When I saw this Memorial Day weekend, I took it not as a mere sign, but as a sign. Just days before, Mary Carey jiggled her way into a permanent space in my heart via Pervert!, a softcore sex comedy modeled after Russ Meyer's late work (especially Supervixens and Up!), which probably deserves more fourfour attention than this passing mention (review forthcoming?). But then, Ms. Carey has always amused me, primarily for basing a career in hardcore porn on a slight resemblance to Mariah Carey (hence the name). I liked that she was plucky enough to run for governor of California in the '03 recall election (legalizing gay marriage was her No. 1 platform, though I think that mighta been a joke). But with her turn in Pervert! fresh in my mind, I knew I had to do what I'd never done before and enter a titty bar. And not just any titty bar, but one I'd observed growing up going to and from the Hamilton Mall through Mays Landing, NJ on the Black Horse Pike. Volcanic Eruptions (and its sign) has been making me feel weird since before I had any grasp on my sexuality. No offense to Mary, but the best offering the sign above blazed was, "Peanut Butter and Jelly Wrestling." That should have gotten me over my fear instantly, but, I mean, look at the place...
It's about as inviting as the murderin' shed out back.
But Mary Carey was a draw! And the fact that she'd be doing whatever they do in Volcanic Eruptions up to the night before Father's Day (Father's Day Eve!) was not lost on me. What better way to bond over Father's Day brunch than, "Dad! You shoulda seen those knockers!"? And so it was with great excitement that I pulled into the full parking lot of Volcanic Eruptions on Saturday. Two of my friends, Tracie and Mitch, and I had the idea to go Friday, actually, in case Mary flaked out as I can imagine porn stars being prone to doing. But because Mary had two shows, a 10:00 and a 12:00, and we wouldn't be able to make it to the, uh, "club" till after 12:30, we decided to play safe and reschedule for Saturday. God forbid we miss anything!
I arrived at 12:15 on Saturday, alone and before Tracie and Mitch showed up. I thought I'd be nervous to enter such an establishment alone for the first time, but I wasn't really. I walked in to a very nice cash-collecting woman, who looked like she was in her mid-40's and, surprisingly, was missing any trace of South Jersey whoriness (why, just the night before while driving down on the Parkway, I rode behind an SUV with a license plate that read "1HOTMOM"). Kindly Non-Whore informed me that Mary was on the floor and that she'd be doing a show soon. Great! I walked through the second set of doors into the, uh, "club." I've been hastening to call it that because Volcanic Eruptions is basically a 20' x 12' room with scattered wobbly tables and foam-padded chairs, some sort of fakey bar on one end (fakey because they don't serve hard alcohol, or maybe any -- this means you get to see vagina and you can BYOB, which, I think you'll agree, is a best-of-both-worlds scenario that only the finest of public establishments can offer), a "stage" in the center of the room, maybe six inches above floor level that's about 8' X 5' inches, with two poles, and the back and far (uneven) walls lined with maybe a half dozen water-closet-sized lap-dance rooms. So yes, not exactly a club (at least, it's unlike any I've ever been to), though they do go all out with fluorescent-light-tube-sized black lights that highlight the neon splashes woven into the carpet (yes, carpet) and, sometimes, the girls' outfits (dressing for the black lights led one girl to wear a fluorescent-yellow second-skin number that included bell bottoms, a similarly flared top and no tit covering capability; I also saw a garter with a neon band through it, which was about the classiest article of "clothing" I witnessed all night, patrons included). There were about 30-40 people in there when I entered, maybe 15 of them women. The floor wasn't unnavigable, but most of those wobbly tables were taken. I don't remember what was happening onstage, as I was preoccupied with finding a spot that would be as discrete as possible. I settled for the far right wall, across the room from the fakey bar and as far from the stage as possible. I was visible to all.
Mary Carey wasn't. She was nowhere to be found, though tall, stocky women of various man-facedness prowled around, looking for lap-dance patrons. I didn't make eye contact with any. A few extended minutes passed and then Mary Carey was on the floor, entering via a door I was standing next to, her shocking-blonde extensions glowing blue under the black lights and clashing considerably with the darker, natural hair underneath. All of a sudden, I found myself the head of a line -- now was the time that Mary was to do her meet-and-greets. Yay. I totally brought my copy of Pervert! for her to sign as well as my digital camera. I thought maybe I'd be able to catch her after her performance or something -- I didn't realize she'd be an out-and-out gracious host! Who knew the porn world was a friendly one?
I ran out to the car and came back with my camera and DVD in my hands to a line of at least 15 people, some guys, some girls. From what I gathered, by watching the head of the slowly trickling line, you could pay to get a Polaroid taken with Mary, and she was autographing DVDs and pictures and probably anything you asked her to, really. While waiting, I finally focused on the stage, which featured a lesbian fantasy between two blonde chunky girls with dips and dimples all over them -- it was like someone picked the blueberries and pastry sugar off their muffin tops, which sat on asses drizzled with cellulite. As though Samantha Fox circa '89 had come in and manually set the standard of beauty herself, the crowd was ecstatic at the dykey display, which featured tongue kissing and (simulated?) finger-banging and cooch tasting. "Eat 'er eyass!" called one guy, his tongue doing to the English language what only those belonging to natives of the Philly-South Jersey-Baltimore areas can do. "Finger 'er eyass!" he cried soon after. So he was an eyass man. I can relate. When the lez presentation was over (one more, passionate French kiss was the cherry on top), one of the fully naked girls bent over to pick up the money that had been tossed onstage and a guy in the row of chairs lining the stage, seized the opportunity to attempt to insert his finger into her vagina. Yes, that's horrible and it crosses a line that any Showgirls fan would know ("I can touch you, but you can't touch me. I'd really like to touch you."), but I have to admit that instead of disgust, I was mostly struck with curiosity. Why? Who is that fun for? Does your finger just itch to be enclosed by a mucus membrane? Does that get you off? Really?
The whole time, the music was a mix of pseudo-thrashy modern-rock radio fare that I'd never recognize in a million years, and R&B, both popular (Cassie's "Me & U," 112's "Peaches and Cream") and now-obscure (JS' "Ice Cream") with a special preference for fast slow jams and all things otherwise midtempo (thanks, Volcanic Eruptions DJ, for introducing me to the fabulouness that is Cherish's "Do It To It!"). In all, it was pretty awesome, though not as awesome as the shoes on the girl who went on after the lez show -- clear heels with impact-sensitive lights inside a la L.A. Gear's L.A. Lights line (kids' shoes whose light-up heels have since been cosigned by every Payless/Wal-Mart brand). Clear heels with lights -- when your whore look needs that touch of 2nd-grade bobo. I also noticed that Madame Blinks-A-Lot had plopped down her purse in the middle of the "stage" so that it was within a step of her thrusting, open-mouthed Nomisms. But as it was a small, brown, boxy p'book with two external pockets that looked like those those bitch-stick cigarette pouch deals, something tells me that it was not from Versayce.
At this point, I was at the front of the line (the picture-taking/autographing/greeting process was a multi-minute one for each patron), and the burly bouncery guy said, not harshly, "What do you want?" What were my options for a picture with Mary? "$10 for topless, $20 for fully nude." Well, I'd take fully nude, of course. But, I wondered, instead of getting a Polaroid, could the shot be taken with my digital camera? I'd pay the same amount. Burly Bouncery conferred with Mary's cute, young and seemingly mild-mannered personal photog, who said that was cool. Burly Bouncery asked me for my camera, and before handing it over, I turned it on. Though he wouldn't be taking the picture, Burly Bouncery decided to investigate what would happen when he pushed this or that button. He was about twice the size of me, so I wouldn't have protested either way, but I should stress that he did this rather good-naturedly. When he hit the button that showed the last picture taken, he commented dryly, "That's a beautiful shot." This is what he saw:
"Oh, I took that while driving." I had to -- the sun, which I couldn't adequately capture while, you know, watching the road, looked Superman-must-die insane. I was immediately glad I'd been so bold as to try though. For if I hadn't, the shot I took before that would have come up:
And then he woulda known I was a catfag and the jig woulda been up.
Then, it was my turn to see Mary. After our picture, in which she sat on my lap and straddled me (her back to me), thus bringing me as close to a naked vagina as I've been in over four years, I asked her to sign my copy of Pervert! "Oh my God! I haven't even seen this on DVD! How did you get it?!?!?" she asked, articulate and doofy. I told her I'd ordered it online after my friend Kate suggested it since I'm a big fan of Russ Meyer. "I'm a big fan of Russ Meyer, too," she said. "We shot it in the same area that Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! was filmed." Interesting. I told her I liked her corn-buttering bit best.
"Oh my God! That's my favorite scene, too! Except filming it made me nauseous, because we did, like, 20 takes and used real butter and the smell of it started to make me sick." Very interesting. She signed the reddest part of the mostly orange DVD cover with her red Sharpie ("Rich, I (heart) you. (Heart), Mary Carey)"), but not before showing it to her photog. "Those are my tits," she said. And then, even spacier: "And that's my face." Yeah...they sure are! She gave it back to me and then autographed a 8" x 14" shot of those very tits below that very face ("Rich, Vote for me. (Heart), Mary Carey," because I guess she's running for...something again?). "I can't believe you brought that!" she said one more time. And here I thought that this appearance might be some sort of promo stop for the movie. Whatever, I'm sure I appreciated her as much as any other guy in there, it's just that I prefered her with labia unspread. "This role is a great look for you, Mary. You're a great actress." "Thanks!" she said, already onto the next guy.
Tracie and Mitch finally arrived soon after and we were immediately hysterical over the scene (I should note that it was one in which you did not get a contact high). Tracie went to the ladies' room and when she came out, informed us that she saw a thong draped over the shower head and a toothbrush on the back of the toilet. Awww! A home away from home for some! With Tracie and Mitch there, I was able to unload all that had been building in my head: "I can't buh-leeeeve that I'm just coming here now, after years and years of seeing and wondering! I can't buh-leeeeve this is my first time at a strip club!" I practically cackled. And then I realized, loud music or not, them's was faggoty words and I should probably be slightly less forthcoming about my lack of experience. But really, I just want to underline my retrospective amazement that I'd never been to a titty bar before! The whole concept, I now know is so hilarious and trashy and disgusting and tragic and overtly sexual that it's at most a source of entertainment that appeals to me on a primal level, and at least the next logical step in entertainment for me.
Kind of. Because the tragic thing kept creeping up. Tracie told me of a girl she knows who "dances" sometimes, who will put a towel down before giving lap dances "to catch the guys' come, I guess?" Oh, so the goal of a lap-dance is to get the guy off? I don't relate to that. I don't relate to paying to settle for clothed dry humping for an orgasm. It seems to me that guys who would relate to that wouldn't have sex readily available (i.e. NOT. FAGS.). We noticed one guy standing up against the wall rocking a boner, something else I can't relate to. It strikes me that the main draw here -- scantly clad or butt-ass naked girls -- was sort of commonplace in my nightlife experience, if we, of course, substitute girls for boys. It's funny that straight dudes seek out this polite debauchery, when 70 percent of the gay parties ("parties") you walk into in the city, sex-oriented or not, offer these girls' male counterparts as a matter of fact.
Also, while we were talking about this, we stood maybe five feet from the stage and I noticed an attractive-enough black girl attempting to lure me to the front row with her eyes. I felt bad for not being seduced ("It's not you, it's me!"), but also for the desperation that drove her to seduce for, what? A dollar between her tits? Frankly, though, she just wasn't that great -- she wasn't outlandish enough to deserve any more than the occasional glance from my gay eyes. She wasn't getting near my hard-earned singles!
Those girls, I noticed, also danced around their purses. Clearly, no one here was to be trusted, which again, is kind of sad. But see, whenever I started feeling down and bad about whatever -- the girls who have to be nice to guys they wouldn't give the time of day for fucking one dollar bills; the guys who are too old, too ugly or too socially awkward to get laid who have to rely on this for female contact; the cleaning people... -- whenever those dark clouds rolled in, something totally ridiculous parted them. Like the tattoo of a pair of lips this one chick sported on her ass. Or like when the cheery announcer guy either upheld the power dynamic or upheld the illusion of it by announcing every time a girl was done, "We're gonna let Jasmine/Heather/Brandi down..." like said girl was on a leash or in a high chair.
At around 1 or so, a few seats opened around the stage and, figuring that Mary would be on soon, we took them. We knew we might have to pay for them, as it were, but it was a risk worth taking to be up close for whatever Mary would have to offer. Before she'd hit the stage, we'd see the stylings of Francesca, a healthy-bodied girl, probably of Mediterranean descent, who had a curly mane of hair and more rhythm than anyone I'd seen dance all night. ("Dance.") She also wiped down the pole before using it, and I thought her health consciousness was admirable. She made her way around the front row, occasionally rubbing her solid D's in guys' faces in exchange for a dollar. She came to me, and as I appreciated her work thus far, I didn't avert my eyes. She was pretty hot, but had a touch of cat in the face, like footsteps to Jocelyn Wildenstein or something. Her voice was sexy, though. "Don't worry, I won't rub my tits in your face like I did to the last guy." "Oh no, you can do that," I assured her. "OK." And so she guided my face between them and flapped me on both cheeks. I already had a dollar in my hand, and being knocked with knockers shook me up more than I'd expected. "Are you from around here?" she asked. "Yes," was all I could manage while extending my arm to give her her single. I'd paid for tits in my face (and, you have to admit that for a dollar, it really was a bargain), not a conversation!
Francesca soon was let down (to piss on the carpet or go find her blankie, no doubt) and replaced by a skinny blonde whose name I didn't catch because I didn't want to. Her tits were like B at best, but she insisted on manipulating them into picking up singles or doing the face-flap via a grotesque stretch job. She eventually made her way to us (why were they focusing on our side of the stage?!?), and I wasn't amused by her rodent face or the weird fleck of glitter she off to the side between her mouth and nose, which had the affect of a piercing but might have been some sort of spangly approximation of a mole. "How you guys doing tonight?" Fine. Now that she addressed me, I felt pressured into giving her a dollar, which was her goal, no doubt. I felt like I'd be rude otherwise, although the whole concept of this sort of etiquette amongst exposed tits is laughable to me. Whatever, she got her dollar by opening up her thong from the front so I could put it in (how close to the vag are you supposed to go? I went midway between the leg and the vag, to be safe). Then, when Tracie didn't respond to her nonexistent charms, Glitter said, "Give her a dollar so she can give it to me." Ugh. Fine. Mitch gave her his own dollar.
And then, another girl tried to get on us. At this point, I felt like we were prey (could they smell our bleeding hearts?). This one was the mousiest of all, like 4'11" and blonde and, I think, with some sort of herb between two of her incisors. She was making her way around by straddling each guy seated around the stage, again focusing just on our area. When she came to us, she asked how we were doing (making not just the herb visible, but her 40ishness). "Fine. We're here to see Mary," said Tracie, making sure she got the point from the onset. She made small talk that was pleasant enough before ditching us for someone who needed a good straddlin'.
And then, at around 1:40, it was time for Mary's "show." It's funny, because we refrained from attending the night before because we figured the festivities would have some sort of structure to them and that we'd be late and miss something. What fools we were! Mary came out to the intro of "Welcome to the Jungle," wearing a sequined bikini with fur wildly hanging from it like baggy, unruly labia. She sort of bounced in place as the intro played out until the first major downbeat of the song, which prompted her to do a split. Impressive. Mary's routine then consisted of prowling around the stage in her platforms while removing her few layers of clothing over the course of a few songs (the rest of which I don't remember, though I do know that one tackled the subject of stripping head-on -- its title must have been something like "Take It Off" or "Work the Pole" or "Stripping Is Fun" or "Like My Hoo-Ha?" or something). Her signature move involved lying with her back on the ground and scissoring her legs into a quick, horizontal split (a true spread eagle) so that her platforms knocked against the floor. It was impressive every time and became even more so as she lost her clothes.
The response from the guys was pretty good, though it wasn't to the announcer's liking. "What are yuhz, a buncha hohhw-mohhhws?" he asked in that accent that the eyass man had previously graced us with. He implored us to cheer more several times ("This is her last shohhhw!"), which I think is bullshit. I'll respond to entertainment the way I see fit, thanks! Most enthusiastic, I think, was this group of three black kids, maybe just 21, who looooooved Mary Carey. Their excitement was palpable, though it did wane as Mary walked that thin line between dancing and creatively collecting money. Many guys put their dollar bills between their lips and Mary would take them by squeezing her tits together with her hands, a makeshift pincher. When she came around to us, I gladly rolled up my dollar and put it in my mouth. She sort of snorted, grabbed it with her hand, and grabbed my head with her other hand and pushed my face into her chest, making a defeated, "Wah-waaah" sound. "I think she knows I'm gay," I whispered to Tracie as Mary shuffled away for more singles.
The end of Mary's show involved her handing out merch. But, in an inversion of the venue's general dynamic, we had to work to get it, by cheering as enthusiastically as possible. As that would involve me fagging out entirely, I went the conservative route and politely clapped while the rest of the men stood and screamed and displayed their beer bellies. One of the prizes was a Volcanic Eruptions t-shirt that had to have been designed (if not printed) around '90 -- it was white with "Volcanic Eruptions" in lettering that went from blue to blue-outline-fluorescent-pink-fill to fluorescent pink lettering on the left breast. On the back was the exact same thing, except bigger. Creative! Varied! "I really want that shirt," I said to Tracie, cheering louder and giving as butch of a "Yeah!" as I could muster. Mary held the shirt between her legs, one arm in front and one arm behind her, essentially flossing her cooch with it. Now, I really really wanted it. I didn't get it, or the one that she threw out after (it got the same flossing treatment), but one of the black kids next to us got it, which I thought was kind of nice. He really did love her. At some point, when she was giving out DVDs of her hardcore shit, she motioned for someone toward the back of the room to come forward and cheer, for if he did, he'd surely get one. He didn't want to (maybe he had performance anxiety), which the announcer hated. "Everybo'y tell 'im he's a fagit," he said, pronouncing his words undoubtedly the way he spelled them.
And then, Mary left the stage and everything was pretty much over. Hysterical as it was, an hour and 45 minutes was more than enough time spent at Volcanic Eruptions and we left immediately. In the parking lot, the group of black kids talked loudly to each other and then to us, so that we didn't know that they were addressing us at first. "You want this shirt? You want this?" Snapping into what they were saying, I became more enthusiastic than when Mary was handing them out. "Yeah!" "All right, I'm gonna give it to you cuz I like you," the not-uncute kid told me. "Thanks! Now I can remember tonight for the rest of my life," I said, turning away from him to say goodbye to Tracie and Mitch.
And then, finally, from behind me I heard: "That guy's gay. Yo, I think that guy's gay."
(Oh, and by the way:)