The naked city 

Late-night for the lascivious.

The first time I went to the Paper Moon, I was on assignment for a now dead local magazine. It was for a best jobs feature, and I'd volunteered for strip club DJ. So I went, on an off night, to talk to some guy named Johnny Florida or Ice Cold or something similarly not real and forgettable, and watched as he cued up “Pour Some Sugar on Me” for Destiny and “Pussy Control” for Sparkle.

Turned out Ice Cold didn't have such a great job. He only got paid in tips from the dancers. If they did bad, he did bad. And he'd grown bored of naked women.

He was a fairly reticent interview, but after I finished, I chatted with a tall African-American woman in a thong, who answered all my questions, none of which I remember, about stripping and strip club DJs, and then told me something I'd never heard before or since, “You're really good at this. You need to stick with it.”

I didn't come back until this summer, early one Sunday morning, for my research on this article about the city's late-night clubs. The club, on Mabelvale Pike, was fuller. Ice Cold was nowhere to be found, but the cyclical set-up of the club remained unchanged. A dozen or more women rotate between three circular stages. On the first, a dancer does various pelvic thrusts and leg spreads and pole moves. At some point, she removes one or two layers of itty-bitty bikini to reveal an even smaller set, perfectly hidden like Russian nesting dolls. On the next stage, a song and a step away, she loses her top and does more contortions and sex moves. Then, on the third, everything goes save an infinitesimal g-string. At every stop, patrons often come near the stage and rain bills down on the dancers, which typically ups the raunchiness.

When they're not onstage, the talent hustles lap dances. That goes something like this.

“Hey,” easing onto the arm of the target's chair.

“What's you're name?” resting her hand on his shoulder.

“Are you having a good time?” unbuttoning his shirt.

“Do you want a lap dance?” grabbing his crotch.

Private dances cost $25, last the length of a song, and like the cover charge ($10 before midnight, $15 after) and the price of drinks (about $5 more than elsewhere), aren't worth what they cost. At least that's what I'm told.

On the way out of the club, I noticed a “coming soon” poster on the door that advertised 2-foot-9-inch Little Sassee Cassie, “the littlest entertainer in the adult industry.” She wore a forced grin and held a pink soccer ball strategically over her bare chest. She always brings in a crowd, the guy working the door told me.

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