Little Lust at the Lusty Lady

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In an effort to stay current and informed, I attend a number of conferences each year, some better than others. I recently returned from one in Seattle that left me thinking long after the handouts and business cards had been filed. I’m speaking of FtM: 2006, A Gender Odyssey, three-days of information and thought-provoking workshops about gender and relationships punctuated by a bonus film festival.

This month’s Hot Topic is not about that valuable conference, but about a field trip I took during my weekend there. During my graduate studies in San Francisco, I learned that The Lusty Lady peep show there was the only union-run shop in the country (Seattle’s, sadly, is not). I had cheered Carol Queen’s sensitive and hilarious performance piece about working there. Still, I had never seen it for myself and here was my chance. After a testosterone soaked day at the FtM conference, I sought balance in an estrogen-dipped experience at The Lusty Lady, Seattle style.

I was excited. Dressed in a low-cut top and high-heeled shoes, my cleavage was padded with money to spend. I didn’t know what to expect, although I had previously enjoyed strip shows and exotic cabarets. I trotted in, trying to look comfortable and worldly.

The receptionist eyed me, sighed, and gently asked, “Want me to explain how it works here?” I had fooled nobody! I bought twenty dollars’ worth of ones (which quite impressed the fella behind me), listened to my options and headed inside, hopeful for an evening of entertainment.

Beyond the doors lay a different environment. No more eye contact, bright lighting, and quick smiles–here it was dark, hushed, and cold. One long corridor of doors led off another, and each door reached only to the knees, below which stood rumpled trousers above still shoes. Nothing moved. There was no floorshow. The entertainment here was clearly solitary.

For a moment I considered turning on my heel and retreating, pretending I’d simply walked into the wrong theatre. This was not at all what I was expecting. But my curiosity propelled me forward.

I found a legless door and slipped inside a dark claustrophobic cubicle with a little box for whisking in dollar bills. All right! I had a brafull of those. Immediately one wall of the booth snapped skyward to reveal a brilliantly lit, fluorescent pink Astroturf- and mirror-covered room occupied by three very young, very bored, very bare women in impossibly high heels touching themselves like the models on late night TV. I quickly realized they couldn’t see or hear me—I could not interact with them. The only role available to me was that of voyeur. The curtain snapped shut.

I fed in another dollar.

I tried to turn this scene into fantasy but was overwhelmed with what felt like loneliness. I moved closer to the window to feel less isolated only to hear one of the dancers squeal “We got a girl over here.” They could see me through the screen! How rare it must be for them to see another female face in those windows. I retreated into the darkness of the booth, unsure of my role. They quickly forgot me.

I learned a lot about sex that night at The Lusty Lady, especially about how men can access non-personal sex more easily than I as a woman could. I understand now how important it can be for a woman to wear sexy lingerie for a man, because that connection is powerful and immediate for him and by being part of the action, she gets to participate in it.

It seems men can translate a visual image to a mental erotic state, bypassing the emotional stations that women visit on the way to arousal. Women lament that men don’t indulge them in the romance they need to feel sexy. I see now that women don’t pander to men’s need for that direct link between their eyes and their cocks either. My visit to The Lusty Lady showed me how different our pathways can be. I see now that, with that understanding, we can make sure that each gender gives the other what they need so that the fires are kept mutually burning.

Yes, my weekend in Seattle taught me valuable sexological lessons. I hope that sharing my experiences with you enriches your understanding of how complex and magnificent our erotic lives can be. Gals, climb into something sexy. Guys, reward her with whispered sweet nuthins. We all win.