A moment of weirdness at the Crazy Horse in San Francisco.

I went to what I think (from memory) was the Crazy Horse strip club in the mid 90s. My girlfriend was in a conference in San Francisco and I'd tagged along. I'd spend my days wandering around the central city, each day taking off in a new direction on foot. On Day 3 I found myself in what was obviously the 'bad' part of town. I didn't plan on ending up there: I'd just kept walking and noticed the landscape was getting progressively seedier. It was very much like the Simpsons episode where Lisa walked across town and literally 'crossed the tracks' to Springfield's hitherto unknown Skid Row.

Being no stranger to 'shady figures' at home I realised I was in 'the wrong neighbourhood' and resolved to just keep walking. If I stopped and dithered I'd most likely be asking for trouble. (It was the mid 90s and I had this stupid habit of bringing my leather briefcase everywhere, a hangover from my 80s wannabe hustler days. Right now I was looking like some idiot drug dealer and was waiting for the obvious enquiry: "what's in the briefcase homes?")

So I turned a corner and walked back to a main road to head back to the CBD.  And there, looming large were various XXX Sex Shops and Peep Shows. And a large old style movie theatre, converted into a Strip Club. The posters advertised $15 entry and a matinee performance by some Penthouse Pet. Having just started my Cheap Sex parties at home, I figured this would be ideal 'research' so I paid my money and walked in. The theatre was delightfully decadent: gaudy gold paint, threadbare carpet, and everything ever-so-slightly rundown. Or very-clearly rundown.

The Penthouse Pet was already on stage, putting on a very vigourous show with sex toys, which was not something I saw at the strip clubs at home.  She was the same beautiful woman I'd seen on the glossy and arty posters outside, but here she was on stage looking a lot more filthy. She was ramming a dildo right up herself and making direct eye contact with each of the six men seated at various parts of the theatre. Including me. I must have looked embarrassed, because she turned away very quickly. I wasn't embarrassed for myself, I was embarrassed for her. She was giving quite a performance for just six guys - but I guess its show business and as any band will tell you: you gotta give the audience what they came for. She was professional, to say the least.

But the whole time I was sitting there, women would keep coming up and solicit me for a lap dance. It got annoying (I really was watching the show... from a technical standpoint... I used to be a strip club DJ, remember?)  but like the souvenir sellers that follow you around the streets in Bali, I finally realised it was only going to end if I just picked one and was done with it. So I did. I literally picked the very next girl who asked, which in hindsight was a stupid thing to do. She took me out back to a private booth backstage and I still have no idea what it cost me. I had to give her money, the house money, and the bouncer money (?) It really was like Bali! Maybe because American money is all green and hard to read in the dark.

It was a surreal experience. I left feeling fleeced, but amused. She'd stripped off in the booth (her big boobs drooping like flat pancakes once she removed her top - WTF?) simulated masturbation ("enjoy the show honey, just don't touch me!") and then made me do the same ("I'm putting on a show for you, now you do one for me, whip it out big boy") but not simulated (my show). It was PDF. Pretty.damn.freaky.

Pole Position: The Subjective Guide to San Francisco Strip Clubs

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