Stripped in Eugene

This summer I went to a bachelor party. I’d never been to one, and I was unsure of what to expect.

What ended up happening was that a group of nine guys (three of whom were gay) went to Eugene and took a tour of four strip clubs that were within a few blocks of each other. I’d never been to a strip club before either.

The experience was something of a bizarre one for me, though the level of bizarreness changed depending on which club we went to. I was somewhat apprehensive, as a friend of mine is a former stripper, and she said that a lot more illegal sex, drug deals and even rapes happen in the private rooms of certain clubs than the public realizes.

Furthermore, while I know that sex workers suffer unfair stigmatization in society, and that many strippers enjoy their work, I also know that many don’t, and it’s often (perhaps almost always) hugely objectifying for the women involved.

Anyway, it was my friend’s bachelor party, and so I pushed down all of my nervousness and other concerns and went to these places.

Now, I’ve been told that Portland has more strip clubs per capita than any other city in the U.S., but I feel like Eugene must have the most club density.

The first club we went to was the nicest overall. The strippers were actually very friendly and talked with us quite a bit about all sorts of non-stripping-related things. Being that I’d never been to a club before, and neither had a couple of the other guys, one of the strippers gave us a sort of briefing on what to expect.

Two things shocked me the most: Firstly, she said that it was $20 for a roughly three-minute lap dance.
Secondly, she said that strippers really only make money on tips, as the wages are effectively nonexistent.

Seeing as I am an impoverished grad student, I generally tried to sit by the three gay men in the group, hoping that the strippers might pass me by. It mostly seemed to work. I also spent a decent amount of time outside in the smoking area, where a few members of the group spent most of their time talking to the strippers who were on their breaks. That was actually a lot of fun, and I enjoyed talking to these women.

They were all very sassy individuals, which surprised me, but I suppose it probably shouldn’t have. It seems like you’d need to be sassy to choose to do that job. One of the guys in the group mentioned that he was gay, and a stripper replied, “No shit, sweetie,” which drew laughter from everybody there.

Most of the women were very slender with small busts, which also surprised me. I assumed there would be a lot more women with large, fake breasts. Additionally, their pole-dancing skills were incredibly impressive.
The athleticism and coordination they displayed while twirling around upside down, seven or eight feet off the ground, and often not using their hands to control their speed and rotation was actually fascinating. I still don’t understand how they can spin like that and not get friction burns.

The second strip club we visited was ridiculously sketchy, and we were there for about 10 minutes. As we walked in, the stripper dancing was so drunk that she nearly fell off the pole and stage. The place was full of skeezy old men.

We considered leaving then, but one stripper approached the bachelor, so somebody handed him $20 and he went off for a dance. When he returned, he said he wanted to go. Allegedly, they passed the Champagne Room, and he asked what happens there. The stripper replied, “I’m not allowed to say, but as much as you’re willing to pay for.” We agreed this place was not somewhere we wanted to be and
left quickly.

The third place had by far the nicest building, the comfiest seating and the best music, but the strippers never smiled and always seemed to treat the clients like they were obnoxious irritations getting in the way of something important. Also the non-stripper staff was ridiculously suspicious and treated everybody like they were thieves. The DJ didn’t help either, because even though he picked good music, he kept yelling really stupid things over the PA system.

The fourth club was just depressing. There was one stripper, a dingy old building (ironically next door to the police station), two old guys and nothing else. Needless to say, we departed shortly after arriving.
Before the night ended, we actually returned to the club we started at, and all the strippers cheered when we came in. The one on the stage shouted, “I told you guys leaving was a bad idea!” We all laughed and apologized for not listening to her.

The experience as a whole was jarring. Most of the women were very talented, and most of them were friendly and fun to talk to, but it was really hard for me to relax in those places. I wasn’t especially attracted to the women involved, as they were all the same body type, and were not the type I find the most attractive. Also, the skeezy old men that seemed to make up most of the clientele made me constantly think of the various things my ex-stripper friend told me.

I know many men and women whom I respect and who enjoy patronizing strip clubs, and that’s fine by me. I have come to the conclusion, though, that they aren’t quite for me.