Roxie grinned like a pirate who found treasure when she yanked open the door and motioned for me to go inside.
The inside was not as tasteful or… shall we say… discreet as the outside, and part of me felt like a giant nun because I was slightly embarrassed.
The walls were all painted a deep shade of plum and appeared made of some sort of stone. The dark color made the inside feel intimate and cave-ish. There were large posters hanging on the walls in gaudy gold frames. The posters were all of women in sexy lingerie lying across unmade beds, sitting provocatively on chairs or other women, or draping themselves along a stripper pole.
In a couple of the posters toward the back, the women were completely topless.
From the ceiling, a chandelier hung in the same gaudy gold color, dripping in crystals. In between the posters were floating shelves, all with mannequin heads sporting wigs in all colors and styles. There was a makeup counter in the back and a leopard-print velvet sofa in the center of the room perched atop a white faux fur rug.
And everywhere else there were clothes.
If you called the garments that hung on the racks and bars coming out of the walls clothes.
To me it looked more like really fancy, really tiny bikinis.
From beside me Roxie giggled and I glanced at her. “I love newbies,” she said with a grin.
So it wasn’t just me. She knew this place was over the top too; she was just used to it. I guess if I came here often enough, the décor and nakedness surrounding me would lose some of its surprise.
“Honey,” Roxie called toward the back. “I’m here.”
A few minutes later, a woman with dark skin and a bright-red wig came out of the back. She wasn’t a small woman, standing probably close to six feet tall with a wide build that appeared to enjoy a lot of southern cooking. Her wig was styled in an ultra-sleek bob that ended just at her shoulders and was the kind of red you might get out of a Kool-Aid packet.
She was dressed in a loose golden caftan that shimmered when she moved, and she had a ring on almost every finger and the biggest, happiest smile I’d ever seen anyone wear.
“Roxie, girrrllll,” the woman named Honey purred. “You are looking good.”
“You too, Honey, you too.”
Honey’s eyes turned to me.
“Honey, this is my new friend Violet. She’s brand new at the Mad Hatter.”
The woman’s brown eyes lit up and she lunged at me, taking me into a huge bear hug. “Welcome, Shug,” she exclaimed. “Any friend of Roxie’s is a friend of Honey’s.”
She pulled me back and looked me over. “You need a little more meat on your bones. Men want something to grab on to when they reach out their hands.”
I felt my cheeks bloom with bright pink splotches.
Honey laughed. “It’s all right, Shug. I keep telling Roxie here the same thing.”
Roxie nodded sagely.
“So what kind of things do you need?” she asked me, looking me over again.
“I—” I began, but Roxie cut me off.
“She needs everything.”
Honey made an mmhmm sound and headed for the racks. Roxie and Honey began talking real fast and holding up scraps of fabric, debating and laughing about everything they said. Roxie held up a couple things to herself while Honey kept adding to the mountain in her hand, and I began to worry about how much all that barely there fabric was going to cost me.
Then she held up a G-string.
“No!” I said, butting into the conversation that I had purposely stayed out of. “I am not wearing any of that butt floss.”
“Butt floss?” Honey said and looked at me with wide eyes.
Roxie began giggling and then Honey burst out in a huge rowdy laugh. The two of them laughed for a good ten minutes. I mean, I started to get bored. I don’t really know what was so funny about sticking a string up your butt crack.
When they finally stopped laughing, Honey put down the G-string and announced she wouldn’t add “butt floss” to the pile.
“I don’t want anything too skimpy either,” I told her.
She stared at me like I had three heads.
“I want to leave something to the imagination. I want people to wonder what I’m going to show when I get on the stage. I don’t want to be trashy,” I finished, feeling self-conscious. I didn’t want either of them to think I was insulting them, because I wasn’t, but I had my own personal limits I wanted to adhere to.
“Violet is your stage name, isn’t it?” Honey asked, looking at me freshly again.
“Your real name Harlow?”
“How’d you know that?” I asked, looking at Roxie. Roxie shrugged.
“Ty told me there was new girl, a Miss Harlow, at the bar and he told her not to be trashy.”
I smiled. “You know Ty?”
“Child, I’m Ty’s better half.”
I tried not to gape. “You and Ty are married?”
“Did you think that chocolate bar of a man was walking around single?” she said, waving her finger in my face.
I hadn’t really thought about it at all, actually. But now that I did… “No, I suppose not.”
“Mmhmmm,” she said and thrust the pile of clothes at me. “Get your skinny butt in the back and try some of this on.”
I hurried toward the back, stopping to glance inside the makeup case, hoping to spy some body shimmer powder.
Only this wasn’t a makeup case.
It was full of… um… personal massagers.
One of them was so big and bumpy looking that I was sure there was no way in hell anyone could think it felt good in there.
After that thought, I spun away and ran behind the curtain where the dressing room was.
Half the stuff in the pile I brought back here I couldn’t figure out how to put on. A few pieces were entirely see-through and one was made of what I strongly suspected was fishing net. Those all stayed on the floor.
I realized a stripper had to look sexy. I realized a stripper had to be desirable and entertaining.
But this stripper had her own ideas.
As I dug through the clothes, for some reason the image of my ex-boyfriend flashed through my memory. You’re nothing but a tease, he’d taunted me the day I confronted him about spreading rumors about me through the entire school. I don’t know why my brain decided to bring that up at this moment, but I was sort of glad it did… because it gave me an idea.
An idea that I sort of already tried out and it had worked.