"You havin' fun?" he asks, a folded dollar in his hand.
She doesn't speak English, but she just shakes her head, "No". Her eyes are pathetically sad.
The sign is alone in the boonies of Dover, a bright neon beacon saying, “Showplace- A Gentlemen’s Club”. The building looks like an old Elk’s Lodge, and to say it’s in a state of disrepair is being nice.
The bar inside is big and square and sits in the center of the room. The counters haven't been cleaned since 1966, and the place smells like piss. There are a couple of stages behind the bar, and a couple pool tables in the back. I had been drunk when we left for this place, but it takes an hour to get here and I'd sobered up by then. I needed to be drunk again. Immediately. Really drunk.
I order a couple shots of whiskey, but the crook-toothed bartender makes us wait a half hour before she brings them. I try to bribe a couple strippers to get her over here quicker, but they shrug and say in their broken English, "She a bitch." No shit.
There's a ton of guys here, (although my buddies claim that this is a slow night)- white trash from the mountains, migrant Mexican workers who sit quietly and never make a fuss, a few blacks from some of the uglier towns out here.
A black stripper comes up behind me, dressed in what may or may not qualify as a "dress" and white fishnets.
"So when are we going in the back?"
"Not me, hon."
She looks dissapointed. I'm glad when she gets the fuck off me.
There's sadness in the air here. It's not like the strip clubs back east where the girls are making lots of money, so they're more or less happy. These broads aren't making shit, and whatever they do make is because they're giving forty dollar blowjobs in the back.
They keep coming over, doing crappy dances on the other side of the bar, then pulling the straps of their bras out for my dollar bill. At one point I tell one of them that she's not getting any more dollars until I see her snatch. She looks confused, so I make the triangle with my fingers in the universal sign for "pussy". She gets pissed, and takes a dollar from her bra and throws it at me. Who knew strippers would have self respect all of a sudden...
I'm drinking my triple whiskey, trying to finish it in two sips so I get insta-drunk when I hear one of blondes whisper to a man next to me, “You see that one? She sixteen”. I close my eyes hard and open them up again, far drunker than I was a second ago and wondering if I really heard what I think I did.
I go out for a cigarette, and the "bouncer" starts talking to me. I assume he's the bouncer because he's sitting at the door, but he looks like a pimply faced kid who would get roughed up by nearly anyone sitting inside. He's talking about the history of Dover and Randolph, and I really couldn't care less. He conspicuously forgets the part about how this place is run by the fucking Russian Mob, and all of these girls were probably stolen off of little towns along the Volga and shipped here to be whores.
I'm getting drunker and more disgusted.
My buddy gets back from his hand-job in the bathroom, given by the aforementioned black stripper. It's what he wanted all night, and so now he's happy. We keep drinking until about 1:00, when we take off from this shithole of West Jersey.
I mentioned the venture to my boss the next day.
"I was out by you last night. Showplace."
He looks at me.
"You know, you gotta watch your ass there. That's a dangerous place. Lot of bikers...guys get killed in there."
"Don't I know it, Ed."
But after all... there's no place like Showplace.