I’m talking about the regulars, the guys who get hooked and blow hundreds and hundreds and maybe thousands of dollars.
It might start off innocently enough. A group of guys go out for a night of bonding and laughs and wind up at a strip club. For most, it’s a few drinks, a bit of ogling, spending more money than predicted, and there it ends.
For some, it’s the beginning of an addiction.
In Skin Dance, a mystery, the main character Jake Robb, a psychiatrist, winds up talking to Candy, one of the dancers.
“Hi Honey,” an attractive young woman said, standing just inches from Jake, her breasts right in his face. She was dressed in black-silk shorts and a skimpy black-silk bra. Her hair was a mass of dark tangles and curls hanging halfway down her back. “I’m Candy. What can I get you to drink?” The researchers catalogued this type of behavior as counterfeiting intimacy, Jake remembered with a sigh. When it was actually happening it didn’t feel at all like it was counterfeit. Candy’s perfume floated around him, an aromatic web that under most circumstances would be difficult to resist.
Strip bars offer visual candy, rocking sound systems, a full bar, and pseudo-sex (lap dances). Any of these might be attractive, but are they worth investing hundreds of hours and lots of money?
When you’re in love, anything is possible. The addict watches the love of his life up on stage, bumping and grinding and playing up to anyone silly enough to drape money over the brass rail, but still believes, with all his heart, that what she really wants is him.
The addict is empty and hungry for love. Candy capitalizes on that need and instinctively knows just how to work her way into the heart and wallet of this desperate, lonely character.
One day when this fantasy ends, it will be with a dose of emptiness, recrimination, and possibly the knowledge that searching for love in a strip bar is doomed.
Art Smukler MD is the author of Skin Dance, a mystery, Chasing Backwards, a psychological murder mystery, The Man with a Microphone in his Ear, and the blog, Inside the Mind of a Psychiatrist.