Taboo subject draws curiosity

By Anita Doberman: PNT columnist

I’m not sure why I am nervous about this upcoming interview. Talking one on one is one of the things I enjoy most about being a journalist. It’s like being allowed into someone’s life, able to see the world through their eyes and then write about it — it’s a privilege.

But for some reason, the fact that I am going to talk to a stripper (or “exotic dancer,” though she did tell me on the phone that she prefers the simple “stripper”) makes me uneasy.

Personally, I have always disliked gentlemen’s clubs, even though I haven’t been in one, not yet anyway. When I worked in New York City many of my colleagues in banking went on a regular basis. Later, when I lived near military installations, the tattoo parlor and the strip joint were almost always a given. I guess no matter which part of the country or population I frequented, these clubs were thriving. It’s a lucrative business.

I have nothing against anyone who works or goes to the clubs. Live and let live. It’s a personal thing for me: I don’t want my husband frequenting them. I don’t buy the argument of being secure enough in your marriage to condone this activity. I’ve heard “boys will be boys,” and “I don’t care where he gets his appetite as long as he comes home for dinner” viewpoints, but I am more of the “I find it disrespectful and ‘dirty’ so don’t go” type. If he likes to look at naked women or have them rub their breasts and other parts of their bodies on his face and lap, than we must not share the same concept of marriage and respect. Many of my close girlfriends disagree with me and have often told me that I make too much of a big deal about it. I am not willing to concede.

But I have often been curious about how a woman gets into this particular field, what really goes on behind closed doors, what these clubs look like, and how much money dancers make. Is it sanitary? Do they wash the poles? Do people actually eat at the clubs? Some of these questions are probably silly, but hey I am curious so when an editor approached me for a series of pieces on controversial issues I thought I would share my personal experience. Maybe this is why I am nervous about speaking with “Bambi.” It seems that I am stepping into my taboo zone.

I am finally at my destination and I collect my pen, pad and my recorder. There is a neon sign flashing across the top of the club — girls, girls, girls! I wonder what my daughters would say if they saw the sign, something like, “they must have lots of girls here just like us!”

There is a bouncer at the door, a mountain of a man. He is not too friendly; I don’t think they like journalists inside, but he radios with his walkie talkie that I am here. I wait a few seconds, which seem like an eternity, because the man is just keeping a straight face and I’m trying to fake I’m at ease.