Less artistic than Matisse, but an inspired portrait nonetheless


At the end of a 12-hour, double-shift of work at a new strip club, my friend and I wait for our rides home outside the back doors of the place. By this time, it’s daylight out but it had been raining and it’s a bit cloudy. When sunlight filters through the clouds, the light is especially unforgiving. It’s like fluorescent lighting from God. After sweating in heavy makeup all night, we have smeared eyeliner that settles where our skin creases. The moisture from the sweat in our hair turns our glamorous hair-sprayed curls into a mess of frizz. Our bodies, particularly our feet, ache from all the entertainment we’ve just provided. Oh, and we stink too. We smell like cigarettes, whiskey and the musky cologne from hundreds of men. We are not what one would call a fantasy at this point. We sit directly on the concrete of the floor in the loading zone by the dumpster. Though a bit pathetic, it quickly became one of the coolest days of my life because out of nowhere, the back doors of the strip club opened up like the gates of heaven and workers wheel out a parade of expired velvet furniture. There, out in the sunlight, were the beautiful modern club chairs and couches that we use for lounging and lap dancing inside the club. They were worn to death, these lovely things. The seats were lumpy and discolored and completely exposed, like me, in the harsh light. The velvet had mysterious white stains and cigarette burns on it. I’m not clear on the matter, but their destiny was either to be discarded to the big strip club in the sky or to be reupholstered and returned. Either way, the only natural progression of events was to have an impromptu camera phone photo shoot in the pile of furniture. Deep blues, dark reds and white stains called to me. My squeamish friend begged me not to make contact with the soiled furniture but I cannot keep away. I posed there, outdoors in the cold light of morning with images of the reclining nudes in fine art paintings dancing through my head, though I was not nude and camera phone photos are slightly less artistic than a Matisse. I was thrilled. The furniture was loaded in a pile on the bed of a big red pickup truck and was taken from my life as quickly as it had entered it. I waved goodbye and hoped good things for the furniture.


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