A Friday Night at Dollies Playhouse
by Jack Corbett

Dollies has a phone line just for Internet access.  We are on online, the girl close beside me.  Everything is going smoothly and then it happens

After getting tied up at home doing print outs for the new Dollies bulletin board--I arrive at the club. And much later than I had planned. I have my laptop in its leather case, my digital camera, a bag of clothes, some screws, electric screwdriver, and a bulletin board I had gotten at Walmart in the car and head into Dollies. Thinking of all I have to do I go past the two managers, Howard who is about to come off day shift and Doug who has to manage the night girls.

I go to the little alcove back behind the rear bar in the place and immediate transfer the phone line from the Web Tv to the laptop.   I have work to do. A lot of it. There's a few girls back there.

Dancers but most are in the front room. Then there's Dina the bartender and talking with her is the cute Saturday night bartender, Renee who has brought a couple of her friends along. There's a half dozen printouts in my leather computer bag. One is about April Hunter, the famous featured entertainer agreeing to do an interview with me for Skylite. Another about Heaven, an Indiana dancer friend of ours getting a computer for Christmas. A couple magazine covers I had done with two of the Dollies managers in them as a joke. Cruisers, the Indiana club, getting a Web Tv and digital camera which would mean lots of pictures of their girls in the Lost Angels. Over across the room is the first bulletin board we had screwed onto the wall.

There's the two bulletin boards to be screwed into the wall in the alcove with one having to go down. And we are doing the Dollies Trendy Toilet Sex thing but this time there's a complexity with the pictures that we've never dealt with before. We are doing a satire on "The Great Flood" in Genesis. First thing is I take several pictures of the topless club's back room. These need to be sent by e-mail to Dirt a long with several shots with people in them. Dirt is to use Photo Shop to combine several images into one picture with people swimming around the bar, drowning in ten feet of water. He's going to use layers to put the separate images of people pretending to swim as they lie across a table into a background shot of the nightclub then use a last layer of water created in a graphics arts program to create the illusion of people drowning in a flooded bar. Then when he's done he has to send the completed picture files to me which I will then put up in the Lost Angels Forum. The script that I have written up is ready except for referencing the new pictures. I am under pressure. More than I had ever been under at a club.

Suddenly Jen joins me at my little table, looking absolutely ravishing. Her hair is neat obviously freshly washed. Dina I had thought was the pick of the whole club and she's the bartender. Cylina doesn't work until the next night and she's a looker up to any dancer out there. Must be Cylina's eyes. The kind a man can lose himself in----eyes that smile back at you while hinting at times with self-mockery--other times laughing with you. Tonight Jen's got every one of them beat.

I show her the print outs and the Dollies Trendy Toilet Sex prototype I'm wearing which has her picture dressed in the nun's outfit on its front. I'm online trying to see what's happening in the Lost Angels chat at the same time as I"m checking my e-mail. And I really want to be with Jen since there's so much that needs to be said after what happened last week. She's still next to me but I have to concentrate on everything that needs to be done. I get an e-mail. The one I've been waiting for. It's from April Hunter. She was Miss Nude of Holland in 1996 and has had her pictures in Hustler and practically every magazine of its kind short of Playboy and Penthouse. I had in the past year taken over a thousand pictures of dancers and have not bothered to count how many girls have posed before my Kodak DC-40. A week before I sent April an e-mail and as I was writing it I kept changing it or getting up from my office chair muttering "To hell with it".Finally I clicked the send button that whisked it off into Cyberspace asking her if I could fly out to Pennsylvania to shoot pictures of her. So now I had the interview with April pretty well lined up and my first photo shoot with a well known star.

There is a star in the making sitting next to me. Not quite 21 her figure has not quite blossomed into full maturity. She is slender and put together just right. There is a charisma about her that most of the other girls don't have. When we have shot pictures together she's been one with me and the camera, always improvising, her expression taking on whatever she wants it to show. She's also gifted with a sense of humor that is self deprecating and apt to poke fun at almost anything. "But it is not to be," I reason. The difference between her and someone like April, and especially April is that April wants to be successful, is willing to work hard at it, and has a firm grasp of reality. April is fabulous, having achieved success and still not being full of herself. And she's done her own web site, doing all the work herself. Jen could be fabulous. Has what it takes to make it big and she's only going to get better and better looking as time moves on. But she's not going to make it since there's a little demon inside her saying: "Girl, you are a failure."

She has to dance and leaves me. Doug, the night manager, comes over. As he looks over my printouts I take the cordless screw driver over to the other side of the room and take down the bulletin board there. Bringing it back to the alcove Doug and I line up the two bulletin boards on the wall and I start driving in the screws. Then Jen is back there with us, now off the stage--watching us work. I tack something like ten printouts onto the two bulletin boards and stand back to see how the little alcove is shaping up. The whole thing takes only fifteen minutes. We are quick.

But there's the files to be ftped onto the server so Dirt can get at them from his computer over in Springfield. There's the pictures that I still have to take. Jen gets into her nun's outfit and I take four or five shots of her at a little table as she pretends to drink out of a beer bottle that we are using for a prop. A bottle that had no alcohol beer in it no less. A little later I grab a couple of the other dancers and have them lie face down on a table as I sit on the floor taking pictures of them. I instruct both of them to pretend like they are swimming. One of them tells me she has no idea of how to swim.

Can't e-mail the new pictures to Dirt. Murphy's Law has struck as I knew it would. It always does. That is....if something can go wrong it will. I put the pictures on the server so he can scoop them off onto his hard drive, then work on them. Dirt ICQ's me from Springfield, Illinois. I'm in East St. Louis. ICQ is an instant paging messaging system most of our group is using. When it is working right it is almost like being on the telephone with someone. If you can type fast. And both of us can. I can almost hear him laugh as his words appear on the little message window. I know he's going to do it right and we are going to come up with something together that has never been done before in a strip club. Time for a beer. It's only my second. And I am laughing inside wondering what the final pictures are going to look like yet knowing they are going to be good.

Dirt ICQ's me again-----saying in two minutes that they will be ready. After a gulp or two of Budweisser the new picture files appear on my screen now that they are on the server. I pull them off and onto the laptop's hard drive, then pull them one by one into a graphics program to look at them. Several of the girls come over. We are all laughing pretty hard by now. I had taken their pictures, then distorted their faces, putting elongating chins onto their pictures and warts. After having completely disfigured them I had sent them to Dirt. Now we had the final scene in front of us with the disfigured dancers drowning in a flooded club. A masterpiece. Something that no one had ever done before and done in such a short time under duress.

Jen comes back to my table sitting close to my side. I am now on the web tv so that people can see all the posts and pictures on the big screen. I am typing a script into my messages. Concentrating on what I'm doing and trying to make the little wireless keyboard move along. I apologize to Jen for not being able to pay attention to her. Which is a shame since she's looking so fine. Riveting and here I'm immersed in my typing. We have Cruisers on line with us in the Lost Angels. Sometimes Celeste is posting and sometimes it's the other bartender, Jan. I hardly pay attention to them and hate myself for being that way.

Working my butt off. Finally I have the script and pictures posted into the Lost Angels. Two or three girls have been asking me when we are doing the Trendy Toilet Sex bathroom shots so I'm telling them we will be doing them in fifteen minutes. Jen and Obsession are dancing on the stage in the front room. The DJ comes up to me and says: "Jack. Check out the new girl, Mimi. Wow. You need to get her in the shots." Mimi is only a few feet away. She's not bad. Not quite as thin and willowy as Jen is or the way I remember Lori. I introduce myself to her and explain what Trendy Toilet Sex is about and she agrees to join us in the restroom. Jen and Obsession are doing lap dances on two guys and the two girls are within a few feet of each other. I sit next to them all on the stage and tell them: "Will be doing the Trendy Toilet Sex shots in the bathroom as soon as you both come off the stage." They smile at me and promise to come to the back bar.

Their set ends. I have my camera out but only Obsession shows up. Jen is doing a private and ends up doing two or three. Mimi is at the bar talking to a customer. The third girl is nowhere in sight. "What am I doing here?" I ask myself. "I don't have to be doing this. The girls are on me every day about it. The DJ and I start talking and I tell him: "I think we should cancel the Trendy Toilet Sex shots till next week. Some of these girls have an attention span much shorter than my pet cat's." And that's the truth. My cat, Inky is exceptional, being a far more skilled long range planner than some of the girls. The disk jockey announces over the microphone that we have canceled the Trendy Toilet Sex shots till the following week.

Five minutes later two of the girls show up but Obsession has gone to the dressing room after hearing that TTS has been called off. One of them is Jen, now having pocketed between forty and sixty bucks for the two or three privates she has just done. "Okay, let's do the shots," the two girls tell me to which I reply, "I've called the whole thing off." Jen says: "But we are here and we want to do them," and I'm thinking "but I don't want to do them anymore." And Jen is no longer wearing the nun outfit--looking delectable. She almost convinces me to change my mind. I tell the girls: "Obsession is the only one to get here on time, so now you expect me to punish her for being here, then after she leaves and I call the whole thing off you expect me to reschedule the shots now that you are ready to do them?"

"To hell with Obsession," one of them replies. "She's trying to pick a fight with us and that's against club rules. " And I'm thinking: "It is my rules we are dealing with here. I can't let the girls control the situation. And I can't stick the dagger into Obsession just because Jen looks cuter than hell and is wiggling her little finger at me. She'll have nothing to do with this thing if we go on with it." Later, I thought about it. Thought about Obsession talking about two or three of the black girls being her girls and how Obsession had been getting them involved in the chats and picture sessions. I would have lost them all.

"Time to put all my stuff away," I told myself so I put the laptop back into the leather case and went out into the parking lot with the camera, computer, and other things I had brought in. There was a thin sheet of snow on the cars outside. Almost ice but not quite. Tried the front door of the Miata with the key but the lock was frozen. The door was facing north from where the snow had come. Never had any problems like this before. Other cars yes but never with the Miata. Checking the other door, I found the lock there had frozen too.

So I went over to get Lincoln the parking lot attendant, a man I got along with well. He had one of those little propane torches in his trunk and once he had gotten it out he had the lock freed in a couple of minutes of applying the small blue flame to the keyhole. I put everything of value in the trunk and left the passenger door unlocked before going back into the club.

Dina was still tending the back bar and her boyfriend, a light skinned black man was sitting at one end. Engaging him in conversation I found him charming. He told me he was a marketing manager for one of the River boat Casinos. A man came up to both of us while we were talking. It was one of those scenes you often see in one of those b rated movies. The only thing he didn't have was the trench coat. However, he did pull open this full length winter coat and produced what looked like a gold necklace. "Hey, either of you want to guy this," the man asked us. I almost wanted to say: "No, but I'll take some heroin if you've got some of that too." Both of us told the man no and he went on to someone else.

A half hour later I went out to get something from the car and once again the door wouldn't open. So it was back to Lincoln and his torch, then back into the club again. I found Jen coming off the stage. Earlier I had given her a printout of a Christmas Eve chat in which she was part of the discussion. Jen has this long nose which she doesn't like and a guy from Oklahoma City had come in and told me that the thing he found most appealing about her was her nose since it gave her character and a unique look that was hers and nobody else's. We went back to a private area across the room and sat close together.

Three or four weeks ago Jen had invited herself over to my farm telling me she wanted to really get involved with the computer project and the Lost Angels. A little more than a week ago she called me and told me that she wanted to write come articles for Skylite, to come over to the farm, and that she had a Christmas present for me. And just before that she had left a message on my recorder inviting me to stop at her place where I could spend the night but I had already left Dollies and gotten to my farm when I retrieved my messages. Five or six weeks ago we had left Dollies together, gone to another club in her car, then gone back to my motel room where we talked until ten in the morning. And that's all we did. Talk. But she told me a lot. Barred her soul. Talked about her childhood and her abusive parents. How she was an A English student but had to leave home when she was 16 when she couldn't handle it anymore. Jen talked about what it was like as an adolescent suddenly being thrown into a hostile world without an anchor. One of the most important things she said was that she wanted someone to care about her----to love her for her personality, off beat sense of humor and just for herself being what she is. She told me much more. Things I don't want to talk about but she shared so much that night.

She has my 800 number. She can call me from anywhere without having to pay for the call. Many dancers have used it and it is especially convenient while using a pay phone. Sometimes she would call me when there was nothing at stake. But if I would call her and leave a message she would usually not return the call. Then she had a car wreck returning from the club a couple of weeks ago. Tired and having had a few her car was disabled and she injured her arm. She was driving on a suspended licence because of a dui. The cops first took her to the hospital, then took her to the nearest jail. She's facing possible revocation of her licence. She certainly won't be driving for the next year.

There's a whole lot more. An abusive man who was and possibly still is in her life. She showed me her bruises one night. Still----all the Dollies dancers like her which is unusual. Even the older less attractive dancers like Jen. And every time I go into the club she comes up to me. There is that certain eye contact. A certain chemistry at work that I don't find very often.

So okay. She says she wants to come to the farm. Tells me I can stay over at her place instead of having to stay in a motel or returning home--a sixty-five mile drive. But each time she's in the club she has a ride home with another dancer. The other girl is alright but she's hardly lit by fire. Not a lot of brainpower there. It would be so easy for me to drive her home and stay with her or to drive both of us to my place and all she would have to do is to tell the other dancer that she's riding with me. After all a number of the other girls have visited me or gone club hopping with me afterwards.

Management would not fault her. And if she got really involved on the computer they would even waive her tip out which would save her something like twenty-five dollars a night. It's hard to say how much more she could make if she really got involved. Eventually it could be quite a bit. So it's a win win situation. It's also something she has repeatedly told me she wanted to do.

Words. Words. Words without meaning. Full of air and without substance. They have no value by themselves. It is action that has value. I no longer listen to them from someone I don't know because usually it is going to be so much bullshit in the end. Sick and tired of sweet sounding phrases and having to hear from people all the lies that they are better than sliced toast....that they are well meaning....because so many of them aren't.

And here we were sitting close together, sometimes holding each other's hands (and remember I'm not a paying customer), sometimes in each other's arms. It is around three AM and the place closes at 4, with everything winding down well before that with the customers being asked to leave and the dancers retiring to the dressing room. I know what she wants. She wants people to care about her. She wants the sense of family she never had. And I know that she senses she can find it in the Lost Angels. After all, she told me that night in the motel room. But those were only words and here I was starting to use words on her.

It started spilling out of me. I had a clear idea of what I was going to say. I had already given her something like twenty-five pages of posts from the Lost Angels. And among them were some from the man from Oklahoma City who had never met her who had said to me that he loved her for her nose. And her sense of humor.

She had taken the guys in the Lost Angels by storm. They love her to death. For her audacity when she puts on the nun's outfit. For her comments about having a "White trash trailer Park accent". The words starting coming out of me. Would they be enough? We were getting close. Real close. Suddenly Doug, the night manager came up to us. "Jen, come with me so you can pay your tipout," he told her.

"Doug, Doug, how can you do this?" I thought. "Such incredible poor timing. You are my buddy and I love you to death. But why now?" The moment was lost. Probably forever. She said she'd come right back and already I knew that she wouldn't. I went into the front room and sat at one of the bar stools after ordering one last beer. It was Last Call. She was gone. In the dressing room and she never came out. "I should leave," I told myself. Finishing the beer I went out into the parking lot and tried the car door. Frozen. Again. "Son of a bitch," I told myself. So I got Lincoln again. And for the last time he fired up his torch.

I went back into the bar. All the customers had left. Only a few men remained. Men who had a reason for being there. I heard a lot of shouting coming from the dressing room. There was a cat fight going on in there and you could hear it all the way to the bar. Doug came up to me. Not the other Doug who is the manager. He was the husband of Patty, one of the bartenders, who had been a favorite of mine for years. For awhile he had managed a swingers club for Art Mowe but now he was driving a truck oftentimes making a run up to South Bend where a couple of the Lost Angels men live.

"Jack. You started it," he told me. They are all fighting over you." "Sure Doug," I replied. They all want me real bad." "Okay then, they all want me then," he laughed.

Well, they weren't fighting over me. That's one of the things I had always liked about Doug, a permanent fixture among the Dollies cast of characters. He had always been a jokester. His wife was pretty much the same way. I heard the loud voices coming from the dressing room and often one of the dancers was shouting "Jen." I asked Andy, the doorman what it was all about. He told me--"Jen" She's in the middle of it." Then Andy joined Doug, the manager, in the dressing room. Taking a stun gun in there with him...just in case.

I went over there and walked just inside the door. The girls are all yelling at each other. And there's Jen sitting in the middle of the floor, her face impassive...as if someone had pulled a switch. I walked back to the door and waited. A few minutes later Rainbow and Jen came out. She didn't even look at me. I caught Rainbow saying: "You can't be fired. We will take this up with Hawk." They left and I left right after them.

"That's that," I said to myself. "Probably never see her again." I started thinking. She's a lot like Lori, only worse in a lot of ways. One part of her wants something that is good and positive, then it is almost as if there is a little devil inside that makes her do everything possible to make sure that she doesn't get what she says she wants. Most of them end up with abusive guys. They say they want someone who will be nice to them, then when they meet that kind of man, they do everything they can to screw it up.

I've seen so much of it in this profession. But this one wants life to be good to her, then runs as fast as she can in the opposite direction. It is that switch in the mind. Inevitably it clicks as if on electrical impulse to guarantee self destructive behavior. Like the moth and the flame. The moth is compelled to the flame and cannot escape it. "I need another beer", I tell myself. "Need quite a few beers" I decide and head to the Jewel Box, an upscale club only a few blocks from Dollies.

The place has four stages all with these nice little colored lights. Costs $4.50 or so for a beer. I could care less about meeting anyone there. All I want to do is to drink enough to practically knock myself out and be absorbed alone in my thoughts. If I had one or two, I don't remember, but I am walking around the room assessing what the girls are doing and not doing on their stages and returning to the bar every so often where I can order another one. There's a blonde walking by me with a black escort. It is Marilyn Mynxxx , who had until two weeks ago been working at Dollies. I had done a lot of pictures of Marilyn and she had been one of the mainstays in the Dollies Trendy Toilet Sex series having acted the part of the other nun, Sister Cuervo. I say hi to her as she walks past.

She looks up at me, grins, and gives me a big hug. Marilyn then introduces me to her escort who is the DJ at Miss Kittys a topless club only a few blocks from Dollies. "I want to work here. "Think I can get on?" That was just like Marilyn, always running up to me to ask my advice on one thing or another.

All I can say is we had a few together. Marilyn kept taking me over to the different stages where she would insist that I sit down in front of a dancer. Then she would motion the dancer over. Which meant that I would have to tip the dancer. Which I normally don't do.

"I don't like that one,"said Marilyn. "She's got an unfriendly attitude. Let's go over to her stage." And Marilyn would point to one stage or another and we would go over there. Sometimes Marilyn would hop on my lap and start doing a lap dance on me as she intently watched the dancer before us. Other times she would give me a hug or a kiss.

"Can you give me a ride home?" She asks.

"Uhhhhhhh......Uhhhhhhhhhhhhh," I reply. "Look Marilyn, I have two Dui's and the next one gets me the pen. I'm a little bit smashed so I just can't do it." At this point Marilyn becomes less preoccupied with me and more concerned about where her escort is. After all, he is her ride. We close the place or practically close it. Hell, I don't remember. All I know is I got to this motel after six and I'm paying not for Friday night but Saturday night. That's how late I got here. It is a quarter to six now and I think I might just head to C-mowes. I know a lot of people there and it provided the scene for much of my novel. Then there's Dollies and Howard is working day shift. He's my buddy and so is Doug who comes in to work nights. But there will be no Jen there tonight. She's not even on schedule. But Cylina is. Who's knock down gorgeous. I want to talk with her and buy her a couple of drinks.


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