The year was 1979. I was one of three good girls, young women actually, who had planned a trip to Daniel’s.
Daniel’s was a classy male strip joint in New Haven.
Hmm. Can the words “classy” and “joint” be used to describe the same place? Can the word “classy” even appear in the same sentence with male strippers? And what in the world were three good girls, and I mean that sincerely, three ridiculously good girls, thinking to plan such an outing?
I bet it was my husband Dave’s idea. Although I don’t remember if that’s true, I do remember that he gave each of us a copy of “Playgirl” magazine as a party favor, as a pre-outing-prep, about a week before we went.
Anyway. Some background on the three good girls.
In the early seventies, Janice and I had been roommates in college. We’d worn tie-dyed shirts and patched bell-bottom jeans, but given the times, we were exceptionally well-behaved. We’d both been cheerleaders at high school. We both loved literature. We both worked hard and got good grades. We were both risk-avoidant. Even to this day, the thought of getting in trouble makes my stomach knot.
Janice is fair-skinned, of Lithuanian descent. She is soft-spoken and I’ve never heard her swear. She is kind, dependable, and she loves animals.
She’s 5’ 4” while I’m 5’9.” I’ve kept my hair long and straggly since college, but Janice cut hers into a blunt, neat bob. I’d say I’m kind too, and I certainly love animals, but I swear a lot more than Janice does.
At the time of our trip to Daniel’s, Gerry had long brunette hair permed into the shaggy wave popular in the late seventies. She is dark Irish, with that distinctive combination of fair skin, flashing blue eyes and dark lashes. We became friends when she started teaching at the school where Dave, Janice and I worked. Like Janice and me, Gerry was kind, worked hard, and I assume she loved animals.
What an unlikely trio on the male-stripper circuit! But that was the point! It was daring!
We were greeted at Daniel’s by tall, handsome men, well-swathed in shin-length camel hair overcoats. This was clearly a respectable – wait, make that “classy” - place.
We took seats at a table toward the rear of the club. It was immediately obvious that we were novices among an audience of devotees. We were also, at age twenty-six, the youngest of those present. In addition, somehow, we’d not received word that a lengthy feather, preferably that of a peacock, was de rigueur at such an establishment.
We ordered our drinks and waited.
The house lights dimmed and a rotating barrage of red and blue lights heralded the arrival of “Luscious Luigi” onstage. I’m not sure I’d agree he was luscious, but he looked, well, classy in his pin-striped business suit.
That didn’t last long.
To the howling and appreciative hooting of feather-waving women, Luigi slipped off his jacket and shimmied out of his pants. I would think that the tickle of countless feathers on his thighs would have been terribly annoying, but he strutted gamely on, dipping and thrusting to accept dollars and kisses.
We, at the table of good girls, had not planned to tuck bucks and as I’ve said, we neglected to bring feathers. For us, all of those matrons with their whistling and calling were as much a part of the show as Luigi.
“Barry the Bod” was up next in a snappy navy police uniform. Oh yes. The ladies loved Barry. Janice, Gerry and I sipped our drinks and grinned at the spectacle.
Once Barry, clad in his g-string, manfully made his escape from his tickling, buck-wielding fans, the lights dimmed once more for the grand finale.
Tony the Italian Stallion was swarthy and athletic as he strode past our table in his cowboy regalia.
“He looks familiar,” murmured Janice.
Familiar? Gerry and I exchanged a glance.
“Yee Haw!” screamed the ladies as the Stallion shed his calico shirt. “Giddy Yup, Baby!” they shrieked as his chaps hit the floor.
“I think he played soccer with my brother in high school,” said Janice as she watched Tony flex a well-muscled bicep.
“Are you kidding?” Gerry and I squeaked in unison as the crowd went wild.
Tony was down to his boots and g-string, his ten-gallon hat still perched on his sleek black hair. He strutted down the aisle toward our table, a man confident, basking in the adulation of hundreds of women.
“Tony?” piped up Janice as the Stallion drew near.
“Janice!” gasped Tony, whipping that big flannel hat off his head, suddenly modest in trying to shield his, um, package.
Jan smiled her sweet little school-girl smile. Did I mention she still looks sixteen? Then she hopped from her seat and gave Tony a hug and they trotted off together to catch up.
“She knows him!” Gerry and I cackled and touched our glasses in a toast, to our soft-spoken, fellow good-girl and her friend, the Italian Stallion.