When I lived in Los Angeles, I dated an Armenian musician named Ara. Well, “dated” is something of an exaggeration. Ara was the closest thing I’ve ever had to a fuck buddy. When he was in the mood, he’d call and ask if he could come over, we’d do it, and he’d leave. The arrangement worked because I didn’t like him very much. He was stylish enough that I could overlook his lack of personality.
One evening after a particularly adventurous session of hot, sweaty monkey sex, he asked me if I wanted to strip with him at a club in Hollywood. Since moving to Los Angeles, I’d had a rule that if someone asked me something truly off the wall, I had no choice but to comply, because, if nothing else, it would lead to a good story. So this is how I ended up performing in Skinny Boy Burlesque at the now defunct Hollywood club, Star Shoes.
Because we were roughly the same size and build, i.e. short and scrawny, Ara had this idea that I’d come out on stage dressed like him, dancing to “Rock and Roll” by Peaches, and then he’d come out on stage and we’d get into a mock fight and rip one another’s clothes off, down to our Incredible Hulk underroos. Which is more or less exactly what happened.
To his credit, Ara had some mad fashion skills and was able to sew our matching, tear away outfits himself. I strutted out on stage with the faux confidence of a supermodel, wearing a ripped, black t-shirt, skinny jeans, and boots. I danced to Peaches, my lip curled up in a snarl. The hipster girls (and boys) were screaming and taking pictures. There was something exhilarating about standing beneath the black lights, being blatantly objectified.
Ara came on stage dressed exactly like me. We stood, identical, regarding one another. I was wearing a long, black wig so our hair would match, stenciled in eyebrows and drawn on sideburns. But in the semi-dark of the club even his brother couldn’t tell us apart. He shoved me. I fell back against the crowd and they pushed me back into him. In the heat of the moment, our fight was more real than feigned. He ripped my shirt off. I grabbed him, turned him to face the crowd, holding him from behind, ripped his shirt off with both hands, and then licked the side of his face.
The crowd went wild.
Our pants came off as each of us struggled to get the upper hand. In our undies, there was little left for us to do. The music died, and Ara picked up the microphone to MC the rest of the show while I got to watch with Anna from the sidelines. Being lusted after by so many strangers gave me a confidence (albeit short-lived) that I’ve seldom regained. But one night, in a club, surrounded by screaming, adoring young people, flashbulbs and desire, I felt like a star.