Exotic Dancers, Paris, c 1880, Gaston Bussière
Wiki writes: Gaston Bussière was a French Symbolist painter and illustrator, born in Cuisery on April 24, 1862 and died at Saulieu on October 29, 1928. He was close to Gustave Moreau. He found inspiration in the theatre works of Berlioz (La Damnation de Faust) as well as William Shakespeare and Wagner. He became in demand as an illustrator, creating works for major authors. He illustrated Honoré de Balzac's Splendeurs et misères des courtisanes published in 1897, Émaux et camées, written by Théophile Gautier, as well as Oscar Wilde's Salomé. He also illustrated several works by Flaubert.
I am not normally a patron of the clubs, the "titty bars" as some of my friends call them. I have been twice in the last decades and never before that, that I recall. I have a few women friends who have been dancers. They do not share much from those times.
I remember wondering the question that I ask in this poem when I was sitting at the bar connected to the stage, watching the dancer and giving her the dollar bills as was expected. I thought it a strange way to make a living, though it was obviously lucrative. I totally can believe that a few dancers fund a college education that way. I also believe that is not what most of the dancers do. I am convinced there is a higher than normal addiction to drugs and alcohol rate among the so-called exotic dancers.
Portland is a strange town this way... We have many more than usual topless and bottomless establishments. They pretty much all are bottomless because no patrons will go to the topless only, not around here. Certain streets are dotted with these places.
One time years ago, I worked in an engineering firm which had offices in a high rise off one of the avenues where the street walkers plied their trade. We were on the ninth floor, something like that. I worked away from the windows and on the wrong side. Over where we overlooked a couple of the busy corners, someone had set a telescope to spy them out. Men are like this. This office had women in it. Men are like this anyway.
I have never had a hooker. To balance me out, I have a very good friend who has patronized many, though as far as I know, not in many years.
What must it be like
to display on some dim stage
bent over, swaying
to the stuporous pounding
of my gravid heart
just to get paid my
coin and perhaps approval
coming from somewhere?
May 1, 2012 4:45 PM