Issue link: http://www.epageflip.net/i/565127
Club Bulletin September 2015 11 www.theEDexpo.com An older friend who had made the journey to Highway 80 before myself and my buddies warned us to never park in front of the door to the club. Of course we asked him why and he said, "You don't want your hood all dented up when the fights spill out the front door into the parking lot." Oh, thanks, good tip. * * * A year after my first visits to the Black Knight and the Torch Lounge, my best friend Tom and I discovered the Stork Club at the far end of Highway 80. We could tell by the exterior of the club that it wasn't a run-of-the-mill titty bar, plus it had a marquee out front with a woman's name on it under the headline, Appearing All Week. We had to pay a small coverage charge, which was a first, and then we were escorted to a two-top table in front of the stage by an older guy wearing a rumpled tuxedo, another first. Background music was playing but the stage was empty, closed off by a heavy black velvet drape. A drape in a titty bar? We ordered drinks and I ordered a Tom Collins. I mention the specific cocktail because it plays an important role in the rest of the story or, at least, the cherry in the drink does. The background music stopped and a snare drum started banging behind the drape which slowly opened to reveal a three- piece jazz trio. The trio kicked in, the announcer asked us to welcome someone to the stage, and out came a burlesque dancer twirling two huge fans. She started dancing to that old bomp-doo-bomp music, jerking her hips left and right. The burlesque dancer was 50 if she was a day and she looked it. But just like those contestants who try to get on "American Idol" and are genuinely surprised when they are told they can't sing, this woman thought she was all that and a bag of chips. She worked that stage, bumping and grinding, like she was Cleopatra seducing Marc Anthony. A spotlight from the back of the club followed her around the stage, but toward the end of her set the spotlight suddenly was put on Tom and I sitting at our little two-top table. With an evil grin the elderly dancer, who had stripped down to a skimpy g-string and pasties, walked to the edge of the stage, leaned over, and plucked the cherry from the top of my Tom Collins. She held it up in the spotlight so everyone could see it and then slipped it under her G-string and rubbed it all around before taking it out and, with another evil grin, dropping it back into my cocktail. Then she just stood there with her hands on her hips and waited, as did everyone else in the club, for me to take a drink. Even the jazz trio stopped playing; you could hear a pin drop. I looked beseechingly at Tom who just shrugged. I looked up at grammy and she nodded her head yes. After what seemed like an eternity, I shook my head no. Grammy frowned, the band kicked in, and she finished her dance. One visit to the Stork Club was enough for this 17-year-old; I preferred the Black Knight and the Torch Lounge. I know, after sharing this story, that sometime during EXPO 2015 in New Orleans, my buddy Jerry Westlund of Fantasy Showclubs is going to walk up, put his arm around my shoulder and whisper in my ear, "You ate the cherry, didn't you?" I didn't. I swear. * * * There would be no Annual Gentlemen's Club EXPO if there first hadn't been the Annual Exotic Dancer Directory. Back before the Internet, people actually used magazines and books as reference guides, and the Exotic Dancer Directory was the first and only national guide to strip clubs. I published the first directory in 1991 and after that came the Annual EXPO (1993), ED Club Bulletin (1996), the Annual ED Awards Show (1998) and the formation of ACE National (1999). But all of that other stuff would have never happened if the Annual Directory did not get off the ground. It was tough going at the beginning. It's hard enough to get club owners to buy display advertising; try trying to talk club owners into buying, and pre-paying for, a display ad in a publication that didn't even exist at the time. Them: "Can you show me a sample of the publication?" Me: "Uh, no, not really." I was putting the pieces together for the first Directory, with a few ad sales under my belt, but not nearly enough to cover printing costs, when I went to Action Central, a new stripclub in Shreveport a few miles from Old Highway 80. I told the owner about the Directory and he asked how much for the back cover. I had no idea and, probably with a few Tom Collins under my belt, pulled an exorbitant number out of the air. "Two thousand dollars," I said. "Okay," said the club owner. I about fainted. "Okay, as in you will take that spot?" "Yes." "For two thousand dollars?" "Still a yes." That $2,000 (remember this was 25 years ago) from a Louisiana club owner covered a big portion of the printing bill, allowing me to come out with the first Directory, which was well received enough that more annual editions followed. * * * Sometimes I wonder if ED Publications and the EXPO would even exist today if I had not been introduced to that seamy, yet wonderfully intriguing, world of Louisiana titty bars some 40 years ago. I do know if you had told me then that those titty bars would turn into a multi-billion-dollar industry with their own national convention, I would have said you were drinking too much moonshine. And if you had told me then that I would personally play a role in developing that convention, I would have looked at you with the same shocked stare I gave that burlesque dancer when she dropped the cherry in my drink. Don Waitt Publisher "All the dancers chewed gum on stage and if a deadbeat sat at the stage and didn't tip a dollar, they would give him an expletive-laden tongue lashing. Many of them had tattoos, but not those colorful pieces of artwork you see on dancers today; theirs were home-done ink pen jobs or mementos from a recent stint in jail."