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Stripping for hillbillies

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This cowgirl is ready for the rodeo … shirt or no shirt.
Photo: Steve Marcus
Justice

My stripper friend is visiting from out of town to work with me. I warned her it’s going to be insane because the rodeo is back in Las Vegas, but I’m genuinely excited about it this year, which is a lot different than in the past.

In previous years, everything about the cowboy invasion annoyed me. I avoided work for the entire duration of the rodeo last year. I didn’t like country music. I didn’t like the crowds of cowboys. And I didn’t like their attitudes. Admittedly, I never gave them a chance. I think I assumed, without any investigation, that they were all crazy, right-wing, misogynistic hillbillies. I’ve had a few individual encounters with cowboys at work that broke that stereotype for me. Sort of. I mean, I’ve never met a non-Republican cowboy, but that’s okay, I suppose.

I used to have a regular strip club customer who was a cowboy. Let’s call him Dan.

Dan would always wear his camel-colored felt cowboy hat, a button-up shirt and a suede vest. He was conspicuously tall and thin, like a dead tree, and had a thick, wheat-colored mustache that he styled perfectly with the ends curled up nice and stiff.

Dan could be spotted from anywhere in the small club because of his height and unusual sense of style. He was like a cowboy caricature, but he was baffled as to why he was so easily remembered by everyone at the club.

“You have a very distinctive look,” I told him over the loud music.

“What? I stink?” he responded.

“She just told me I stink,” he told the bartender.

I tried to clarify, but I don’t think I succeeded. He forgave me anyway. He’s sweet like that.

Cowboy Dan never bought himself lap dances, but he was very generous with his money. He tipped very well and bought lots of tequila. It was a delight to spend a shift at work with him.

Another cowboy I adored was also gentlemanly and totally hot. He was a tall, young Texan who wore a black cowboy hat, and most of my memories about him make me blush. I think I liked his jeans. I tried on his cowboy hat, and I learned that there’s a custom: If you try on the hat, you have to try on the cowboy.

Both he and Cowboy Dan were very generous, friendly and respectful. They were perfect customers—both examples of how wrong I was about cowboys. I’m looking forward to meeting many more of them during the rodeo this week.

I’ve also come around on country music. I actually enjoy hearing it at work. It’s my favorite kind of music these days, and it’s pleasantly bizarre to hear country at a strip club, where classic rock and R&B are the norm.

I’ve heard several strippers explosively express their frustration with country music during the rodeo. I’m just going to try not to sing along.

Justice, whose identity we are protecting, earned a bachelor’s degree from UNLV in 2008.

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