’s Paradise? I struggle to conceal my zeal, but the excitement is causing me to shake!

Coolio Takes the Stage
Finally, Coolio takes the stage. Immediately, fog machines emit thick vapor into the air while strippers flock to the side stages and start strip teasing, climbing poles, and engaging in what appears to be a lesbian orgy.


Naked and half-naked bodies twist together, sweaty flesh glistens from the neon stage lighting, and dollar bills fly through the air as Coolio works his magic (see video). Following the first song, Coolio develops repertoire with the crowd:

“I wish I had some motherfucking Wisconsin cheese and I don’t mean cash! I’d put cheese in every refrigerator and a bitch in every nigga’s bed.”

The crowd roars while I embarrassingly shake my head and die laughing. What the fuck is he talking about?!? Suddenly, I notice people around me are filming. Is this legit? I don’t want to get my ass pounded by the bouncers (pun intended). So I approach one of them and ask, “What’s up? Is it cool to film?” He quickly replies with a jolly grin on his face, “Oh yea, bro. Film all you want. We told the girls that we were allowing it before they got on stage.” Shut the fuck up. I get to take videos? Damn, son. Shit just got hot! Too hot!

Throughout the set, Coolio tries to solicit crowd participation, but few know the lyrics to certain songs and the experiment Cooliofails—repeatedly! In response to his prompts, there are short, lyrical pauses. Coolio doesn’t give a shit though. Even in his old age, dude is still baller. He just keeps going like nothing happened. He doesn’t skip a beat. Not even once. Shit just flows like sauce from a gravy boat, kid.

Another thing I learned about Coolio is that he’s fucking funny. In between songs, he approached fans and asked:

“What should you do before touching your woman in an intimate way?”

After two lame-asses respond, “Tell her I love her,” Coolio interjects.

“Naw, bitch, wash yo hands—cause cleanliness is next to pussiness. If you don’t, you could give your girl a yeast infection. So wash your motherfucking hands and stop using latex. It makes the pussy stank!”

Shit, I didn’t realize this was gonna turn into church. But the dude is straight up preaching Gospel. This leads me to the third thing that I learned about Coolio, the dude is an immortal player that will never die. He’s so baller, it doesn’t matter what venue he plays because he’ll out rhyme and out wit any young motherfucker off the street. That’s science, yo. Dude is a true American hero that continues to shine in neon glow.

Suddenly, gunshots ring out. What is that? A drive by? A police raid? Hell no! That’s the opening to “Gangster’s Paradise”! Coolio looks at the sky (well really the VIP lounge) in awe. And he should. This is his most important contribution to hip-hop. Gospel-style music echoes through the club as black, half-naked female bodies climb the poles, fat/skinny asses twerk, titties bounce, twats grind, money flies, and cameras flash.

This is it. This is the moment we’ve all been waiting for—our Doc Brown escort to the past. Mentally, I am transported to my awkward, closeted middle school years and visualize Michelle Pfeiffer telling a classroom of minority students to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and stop blaming society because “there are no victims in this classroom!” No, just a lot of culturally disadvantaged kids that apparently always needed a strict white woman with a military background to whip them into shape and replace the lazy, immoral, Cadillac driving, welfare receiving role models that have entrapped them in a never ending cycle of poverty (sarcasm). SMDH. That movie is the worst. Whatever, anyway, we collectively revisit our pasts and, briefly, forget the horrors that constitute modern America. White, black, Latino, Asian, male, female, bro, loser, gay, straight—it didn’t matter. We all twerked and bounced in a unified rhythm that would make Dr. King smile and Malcolm X puke.

Meeting Coolio
The show is over and I’m waiting in line to receive my twenty-dollar picture. Coolio performed approximately six songs including, “If I Was Your Boyfriend,” “1, 2, 3, 4,” “Gangsta’s Paradise,” “I’ll See You When I Get There,” and “Too Hot.” After the show, dude throws up the deuces before returning to the VIP lounge.

A line is developing to show love and take ironic photos. Coolio doesn’t give a fuck. He’s just chilling with his woman and doesn’t even acknowledge that we’re there. Guess what though—I’m not leaving until I take this motherfucking photo. I have come too far to not receive a pCoolio18Pixelshoto that I can post on Facebook and receive endless likes. Waiting in line, I am butted by two obnoxious bros that previously indicated they were from Milwaukee. Go figure! One is wasted and giving me a weird “I’m gonna kick your ass, faggot” look. So I look at the floor in effort to avoid a scene.

Finally! Coolio’s oversized bodyguard signals that the photo shoot is about to commence. Oh my god! My stomach fills with butterflies and I panic. What if he thinks I’m a loser? I’m next in line and going to faint. I prepare my phone and hand it to the bodyguard. This dude is a Suge Knight look alike. Swear to God. He wears one of those old-school plaid Dickie’s g-funk style button down shirts, covering the wife beater. We stand in front of a casino machine that illuminates the background. I genuinely thank Coolio for a fabulous show. He replies, “thank you, man,” and places his fist in the air to bump for the camera. The hired muscle snaps the photo and comments, “Man, you ain’t got no flash and yo screen is shattered.” Wait a minute, did I just dissed by the muscleman IN FRONT OF COOLIO! I’m mortified and respond with an appropriate, subjugated voice, “Yea, been meaning to get a new one,” before exiting the VIP lounge. Could this night get any better?

Driving Home
As this epic adventure closes, I am consumed with depression. It’s been an amazing year for the Internet: Auschwitz Selfie,

Coolio19the Orlando Bloom-Justin Beiber fight, the fall of Mama June, Brendan Jordan, Scott Stapp’s ongoing public meltdown, and the entitled teenage Xmas tweets. While each of these events has temporarily filled our otherwise empty lives with joy and meaning, this concert represents the end of history. It is the standard against which all future Internet sensations, scandals, and memes will be compared and devalued. Hence, there’s no up from here, only down. Our lives are now condemned to mediocrity as we continually relive this moment in our thoughts, knowing full well that this experience will never be replicated. With this in mind, I pull into a 24 hour McDonalds to purchase a large fry and medium chocolate shake that I consume in the parking lot, alone, while listening to “I Know It’s Over” and watching the rain gradually obfuscate my view of the blinking Christmas lights that flash before me. I can feel the soil falling over my head.

Bonus Videos

My Girl Molly

My Girl Molly 
Adventures in MDMA
By Kate Letigre


The streets of Baltimore flew by—my feet punished the pavement with a quick pounding rhythm that consumed my brain and became a pleasantly hypnotic refrain.

I NEEDED to run. Even if I wanted to stop, I knew I couldn’t. I watched as the bewildered face of a homeless man on a bus bench whizzed by—no doubt wondering why a blonde woman, sans bra and wearing dress-sandals was sprinting by him as if pursued at 5:30 AM.

I was acutely aware of my surroundings, what I was doing, what I HAD done, but simultaneously unable to stop or control any of it. I would be able to recall every detail—every vividly sordid detail— later that day.

It must’ve been 6:30 or 7:00 AM because I saw the sun come up and fill my room with painful light. My room surrounded me in a blurry whirl, yet I felt every nuance, the myriad brightly colored scarfs hanging on the closet door started to shimmer and encircle me.

How long had I been there, standing in the middle of my room? Minutes? Hours? I’d managed to lie down in my bed, jaw tightly clenched, covers grasped in a death grip, the sun shining through me, piercing my head. I knew there was absolutely no way I would make it to orientation. There goes that job with the aquarium—there was no plausible excuse for an absence on the first day. Fuck.

The events of the previous night began to replay, on loop, over and over again as I lay there unable to escape, unable to shake away the residual effects of the night before. My jaw involuntarily ground my teeth to dust and my eyes remained fixed open and bugged despite my best efforts to force them closed.

Molly, you’re a fucking bitch.

“Come oooon, I don’t want to try this for the first time alone!”

I knew I shouldn’t have been here. I had already promised myself to never go there again, yet there I was—with the devil incarnate who was trying to force feed me little clear capsules filled with an unknown white powder. If I wanted to find someone other than myself to blame, I could easily point a finger at the creepers who had tried to follow us home from the bars screaming profanities and legitimately endangering us, or even Jillian for suggesting we run to the safety of her booty call (an unrequited love story that’s not worth telling), or the guys for stock-piling illicit substances in the hopes of having girls stumble in drunk and consuming them so that they could fuck them (I surmised). But I was the one who took the capsule from Jill’s palm, slowly placed it on my tongue, and chased it down with water from the bathroom sink in Cal’s room.

We headed downstairs to the sticky kitchen. Too drunk to be concerned with the cleanliness of the glass that I found on the counter and filled with water from the sink brimming with dishes, I noticed Jill texting frantically and knew instinctively that she was writing to Cal, begging him to return from the party with the guys. She had used her key to enter his house, and I felt uneasy about their return.

“Is it even working? Were we supposed to break it?” Twenty minutes had passed and we were googling “molly” and consulting Wikipedia about the effects of MDMA, and that’s when I felt it. MyGirlMollyPhoto2

“Oh my god, Jill. I can feel it now in my hands and feet. They’re tingling…”

Jill nodded her head slowly. She was already somewhere else.

The tingly sensation began to spread throughout my body.

I loved everyone! I had to tell them! I began to text everyone in my contact list to tell them how much I loved them. (Note to self: never-ever do drugs and text. I don’t know how I’m going to explain this away. That’s going to be embarrassing.)

“Kate, the guys are coming home soon, and Trent doesn’t know we have this… we have to hold it together until he goes upstairs.”

“Yeah, Yeah. I got this.”

“Uh…. You’re moaning.”

“Shit. I can’t help it. I know I’m doing it, and it’s weird, and I’m sorry, but I can’t help it. Sorry…”

“SHHH…. Here they come….”

I had unwittingly been moaning, muttering, and shaking slightly. I bit my lips to contain my words, but I was unable to stop the shaking. My legs were shaking violently.

And that’s when the waves smacked me in the face pushing me down and dragging me out with the tide just to go under, surface, and roll over and over and over again. I barely noticed Trent enter and go to his room to pass out or Cal and Sam join us. I vaguely made out that they had surreptitiously taken Molly behind Trent’s back at the party. How long did I revel in the ecstasy before I noticed Jill beside me, touching me?

I knew what was happening. I liked it, wanted it, and couldn’t have stopped it—even if I HAD wanted to. I can unclench my fists, maybe I can close my eyes. Nope.

Jill’s lips, pliable and vulnerable, found mine. Oblivious to my surroundings, Jill became an extension of my ecstasy, intensifying the waves of pleasure I was already experiencing. It was transcendent.

“I love watching you girls.” Cal stated dreamily. He watched us with a slow smile, eyes half-closed.

Torn-away from my kiss-trance, I began to frantically finish my love messages to random recipients. I really need to check who I sent what messages. Oh God. Can’t. Move.

“Do you need anything?” Cal asked.

“Yes. Water. I need water. My mouth is so dry. Why is my mouth so dry? Is that normal? God, why can’t I open my mouth, my mouth is clenched shut and my legs keep shaking. Also, why can’t I stop talking? I know that I’m talking a lot and that it’s really, really weird but I can’t stop. I’m sorry, guys. I’m really sorry. I know it’s weird but I can’t stop…”

My words continued and I was unable to stem the flow of meaningless phrases escaping my mouth. Cal returned with some water.

“You have to feed it to me. I really want to stop my hands from texting but I really cant. Not even for water, which I really need…”

Cal put the glass to my mouth; the water did nothing to alleviate the dryness. Jill’s eyes were mostly closed and her hands continued to caress my leg. I noticed Sam reclined on a couch opposite us, watching languidly.

“Sam you’re really attractive, but I really don’t like you. I’m sorry, but you are kind of a douche bag, and you treat women really poorly, like they are objects.”

Sam stared at me, abashed and dejected. “I’m sorry…”

“It’s ok. I’m only saying this because of the molly and you should forget about it and I know it’s rude and weird for me to talk like this and I’m sorry but I can’t seem to help it at all.” OH MY GOD. What else did I say that I can’t even remember? I can never show my face again around those people. Ever.

“Maybe, we should go upstairs to my room.” Cal suggested.

“Yes, let’s go but let me finish sending these messages and then I will fuck all of you.” I stated emphatically.

Cal smiled, bemused. Jill kissed my mouth.

“I’m going to need help getting up the stairs. I can’t move my legs.”

I moved my legs but they were shaking too violently for me to stand on them. I noticed that I continuously moaned and muttered as the waves of pleasure rose and abated intermittently. Sam lifted me up easily and followed Cal and Jill up the stairs. I was getting off just being pressed against Sam’s brawny chest.

Cal had disappeared into the bathroom. Jill writhed about on his unmade bed tucked into the corner of the room. Sam and I landed in a heap next to Jill on the bed, and she immediately climbed on top of me, kissing my neck. The closet door was open, and I could see that Cal stored all of his clothing on the floor and piled on the various masses of furniture about the room, while the closet rack remained bare. My legs were now entwined about Sam. Jill began to undress me when Cal reemerged.

I had a couple of options at this point. Option One: have a threesome with Cal and Jill (an experience I had already had) who would inevitably be at it in a moment. Option Two: hook up with Sam, a high-ranking douchebag whom I had turned down on numerous occasions. Option three have an orgy. Not having sex was NOT an option in my state at that moment, neither was simply leaving. I needed it.

“Can we all fit in this bed?” I asked.

“You mean…?” Jill questioned.

“I mean, let’s all do it here,” I said nonchalantly.

“Alright,” Jill agreed with a little bounce.

“I’m down,” Cal shrugged.

“NO. I’m going downstairs,” Sam struggled to free himself from the tangle of quivering human bodies.

“Come ooooon. Stay.” I countered.

“No. No. No. I’m going downstairs.” Sam managed to jump off the bed and land on the floor.

“Well, I’m not a rapist,” I tried to reassure him. “I only want to do what everyone wants to do.” My teeth chattered a bit.

“You can stay here with us, Kate…” Jill began.

“I think I’m going to head downstairs with Sam”—I jumped onto his back, and he managed to stumble down the stairs without killing either of us.

The television was on, and in the dim light you couldn’t see griminess of the kitchen or the adjoining living room. We stood in the middle of the living room for a solid minute—or what seemed like an eternity—facing each other. Both of us waiting for the other to make the first move. Suddenly, in one movement, we were kissing and undressing simultaneously. I cannot tell you who made the first move or how it happened, but there we were, ripping each other’s clothes off, standing in the hazy light of the television. Every brush of the skin was euphoria. Every kiss was ecstasy. I knew that under normal circumstances I would never be in this situation— that the molly had, in part, taken over. But I didn’t give a damn.


“Come in,” I managed through gnashed teeth.

Luckily, I had left my door unlocked; I wouldn’t have been successful getting up to open it. Lori, my roommate, entered.

“Whoa. What happened to you? Aren’t you supposed to start at the aquarium today?”

“Mmmmolly,” I chattered. I was beginning to feel the comedown from the rolls. I knew that, chemically, my serotonin levels had peaked (like never before!) and now dissipated. My high was taking a nose dive. “I hooked up with Sam last night,” I told Lori.

“Daaaaaamn, duuuude.” Lori’s eyebrows had shot up to her hairline and her mouth hung open. “You must’ve been rollin’ hard! Last weekend you couldn’t stand him, remember?” Lori laughed, amused at my misadventures.

There was one little—and I mean little— problem: at first, he couldn’t get it up.

“It’s the Molly. It’s hard to get hard while on E or Molly,” Sam reassured.

That’s why he didn’t want to be with the others.

“Well, let me help.” I said, confident in my abilities. I tried to moisten my mouth. There was no saliva. “But first, I’m going to need some water.”

Sam retrieved a huge tumbler of ice water, and I threw it back, spilling half of it onto my naked body. I kept an ice cube in my mouth and went to work. I could tell he was also rolling hard. He stood before me while I sat on the couch, still shaking slightly. I could feel his body trembling, as well, as he suffered roll after blissful roll. After maybe 20 minutes of vigorous work and another water break, I stopped and looked up, concerned.

“This feels amazing. Even though it’s not hard, it’s still the best feeling ever.”

He pushed me back on the couch and kissed my throat. I had to close my eyes. He traveled down my body and I couldn’t contain my groans of pleasure. Usually, I am very easy to please, but that night it took barely a brush.

I couldn’t tell whether I was orgasming or rolling—the sensations blended together and all I could feel or see or know was wave after wave of sheer, frenzied ecstasy. I gasped for breath; I screamed out; I pleaded for mercy; I shook and lurched about; I squeezed my eyes closed until tears ran down my face. I kicked, and Sam had to sit up, hold me down at the chest with one hand and finger me with the other. He watched me with incredulous fascination. He had a raging boner.

I wrangled my way up, and Sam sat on the couch. I needed some semblance of control again. I straddled Sam. There was no need for lube. It felt almost as if I were having sex for the first time; Madonna must have been rolling when she wrote “Like a Virgin.”

I began to slump into a deep despair. “Lori, I just want to know what’s the point? What is the point in life?”

“It’s normal to be depressed after rolling. It’s going to fucking suck and probably last a day or two. Do you need anything water? Food?”

“I used up all my serotonin last night. Now I want to die. No I can’t eat. I feel sick—like I want to be sick. Yes, water. I need water.”

My mouth and throat felt like sandpaper, and I had to take another water break. A mischievous plan took shape in my mind. I jumped up, grabbed Sam’s hand, and dragged him into the kitchen. After hydrating, I shoved the dirty dishes into the sink and hopped up onto Cal’s kitchen counter. I smiled to myself as Sam took me there, knowing that Cal wouldn’t get around to cleaning up for a couple weeks. He’d be making his breakfast here in the morning.

Sam apparently derived the same devilish pleasure from fucking me on the edge of the kitchen counter. I don’t know if I asked him to pull my hair or if he took initiative— words left my mouth without passing through my brain first. There was a complete disconnect of my body and mind. My mind was completely occupied with swell after swell of pleasure and unbridled surges and sensations.

Sam came with a shout.

His body slumped despondently and he gasped, “I can’t anymore. I’m completely finished off—I’ve got nothing left.” He slinked off to the living room and retrieved his shorts. He handed me my clothes as he sank to the couch eyes closed and as I took them from his hand, he began to snore.

I thought about falling asleep on the other couch, but my legs bounced wildly. I had to run.

Tour de Sleaze, Part 3—Journey to the Center of The Block

A Baltimore Tour de Sleaze—Part 3
A journey to the center of Baltimore’s Block
By Ingrid Verde and Andre Novak

Bar #4—███████████████
Note: The name of this establishment has been deleted at the insistence of Cream City’s lawyers.

I recall very little about the ride to The Block except that, once we were in the car, I started on some kind of political tirade that seemed to unsettle the driver. He was a good sport though. Also, Ingrid’s leg was hanging out of the car’s rear-left door as we drove off from Sherrie’s. She pulled it in before it became an issue though. We made it to The Block in record time. The hard part, we quickly realized, was deciding on where to spend the little money we had left. Haleigh-TourDeSleaze2

After a lot of arguing and peering through smudged, neon-lit strip-club doorways, we finally decided to try the largest and glitziest-looking joint on the block—you know which one. I was completely opposed to setting foot in the place, but I’d been out-voted by my associates. Jim kept insisting that we’d have “the time of our lives”—I remained 100% skeptical. The place just seemed too pricey and corporate for any real fun to be going down there. Ingrid had to drag me past the front doors as we entered. After going through some kind of blurry and expensive admission ritual, we were finally permitted to enter the dance room. The whole thing felt like passing through a military checkpoint.

Now, the exterior of this place didn’t make it seem that much bigger than most establishments on The block, but let me tell you: the interior is massive beyond your wildest imaginings. In a single room roughly the size of the Parthenon, hundreds—maybe thousands—of round black tables surround a tall circular stage on the main floor. The stage’s center is marked with two metal poles rising some 80 feet into the air, all the way to the ceiling. Each wall of the establishment is actually a stack of two additional floors, each opened to the stage for your viewing pleasure.

We were seated at a table way in the back. Jim was barking lasciviously about how great the place was as we paid large sums of money for our drinks. I didn’t like it. We were too far from the action. Even with my tiny binoculars, I could barely see the stage. I felt stranded in the desert of the real. From where I sat, there seemed to be tiny speck of a woman performing acrobatics on the pole at 60-ish feet up. But who could be sure from that distance?

I was growing weary, readying myself to organize a mutiny, when a thin man with a dark beard sidled up next to me. He leaned over and whispered something.

“You know, there are no girls here,” he said.


“No girls—not a single one. It’s all CGI or somethin’. I just came back from the front. I reached onto the stage to put a couple bucks inna girl’s g-string and my hand went right through ‘er—some kind a hologram, I think. I’m tryin’ to tell as many people as I can on my way out.”

I put my binoculars up to my eyes. It was hard to see what he meant, but the dancer on stage did have kind of a translucent glow about her. I started to turn toward the man.

“Hey, lemme go!”

I heard him shouting before I even saw the two men in black suits grabbing each of his shoulders. They each hooked an arm under the man’s armpits and began calmly dragging him in the direction of the door.

“Hey! Hey! I want my mone—“

He was pulled right through the exit doors.

By that time, Jim had apparently gone AWOL with his Tinder Date. I hadn’t noticed or cared. Ingrid, Brad, and I decided to try our luck elsewhere. We slunk toward the exit as the two men in suits stared us down. I’m on to you, I thought to myself, looking them in the eyes.

After we got out the door, we figured Little Darlings would be the logical next step as it was so close. We walked down a set of fuzzy stairs, into a darkened purple-lighted room where we each paid a cover of merely $5 before we were granted access to all of our wildest dreams, so we hoped.

“Let’s go next door—to the sketchier place. Im sure there’s no cover, and it’s more of what we are looking for,” Andre protested in front of ███████████████ where Jim had led us.

We headed next door only to find that they had an entrance fee, albeit half the cost of ██████’s. After a minor debate and at Jim’s insistence, we found ourselves at ██████—the granddaddy of Baltimore strip clubs. Out front, commanding signs and a long red-carpeted stairwell led up to the club.

Inside, clusters of tables circled a Colosseum-esque arena with two poles that led up to the high ceiling. The nude dancers climbed the pole to the second floor before twirling high above our heads and then dropping to the floor. I gasped, believing a freak accident to be inevitable and imagining the performer, mangled and broken, at the base of the pole. The $20 cover seemed worth the nude version of Cirque de Soleil.

A cocktail waitress interrupted my revelry to ask if I wanted a drink. I assessed my current level of intoxication and decided I should skip alcohol in favor of water.

“Are you crazy? Water costs just as much as alcohol here. Just get another drink.” Brad admonished.

This mentality had gotten me into a lot of trouble before. Shit was going to get crazy.

“Has anyone seen Jim and what’s her name?” I asked.

“They got a private room.” Brad said.

“OH in that case, let’s go back to the other place we scoped out. That’s what we came here for. Besides, I’m starting to think these strippers are just CGI holograms anyways…” Andre muttered.

Bar #5—Little Darlings
This establishment was small, but definitely more of a shoebox than a broom closet. The place was brimming with strippers. The management had simply hired too many girls for that night it seemed—the dancer-to-customer ratio was some 10 to 1. Also, the purple-ish lighting reminded me of black-lights and I knew we’d hit the jackpot. This was the place we’d been looking for. The three of us had to push our way through a small sea of near-naked female bodies as we walked toward the mainstage. I took a short detour past the bar and ordered another Pikesville on ice.

By the time I sat down next to my compatriots, Ingrid was already swarmed by a gaggle of strippers who were stroking her hair and lightly grabbing at her body like gentle molesters. Brad and I, it seemed, had turned into translucent ghosts at some point, which was fine with me. Brad, however, descended into a state of outrage as he shook his head, throwing his hands up, and commenting repeatedly on how Ingrid was hoarding all of the girls. “No respect,” he muttered lowering, his face into his palms.Haleigh-TourDeSleaze

I simply couldn’t relate in that moment. I turned toward the stage only to realize that one of the dancers had been staring me right in the face—with her brown eye. She was bent forward and shaking her butt-cheeks in my direction. How long had this been going on? Was I supposed to tip her? I was clueless on matters of strip club protocol. Fortunately, a doughy kid in a Batman t-shirt stepped in and saved the day.

“I got it, man,” he said to me, probably reading the panic on my numbed face.

He took a fistful of dollars and casually threw them at the dancer’s ass. She turned her head to smile at him. I noticed she had brown eyes.

“Thanks,” I said.

It was time for another Pikesville. However, I was horrified when the people at the bar told me the credit card machine was broken and they were only accepting cash. The barman pointed me toward the ATM in the far corner of the shoebox. Fair enough, I thought while taking wobbly baby-steps toward the glowing machine. I remember that a new song came on as I walked—some kind of slow organ dirge started seeping through the speakers. An airy female voice began:

Look on down from the bridge
There’s still fountains down there…

I shook my head and wondered what kind of sick joker-of-a-DJ would play that song in a club like this. No matter—I was on a mission. But even all of that went to shit as I approached the ATM and caught a slippery patch on the carpet with the heel of my shoe. I fell over and onto my back.

Everybody seems so far away from me
Everybody just wants to be free

A man dressed in a tuxedo-vest and bow-tie stood over me, and asked if I was ok. I reached into my pocket.

“Sir, there’s no smoking in here.”

“I know that.”

I discreetly slid the cigarettes back into my pocket and pulled my cell phone out. “I’m calling my lawyer, that’s all.”

“That won’t be necessary, sir.”

I’m just gone, just gone…

“Yeah, I know.”

Walking back to the stage I noticed that there were now three girls on stage, making out and grinding on each other. Whoa.

As I approached my seat, I asked Brad where Ingrid was. His eyes were wide and he just kept staring at the spectacle on stage. That’s when it hit me. I slowly turned my head around to confirm my theory. Ingrid was on stage. I turned back to Brad.

“What happened?”

“I dunno. They just pulled her on stage and she seemed down for it. They yanked her clothes off and then all of this started.”

Ingrid was standing, dancing and making out with one stripper while another one seemed to have her face tucked between her thighs.

There’s a light in your eyes
And you know, yeah you know

Batman was still seated to my right and his eyes were visibly dewy.

“This is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen,” he muttered.

“Is it really?!” I snapped.


Look on down from the bridge
I’m still waiting for you

I thought we’d been kicked out promptly at 2:00AM, which, at the time, seemed really strange in a place like that. However, I was later informed that we had, in fact, lingered around until about 3:30AM. That’s when were booted. Ingrid put her clothes on and we left, walking east down Baltimore Street in search of the next big thing.

We headed through a dark and narrow stairwell leading down to the doorway of Little Darlings. Once the door opened, I knew this was it. This is what we had been searching for. We had made it to the Promised Land— one overflowing with strippers and liquor.

“YES! This is everything I had hoped it would be!” Andre voiced my sentiment as he rushed to the bar in the back corner.

Our trio sat down at the seats arranged around the stage next to a guy with a Batman t-shirt, greasy hair, untrimmed beard, and slight paunch. I wondered how he was going to sneak back into his mom’s basement later that night.

“Oh my god that girl is so hot—the brunette one onstage.” Brad gushed.

A tall slim dancer called Jessie went on with a shorter girl wearing a g-string and jock socks. They twirled around the pole before sliding to the floor and crawling about together and simulating oral sex. Brad was in love. Jessie caught my eye and crawled to the edge of the stage.

“Hey there, sexy. You are gorgeous.”

“Seriously, Ingrid? They’re hitting on you?” Brad interjected.

“Come onstage,” she urged, pulling me towards the platform.

I resisted.

“DO IT!” Brad goaded.

“Come on Ingrid.. Come on! IN-GRID! IN-GRID…”

The other dancer had joined her in pulling me towards them; I was helpless against the siren song.

As I climbed onto the stage, Jessie unzipped my jacket and I threw it toward the audience. It smacked Brad in the face. Bright lights blinded me to the spectators. Jessie and Jocksocks simultaneously undressed me; I was oblivious to anything else. A fog machine (or, maybe, the copious amounts of alcohol I had consumed) created a haze that glowed with the lasers and rotating, multi-colored lights.

“Kiss me.”

Jessie’s lips were soft and sweet. I have no idea how long we made out pressed up against the pole onstage while the other dancer tangled between our legs, but, eventually, the set ended, and I retrieved my strewn clothing while making my way back to my seat.

“That was amazing! And I have pictures!” Brad exclaimed. “I would have had more too if the bouncer hadn’t slapped my phone out of my hand.”

Ingrid Verde, pictured at center Image courtesy of Brad Baisley

Ingrid Verde, center, conducting important research for this article
Image courtesy of Brad Baisley


He shot an irritated glance at the towering presence staring at us from the wall.

“I was just about to shoot a video when someone shouted, ‘Hey! Show some respect!’—that’s when Shaq’s big brother decided to assault my phone.”

Oh, that’s just great…

The neck-beard in the batman shirt learned forward and turned toward me.

“I just want to say that was the hottest thing I’ve ever seen.”

I laughed awkwardly as I put my shirt back on.

The girls were completing their shifts and came over to socialize. Jessie and Kendra sat on the side of my chair, while another girl played with my hair behind me. Everyone moved in a sort of blur. At any given moment I had my tongue in a different girl’s mouth.  Brad shook his head in despair behind us.

“Are you all lesbians?” he inquired.

“No, but how could you not love her.” Kendra purred.

I hadn’t realized we were the only ones left in the club until the Shaq look-alike screamed, “Girls—clothes on! You guys, OUT!”

“You need to come to our after party.” Jessie appealed as she handed me my phone.

I had several new additions in my contacts list under names like “Kassie” and “Jewel.”

“Alright we will.” I affirmed as we were shuffled out into the cool, forsaken streets of Baltimore.

“We are going to that after party.” Brad stated while hailing a cab.

My phone vibrated constantly with directions from several sources.

“Hell, no,” I slurred. “I was making out with like five girls, and they’re all asking me to come now—way too much girl drama. I can’t do that…”

“It’d be great for the story,” Andre mused.



Tour de Sleaze, Part 2— Strippers, Booze, Buttholes, and Boobs

A Baltimore Tour de Sleaze—Part 2
Strippers, booze, buttholes, and boobs
By Ingrid Verde and Andre Novak

Original artwork by Haleigh Hey Boy!

With original artwork by Haleigh Hey Boy!

Bar #2—Haven Place 
When we entered Haven Place everything was pretty blurry. The lighting was dim and red, and I really had no idea what we’d walked into. The Talking Heads’ “And She Was” blasted through speakers somewhere. I immediately went to the bar and dropped my last few dollars on a bottle of Natty Boh. I remained there for a bit, surveying the scene, until I decided I needed stronger drink.

En route to the bar’s ATM, I stumbled past a guy sitting alone at a table. He looked just like Anton Chigurh, only far less menacing. After I got my money, I jogged back to the bar and ordered a Pikesville on the rocks, which I gulped down in one sip just before ordering another.

Drink in-hand, I shuffle-stepped toward what appeared to be a miniature wooden stage on the side of the building. On a marginally elevated platform, a lady danced topless to the music. The area was enclosed by a sort of box-railing supported by wooden uprights. I’m sure it was meant to keep the riff-raff away from the dancers, but it was no use—Anton Chigurh was at the front of the thing, pressing his face between the banisters and throwing dollar-bills over the railing with an awkward hook-arm. His eyes were bulging from their sockets and he looked like one of those horny wolf characters from old Tex Avery cartoons. The stripper turned, smiling, bouncing her ass around. The man pushed his face further through the uprights. I became concerned for his safety, but he seemed alright—especially after the stripper began twerking on her hands and knees, with her ass directly in front of his face. The man’s arm began spasmodically catapulting heaps of dollar-bills onto the stage. I remember thinking that his nose was perilously close to the lady’s butthole. Perhaps he wanted to dock it? CreamCity-HavenPlace

By this time, I had no idea where my friends were. I assumed they had ditched me. As I stood there, swaying around, trying to stay upright, I couldn’t blame them.  I left the stage area to take a piss. The last thing I remember in Haven Place is leaning on a wall next to the urinal and closing my eyes. At some point, I apparently left the bathroom, found my friends, and walked to Sherrie’s Showbar on Pulaski Highway.

I found myself tripping out of a cab in front of the aptly-named Haven Place on Haven Street. A neon sign lit up the dark streets and the faces of smokers lingering on the corner, getting their fix in.

Inside, my eyes adjusted to a dimly lit netherworld, thick with a dense cloud of the condensed sweat from the patronage. Andre headed for the bar. He seemed excited and began loudly proclaiming that he already loved the place. I made my way to the ATM on the back wall, fully prepared to pop some bandz. My finger stuck to the machine’s sticky keys, and I noticed that many drinks had been spilled on the screen. I looked over to Brad, Jim, and Tinder Girl who were standing around a dancer on-stage. She was on a platform raised a mere 6 inches from the ground with a waist-high rail to keep the gapes out—or, perhaps, to keep her in. She was extremely thin with closely cropped platinum hair, and, most importantly, gargantuan fake titties. I walked over to my group just as Tinder Girl reached up to fondle Blondie. She looked at me excitedly—“Touch them! This right here is what I need.”

“They’re saline. Go ahead feel them,” Blondie encouraged.

I stepped closer and reached out, hesitantly. Blondie leaned forward, until my face was sandwiched between her airbags, and shimmied—effectively slapping me in the face with her boobs.

“Um, Yep. Those are nice. Uh…thanks,” I stammered.

Blondie smirked and winked before walking off stage and over to the bar. My attention shifted to the adjacent platform where a much younger looking girl gyrated on all fours while a liver-spot-freckled man peered agog through the bars at her. Whoa. I stood mesmerized by this man who was, in turn, hypnotized by the dancer. His hands grasped the rails. His eyes bugged as he put his face between the bars. He reached for dollar after dollar intent on paying for Honey’s rent that month. He trailed the dollar down her chest before tucking it into her garter, wiping his palms, and licking his lips. Honey pasted on a brave smile and danced more and more limply. I was amazed when gramps nearly pushed his entire head through the rails while attempting to bury his head into her susceptible ass crack. I needed air. Where the fuck was Andre and his Lucky Strikes when you needed them?

Bar #3—Sherrie’s Showbar
At Andre’s research-backed suggestion we headed to Sherrie’s Showbar, where being plus-sized might be requisite for employment.

A scene from Sherrie's Showbar

A scene from Sherrie’s Showbar

Nice—good on them. The bar wrapped around the stage where a round dancer rolled about, jiggling wildly. The dancer applauded herself without using her hands, which really seemed to impress Andre. I noticed a bit of tumble-weave rolling forlornly across the other side of the wooden stage. It was a sobering sight that needed to be remedied. I turned to the bartender, a woman wearing only a bit more than the dancers, for a vodka-soda.

“We ain’t got that. We only do beer and shots.”

Beer in hand, I looked over and noticed one of the dancers wearing a neon-pink string had Brad cornered as Andre argued with her about the price of a lap dance for Brad. I stepped in and offered my two-cents—“$70? For just a lap dance? He should at least be able to cum on your butt for $70.” I had to document the moment.

“Excuse me, can I take pictures here?” I asked the stripper-lady.

“Yeah—uh, sure. Some of the girls mind but I don’t.”

I took several pictures and even some video footage of the stage before I was interrupted by the BBW who had been onstage when we arrived.

“Excuse me, can I get a tip?”

I didn’t know that dancers could even ask for tips, yet here she was looking at me expectantly. 

Brad interjected. “A TIP?! I’m still trying to un-see what I just saw!”

The bartender looked at us with an expression of sheer, justifiable disgust. She set down the bottle of liquor she was pouring and placed her hand on her curvaceous hip.

“Ya’ll need to leave. Go on!”

She dismissed us with a vehement wave and no one argued as we trudged out the door.

At Sherrie’s Showbar they “only serve beer and shots,” so I asked for two shots of Pikesville and a beer glass with some ice in it. Problem solved.CreamCity-TourdeSleazePart2

I only recall a few things from our time at Sherrie’s. First, I remember trying to buy a lap-dance for Brad. Earlier in the evening he almost cashed-out to go home and sleep—he apparently had to work at some obscene hour of the morning on the following day. I convinced him to stay out by offering to buy him a dance at one of our destinations.

Well, a mere dance turned out to cost $70 at Sherrie’s and I wasn’t having it. It simply wasn’t market price. I haggled with the hot-mom-ish-looking stripper in neon pink who had taken an interest in Brad and my money.

“Come on—$70? That’s almost four full lap-dances at other places around town. Can’t you cut us a deal?”

“Sorry, it’s not my policy. $70.”

“What if we take the time down and do like a 1-to-2 minute dance for $20?”

“Nope—can’t do it.”

“Look,” I said quietly, leaning in, “how good is this $70 dance? I mean, is my friend gonna have a good time?”

I curved my hand to form an o-shape, which I shook up and down with a loose wrist.

I could see in the lady’s eyes that I’d gone too far. Luckily for me, Ingrid barged-in and went even further, flatly suggesting that Brad get a full-release buttjob for $70. I discreetly slipped over to the bar before things got ugly, and hoped that they simply somehow wouldn’t.

I watched an extremely curvy lady dancing on stage for some minutes and became entranced. I downed another Pikesville and that’s where my memory gets foggy. However, after we left Sherrie’s, I recall that we had no luck hailing a cab on Pulaski. Fortunately, a good samaritan pulled over and offered to drive us to The Block after we spent a few minutes gesturing—on the side of the road, with twitching claw-hands—that we wanted to catch a hack.


Tour de Sleaze, Part 1—A Bar Crawl Through Baltimore’s Underbelly

A Baltimore Tour de Sleaze—Part 1
Take a bar crawl to nowhere in particular
By Ingrid Verde and Andre Novak

Original artwork by Haleigh Hey Boy!

Original artwork by Haleigh Hey Boy!

Editor’s Note
Seemingly  due to sheer laziness on behalf of the authors, each section of this article has been split into two separate parts: one written by Ingrid Verde and one written by Andre Novak. I tried to convince Andre and Ingrid to combine their distinct sections into a single easy-to-read piece, but they refused, both claiming to be suffering from “severe crickets—no, rickets” before cackling hysterically into the phone and hanging up on me. Accordingly, the shift in voice, from Ingrid to Andre and vice-versa, is labeled with their names—and in bright colors—for your convenience. Thank you for your patience during these economically trying times.


Deep in the heart of the urban labyrinth of Baltimore lies a grimy decadence whose existence is denied by the decent people of the world. It is a darkness one can normally avoid by simply remaining within the Fells-Canton-Fed Trifecta—the carefully mapped-out “safe zones” that the upstanding citizens of Baltimore inhabit and commute to-and-from in the safety of their Uber Black Cars. In search of The Truth, Andre and I decided to delve deep into Charm City’s uncharted territories of degenerate dive-bars and go-go clubs as a sort of sociological study, or perhaps to just release our own suppressed debauchedness under the pretense of academic pursuits.

The night of our assignment, I scoured my wardrobe for a costume that would appear familiar to the locals we were sure to encounter. I donned my sweatiest of sweat pants, slip-on canvas shoes, an Orioles t-shirt, and one of those now popular “Baltimore” caps you can pick up at any 7-Eleven around the city (if you don’t know what I am referring to, you may be an elitist). Was it convincing? I wasn’t sure, but I knew a blunt to the face could only improve my haze-eyed Baltimore sleaze-crawl uniform.

Baltimore's seedy underbelly File photo—AP News

Baltimore’s seedy underbelly
File photo—Cream City Newswire

My roommate, Brad Baisley, had agreed to accompany us on our tour of Baltimore’s seamy underworld. “As any good Baltimorean knows, we cannot head out sober,” Brad admonished as he handed me my first of many Fireball shots. I glanced at the clock. 3:30 in the afternoon and I am already inventing dance moves in the kitchen—thank you very much, Mary Jane.  Andre had promised to head over by 7:00 PM. Plenty of time for pre-gaming and karaoke. Brad, a skilled bartender, began to mix drinks and shots while belting out the lyrics to various 80s serenades.

My neighbor Jim, an expert on the depravity of our city—a man who has, in fact, banged a girl in a Porta Potty (and at Preakness, no less)—volunteered to act as our guide through the dense underground of the Greatest City in America. He arrived just as I had finished constructing a giant straw (patent pending) consisting of about ten separate multicolored straws jammed into each other so that I could maximize my drinking by never having to pick-up or cease slurping my ever-flowing vodka-sodas.

Jim immediately downed a Fierball shot, intent on descending to our level. He glanced down at his phone before announcing that we would need to stop by his house before heading out to pick up a girl that was purportedly to meet us there. “Who is this girl?” I asked suspiciously.

“Some girl I met on Tinder.”

“You’re bringing a rando Tinder date out with us??”

He laughed unashamedly.

Andre’s knock announces his arrival. “Thank God. Someone with some sense is here.”

I ran to the door to admit a sane presence to our midst. Andre had shaved his beard into the sleaziest of mustaches had a cigarette holder between his lips and was wearing an olive colored jacket over unbuttoned plaid shirt over a t-shirt. He had one of those tiny press notebooks in hand. “Well, Do I look the part?” he asked excitedly.

“I’ve been drinking. “ I blurted out. I have a tendency to out myself. “Come upstairs and have a shot before we head out.” I imagine Andre was frustrated with our revelries, as he wanted us to venture into the abyss sober. Oops. I sought to make up for it with Fireball.

Jim and Brad were mid-karaoke performance when we returned to the kitchen. “Guys, I’m going to need to grab some food before we head out,” the entirely not-intoxicated Andre interjected. “We could just grab some Rodeo Burgers from…”

“Nah, let’s go to Sip & Bite and get real food,” someone countered.

Thirty minutes later we were walking, en route to Burger King, after a visit to Sip & Bite where we had found a table but left 10 minutes later when a server had failed to appear.

“Let’s grab some Natty Daddies.” Jim suggested.

“Well, if we’re going to have a trashy night out, we should probably do it right,”  Andre affirmed.

As I found myself walking into Burger King (as a vegan this in itself is an anomaly) with a 24oz bottle of Corona stashed in a brown paper bag and asking for one of their wax cups, I put a new entry on my mental This-is-a-First list.

“I think I’m going to need the biggest one you’ve got.”  I said setting my beer on their counter. The cashier suppressed a laugh and presented a King-sized cup. “This oughta do it.”

Now that my fellow explorers were temporarily placated with their burgers  and beers disguised as sodas, we headed back to Jim’s house to grab his Tinder date before heading to our first authentic Baltimore shit-hole of the night.


The idea was simple—execute a Saturday-night tour of Baltimore’s sleaziest nightlife establishments and return, unscathed, to document the whole experience for Cream City. I thought it was going to be easy.

However, from the moment I met with Ingrid to embark on the journey, I could see we were heading into a long, blurry tunnel with no light at the end. While I had insisted that we stay as sober as possible to better remember—and eventually, convey—the happenings of the night, Ingrid had insisted on living-out scenes from Sleep’s Dopesmoker album and LMFAO-Lil Jon collaborations for the hours leading up to our departure.

When I arrived at Ingrid’s place, she was a wreck. She answered the door laughing and mumble-rambling incoherently, reeking of high-grade weed. Her wet eyes appeared to be hemorrhaging a bit. “Wonderful,” I said to myself. Ingrid had thrown all professionalism out the window. At first I was disappointed. I even pulled my tiny homemade “PRESS” credential from my hat and placed it inside Ingrid’s trash-bin while she slurped vodka through a ten-foot straw, giggling like a fiend on nitrous oxide. But then it hit me. Ingrid hadn’t failed the project—she was taking it to the next level. Of course. I thought it through. How could we possibly cover Baltimore’s sleaze-beat without becoming complete shitbags ourselves? I mean, it won’t be easy, but it’s certainly the right thing to do—we cant’t just half-ass this project like City Paper would. Upon realization of Ingrid’s grand journalistic vision, I was ready to dive in.

About a half-hour later, I was sitting in a prominent fast-food restaurant on Eastern Avenue, savoring a final bite of my Rodeo Burger and sucking the remnants of a Natty Daddy from a towering wax “King Cup.” Ingrid, Brad, John, and I were loudly discussing the effects of salvia divinorum while a family enjoyed their meal in the booth behind us. I recall that they looked deeply unsettled for some reason. By the time we finished our food and beverages, it was around 8:30 PM and we were ready to tackle the assignment. Sure, we were already really drunk—but not just on beer and skunky malt-liquor; we were also drunk on our undying lust for the truth. As we stepped onto Eastern Avenue, we gazed long into the abyss—the abyss also gazed back. We set out for a bar called RJ’s— but first we had to stop at some place on South Collington to meet up with a lady-friend of John’s who turned out to be a Baltimore Hooters Girl.

Bar #1—RJ’s
Creedence Clearwater Revival’s  ‘Bad Moon Rising’ was playing as we walked through the doorway, which I took as a good sign. RJ’s was the first bar on our list and it was the only destination that made me uneasy.

A famous wall on which female patrons can donate their bras for public display made this place a must-visit for our project. However, I had been informed earlier that RJ’s was basically a haunt for Baltimore’s aging combat-veterans. I knew the vibe would be macho, racist, and possibly violent. What did ‘RJ’ even stand for? Ron Jon?

The building was basically an elongated broom closet. Quarters couldn’t have been any closer. Out of all the people in our group, Ingrid and I were the obvious outsiders. Patrons stopped their shouting and whooping as we walked by, giving us both the tense eye.

It was a weight off my chest when the bartender—an orange-haired, middle-aged lady—greeted us with a warm smile. I remember thinking that maybe things would be alright. All of that, however, ended at my drink order.

“Hey—just a Wild Turkey on the rocks, please,” I said, smiling.

“A Wild what?”

“A Wild Turkey—on ice.”

The smiles were fading fast.

“No—no, we don’t have that. We have Miller Light and Coors.”

“Gimme one of those Colorado Kool-Aids,” I said grimacing, thinking I’d just scored some credibility points.


“Colorado Kool-Aid,” I mumbled, mostly to myself.

“What the hell’s wrong with you?”

“Um, a Coors. I’ll take a Coors.”

I hadn’t been sipping for very long when a stout man with a distended belly shoved his way through the narrow space between the barstools and the back wall. Just as he was passing me, a tall guy with long, stringy hair and coke-bottle glasses edged close enough to stout man to slap him on the back.

“Kramer, I didn’t realize this was a gay bar!” he shouted while cackling.

This man, Kramer, didn’t even look back to see who it was when he responded,  “Yeeeeaaaah, fuck you, you faggot.”

RJ’s was quickly becoming the place that I imagined it would be: a hangout for gay-bashers and proto-nazis. Ingrid suddenly remembered why we had come. She unhooked her extra bra and handed it to the barmaid. All kinds of cheering and whooping ensued.

It was time for a smoke break. I dragged Ingrid outside with me. After a half-hour in that bar, hearing someone speak in way that was free of casual bigotry seemed strange, but we quickly re-assimilated as we talked about plans for this article.

We enjoyed about 2 minutes of peace before the door swung open and Kramer stepped between us. I could tell we were both thinking the same thing—we needed to make this guy think we were like him, lest I be beaten to a pulp for no real reason whatsoever. We had to hide any of the cultural trappings of our public-ivy backgrounds. Well, we failed. Kramer hassled us viciously for some minutes. We decided to leave after he played a cruel prank on Ingrid.


Swaying into RJ’s Place, I found myself surrounded by locals. I knew they would be here, but it was glaringly obvious that Andre and I were not indigenous to the scene. Brad, Jim, and Tinder Date were passable. I suddenly felt like an explorer who had unwittingly donned the war paint of a neighboring tribe in a feeble attempt to assimilate. Do they know I am here under false pretenses? All eyes found us as we shuffled sideways down the length of the bar to the empty seats.  I became conscious of the disparity of age and background between us. The patrons were largely comprised of retired veterans talking loudly, guffawing, throwing-back beers, and in desperate need of baths. There was only one thing that would remedy this pickle I found myself in— vodka. Andre was already haggling with the plump middle-aged bartender with frizzy orange hair over some whiskey.

“Could I get a Vodka soda, please?”

“Sure, hon.”

She slid the mystery vodka across the bar and I was pleased to find that the soda was an afterthought. I noticed the famed wall of bras behind the bar and remembered our purpose for visiting this establishment. “Is is true that if you give up your bra you can drink for free?” I asked the bartender.

“No, Hon, we just collect them.”

The majestic Bra Wall at RJ's

The majestic Bra Wall at RJ’s

“So, you want girls to just hand over their bras without compensation?” What is this, St. Vincent de Paul’s?

The bartender leaned over the bar. Her tits flattened over the surface and I had to rescue my drink from certain doom.

“Normally we would let you drink for free, but the owner is here now,” she whispered conspiratorially, her eyes jetting to the older man behind the bar.

Luckily, I had come prepared. I reached under my shirt and ripped off one of the two bras I was wearing and handed it over.

“Add that to your collection.”

“Ron, we got another one!” she shouted, holding my bra above her head like a prize. Ron came over inspected the spoils, turning it over in his wrinkled hands.

“Oh, this one is going right here in the front. Yeah, this is a nice one—I can tell. This is one of those $50 ones, right here!” he proclaimed proudly as he hung it on the collage of lace, cotton, satin, and underwire.

Turning over my glass, I took a moment to more closely examine the clientele. There was a definite impenetrable camaraderie that suggested this was the daily watering hole for these guys. They addressed each other by name, made bets, and exchanged misogynist jokes. The compadres laughed riotously as Andre and I exchanged uncomfortable looks.

“Do you want a cigarette?” Andre asked me. I took the offered Lucky Strike. My cigarette consumption is contingent on my alcohol intake. Sober, I will not touch a cigarette. This night, I was a chain-smoker.

Andre lit his cig, inhaled deeply, and lamented, “This place is everything I had hoped and feared it would be.” Kramer burst out the door, the remnants of laugher still on his face…until he saw us. “What are you fresh-faced university kids doing out here?” Oh god… he’s on to us ! We’ve been discovered.  My alcohol-and-weed-addled mind raced for an escape. He watched us suspiciously as he reduced his cigarette to ashes in an instant. “Let’s head over to that Go Go place I was telling you about.” Andre suggested, after we’d withstood about five minutes of Kramer’s abuse.

“I’ll get the others.” I dashed inside to grab the others relieved to abandon the stares and bigoted crudeness that was RJ’s.

“You kids have never worked a day in your life. You don’t know the meaning of work…” Kramer informed us as we left the bar.

His voice was trailing off as we piled into the waiting taxi.


Black Lights and Blue Balls—Reflections on Burlesque and Stripping

Editor’s Note
Several months ago, sometime in early February, Cream City sought to commission writings from the semi-legendary Randall L. Ladnar. We at Cream City always admired Ladnar’s ability to navigate the world of sleaze and smut with a philosopher’s pen, so we were thrilled when he agreed to write a burlesque show review for us. Most importantly, we knew Ladnar’s writings would be a huge credibility boost for the site and likely result in ad revenue increases. Ladnar demanded payment in advance, and we obliged, but his deadline quickly passed with not so much as an update on the review’s progress. The piece was originally slated as a post-Valentine’s Day romp, but by mid-March I was sending bi-hourly emails and texts to Ladnar, demanding the burlesque review, or our money back.

About two weeks ago, I finally decided to pay Ladnar a visit at his Station North apartment. After prying one of his windows open with a crowbar, I tip-toed across his living room, through a minefield of drained absinthe bottles and used condoms, to find the man passed-out on his couch in front of a television set that was blasting the Hallmark Channel at some inhuman volume. I woke Ladnar. He tried to make a break for it, but I introduced him to my good friend, Gerber Clip-Point, who was finally able to persuade him to write the burlesque review, in light of the fact that he could not pay off his debt to Cream City in that moment.

With my associate, Mr. Clip-Point, I watched Ladnar type each and every word of the fascinating screed that follows. Personally, I’m surprised at how amazingly well the thing turned out, given the conditions under which it was written. It’s definitely the kind of classic Ladnar rumination that we’ve all come to know and love. Anyway, in case you find yourself wondering why the hell we’d just now be publishing a partial-review of a burlesque event that happened in mid-February—well, now you know.

Black Lights and Blue Balls
Reflections on the arts of burlesque and stripping
By Randall L. Ladnar

An Introduction
Strip clubs are hardly the typical Valentine’s Day purlieu of middle class candygram-sending American romance seekers. Spending your love day cooed up in the throbbing haloes of bass and viscous glittersmoke is about as traditionally acceptable as a man throwing a pre-wedding fleshlight party for his bachelor bros. So what options are left for the bourgie sort who none-the-less want to pay good money to sit with perfect strangers and watch people undress? Burlesque. It’s like the etsy of American nude entertainment. You can even invite your mother.

At least that’s what I thought until I saw Reggie Bugmuncher take a rotary grinder to a metal plate covering her pubic mound during Gilded Lily Burlesque’s 5th Annual Tassels and Champagne show, showering the stage with a veil of hot sparks. Maybe it was for the best that I hadn’t brought my mother.

What follows is a review of the Gilded Lily Burlesque’s rather remarkable Tassles and Champagne event. But first, a rather indulgent meditation on the difference between stripping and burlesque. If such distinctions bore you, please, proceed to the review.


1. an absurd or comically exaggerated imitation of something, esp. in a literary or dramatic work; a parody.
2. a variety show, typically including striptease.

A Few Facts
All of the strip clubs I’ve ever visited were about as erotically enticing as watching Guy Fieri jerk off into a pit-beef sandwich.  Burlesque, on the other hand, with its acceptance of the Rubenesque, its swaying, gravitational dances, the tidal pull of glove & gauze till oh look it’s off (except that tasteful, enamored, en-armored target)… In its embrace of the tease and tarry, I sense a stirring at the root of the photoelectrified, callused, porn-tundra of my American Sexdrive.

What is the difference, you might wonder? Well, a little history is in order. The first American stripper was really just a ballerina trying to be comfortable. Her scandal caused all the “decent women” in the theater to storm out. The men stayed, and the Bowery became the heart of American strippery. Whitman once reviewed these “taboo’d” and “robustuos” theaters (unsurprising: he focused intently, almost pornographically, on the all male audiences who frequented them). In his words, they were:

…pack’d from ceiling to pit with its audience mainly of alert, well dress’d, full-blooded young and middle-aged men, the best average of American-born mechanics—the emotional nature of the whole mass arous’d by the power and magnetism of as mighty mimes as ever trod the stage—the whole crowded auditorium, and what seeth’d in it, and flush’d from its faces and eyes, to me as much a part of the show as any—bursting forth in one of those long-kept-up tempests of hand-clapping peculiar to the Bowery—no dainty kid-glove business, but electric force and muscle from perhaps 2000 full-sinew’d men


Original artwork by Guy Fawkesalot

Unsatisfied with the term “stripper” to describe her profession, the legendary burlesque diva Gypsy Rose Lee enlisted the help of the American essayist H.L. Menken. The resulting neologism—ecdysiast, from the Greek meaning to molt—is far too erudite to titillate, and worse, reminds one more of an STI than an exotic artist. It never caught on.

Side note: The controversial poet e.e. cummings loved burlesque, and painted numerous portraits of dancers. It’s appeal, he thought (like Whitman), was to the blue collar and mechanical man. He wrote later in life, “Burlesque appeals to me. I’ve seen in the past thirty years of my proletarian life, a lot of burlesque shows (and I hope to see a lot more).”

Additional side note: He also wrote of snow once as “sexually fingering the rooftops of houses.”

Regarding the Appeal of Stripping
The average rutting male juiced up on redbull-vodkas and foursquares of redmeat & budplatinum secretly believes one special thing when purchasing a lap dance: for him alone, the stripper will drop her act. In burlesque, the pleasure is in the act. There is no possibility for separation of act and actor. One would no less expect the Venus de Milo to start offering stony titjobs.

The art of burlesque exists simply indulge. It resides the borderless horizons of the tease, a jurisdiction confined only by the fractal limits of play. Porn is still art, but it is restricted by the genre’s tacit promise of gratification. Its payoff is never unexpected; it completes the circle from urge to act ending creative culmination. It requires not imagination, but a form of sexual empathy—a visual prostheses.
Although not truly a sub-genre of porn, strip clubs activate the same mental (libidinal?) schematics as porn. The viewer becomes the ultimate consumer—paying merely to browse. Too often a lupine browse: carnal—with all the predatory implications of the word. With hunger unsated, lust subsumes to fantasy (a fantasy which has as its basic premise the dissolution of the fantasy, a transgression between worker and client—in just the mind of the client). Too often, the outcome is violence. (Crime against strippers is almost epidemic; crime against burlesque, unthinkable).

I do not say this to denigrate the profession of stripper—I wish only to denigrate the target audience.

Stripping seems like such an American enterprise. The tensions arising from our puritan modesty ensure a market where supply does not outstrip demand. (Yes, I know we have no claim to the artful nude—or, for that matter, the topless muses of art nouveau or the gartered strutting of the le Moulin Rouge, our protoburlesque.) Along the trade route that took us from brothels to burlesque, stripping is an oddly capitalist waystation. To create a market for graphic titillation, one must commercialize nudity, not by heightening demand, but rather by fetishizing supply. Sex as a product carries its own inherent demand, but stripping is not sex, nor ostensibly, the promise of sex. It is actually its opposite: unfulfilled arousal. Striptease. Black lights and blue balls.


Original artwork by Guy Fawkesalot

It is at this juncture that burlesque and stripping begin to diverge. Out of the guarantee of nudity one must hypothesize sex. This is perhaps the element of the pornographic: visual stimulation of fantasy—many a healthy sex drive craves such. However, this admixture becomes explosive when it is paired with a male gaze that territorializes women’s bodies.  Here fantasy threatens to go off the rails. The tease becomes interlude. Whereas the transgressive play* of burlesque refuses to acknowledge gratification as a destination, the monologic ethos of stripping promises a destination somewhere short of gratification.

Inevitability is the enemy of desire. We say longing because desire is distance. The stripper, by inevitable eponym will end up naked. The titty bar, the strip club, build into their names exactly what one finds there. Money is paid, tits are shown. In the inevitability of this exchange, seduction as delay across distance morphs into a lesser cousin: the grind.

Despite their neon dinginess, there is something sanitized in the product put on display. Female form is abstracted, idiosyncrasies submerged. The typical stripper’s appeal is calculated, market tested, chain-store g-stringed; it is often as dull and prepackaged as a Wal-Mart couch. It is a fabricated arena where the good citizen can turn inside-out in predictably dingy ways. Entering the black-light glow & plumeria mist, I feel about as classy as Burt Reynolds in Vaseline filled boots.

For burlesque, the pleasure is in the real, the crenulated zaftig—a rare, un-rendered vitality. (Americans especially are trained at an early age to squelch such animal fascinations with the shape of real bodies. Boys learn to point at cellulite on the legs of teenage girls and laugh as if such vague pocking were not the thumbprints of the vowelless hand of an as-yet-unnamed-god: the lust of the eyes & the lust of the flesh).

Perhaps this is why Menken mined such arachnid origins for his word—ekdysīs. Burlesque pivots on our subcutaneous itch, the ancient suspicion of clothes—the animal sexual teeming of fleshfulness: skin the outward and immediate form of our dying. Shedding ones clothes then, is both a Lazarus act of vital indifference and a dance with the death we each wear outward.  To strip is to put on grave clothes.  To burlesque is to mock the long toothed reaper with our gaudy pigment and breathing and full-bodied vehemence.

An Uncomfortable Realization
I see now that I never really reviewed the show in question.  By now, what specific memories I possessed have faded.  Blotted impressions remain.  A red sexual gauze of rimshot memories.  What I remember:  I drank two bottles of champagne.  I watched the sashay, heard the repartee, got lost in the frothy cocktail of banjo and clarinet from Sac au Lait.  Most importantly, perhaps, for the well-intentioned yuppie, you leave having enjoyed the sex without braving the murky political waters of neon sex-work indulgence, and you are free to like it without the burden of irony. Privilege pervades, choice reigns on all fronts, and its result is a self-conscious artistic product that can be safely, yet not unerotically, consumed by all—perhaps even your mother.

**(Burlesque is by its very nature a queer space, approaching pleasure through vivid multiplicities.  ****Here the author is lost for a moment in reveries of the divine Paco Fish, whose recent absence from the Baltimore burlesque scene is deeply felt. (  Soon may he swim back.****)

—Randall L. Ladnar

Psst, Wanna Get Huge?—A Glimpse into the Wide World of Body Expansion Art

Pssst, Wanna Get Huge?
An Interview with body expansion artists Okayokayokok and The American Dream
By Donny Kestler

Donut Town Commission by TheAmericanDream

Donut Town Commission by TheAmericanDream

I was probably Google-searching something like “huge ass art” or “big butt drawings” when I slipped and fell down the rabbit hole. The scenery was completely foreign: elaborate, colorful comic illustrations of women with asses rapidly ballooning to caricature-esque proportions; artwork depicting ladies with distended bellies, growing  larger as they consumed mass quantities of food; boobs were swelling to the size of watermelons for no discernible reason.

Eventually, I encountered some familiar faces. “Hey, that looks like April O’Neil from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” I remember thinking while viewing one image. It was definitely April, but something was off about her. She was huge and sloppily eating pizza. Within two comic-strip frames, she was growing, bulging out of her signature yellow jumpsuit. I decided to press on. I ended up running into Princess Peach from the Mario Bros. video games. However, she too was bursting out of her clothing—as if she were really pregnant. Peach had grown so large that her iconic pink dress was stretched over only the top half of her stomach. Then I stumbled upon images of a woman named Gwen. I didn’t recognize her, but she had red hair and a pretty face. What stood out to me most was that her ass always seemed to be expanding, keeping her from fitting into her jeans and skirts. At that, I was starting to feel weird things, so I closed my internet-browser and took a cold shower.

Gwen 300 by Axel Rosered

Gwen 300 by Axel Rosered

I was equal parts curious and confused. I always thought that nobody loved huge lady-butts, women eating, female chubbiness, and pregnant bellies more than me, but the art I saw that day took those things to another level—an extreme level that I didn’t quite feel ready for. However, when I got out the shower I still had a full-chub, so I went back online and jerked off three times to pictures of Gwen getting fat on cupcakes and stuffing her gigantic ass into her jeans. That day, I had unknowingly stumbled into DeviantArt’s body expansion community.

Anyone who’s been to DeviantArt knows that the site doesn’t always live up to its name. Most of the content is about as boring and awkward as sex with two condoms on. However, DeviantArt’s ever-growing realm of body expansion art totally makes up for that, and then some. While the quality of the work ranges from crude to stunningly-detailed, the themes are always fresh and innovative. In the wide world of body expansion, reality is no object. If you can think of it, you can find it—or at least pay someone to draw it for you. Wanna see Jesse from Pokémons Team Rocket tear through her clothes with a huge, expanding belly? Done. How about Adventure Time’s Marceline the Vampire Queen with her butt growing incrementally larger until it can no longer fit inside her pants? Done. Oh, you’re not into fan fiction? No worries. How about some body expansion art featuring all-original characters? Done. Done. Done. Surrealism is your thing and you want to see women growing to epic proportions while also morphing into various fruits and vegetables? Done. Feeder fetish content? You’ve got it. Oh, you wanna see guys expanding too? Increasingly, done.

First One's Free by CriticalVolume

First One’s Free by CriticalVolume

Body expansion art is exactly what it sounds like: any artwork depicting characters’ bodies and body parts expanding or inflating to epic—and often unrealistic—proportions. It is the next wave, people, and it’s already creeping into the mainstream. And how couldn’t it? It is at times funny, disturbing, sexy—even beautiful—and occasionally, all at the same time. Often, a single image reflects so many obscure, overlapping fetishes that, while viewing it, you begin to feel weirdly aroused and confused like you’re seeing pornography for the very first time again. Sigmund Freud would have a field day.

To bring you a little closer to the vortex of this fascinating subculture, I recently interviewed two prominent body expansion artists from DeviantArt. They go by the names of Okayokayokok and The American Dream. Their work is among the best of the body expansion community. Their galleries display a wide range of themes depicted with breath-taking detail—and often in vibrant color. Both are masters of their craft, seeing over 1,000 hits each day on their respective DeviantArt accounts. Through commissions and comic illustrating, Okayokayokok has even made body expansion art his full-time job. Yeah. But enough of my ravings—let’s hear from the artists themselves.

How long have you been making body expansion art?

Okayokayokok: Since July 15th, 2010. My first art submissions to my DeviantArt page were body expansion artwork.

The American Dream: I’ve been what’s called a fat admirer (FA) since I was a teenager and an artist my whole life, so growing up it was inevitable that, at some point, I would make something similar to expansion art. The first expansion art I ever drew was in 2003 but the first one I ever posted online was in early 2007. So 11 years ago, and 7 years ago respectively.

How did you first get into body expansion art?

Okayokayokok: I discovered it on DeviantArt. The first picture I saw was of a girl ballooning up after getting hit by a fat-ray gun. The other big thing that caught my eye was how popular the

BBW With Snake by TheAmericanDream

BBW With Snake by TheAmericanDream

picture was. I was in a really bad place in life—just divorced, recovering from cancer, working odd jobs, and living in a generous friend’s guest room. I started drawing body expansion art in hopes of getting some commissions, and it happened.

The American Dream: The type of body expansion I’m almost exclusively known for is “weight gain.” At first I used to edit artwork of thin women or photographs to make them to look overweight. That was in high school, back in 2003. I didn’t know it but this was a form of weight gain expansion art known as “morphs” or “morphing.” When I later created a DeviantArt account in 2006, I realized there was an audience for this when people left me comments about expansion on my normal plus-size positive artwork that I would do occasionally. At the time I was very shy about my fetish, but when I found out it was a popular niche, I began practicing and posting my work a lot more and discovered the terms “weight gain” and “expansion.”

Why do you like doing it? What keeps you going?

Okayokayokok: It’s rewarding. It’s important as an artist to have your work seen, and the more people who want to look at it, the more successful it feels. That’s why I make all my commissioned work available to view in my gallery, which has over 400 images. I found out pretty quick that I couldn’t rely on commissions for my income, so I started making comics and selling those and doing commissions between comics. After a couple years, it worked out to be my full-time job.

Magical Card Game Ecstasy by OkayOkayOkOk

Magical Card Game Ecstasy by Okayokayokok

The American Dream: Having a preference for bigger women is one thing, and it’s amazing to draw that because it’s something I don’t get to see often enough. It’s just another form of sexual expression for us creative types. That, in itself, can be very enjoyable. But depicting characters rapidly or realistically expanding is exciting because you get to indulge in something that normally takes months or years in real life. Most times it’s like fulfilling a fantasy of getting to see someone expand right before your eyes. It’s sexy but I suppose, in a way, that’s hard to describe. For many weight gain expansion fetishists the journey is actually more exciting then the end result, which for weight gain enthusiasts is a very fat person. There are some comparisons you could make to people who enjoy a good role-play or narrative twist to their porn or erotic material as compared to just the act of sex itself.

Creating your own fetish artwork is a thrill because you get to expand characters people want to see and I am sure it’s the same rush many other artists and directors feel when doing other types of erotic artwork.

What are your favorite themes to depict in your work? 

Okayokayokok: Except for my comics, all my work is commissioned requests. Since the day I started, I’ve said I’ll draw anything you want as long as it’s legal or doesn’t break the DeviantArt rules, so I get all kinds of requests. I love it, because it keeps things interesting.

The American Dream: Lately it’s been feederism—expansion using food. Stuffing is a term used for images depicting characters with food in their mouths already, eating more then a normal person should in one sitting let alone one bite! Overeating has a few nasty implications that artwork doesn’t have to worry about, it’s inspiration could be found in cartoons like Pigs is Pigs, a Merry Melodies cartoon from 1937. In this cartoon a pig is punished for overeating by having a nightmare where he is forced to eat and eat until he cannot anymore. By the end of it he’s so fat he’s ready to burst! How did he get so big so quickly? That has kind of become a staple of weight-gain art, rapid expansion.

I mostly prefer to depict BBW (Big Beautiful Women) in my expansion artwork, so mostly I draw fat or thin women becoming fatter. One thing I particularly enjoy is the muffin top expansion, which is where the stomach fat is pushed up and overlaps the belt line of tight jeans or pants to create a muffin-shape effect. It’s wonderful.

OkayokayokokI noticed that you have a DeviantArt folder titled ‘Blueberry Art’ that contains depictions of

Jessica Blueberry by OkayOkayOkOk

Jessica Blueberry by Okayokayokok

women—and some guys—turning into blueberries, as well as other fruits and vegetables. For me, Violet Beauregarde from the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory comes to mind when I see those works. Was that movie an influence?

Blueberry expansion was something I stumbled onto very early on. I never felt any kind of connection to that movie until after I had seen a comic done by a fellow artist. It was the best expansion artwork I had seen in a comic, and it was hot. I went back and re-watched that clip of Violet turning into a blueberry and it was like seeing it with new eyes.

The American Dream, do you have any major influences?

My earliest influence for my expansion artwork is Japanese doujinshi (fan comics) artist PenGindou. Others would include Kawaii Debu and LesToil. Cartoons—such as the one I named earlier, Pigs Is Pigs—where characters gain a lot of weight quickly in a more comedic fashion were probably also influences for me, as with many other artists, but on a more subconscious level. The Totally Spies episode “Passion Patties” also features a main female character gaining weight, which was definitely a series that many claim took fetish elements and used them in a popular cartoon. These are the ones I’d call the biggest, but fat in the media has always caught my attention. It’s hard exactly to pin down when weight gain became a part of my fetish life as it was something very gradual.

Pitstop Puddin' Daww by TheAmericanDream

Pitstop Puddin’ Daww
by TheAmericanDream

What is the typical process for creating one of your works? What materials do you use? How long does it take?

Okayokayokok: It’s the same process any modern comic artist would use. I do all digital work on PS with a digital tablet. I usually spend a month on a 20-page comic or a 15-page color comic. For a single character commission, 5 hours.

The American Dream: The typical process is I come up with ideas, sketch them down with pencil in my sketchbook and then work up a more polished finished sketch. From there I scan the sketch into my computer and do polished, clean lines either digitally or with an ink pen. After that, often times, I will color it using Adobe Photoshop CS3. This process normally takes about 4-13 hours depending on the complexity of the picture but even then art is not a set process so sometimes it takes even longer.

There is a fairly large body expansion community—of both artists and fans—on DeviantArt, which seems pretty supportive and fun. What are your thoughts about the body expansion community on DeviantArt?

Okayokayokok: It’s surprisingly big. I get 1,000+ pageviews a day just on my DeviantArt account. I almost get as many on my blog.

A lot of viewers and fans give feedback, and I do my best to reply to every comment. I’ve had conversations with some other good expansion artists and they’re all great people. The same goes for fans—it’s not common to meet one that isn’t pleasant.

The American Dream: The expansion community is both small and large at the same time. A lot of folks know each other but there are also new artists and fans popping up all the time every year. I would say it can be a bit divided. People who enjoy weight gain primarily are in opposition to fans of more cartoony inflation artwork or breast expansion. But then there are those who like all sorts of expansion. I am happy that many of my fans are supportive, even to the point of buying commissions and supporting my artwork at conventions. There are however fans who are a bit harder to please—either asking me for things I don’t wish to draw and also artists who seem to compete with one another for attention in a very niche fan base. Still, for the most part, I do like most of my fans.

Do you think body expansion art will ever break into the mainstream? Personally, I’m shocked there isn’t a coffee-table book out already. In terms of body expansion in the mainstream, the music video to Major Lazer’s “Bubble Butt” comes to mind.

Okayokayokok: Because of its adult content, I’m not sure. But, if you look on YouTube, it’s weirdly featured in a lot of cartoons in a modest way—even some Disney shows. And of course, everyone’s seen Willy Wonka. I think there’s definitely a chance for it to break into mainstream further than it already is. Right now, it’s a digital phenomenon. It doesn’t really need to go to paper at this day and age.

The American Dream: I think elements of it slip in here and there. Heck, as I mentioned earlier, Totally Spies was a cartoon many fans think was influenced by fetishists, since it was created during a time when expansion art was just getting popular on the internet in the early 2000s. I know of several self-published books out there actually including one of my own—a comic—and a few others. Right now it’s mostly either small print runs being sold at conventions or digital only comics, but larger prints of expansion artwork is sure to come, I’m sure.

So it’s hard to say how mainstream it may or may not ever become.

What do you think is the most exciting piece of body expansion art you’ve ever made?

Artwork by OkayOkayOkOk

Artwork by Okayokayokok

Okayokayokok: I did some commissions involving multiple girls all entangled and interacting—all with various expansions. Those were BIG challenges, and I like challenges, so those come to mind. The Magical Card Game Ecstasy comic is great, but Sanderson Step Sisters Issue 7 has to be my favorite—though I expect issue 8 to replace that as my favorite. I’ve started inking issue 8, and it is by far going to be my best artwork and storytelling yet.

The American Dream: It’s one of my most recent pieces promoting She Had it Coming 2, the self-published sequel to my 2011 comic of the same name. It features my character Dobuita Mori, a Japanese-American former college basketball star who gains a massive amount of weight due to a sports injury and acquires a food addiction and a fetish for gaining weight. In this picture I went pretty cartoony and depict her wearing flashy skimpy food related clothing and tattoos she doesn’t normally have with the word “FAT” across the belly. She is consuming spaghetti with the name of the comic up like spaghetti. This image will be used for the back cover and I’m pretty proud of it. Her already plump sister, Puku, depicted on the right is more then happy to see her big sister gaining weight.

She Had It Coming 2 by TheAmericanDream

She Had It Coming 2 by TheAmericanDream

You obviously accept commission requests from fans. What is the strangest or most-interesting thing someone has asked you to make?

Okayokayokok: Yes, I’m not ALWAYS accepting commissions though. Just between comics. The TF remote comic pages were definitely unique. A long time ago, I agreed to do a private commission while the person watched me draw. That was a MESS. It ended up being a woman with giant mouth that took up most of the picture. Going into her mouth was a busty woman with feet that took up half the screen along with all sorts of food. By the time I finished, I regretted ever taking it on. It was so bizarre. That was the last time I did a private commission. The first comic I did, the BlooBerry Comic, was by far the craziest comic I’ve done. Each page was based on what fans requested and it was funded by donations. It was so wild, that some of the pages got removed from DeviantArt. But in it, there’s 3 girls who experience multiple transformations—each based on fruit. One girl turns into pear-bodied blooberry with a banana head, one turns into a raspberry blueberry who has so many swollen red boobs, she looks like a raspberry—then her tongue turns into a boob and her friend sucks on it. It’s so crazy! But that’s what you get when you ask hundreds of people what they want—a smorgasbord of transformations!

The American Dream: Actually I do a lot of commission work. A great deal of my gallery is commission work on DeviantArt. I would say perhaps 35% of my gallery. Oh I got it—the weirdest commission yet for me was probably one where the artist wanted me to draw their characters—themselves, I think—being expanded but also being rapidly transformed into pigs! It was a fun commission but every time I sat down to work on it I’d think, “Man, this is weird.” Coming from an expansion fetishist that is kinda funny I suppose.

Thank you both for your time. Please keep up the fun and exciting work!