Viva las Shirley!

As those on Facebook know, I went to Vegas for a friend’s wedding.  It was a few weeks ago, but it has taken this long to process everything that went down!  In my three days there, I hit extemes in partying, relaxing and nature’ing (work with me).  I’ll start with the partying.  I know my audience.

The first night began with a room full of blonde wigs and Hollywood makeup artists wielding false eyelashes.  All wedding guests had to be dressed as either Marilyn (Monroe) or Elvis (Presley).  I chose to be Marilyn.  Finally, I had a chance to experience life on the other side of the great hair color divide.

Bewigged, red lipsticked and beauty mark drawn, I joined the gang for a cocktail in the lobby of the Bellage (the Bellagio and I are BFFs and have nicknames for each other;  my nickname is “room 1140”).  Tourists pointed at us and took pictures and waved like we were celebrities.  We waved back because we were feeling magnanimous.

After cocktails, we were bussed to Fremont Street, the original Vegas Strip with the Golden Nugget Casino and the winky cowboy sign.  Once there, we walked a red carpet and posed for the paparazzi.  At least, I hope they were paparazzi.  They could’ve just been old men with nice cameras.  Whatever.  We made somebody happy.

The party was amaaaazing!!  Thank goodness I never tried acid because the scene would have triggered a flashback for sure.  Everywhere I looked, there were flashing casino lights, sequin jumpsuits, sneering Elvii and pouting Marilyns.  I would turn and people would hand me giant hot dogs and whiskeys and sticks of cotton candy.  Showgirls pranced around with feather headdresses and peacock tails.  And just when I thought I had seen it all, a Cookie Monster Elvis emerged from the crowd and performed an energetic striptease!  Blue.  Fur.  Everywhere.

The entire street was covered with what appeared to be a curved awning, but was really a gigantic television screen.  At one point in the night, this ceiling screen began to flash pictures of the bride, Mandy, as the song “Mandy” played.  The street fell silent.  After the song finished, the words “Will You Marry Me?” appeared on the screen.  Everyone simultaneously swooned.  Even the slutty Cookie Monster.

After dancing for five or six hours, our crowd of Elvii and Marilyns crowded into the roadway of the Little White Drive-thru Chapel to cheer as the bride and groom got hitched in a pink Cadillac convertible.  It was almost too much for some.  One overly excited Elvis took a running leap onto the back of the Caddy and started performing hip gyrations.  I guess he wanted to give the happy couple his blessing.

That was just the first night.  The second night, the wedding party marched through a long corridor made of balloons to enter a mansion decked out in streamers, disco balls, blown-up yearbook photos and even more balloons.  The guests were all dressed up for prom, but everyone had different ideas of what “prom” meant.  My good friend, the Greek Goddess, did the 1980’s proud with a bright teal and fuchsia getup complete with a piece of tissue tucked into the bosom of her dress.  There was a happy hippie couple in matching Afros and white bellbottom suits.  And there were lots of nerds in plaid suits, hitched-up pants, pocket protectors and taped-up glasses.  In fact, I vaguely remember beating one up in my wine rage.  I’m sure he had it coming.  He was probably trying to talk smart to me or something.

In the back of the mansion, a photo booth masqueraded as a kissing booth, prompting many inappropriate photos of which we shall never speak.  Ahem.  And upstairs, in the master suite, models in lingerie fed guests champagne and strawberries.  Funny.  I don’t remember anything like that at my high school prom.  Guess I just can’t escape the porn.  The industry just sucks you in!

Those were the parties.  And believe me, what I described were just the highlights.  It may take me years before I fully process what happened in Vegas (do not complete that sentence with “stays in Vegas”).  On to the relaxing.

Aah the Bellage.  There was no better way to recover from the 10-hour parties than by laying in the sun by the pool and sipping on a Caesar.  I have no idea what was in a Caesar, but it was ten times better than a Bloody Mary and made my troubles go far, far away.

I hung out in a cabana on the first day.  That was pretty cool.  We lounged on slightly elevated ground and literally looked down on non-cabana people.  It ended awkwardly, however, when some sort of banker’s conference started to have a private party in the courtyard right next to the cabana and pool area.  I woke up from a lovely nap to find a hundred finance geeks in matching grey polo shirts and khakis staring at me in my bikini.  And I didn’t get a single date out of it.  Ouch.

On to the nature’ing.  A bunch of us got to tour the Grand Canyon via a small plane.  I was so relieved when it lived up (down?) to expectations!  When our plane first entered the canyon, the rock formations and valleys seemed impressive, but not mind-blowing.  I started to wonder if I was missing something when the bottom of the world suddenly dropped out.  I almost peed myself.  The Grand Canyon went so deep that I thought I would see the white hot lava at the center of the earth.  Or China (hi, grandma!).

Another group was brave enough to skydive into the canyon.  Wow.  I definitely would’ve peed myself if I did that tour!

At the end of the weekend, one of my friends rented a cherry red convertible and drove us out of the city and into Red Rock Canyon.  The views were spectacular!  The rocks were all different colors and shapes, and wimpy as I was, I managed to climb up a few of them.  Up there, I was engulfed by a blue sky with clouds that stretched into infinity, endless scrubby grass plains and a chain of mountains anchoring it all together.  It really put my tiny little dot of life into perspective.

That was my weekend in Vegas.  I felt like I lived an entire lifetime for each day that I was there!

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Art Attack

Blog postings to the contrary, my post-employment life has not been comprised entirely of strippers and boobie mushings.  In addition to writing, I am also pursuing art in a variety of ways.  It’s been a long time coming.

I was always interested in making things.  I remember crafting several issues of an activities magazine for my friends when I was ten.  Without being taught, I grasped some basics of book binding and used needle and thread to sew pieces of paper together into neat little booklets.  Years later, when I worked in book production, it astounded me to look back at what I accomplished as a child.  Then again, as a child I didn’t have to put up with the editors, designers and authors who slowed down the process (ooh snap, just kidding y’all).

I filled my childhood with little projects like that (and still managed to watch hours of Duck Tales and Dark Shadows).  But it wasn’t until Halloween of 2006 that I realized other people cared about the things I made.  That was the year I created a paper doll costume by pleating 11 x 17 sheets of printer paper into a skirt, constructing a top with functional tab closures and, of course, completing the look with accessories like a daisy chain necklace and a clutch purse.  Everything was made out of paper with dotted lines markered on for emphasis.  I even taped red circles onto my cheeks for blush.  Hey, even a doll needs makeup sometimes!

I became famous!  Well, at least I became known for more than my partying style at work parties (ahem).  Months after the office Halloween party, strangers would approach me to ask about the costume and offer me candy.  Wisely I did not accept candy from the strangers.  But the insides of their vans were nice.

Hoping to take my art education to the next level, I have been helping to make costumes for the Hudson River Pageant (they’re asking me to march in the parade, any readers want to put this to a vote?) and volunteering on an art installation underneath the Williamsburg Bridge (yes, strangers with vans are involved, why do you ask?).  It is amazing to work with seasoned artists on projects of a much grander scale than anything I’ve done on my own.

It’s not all installation work.  I recently began interning for a chic indie designer to learn about fashion PR and marketing.  And to interpret the designer’s adorably dense French accent into business English.  The poor French.  They ‘ave no H’s.  It’s a national shortage.

My personal projects have continued in the form of mobiles and paper crafts.  The first two mobiles I made were for friends who were hosting alien life forms having new babies.


Now that I’m out of pregnant friends (unless you know something I don’t know), I am designing a new mobile to sell on Etsy.  The new one will have an aquatic theme, inspired by these beautiful swatches I obtained illegally (yes yes, the strangers with the van thing again).  Here is a preview.

I have not given up my love of paper either.  Recently, a good friend’s mother taught me a simple basket weaving technique.  I got so excited with the little basket I made that I started making flowers and leaves and tendrils!  Soon I will write up instructions and provide pictures of the process to a talented designer friend for her blog, so keep an eye out for that if you would like to make your own.

Getting Clubbed, Part Two

(continued from Part One)

It was a bit dizzying to tilt my head up to watch naked body parts bouncing around over my head.  I tried to look around and take a visual break but mirrors everywhere reflected the performance.  It was better to just watch the stage with its one set of boobies instead of the 18 pairs reflected in the mirrors.

I rolled with it.  Maybe I was finally growing up.  Or maybe, more possibly, it was all the scotch I’d had.   They continued to play good music so I bopped along.  The girls were good dancers.  I noticed a few moves I wanted to try.  You know, with clothes on.  I was just starting to admire how brave they were to prance around so exposed when a soft body bumped against me.

“Hello?”  I said to no one in particular.  My scotch was still full (I was slowing down after my eighth glass) so it wasn’t the cocktail waitress.  I kept staring at the scotch like it was going to answer me when a lightly Eastern European accent informed me that the manager had sent them over to dance for me.

Wait wait wait, them??  I looked up, hoping Eastern European girl was referring to her breasts in an anthropomorphic way.  But no.  There was a second girl up there, standing silently next to her.  They were both smiling down at me while the Editrix and her friends laughed so hard that tears rolled down their faces.

Meanwhile, Eastern European and the Silent One had parted my legs and started dancing between them.  I mentally patted myself on the back for choosing the romper, which was perfect for this sort of thing.  Then they pulled their dresses off, and then all I could think was that I needed to hit the gym a helluva harder.  Holy moly, their bodies were perfect!

Then they each straddled one of my legs and started doing something like the Worm against my body.  They would swoop their bodies against mine and then slowly slide upwards against me so their chests would rub up against my face and head before they made it back up into open air where they would gyrate for a while before coming back in for another pass.  Sort of like those crazy city pigeons that almost fly into your face when you’re walking.

I worried that my necklace might hurt them.  Then I wondered if they ever injured themselves on men’s shirt buttons.  I mean.  Nipples are sensitive!  Then I started wondering how they timed themselves.  Because they alternated really well.  First, Eastern European would swoop in and mush me for a while.  Then the Silent One.  Then they’d gyrate and smile at me and lick their fingers or something.  Then it would start all over again.

I thought about making conversation but quickly realized that opening my mouth would make the encounter that much more intimate.  Plus, what would one tip for that sort of thing?  Emily Post provides zero guidance.

Maybe it was the repeated mushings or maybe the dancers were really good at putting people at ease.  I mean, there had to be male customers who were even more awkward than I was, right?  Anyway, I just stopped thinking after the first minute.  They were soft and I was comfortable once they had mushed me far enough into the couch that I just relaxed and leaned back.  They smelled nice, too.

Hey, wait.

One of them smelled like the lotion I had at home.  I tried to sniff them and figure out which one.  You’d think it would be easy since they were naked and in my face, but it was difficult because my nose was constantly squashed under one boob or another.

So there I was, nearing the end of the song when, from their point of view, I suddenly became way more interested than I had been for most of their performance.  I was lifting my head off the seat and sniffing them as they danced their chests off the top of my head, trying to catch the light scent of my lotion on one of them.  The song ended, and they looked confused but gave me a friendly smile anyway.

The Silent One hightailed it out of there.  Couldn’t say I blamed her.  Eastern European hung around a minute longer though.  Long enough for me to confirm that she was, indeed, wearing the same lotion.  I had been going around smelling like a high class stripper without knowing it.  Then she said she liked my necklace and walked away.

I waved like she was my best friend on the playground and yelled “Goodbye!”  The Editrix shook her head and told me the night was over.

Getting Clubbed, Part One

It must have been pretty obvious I had no idea what to do as I approached the entrance of the gentleman’s club.  The doorman smiled politely.  And then asked if I needed directions.

“Umm no, I’m coming here.”

“Here?”

“Here.”

He ID’d me.

I kept talking, nervously explaining.  “Well, you know, they’re launching a new magazine and I’m a writer and I dressed up and everything!”  For some reason I bobbled my head so he could see my dangly earrings flash in the light.

He wasn’t impressed but was nice enough to pretend he was.  With a flourish, he swung one of the giant double doors open for me.  Once inside, I started wandering.  I saw a stage but no naked people yet.  I checked my watch.  Maybe I was early.  I kept wandering.

It was surprisingly nice inside, all darkly gleaming mirrors and plush upholstery.  “Can I help you?”  A friendly 8-foot-tall security guard in a tailored suit looked askance at me.

Christ on a stick, was it really that obvious??  I had dressed up and everything!  (A lovely teal romper, by the way.  It seemed the perfect choice.  I was showing plenty of leg without having to fear the unintentional flashing associated with short skirts.  I also wore tights to make doubly sure I was covered.)

“I’m a writer,” I said proudly.  “And I’m here for the Full Experience!”  In my attempt to convey bravado, I spoke a bit too loudly.  The skimpily clad servers and the two small groups of men in the room all turned to stare at me.  Well.  Most of them were already staring because I had been walking around in circles (quickly because I thought that showed confidence).

“Oh, you’re the writer!”  To my relief, the guard seemed to know what I was doing there.  That made one of us.  “Have a seat, have a seat.”  He placed me on the banquette directly in front of the main stage.  The wall behind the stage had flickering television screens of dancing silhouettes writhing seductively.  Roving beams of deep blue light swept across the ground.  They were playing good music so I wanted to dance.  But it wasn’t exactly the time or place.  Or proper amount of nakedness, I guess.

“Shirleeeeey!”

The woman who had interviewed me, let’s call her The Editrix, arrived.  She was technically wearing a shirt.  It was silver and hung so low in the front that calling what I could see “cleavage” would have been like calling the Atlantic Ocean “wet.”

Meanwhile, dancers had started filing into the room wearing the dresses I had always seen in sex shop windows displayed next to vibrators and nipple clamps.  So that’s who bought those dresses.  One mystery was solved.

The Editrix ordered scotches for us and slid onto the couch next to me.  Somehow her shirt stayed on.  I marveled, at both its engineering and her confidence in wearing something so revealing.

“What do you think?”

“They’re impressive.”  I nodded and stopped short of asking how much they cost.

“Who, the dancers?”  Wow, she named them?  Oh wait.  She was asking me about the club, not her breasts.  Oops.

Saved by the scotch.  Our drinks arrived and the show began.  I felt like a little girl as I sat there sipping my drink through a little straw and watching the stage with wide open eyes.  Boobies!!

The Editrix laughed and I mentally checked that I hadn’t yelled my last thought out loud.  “How’s your first time?” she teased.  I giggled.  Goddamn it.  When will I grow up?

Then she asked if I wanted to meet the chef and have dinner.  Hells to the yeah!  Food porn was more my speed.  I gulped down the rest of the scotch, sent our server off for another round and nodded at the Editrix.  “Let’s do this.”  Umm.  Ok.  I’m sure what I really did was gush, “Oh golly gee, may I??” but whatever.  For all you know I could’ve been cool.  Snap, snap.

The chef was really nice.  In fact, let me take a moment to say that all the men in the club were really nice.  No hint whatsoever of a creepy pervert vibe.  It probably helped that I was dressed like a Puritan compared to everyone else.  But still.  They were all gentlemen.

And I was wholeheartedly not a lady.  At least not once the food and my third (or was it fourth?) scotch arrived.  My lamb chop entree was perfect.  Tender, juicy and exactly the shade of deep soft pink that medium rare lamb should be.  There were at least five chops on my plate.  I leaned in and inhaled the sweet fragrant meat.  If a designer ever bottled that scent, I would finally wear perfume.

The Editrix had a politely sized steak in front of her and offered me a bite.  I took it.  Then I ate everything on my plate.  Then I polished off the sides: a bowl of savory sauteed mushrooms and a creamy potato gratin with salty bacon and a crispy crust on top.  As I pulled a forkful of gratin towards my mouth, I actually licked strands of cheese out of the air with my tongue.  The Editrix looked mesmerized as she watched me eat.  I wondered if my face had a similar look when I was watching the dancer on stage earlier.

Another scotch appeared.

I was too full for dessert and too happy to care.  I waddled after the Editrix back into the main room, which had filled up with a lot more customers.  I had clothes on and smelled like meat.  None of the men even glanced at me.  Goodie.  I made a mental note to wear sweatpants next time.  Maybe I could cram in more food on my next visit.

A few of the Editrix’ friends joined us and made us sit right next to the stage.  I didn’t even like to do that in comedy clubs, craaaap!  Then another scotch appeared.  My one weakness.  I wonder what gave it away.

(to be continued)

Pride and Prejudice and Porn

I was an English major.  I had spent five years of my life earning a four-year degree by reading literature and attempting to craft it.  So what was I doing here in an office with posters of buxom girls in bikinis smiling coyly through faces full of makeup, and a glossy copy of Hustler facing me on the desk?

I was talking my way into an unpaid internship for a brand new magazine being launched by a company that owned a chain of “gentlemen’s clubs,” that’s what.  I reminded myself not to insult them by saying “strip clubs.”  I reminded myself that it was an important distinction and that, after all, sexuality was a natural beautiful thing that all modern post-feminism-movement women should embrace.

“Are you ok with nudity?”

I blushed.  “With umm, being around nudity or…  ?”  “Oh yes.  We want to make sure you’d be comfortable with that before going further.”

I couldn’t stop blushing and the man and woman interviewing me could see that.  I decided to own it.  Damn if I would let my fickle face lose a job opportunity for me.

“Well,” I grinned broadly.  “I blush easily but I’m ok with it.  At least I save money on makeup, right?”  They paused and looked at me.  I held my smile and told myself to exude confidence.  Don’t blink, don’t blink, don’t blink.

They smiled back.  “Good answer!”  Great, I was in.  Except I still didn’t know what I was in for.

We spoke about content and the direction they wanted the magazine to take.  I gave them every idea I could, drawing on the little knowledge I had of their world.  It wasn’t that difficult.  I wasn’t a complete innocent.

“How about an article on the customer’s experience?”  Their faces brightened.  “The excitement, the atmosphere, the umm.  Umm.”  “The fantasy?” the woman asked eagerly.  That was the perfect word and one that made me understand more about what they were selling.  It wasn’t about sex necessarily.  This was the idea I could write to.  “Yes,” I said.  “The fantasy.”

By the end of my interview I had agreed to submit a piece of erotic fiction and a feature on the club experience within 2 days.  Without meaning to, I had also secured an invitation to visit the club the next night to be given the “full experience.”

It was exciting.  It was also heartening to see how eager they were to share their world with me.  If I was going to mortgage my middle-class pretensions and enter the sex industry, at least I would be working with people who genuinely enjoyed their jobs.

The next day, I settled into a full day of writing with a full pot of coffee and my imagination.  Erotica was a new genre for me.  I reminded myself that there were no rules in writing, took a deep breath and began.