Peggy: the Dancer


Dec. 27, 1986

            You should see her dance, strutting across the go-go dance floor with a flickering smile, more pal than object of sex, never totally tempting nor tame, but there like a lioness ready to leap, spouting truths about life and living, such as the football Giants and lessons on drink, always glaring at specific improprieties, telling two men at the bar what love really means.

            “A million dollars?” she shouts. “You would give up your wife for a mere million dollars?”

            The men, of course, are full of schemes on how to have their money and their love life, too, as if money and love were on the same playing field, as if love could be weighted out in cold cash on the New York Stock Exchange.

            She tells them that they can’t be in love, calling them “pond scum,” telling them love and money don’t mix, laughing over her own words as if not to offend them, but clearly meaning every one as much as she means anything else in her whole life.

            You should see her dace, the throbbing beat of love’s integrity in every step.


Jan. 28, 1987

            I went and got drunk last night. Sometimes I was really too tired to do, and foolish for doing. I always tend to be idiotic in the exhausted state, and this was no exception. Worse still are the places I choose, rather one place, from which I used to begin great and epic journeys through the go-go-strip-club world.

            The My Way Lounge goes way back to my early days with Hank, who discovered it as a refuge from the scum of other go-go bars. But the history of the place goes deeper and the people have begun to become even more familiar now that I go there less often than I once did.

            I met two very special people there: Bethame – an over the hill go-go dancer who became my friend, and Chris, a My Way barmaid who, dying of cancer, decided to live out the rest of her life in a “Devil & Mrs. Jones” fantasy.

            People in these places change frequently, a coming and going in which only the customers remain the same.

            Go-go dancing, prostitution and porno – like most things in our society – are young people’s games.

            This is especially true for the dancers – with, of course, the exception of Peggy, a fanatic New York Giants football team fan, who I’ve seen here on a number of occasions but have only recently got to know – well, a little.

            She’s older than nearly every other dancer here – in her mid to late 20s, which is old for a stripper. She seems less hard-edged than most, softened perhaps by her love of football which she goes on and on about, especially in regards to the NY Giants. She lacks the mean, always hungry look I see in the eyes of the other dancers. She’s less stuck up and very outgoing, always giving zealous speeches from the stage. She tends to talk more than she dances, which gets the owner peeved at her.

            She’s hardly in perfect condition either, the first signs of middle age spread pushing out here and there, although not enough to stop her from being attractive.

            Her talk dominates people, often speaking too loudly, pushing herself onto those of us she thinks she can trust (who knows if it is a come-on or what?)

            And, of course, the one question I always have is the one question almost always asked of dancers here, what the hell is she doing here doing this?

            With strippers, you always have to ask yourself if they are prostitutes, too. Many are, using the dancing as a bill board advertisement for what comes later after the club closes and they get taken somewhere else.

            Peggy’s dancing is hardly an advertisement for anything. She seems too rich a soul for such a shallow deed, always eager to laugh or mock or tease.

            Unlike the new generation of dancer who comes to this part of the world from Manhattan, Peggy is a local girl, living in nearby Lodi – so local in fact that last night she collected signatures for a petition to make the New York Giants changes their name to say New Jersey.

            One of the men I’ve met here before seems intimately connected with Peggy and a number of the other dancers, coming and going at their beckoned call. He tells me he often drives them home.

            This is no bluster of a drunk macho bragger, showing off what a stud he is. If anything, he is almost shy about it, like a reluctant pimp.

            I didn’t catch his name.


March 11, 1987


            Last night, I came in early – always a mistake for me. But it was quiet, and these seats were available.

            The latest attraction here is not the dancers, but a blonde-haired full busted barmaid who manages to upset the usual seating arrangements, making her side of the stretched-out oval heavier with customers than the other side. On many nights, she draws more attention than the dancers, but last night was not the case. It was too quiet for that, filled with regulars who come here as much for talk as to gawk, choosing the less voluptuous barmaid on the other side instead.

            Me? My attention was fixed on Peggy, a dancer who has become a familiar figure in my life over the last few months, but someone who I’d seen longer than that going around the go-go circuit. She even dances from time to time at the Wall Street go-go bar a half block from my house. But it is here at the My Way that she started seriously flirting with me, a frustrating flirting that has left me more than a little confused.

            It is hard to guess her age exactly, but I think she is under 30, partly because of her reaction to the cruel jests some of the other customers make claiming she is 35 or older. She hates these as well as any jest about her weight. She is big-boned with a well-developed chest and shoulders, and some flab, but nothing ugly or even what you would call pudgy simply built with all the positive connotations.

            One of the bar maids warned me weeks ago not to jest about her age or weight, saying she’s worried about both, since she is forced to compete with much younger women. It is hard to keep up with girls 20 or younger.

            Last night, Peggy probed me about both these issues, age and weight, and I’m still uncertain whether I was being manipulated or not, or whether I was supposed to make a move on her. Was she testing me to see if I would get fresh with her. She tried to tell me that her regulars come because they like her wonderful personality, something that it partly true, although sometimes I think Peggy is too naďve to be believed, especially in a place like this.

            In this world, it is difficult to distinguish between fake and real, who is lying and who is telling the truth, everything twisting and turning, a confusing maze of alternate realities I can make no sense out of.

            The previous time, I saw her here, she grabbed my arm several times, or hit me lightly as punishment for my continue stream of teasing, the physical contact meaning something to me, but I’m not sure to her.

            Last night, I blew thirty bucks buying drinks for her, myself and the barmaid, inspired, of course, by the continued touching and hugs. She kept telling me she needed a hug so I kept giving her some.

            But what does it all mean? Was I supposed to advance the relationship? Or did I somehow blow it? Or is it merely manipulation so I can keep on buying her drinks?

            This last is a stinging indictment of this whole way of life, part of this world which uses people and then throws them away.

            But Peggy is unlike many of the other people I’ve seen here, someone who isn’t totally self centered, in love with things beyond these says such as the New York Giants.

            Why she dances here, I still don’t know, since she must make a good wage as an accountant. She is not like the rest of us losers who come here to drown our miseries in a little sensual stimulation.

            The worst part of last night is waking up this morning with a hangover, and the upset stomach from the intake of greasy chicken I ingested while still under the influence.




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