Sunday, December 10, 2006

NO BUSINESS LIKE SHOW BUSINESS

Maybe I shouldn’t have had that third martini at dinner. Then I wouldn’t have ended up at that strip club.

Let me state one thing right off the bat. I loathe live theater.

I know that sounds scandalous coming from a director – let alone one who used to make a living as a night club magician -- but there, I’ve said it. I’m not interested in watching waiters spending their time between shifts lurching around a stage pretending to be bitter salesmen, French bread thieves on the lam or, even worse, acting the parts of waiters spending their time between shifts trying to get a job in a show SINGING about being waiters between shifts.

And don’t get me started about CATS. I spent one of the worst New Year’s eves of my life seeing that stupid show. First of all, they’re not even REAL CATS!

So my interest in live performance is rather limited – I like puppet shows and strippers. Once I was in Barcelona and I happened into a cabaret where a puppet show was performed BY a naked man. It was as if I’d died and gone to heaven.

But for the sake of art, I have tried to attend some theater here in Montreal. Unfortunately, it all seems to be French-Canadian and political, a redundancy at best since every thing in Quebec seems to BE political – my god! these people will hold a vote on anything – so I’ve tried to avoid it as we have quite enough foolish “my opinion must be heard” politics on our film set, thank you very much.

(Hello? Do these people think I'm running a democracy around here? It's a BEST a benevolent dictatorship, but one more bit of nonsense on this production and I'm going to turn it into a fifedom!)

Still I feel I would be remiss if I didn’t absorb some kind of French Canadian culture while I’m here, so I’ve become a habitué of the local “exotic interpretive dance” scene.

There are three kinds of gay strip bars in Montreal: CAMPUS, the old standby, where steroid-swollen behemoths sway out of time to the music, take off their clothes and reveal whatever is left of their genitals; STOCK BAR, featuring pendulously well-built young men working their way through law school one sweaty tourist at a time; and, my favorite, TABOO - a bar which, if it didn’t serve alcohol, would basically be a bus station filled with post-adolescent runaways and their “admirers”.

I adore Taboo. In fact, my per diem is currently putting several of its dancers through college.

Once you get past the desperate gaze of the customers, the performers themselves are delightful, but probably not in the way they think. Imagine a low rent “SHOWGIRLS”, except the entertainers are lithe young men, completely naked and – for one of their “numbers” must be fully, uh, “interested” in the job at hand. They’re an athletic bunch to be sure, and some of them really put their “all” into it, swinging on that brass pole in the middle of the stage as if they were in some kind of alternate, nude version of Cirque De Soleil where even the clowns have shaved crotches.

But it’s the stories they tell that make the place so fascinating. Every one of them seems to be either from “a small town in northern Quebec” or “Mexico City”; some have girlfriends and children, others have been dumped by their boyfriends and need some fast money, still others are just trying to pay the rent. One young man of my acquaintance is a well-known host on the local Spanish television station, but given that the demand for Mexican TV stars in this pseudo-French culture is roughly the same as the need for a moyle in Lebanon, he has to make some extra money and so he gets naked in front of a room full of strangers four nights out of the week.

What I really like about Taboo is the feeling one gets of being in a small, neighborhood bar where everybody knows your name; it’s like “Cheers” with naked boys. I showed up one evening for a cocktail after an elegant dinner out, dressed in suit and tie, and I felt like Auntie Mame arriving at “21”. One of the regular dancers ran his hand along my sleeve with an admiring grin and told me he liked to dress up too, but if he wore nice clothes to the bar the customers wouldn’t tip him so much – it would seem people prefer their strippers draped in desperation instead of Prada.

Anyway, on my last visit to Taboo, I had been asked by one of the dancers, a charming young man who – in spite of my protestations – refuses to take so much as a dime from me, to turn the tables, as it were, and dance for him. Well as a gentleman of a vintage – 1960 in fact – I certainly would never be caught doing anything as vulgar as taking my clothes off in the back room “private booth” of a sleazy strip club –

Without several martinis in me.

I shan’t go into the sordid details – frankly, I don’t remember all of them -- but the small crowd that gathered certainly applauded enthusiastically and suffice it to say that I ended the evening ahead of the game; I made back the money I spent on dinner AND drinks, as well as a little extra “pocket” money – at least, it would have been pocket money had I had any pockets left when I was done.

I don’t think of it as stripping. I think of it as my return to the stage. Except without the rabbit in a hat.

As it were.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

How does it go? The greasy pole gets the...

No wait.

The squeaky grease gets on the pole?

Oh never mind.

Wonder what the half-life of Brasso is...

Hmm.

And you know who this is, Daddy.

7:06 PM  
Anonymous Morgan said...

I say you've just found the answer to DTM3's budget woes. Keep dancing, Daddy, and you can rent all the cranes you want!

6:46 PM  
Blogger Sandra Montgomery said...

WHAT I wouldn't have done to be a fly on the wall that night.

Keep it up and you will be able to finance your own films. ;)

10:27 AM  

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