Stripper Poles R Us

From dolls to Miley Cyrus, culture is raising the bar on a Vegas icon

Illustration: Ryan Olbrysh

Get your tween up on that stripper pole, preferably with grandma and a chunky boy clutching a bucket of Diet Pepsi in the other hand. The pole belongs to us! The people!

Last week Clark County confirmed that officials were working to ban the use of stripper poles by guests in nightclubs, a move that arose in the wake of yanking Prive’s liquor license. County spokesman Dan Kulin told the Weekly’s Xania Woodman that “allowing customers to use dance poles implicitly encourages inappropriate and/or lewd behavior.”

Where did our interpretation of the pole get so misconstrued? Our understanding of its democratic nature, one which crosses all age, race, physical fitness and gender bounds? That steely pole is not solely the stuff of striptease artists; it’s not a proprietary professional accoutrement of lap dancers; it certainly doesn’t belong to the county. It’s a pole. Teen-blossom Miley Cyrus has one; what could be more precious than Hannah Montana in hot pants stoking the Teen Choice audience?

Plus, two toy manufacturers are apparently selling pole dolls—or at least that’s the word lurking in every corner of the web (gizmodo.com; fringemagazine.org ...)—dolls that go “round and round and up and down” on their pole. If you didn’t think makeup-caked little girls in child beauty pageants were adorable enough, imagine what this will add to the lineup: Smile! Spin! Squat!

In case you were in a convent: The pole has found its place in mainstream culture, as it were. There are pole-dancing classes to teach the bedroom-fatigued to work it; fitness classes to teach the exercise-fatigued to work it; even Wii is linked to rumors of developing a pole-dancing game (wii.ign.com), because—fun for the whole family! Why, then, would the county think that keeping drunken tourists off of poles at a few clubs could sanctify the line between professional ass-shaking and good, clean fun? And what an odd place for the crackdown to occur: the Las Vegas Strip.

This is a moment of beauty in the annals of absurdism. Drop the kids with the sitter and head out to the clubs, where you’ll learn a lesson in morality while your child plays with the up-and-down doll and the sitter watches Miley Cyrus. Only there, in the confines of a multimillion-dollar club on the Las Vegas Strip, the secretive pit of debauchery—what happens here, etc.—will you be asked to consider the significance of The Pole: This promotes lewdness. I wonder if it’s sexist, too? Maybe we should sit down where we can’t hear each other and talk about exploitation and gender norms.

But for touching that pole, that mystical, magical sluttifying phallic prop, crowds at clubs would remain civil; children would not be wearing Bratz padded bralettes (target.com), and the doltish stupor of decency would remain undisturbed. In fact, maybe Las Vegas should take this moment to reach out to mainstream Earth and apologize for a hundred years of bad behavior. We never meant for you all to want to become strippers. Really, it was our gig. And now, you’re sucking all the fun out of bad. Kinda sucks for everybody.

Maybe therein lies the secret, if 10-years-too-late, wisdom of the county’s considered ban: We’re in an economic recession here. We need to shore up the stuff that made us special. Get off our poles, world.

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Stacy J. Willis

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