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The Erotic Muse (July 2013, Exotic Magazine)

They had introduced themselves as Canadians, not that they needed to. It didn't take a well-trained ear to immediately discern the tickling inflection with which they spoke, and the rounding of their 'os'. The Vancouver dudes, 'from Canadia', as I teased them, were a lovely lot, and I led one from the couch, away from his buddies and in to the private dance room.

He settled himself in to the squishy seat, and although it had seen much bigger asses, he patted the armrest and joked, "I think we might break this fucker." I nodded, with faux seriousness, "yes, I'm very sensitive about my obesity. Quit it." He smiled again, "No, I'm really a bit of a fat guy." I paused to examine him. He was perhaps twenty lbs. heavier for his stocky frame, but nothing that would cause me to question his heart health. He spoke again, "Maybe I'm not fat by American standards, but in Canada, I'm considered to be overweight."

He was totally right. And the comment stuck with me. Even after they were long gone, I was struck by the simple poignancy of it. Later that night, after the party was over and the club was quiet, I faced my George Washingtons, Andrew Jacksons and the occasional Benjamin Franklin in neat piles while the bartender scurried about to clean up. The televisions were still blaring silently, and I could see that Larry the Cable guy was yakking his endorsement for over-the-counter Prilosec.

It's pretty easy to be an American. This time of year, we are allowed, no, expected to display pride and patriotism for the country that so few of us have worked so hard to build. Big box stores offer their aisle displays of Old Glory; you can buy all of the made-in-China mini flags you can afford for only a dollar or so each. July 4th is the day when my neighbors will be lighting off their illegally purchased fire crackers and noise makers, and dogs everywhere will be hiding under the bed. The next morning, police and hospitals will be catching up with all of the property damage and assaults from the celebrations of the evening. Taxpayers will help cover the cost, and everyone will complain each year as those percentages rise.

I'll be celebrating and embracing the nude performing arts, since our Oregon courts have determined it to be an art, although the remaining forty nine states are typically pretty quick to dismiss all adult entertainment as salaciously denigrating, even though it's one of the most recession resistant industries. I consider myself very fortunate that I can earn a good living by dancing nude for strangers. In many parts of the world, honor killings for charges of female indecency are common. I think I vowed never to visit the Middle East when I read of the Saudi woman who was sentenced to a drowning death in her family swimming pool. Her crime? Her brother's friend raped her. Yet sometimes the obsession with female parts can be a double-edged sword, and I am reminded of this every time I step foot outside of my home. A walk to the grocery store is like an exercise in personal restraint, since strangers just seem to love to verbally harass anything with a vagina and two legs. When I arrive at the aforementioned grocery store, I will see racks of brightly colored magazines screaming at me with suggestions on how to shop my way to a better life, and exercise my way to a bigger butt, and flirt my way to a man.

We've gotten our priorities screwed up.

In a country that was founded by people called the Puritans (amongst other groups), it's quaintly ironic that our culture is obsessed with sex. Add in the modern fact that the U.S is the worldwide leader in entertainment, via Hollywood, and our society is a muddled combination of nip slip obsession, female idolatry and shaming. Consider the Victoria's Secret models, known as "Angels". These women are stunning, statuesque examples of lazy strippers, who simply strut down a catwalk in overpriced underwear and oversized white wings. Yet the average stripper will work harder on her own stage every night, beating the shit out of our knees, spreading stiff legs for strangers and making nude pull-ups look easy, yet the word 'stripper' leaves a sourness in most mouths. This is an example of archetypes; the untouchable, wind-blown Angels are the perfect Madonna archetype to the stripper Whore archetype. And it's giving me a complex.

Another fine example of the American obsession with beauty is the fact that the average Kardashian will earn more money per episode for any of their television shows, than any teacher will in an entire year. Let's consider what implications this has for our future generations.

While so many people will insist that America sets a worldwide standard for democracy and ethics, I'd like to know why it took until 2013 for a goddamn cereal commercial to show an interracial family. I was delighted to realize that Cheerios was making history in advertising, until I realized that this shouldn't even be a topic of discussion, nearly fifty years since interracial marriage was made legal.

It's surely a sign of the times when a Cheerios commercial displaying an interracial family is cheered for it's progressiveness, as if we need one more reason to pat ourselves on the back. It's a sign that things need to change in this country, when the leading fast food companies are able to sell burgers and fries that contain more preservatives and dyes than those that exist in my stripper makeup. It's a sign that things in this country need to change when Larry the Cable Guy is endorsing a gut numbing medication, encouraging us to eat as much deep-fried food as we want.

I haven't been alive long enough to know if things are getting better or worse, and it's all relative anyway. The last couple of decades have seen awareness in some social issues, such as the lessening of teen pregnancy with better sex education. The drop in HIV and AIDs related deaths, with prevention, screening and medication. An increased awareness of race discussion, our first black president, a female Secretary of State, and even a resurgence of rock and roll music. It's funny, as a stripper, I'm sure that much of this country would point the finger at women like me, for the breakdown of society. I had no idea how dangerous I'd become, simply by dancing and disrobing. And I think the real problems are much more sinister. Besides, if pretty naked ladies are the worst part of a society, I'd like to move to that country instead. Whatever. Drink a beer. Blow some shit up. Do it for 'Merica.

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