Tag Archives: dancers

“Welcome to the Border/ Love & _________”- BORDERLANDS Excerpt #8

I come to the border and I know I’m in the West. Sure, in Colorado there were mountains and plains, foxes playing on lawns with the carcasses of rodents, hippy girls on bikes in black leggings, medicinal marijuana and liberal lifestyles that will cost you a fucking fortune- but once I get to the sign with the big blue and the silhouette of the cowboy on the bronco I know I’m someplace else. Wyoming brings an eastward wind that can topple semi trailers, cowboy bars where bastards with guns at their hips and knives in their boots smoke while watching girls in sequins and rhinestones dance to country and buffaloes range only where man says they can roam.

The sky opens up. I see everything. I see nothing. Blue skies and clouds and plains that stretch on. The rails run north to south, south to north, the box cars filled with coal and lumber, cars and cattle, graffiti and engineers.

Cheyenne is a city that can’t decide what it wants to be. You enter town either on the outskirts or the ghetto and both are one in the same. The buildings are all worn by wind, nothing pristine. Everything looks as if the pioneer city planners took wood, gunpowder and grit and tried to instill it into the architecture for years to come. Still the downtown area appears to be trying in failed attempts to retain the Ol’ West that mankind built.

The first day I spend in Cheyenne Nightmare and I go out to breakfast. She orders a burrito filled with bacon and eggs she doesn’t finish and fruit drinks with over preserved strawberries at the bottom which she spoons into her mouth and brandishes at me in an immature fashion, letting the red chunks sit on her tongue. I shake my head and laugh and eat my pancakes, realizing for the first time how blue her eyes really are and how something about her beauty is missing in the darkness and bathed in black light and smoke residue.

***

It’s an interesting feeling, falling in love for the first time as an adult. I don’t want to accept it, I deny it and beat around the bush and when she doesn’t bring it up I let myself lay next to her and take in the smell of her perfume, a scent that will haunt me for who knows how long. An aroma that will live on in my nightmares and dreams alike.

I lay next to her. It’s about two or three or four in the morning. I’m not sure. I can’t sleep. All moments with her are surreal. Half the time I’m so happy all I want to do is kiss her awake and the other half I’m so scared it will all be gone when I awaken I don’t dare slumber. Every time I try to pass out I turn over and see the curves of her body, the pristine shape of her hips, the bubble of her ass that fits just right in my hands. She’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen and with her asleep in my arms I know that every woman that comes after this I’ll have to lie to. I’ll tell them they’re beautiful, but as I lay with them I’ll think of her. As I enter the warmth of their cunts her name will enter my mind and visions of her smiling wider than I’ve ever seen her on stage will fill the space behind my eyes only my subconscious sees. I’m naïve enough to think that I’m the only person who has ever seen her look so happy, so content.

And then in her sleep she turns over and grapples me, holding me around the waist and pulling herself close. She puts her forehead against my chest. I freeze. I don’t know what to do because I don’t want to wake her, so I put my arms around her and even now I don’t want to admit I love her. With my fingers I stroke her back, the feel of her skin against me making me tired. I don’t want this to end. Not ever. Please, don’t let it end.

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“Ain’t No Barbie”- BORDERLANDS Excerpt #7

I see Madison and she is beautiful. Not beautiful in the way where I fall in love with her at first sight but in the way where I want to avoid eye contact and creep to the other side of a room so I don’t embarrass myself before her. Beautiful in that way where if she were pushing a carriage down the street with an infant I’d stop and tell her “Your baby is going to be lovely,” knowing I can’t tell shit from the lump of new pink flesh swaddled in blankets.

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. Lovely, lovely, lovely.

Though, I did make the mistake of calling her a Barbie. It’s not that she’s got long blonde hair or a body that defies physics. Her hair is colored shades of artificial but spectacular gold. When we stand face to face without her heels we’re even, a few inches above the average man or woman. You can see where children drained her in the stomach and breasts, loose skin showing beneath the black light. What makes me think of Barbie is how her lips pout and the arch of her impressive eyebrows. It’s not what Barbie is, but what Barbie means- you want her for a few minutes? Well, ain’t no way in hell unless you’re willing to spend the cash.

Fuck off.

When Madison climbs the stage people crowd the plush seats. A man who seems a cross between a hippy and a lumberjack sits and puts twenty dollars bills on the padded tip rail like they’re Washingtons.

“The girls like me because of the poetry I write her,” the Hipjack tells me, alcohol wafting from his throat to my nose. He stares out from thick rimmed black glasses with bulging eyes behind.

Madison removes her top to reveal nipples hard and erect on small breasts, the flesh responding as if it knows that it is time to work.

“What do you mean I’m a Barbie?” Madison says while a drunken dancer who tells me to ‘call her Sparkles’ and Hipjack heckle me. I fumble for words and have no real response but half-assed reasoning. I falter. I fail.

“What is this?” Hipjack asks me, drunk and smiling, “Gonzo journalism?”

“You ain’t no Thompson,” Sparkles shouts over the bass, “You ain’t no Thompson.”

I float around the club, embarrassed. Sparkles. What a cunt. All I want to do is leave. To run. Why stay? Such a stupid idea? Who do I think I am, anyway? They’re right. This isn’t my world. I ain’t no Thompson and this isn’t Gonzo journalism. I should go home.

“And now to the stage is the beautiful Sadie,” the DJ drawls. Sparkles prances up onto the stage and dances to “Pretty Fly For A White Guy”, twirling her dyed red hair.

Liar.

Sadie reminds me of porn stars the way her facial expressions form for customers. Her teeth remind me of Europeans. She’s wrapped in leg warmers and lace as her g-string sinks into her hips, camouflaged in flesh. Hipjack comes to the stage and drops a twenty.

“I was hoping you’d come sooner,” Sadie says as she moves from some Mexicans to the drunken amalgamation, nuzzling and dancing against his aging, flannel-clad body.

I end up sitting with Aurora and Suit in the back by the pool tables, sulking and talking with less heart than earlier. As the night wanes Madison comes and finds me and sits down. Aurora makes room and is quick to leave, looking the two of us over, telling me she’s going to dress out. Madison apologizes for Sadie and Hipjack. All that’s left is her and I, four inches from each other, and it all feels too close. I want to be on the other side of bullet proof, prison-grade glass with guards and shackles and then I’ll feel as if we’re separated enough. She intimidates me.

Articulating my Barbie comment comes out even worse with us one on one, but Madison waves it away with a manicured hand and tells me she understands. Her own words are broken. I can tell she wants to be clear, but everything comes out chopped up. She fishes for words and starts one sentence only to begin a new one half way through. Regardless, she lets me know she’s never seen herself as some unapproachable beauty.

“Well, yeah, but I’ve always hated the girls who sat in the mirror [and were like] ‘I’m so hot’,” she tells me as she moves her hair from her face, “I don’t see myself that way and I never have, nor will I ever view myself that way.

“I kind of prided myself in a way too, like, to seclude myself. I always had a lot going on as a kid and I was not involved. I don’t know, really, I’ve always be an individualist. And for the most part I look the same as I did when I was [younger].”

Hipjack comes up while the other girls are up on stage doing Platter, where most of the girls dance as a singular organism, vying for tips and interacting to get the last bits of cash from the pockets of drunkards and number-one fans. Madison excludes herself. The older girls tend to do so on occasion, though some are willing to slither in the pile for a few extra dollars.

“Hey,” Hipjack interrupts, “I got- I threw out a bunch of ones up there,” his voice gets quiet, tones of inebriation overtaking him.

“Do you ever,” he pauses, “dance?”

“I don’t ever [do platter]. I let them do platter,” she motions to the stage and smiles at Hipjack, using his real name. It sounds so proper, so out of place here on the ripped leather with cigarette smoke filling our ears and eyes and noses. “Go home.”

“They broke my eardrums with their tits.”

“Oh yeah?”

Madison ignores Hipjack’s presence and lets her words form into sentences more concrete than before. In her little black dress with her tangles of golden hair she looks tired, disinterested, only here with me to clarify her existence.

“I never really, uh- I know this sounds funny but I’m good at this. It’s something that I was good at from the get go, so I kind of, I dunno, when you’re good at something you stick with it.

“It’s not really socially acceptable. It’s very age sensitive, but-” she let’s the words linger, disappearing into wisps of smoke as if whatever the ‘but’ is she expects me to get. To just know.

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“The King What Sits On His Throne”- BORDERLANDS Excerpt #6

“I love this place,” Pumpkin says. His voice is sincere. It is hard not to believe words that come out of this behemoth of a man. Something in his voice holds the remnants of an east coast accent though from what I know he’s been out west most of his life., “ If I could I’d own [The Den] and I tried. I tried. If it wasn’t two-point-four million dollars I would be the owner.”

“You already seem like you are,” I joke. I give an anxious smile. He doesn’t smile back, “Mayor of the place.”

“Yeah, well, you know, I mean, I already told ya guys come in here all the time and they see me, ya know, not doing what a normal customer does and they automatically assume I’m the bouncer or I work here. And for the sake of, for the sake of, them having an eye out and to behave, I’ll tell em ‘Yeah, I’m the bouncer. I have my eye on you tonight.

“Really, I’m just here to have fun, man. Sit down, relax. That’s what keeps my head level for the week, ya know. Like, when I’m working I come out on Sunday night, I spend four hours here and it gives me a peaceful sense for the work week.”

Other than the owners and male employees and sycophantic boyfriends who hawk in the dark corners while their women bare their skin, Pumpkin is at The Den more than any other man I’ve met. Most of the week he spends hour upon hour in the back at what I dub his throne.

Twice as wide as the average man, taller than most and covered in tattoos of angels of death and skeletal outlining on his hands, Pumpkin could look the part of a disgruntled bouncer or an obsessive paramour but he is none of those and it pains him to know that. I see it in his face, in the way he smokes cigarettes under the black lights. It might as well pour from him like a noxious liquid, dark and frothing and foul.

“What keeps you coming back?” I ask him and the question seems to change his mood. Though never bright or happy, somehow Pumpkin grows more discontented. He slumps into his chair and plays with his cigarette lighter and ponders for a moment in his own mind. The silence is intimidating. A frown furrows his face.

“I don’t know,” he answers after a moment, “I fucking hate this place.”

The first time Pumpkin even acknowledged me was the night I met Nightmare. While the pale ice queen beauty and myself sat in awkward silence near the front of the club, Pumpkin lumbers in with his behemoth waddle, un-geled mohawk and dressed in his usual uniform of all black. That night he stopped and nodded to Nightmare and when I think back on this how strange it seems. Knowing them both now makes me ponder how uncharacteristic they both acted that night. Almost coincidental that these two people who would play such a huge part in my life for both better and worse would stand parallel but that evening Nightmare was still only a tall and lanky blue eyed beauty with a pixie cut who I was sure as hell was annoyed with me and Pumpkin a sort of scary tattooed mass of flesh who looked at me as if I were the biggest douche bag in the world.

Looking at those two I imagined they came from a familiar cut of cloth. Both in dark colors, black upon black upon black. I pictured them at home listening to angry mainstream hard rock pretty boys with long hair who were all angry at their fathers and every attractive woman who ever turned her cheek on them. Yet Nightmare and Pumpkin are opposites, one sitting on the side of wanted and the other, unwanted. And they are similar, wrapped in shadows and black light, quiet and to themselves, one saying forget the world and the other saying fuck it to hell.

Nightmare looked up to Pumpkin with her legs crossed and speaking in bored tones she pointed to me, “I like this guy.”

Pumpkin shrugged his shoulders and walked away without a word.

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“Motherhood, Part II- BORDERLANDS Excerpt #4”

One night Tarin sat across from me in the black dress that made her seem so professional, her legs crossed. Her hands and arms and legs and torso moved constantly. You would think her the youngest woman in the club.

“[He’s a] big ray of sunshine,” Tarin told me as she spoke of her son, “He’s hilarious and adorable. He keeps it real.”

“Are you teaching him to be a proper little black man?” I joked.

“Um, nah, I think he’s totally white. Effeminate. I love it. He’s five. He’ll be six on the 23rd. Crazy, right? I tried to have him on Mother’s Day and it just wasn’t working,” she laughed.

“He just found out I’m a stripper. He doesn’t say stripper but he said the other day to me, ‘Mom, are you going to go work and dance and make some money?’ and I was like ‘Am I gunna what?’ and he’s like ‘You make dance moves, right? And they pay you for your dance moves.’ And I was like ‘What are you talking about?’ and he’s like ‘I’ve seen your clothes in your work bag.’

“It doesn’t help that when we did the exotic fusion for the first time we videotaped it. When he was three he found that and I caught him one morning watching it. I mean, granted, it’s just girls dancing and taking their clothes off but I’m in that video. So I think he finally just connected the video with the clothes and the money and is like ‘Wait a minute here, this is what my mom is doing’.” The music died with her last words and for a moment Tarin’s bubble broke and the smiles and exuberance faded.

“So it’s kind of horrifying, actually. It was okay when he was younger and oblivious to the concept of [dancing and being paid].” The music picks back up and so does her mood. It’s as if the tunes overhead, the bass and the songs, are some sort of juice to a battery rechargeable, giving her back the facade that keeps her through the night, “So, yeah, I’m ready to quit. Now. I’m, like, ready to go get a job at IHOP because I don’t want him to think I’m a stripper anymore. I mean, I’m serious. It’s horrifying. It is horrifying. What if he goes to school one day and says ‘My mom dances for money’. Like, what? No thank you.”

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