New Colors by Jesse Sublett

The other night I dreamed I was in a strip club.  It was a great dream.  I woke rested and happy for the first time in … I can’t remember when.  But the dream, oh, that I remember.  I was working in the club.  I don’t mean stripping.  I was reporting and researching.  From afternoon to well past dark, through shift changes of day strippers to night dancers, I was there … out front, watching and talking with both servers and entertainers … and backstage too, hanging with the dancers in their dressing room, learning about life, being guided and protected by them, seeing the good and illegal of strip clubs. 

I remember the exact positions a man and dancer were in when he penetrated her in the dressing room.  I remember the look on her face … the initial pain of having someone she didn’t want, then the resignation, and finally the numbness.   

For my friends who work in the sex industry, please know I’m not saying this is what a dancer feels when she prostitutes herself.  I’m simply relaying what I read on the face of the woman in my dream, as she watched me watching her.  A writer friend of mine would argue that I have no right — in fact that I can’t — go into the point of view of the stripper’s mind when I’m writing from my POV.  But it was my dream, and I’m telling you what I saw and interpreted.  And if we’re talking interpretations, and Freudian interpretations at that, I guess I should admit that the prostitute stripper was closer to my age than the cliché stripper, and she was brunette like me.

I recall the man’s grin of satisfaction after completion and that same look in his dark eyes as he looked at me.  In my dream, I felt my fear.  And I felt my thankfulness as the women surrounded me and eased me away, not so that I wouldn’t see the reality of their industry, but to protect me from him. 

Again, for those I know who have worked or presently work in the sex industry, I’m not saying there is or isn’t such camaraderie among strippers.  This is just what happened in my dream.   

Dance Party Napkin by Jesse Sublett

As I left the dressing room and returned to the floor, I ran into my friend Casey Dancer, a former student.  She was exhausted from the work, but kept at it.  I also ran into my friend Bonnie, a screenwriter and producer.  She was there working, too.  I suppose researching.  Or maybe she was there watching out for me.  Bonnie’s like that – she’s always got my back. 

When I walked toward the front door to leave, I spotted a friend I’ve known since childhood.  We’d gone to church together.  We’d gone on church mission trips together.  She was at the club having dinner with another family from our church – a woman who’d been our Sunday school teacher, a man who’d been a prominent doctor and church deacon, and their three adult children. 

I specifically wrote that they were “at the club” having dinner, because the white linens and the good silver on the table insinuated that they were dining at our old country club.  The light, happy looks on their faces indicated that too.  But just a few steps behind them was that loud and shadowy strip club. 

Again, there are so many obvious Freudian interpretations there.  I’m going to leave those to you.  Instead, I’m going to answer why this dream, which some people would consider dark and maybe even sinful, awakened me refreshed and happy.   

The answer is because I was back in my element.  I don’t mean hanging out in strip clubs is my element.  I mean working … learning … understanding others who are so different from me.  That’s being in my element.  That’s what I love about what I do.  And that’s what makes me happy.  I am one blessed writer. 

To see more of my friend Jesse Sublett’s art work, click here.
  1. Angela Reply
    Yeah! Suzy is back in the saddle again. See, I told ya you could do it and do it well.
    • Suzy Reply
      Thanks, Angela. We'll see. I have a lot of tough writing to do on the sex book. Gotta look at and expose that root dirt. :)
  2. Jennifer Reply
    Hi Suzy, I thought of you today as I sat in a Bourbon Street fish house trying to enjoy my dinner. It was a beautiful night, the crowds just beginning to form on that cramped narrow street. I get caught up in the proper way to describe the atmosphere as I enjoyed my crawfish and beer. Sounds from the street filtered in through the ancient oak doors, giant windows really, that I sat near. The doors were left open to encourage an occasional breeze to flow inside the dimly lit dining establishment. Across the street, the door to Babe’s Cabaret was open. In it stood an overweight black woman wearing a metallic blue lame g-string bikini, offering a little encouragement of her own to the occasional passerby to step inside her den of sin. As I type this I cannot but help to think that you may read into this that I am passing some type of judgment on her or her line of work. I am not. “Den of Sin” is what she yelled out to the elderly man walking down the battered sidewalk with his wife. It is also what she said when she spoke out to the guy walking a bull mastiff when he passed by. Whatever else she may have said to him worked because he left the dog at the door and stepped inside. A few minutes later, minutes that I spent enjoying my dinner without the constant reminder that I really should get back on my diet, Dog man walked out of Babe’s, adjusted himself in that way only a man can, and proceeded down the street. His beast of a dog following not far behind doing his best "Hey Dad, remember me?" impression. The stripper? She took up her former position at door, readjusted her bottoms, pulling over and just a little bit farther down. The bait was set and not two minutes later, she had two more men dangling from her metallic blue lame hook. I felt dirty and puzzled. I tried to do as the sign I passed under on my way to the fish house said, “It’s just sex, relax.” But I couldn’t. I didn’t see her as a piece of ass. I saw her as a daughter, a mother, and a sister. I spent the time walking back to my hotel wondering about her and why she chose the life of a stripper. I also wondered about the building that Babe’s occupies. It is a two-hundred year old building. What would the former owners, tenants, and patrons back in 1800 think of The Quarter? Of the businesses now found in those buildings that once housed their bakeries and butcheries? Have we come all that far or have we, in certain places like on Bourbon Street, regressed to the days of Sodom and Gomorrah? --jennifer
  3. mia Reply
    Oh so we stripper's just let ourselves get raped in the dressing rooms because all strip clubs are is an undercover brothel right? Stop writing about professions you know nothing about you hack.
    • Suzy Reply
      Mia, I totally get what you're saying. I shouldn't write about what I don't know. But as I thought I made clear in my post -- but maybe I didn't -- I wasn't saying that this is what happens in strip clubs; I was saying this is what happened in the dream I had while I was sleeping. I added while sleeping to emphasize that I have no control over the content of the dreams I dream while sleeping, as opposed to what I dream while awake. Also, the woman in my dream wasn't raped. She was being paid for the sex. If I conveyed that she was being raped that's very poor writing on my part, for which I apologize. In fact, I may not have conveyed that and need to go rewrite it. Thank you so much for reading and commenting.

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