The XXXmas Coolio Concert You Always Needed But Never Experienced

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

Coolio17Edit

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.

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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


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 
Andre
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.

Ingrid
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
Ingrid
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.

Andre
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.

TO BE CONTINUED…

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.

 

Prologue
Ingrid
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.

Andre

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
Andre
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.

What?

“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.


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.

TO BE CONTINUED…