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So what do I do now? I wondered, after finishing my chicken parmigan. A bunch of ideas were in my head. Going to a strip club seemed most appealing, so I said what the heck, got up from my table, and walked over to Runway 69, a club I had passed earlier at 52nd st.

"How much is the cover?" I asked the man at the door.

"Fifteen bucks, including all you can drink," he answered, "common, step in-"

What the hell. It sure beats seeing a movie, and besides I could use a place to chill out and vegetate. Hangin' at a strip club doesn't exactly make you tired. I walked in, checked my coat and bag to the lady behind the counter, and was led to a front seat by an attractive waitress. She was just about the only woman in the club who was wearing clothes. . .

Sarah's Voice Mail Music by Dylan Tauber:

A week later:

The latest woman of my dreams had just dissed me. . . and slammed the taxi door in my face. I had caught a glimpse of heaven and was dumped in the middle of Amsterdam Ave. I guess I shouldn't copy that line from "Bitter Moon," but then again, that movie sure doesn't seem to be irrelevant. It is the movie I saw with Sarah on our first date. I figured that this woman who I met in, of all places, a strip bar, had to see this movie which I thought seemed to mirror her life so well. I thought of that movie in the middle of the first conversation I had with this angel who made me horny after just catching a glance of her from across the room:
The green eyed woman was slowly walking my way. I couldn't help staring at her as she walked towards me. I wasn't sure if it was her outfit- she was wearing a black low cut top and a leotard bottom with black stockings- or her sexy feline walk, that made me instantly think of Catwoman from the Batman movie. Wow. This woman is heavenly, I thought.
"How you doin'?" I said as she passed in front of me. My heart stopped beating as she smiled and sat next to me without a word. "I'm fine, how you doin'?" she said. Did I make good eye contact? Shit Dylan- relax.
"Now, I'm doing great," I answered. "You're beautiful," I said, fully meaning my words although I was sure she thought I was just trying to be smooth.
"Thankyou," she said with a smile. I'm in love!
"Where are you from?" Heck, I can do better than that. Why not just ask her what's your major? trying to figure out where her accent was from. "I've been all over," she answered in a voice that sent chills down my spine. [Not that it takes a lot for that to happen] "But, originally, I'm from England, "she said.
"You sound like your from down south," I say.
"Well I'm glad you think so, because I actually lived in Alabama for a couple of years," she says.
I soon found out that she, like myself is an artist, and works with sculpture. I told her I do photography but I am taking a sculpture class next semester. She explained to me that she almost went to Brown on a writing scholarship, where I almost chose over Columbia, but decided to go to Parsons, an art school, instead.
After the small talk went on for a while, somehow, and I don't remember how, had gotten to talking about sadomasochism. I mean, here I was in a strip bar, talking to a woman about sadomasochism. And I seemed stupid next to her. If only Rabbi X could see me now.

"Or you a sadist or a masochist?" I asked.
"Oh, I'd say I'm a sadist," she answered.
"Interesting. . . I'm a masochist," I said with a grin. [Probably the single stupidest thing I ever said in my life. . . sort like telling a cannibal-witch I taste great and would love to offer my testicles for her dinner.

"Cool- You know I used to work down at the Vault," she said with a smile.
"The Vault, what's that?" I asked. I wasn't sure if this woman was making me more horny or scared.
"Oh, its a S&M club down in the village. I got to whip people and poor hot wax all over their bodies," she replied with an erotically scary expression. I wasn't sure which sensation was stronger, but I did know that this Catwoman was making me horny as hell. At least I thought I was horny, but I didn't have a hard on. It was more like the a sick type of instant obsessive infatuation. Like a bad acid trip or something. looking in her eyes felt like looking in a distorted mirror of the worst kind. What I saw was frightening but held my gaze like a bad car accident.

censored
She then started to nonchalantly tell me her life story. When she casually mentioned that she is a bisexual, I asked her if she saw the movie Bitter Moon, recognizing her eerie resemblance to the star of the movie, a stunningly gorgeous bisexual French woman into sadomasochism and sweet appearances.
"No, who's in it?" she asked, as she let her thigh rest on my leg seductively.
"I don't know, but its one of Roman Pilanski's films," I said. Am I too nervous? . . no my eyes seem to be O.K. the Kolonopin/beer combination seems to be working well. . . Man she has a nice body. . . .
"Roman Pilanski- I stayed in his mansion in California-"
"You stayed in Roman Pilanski's mansion?" I asked, not sure if I should believe this woman who had already told me some of the most bizarre things I've heard outside of a movie theater. Like me, it seemed that her life is weirder than any Hollywood movie. I mean who would guess that me- a woody allen-virgin-upper-middle-class-jewish-sophomore-at-Columbia- University-on prozac- would end up swapping life stories with a beautiful woman in a strip bar. The absurdity was more obvious than any of the strange combinations of people and objects I could create in my photographs. The old man looking frightfully at the young black man peering into the sights of a bazooka in front of an army navy store in Chinatown, an overweight black woman staring at a poster in the middle of the Broadway street fair of a beautiful naked couple having passionate sex, and a porno theater superimposed over butler library. Yes my photographs create some ironic situations, but none as amusing as those that occur naturally in my life. "Comic juxtaposition," is probably what the bullshit shadow intellectuals here at Columbia would call it. God sure has a good sense of humor as he is writing my life story. Or else he is drunk. Real drunk. . . . [Or maybe on Kolonopin?]
"Yeah- back when I was dating Trent Reznor we lived in Roman's mansion for a month while he was in Europe shooting a film.
I felt goose bumps spring up all over my neck. Trent was the lead singer of Nine Inch Nails, one of my favorite bands. Now this is getting intense!
"Are you serious? You were living with Trent Reznor?"
"Yeah but I would rather not talk about it. I'm actually living in hiding now." She said with her crisp British accent. She looked away. "From who?" I asked genuinely confused.
"From Trent. He was convinced I was cheating on him with his bassist. He had a temper tantrum, and said he was going to kill me."
Her story just got weirder as she revealed to me that a 60 year old man named Rolie, a wealthy Swiss businessman, says he loves her and wants to marry her.
"You have all these men fighting for you- you know something- I should call you Helen of Troy- your the kind of woman men die for," I said, images from my Literature Humanities class still fresh in my mind. She laughed. I quietly laughed at myself. . . .
"Listen I could talk to you all night but I have to work. I am staying at the Carlton Arms Hotel. Give me a call- we should go out for fun sometime," she said.
"Definitely," I said, as I tried to convince myself that I wasn't dreaming. . . this was too good to be true.
"God bless," she said and gave me a kiss on the cheek.
I stumbled out of the strip club like I had just walked away from a car accident unharmed. Back to Columbia, 20th floor of East campus, with my psycho suitemates. I spent the rest of the weekend telling myself I should really study for Music Hum final on Monday, and finally got myself to start and cramming Sunday afternoon. After my final I finally saw Dana and her friend, Dana. That's what I call fun- hanging out with two Israeli women named Dana. We spent the entire evening talking about Israel- how much I miss the place and how much I love the Mediterranean sea, and everything else about the place. . . . I explained to them my philosophy of the new and old Jew:
The old Jew is the Jew with European Jewish ideals- he values intellectual study, has a close knit sheltered family and community and raise his sons to be doctors and lawyers. These are the people who founded the state of Israel. But when they arrived in the Middle East nearly a hundred years ago, they quickly shed their old values and evolved into the "New Jew." Nature, farming, sports, self reliance, and physical well being, replaced the Talmud, law, and medical books. The people of the book became the people of the land; and returned to the lifestyle that was originally characteristic of the Jewish people- two thousand years ago- when we were still in Israel before the exile. But in the exile, Jews have never been able to shake off the lifestyle of the Old Jew. Today in New York- in the upper west side of manhattan- Jews are running around as doctors and lawyers; and still, despite assimilation, maintaining the traditions of the old Jew in their spiritual sub-conscience. Like I wrote in my letter to Prof. Heise, none of my judgments are being based on my readings- these are my life experiences. Last year I spent a year in Hebrew University. Absorbing and adopting the lifestyle of the new Jews- the Israelis- around me. Now, I have just finished my year at Columbia University- one of the capitols for the elite of American Jewry. With Jews making up at least 40% of the student body, Columbia is a major factory producing the next generation of Jewish doctors and Lawyers, and other rich people. And here I am "in the middle of things," as my father likes to say, again soaking up the ways and lifestyle of those around me. And by the end of the year I fit in great. Here I am on Prozac, and wandering the streets of New York like a regular Woody Allen. The New Jew moves to Israel, eats falafel and works on a kibbutz. The New York Jew studies medicine and chugs down Prozac by the jarful. I think its time for me to go back to Israel. . . I'll let somebody else have my space in the Woody Allen fan club. But meanwhile I have two more years before I graduate from Columbia (talk about irony) so I better get comfortable. And I was stressing out. I was not in my natural habitat. And I guess that's how I ended up at the strip bar. . . .

Tuesday I called up Helen of Troy, who I had not been able to stop thinking (obsessing) about for the entire weekend.
"Why don't you come by the hotel?" she asked, with her charming British accent. When I got there an hour late, she was lying in her bed with a nightgown on. "Hold on, I'll get dressed," she said.
"Should I leave?" I asked uncomfortably
"Its not like you haven't seen me naked," she answered with a smile. There was something in her mannerisms that made her extremely mysterious. . . and sexy. . . and very familiar. Maybe it was because she seemed almost as messed up as me. [remember my last note about the heroin? : )]
So she got dressed- so casually that I had to wonder if she knew I was in the room. Strippers do not tend to be very shy about nudity. . . She was rambling about something- I don't remember what- too mesmerized by this strange creature to focus on what she was saying. I still can't pinpoint what it was that captivated me. [ITS THE HEROIN, DUMMY. . . .] It was not like she was the first woman I had seen naked. But something about her seemed to be entirely new, fresh, and pure. . . and then I reminded myself I had met at Runway 69.
I watched as she put on her black leather biker jacket. It was weathered to the pint where it was almost brown; just like mine. And my mind. (19 but feel like 90, what with finals, no Ethiopian Woman, vision quest, and all). Running on empty, but still kickin. Something about her made me think her mind had been as trampled on as my own.
Walking down the street, she immediately started rambling, talking quickly while staring at the pavement with wide open eyes, looking up occasionally to focus on some invisible point in space. I was lost in my own thoughts and only picked out pieces of her monologue. And when I was listening, I was concentrating more on her intriguing British accent than what she was saying. But I could tell that she was highly intelligent. I smiled to myself as I realized she was talking to me the way I talk to most people. All my ideas already digested in my mind, and throwing them out in dialogue more because I wanted to hear them spoken than to listen to my listeners opinions. Most people just don't understand what I am saying. It was eerie thinking how similar Sarah seemed to be to me. Finding somebody with a mind as messed up as mine is certainly not very common . . . .
She soon was talking about Trent Reznor again. When she mentioned that he was Jewish, she got my attention.
"Yeah, he's Jewish- Trent Reznic [Or something like that] is his real name. For some reason I am attracted to Jews. The last four guys I dated were Jewish," said the blonde haired green eyed exotic dancer. "Yeah I think I am attracted to Woody Allen types," she said. I laughed. I looked into her cat green eyes. She looked into my eyes for an instant and than looked away. Shit I have to chill.
We spent all of Tuesday hanging out in the park. We drank a bottle of red wine.
I told her I want to be her slave and to worship her. I said I should call her Isis, goddess of cats. She told me to shut up. We walked down the street, sharing our philosophies of life (although it was mostly her talking, I was riding off raw waves of Sarah energy).
And then we went to a peep show. Yup. We were walking down 8th street when I noticed her looking across the street. I followed her gaze and saw the big XXX sign in the window, and "Jack's Adult Entertainment," written in neon red letters.
"Lets go," she said grabbing my hand and pulling me across the street. So I walked into the porno store, ignored the dozen horny middle aged men staring at me (at Sarah would be more accurate) as if they never saw a woman before. . . or at least in a porno store. We walked to the back of the store where there were booths with VCR's set up, and stumbled in, giggling, enjoying the absurdity of the moment. The wine helped too. She put in a quarter and switched to a lesbian movie. I think she was getting turned on a lot more than I was, as I wondered what a nice Jewish boy was doing with a stripper in Jack's Adult Entertainment. But I guess meeting a girl in a strip
bar tends to loosen inhibitions for the fist date. . . .
Walking down the street we noticed a dime bag of pot just lying on the sidewalk. Sarah picked it up, and we kept on walking like it was normal to find bags on marijuana on the street.
That night, she said: "we're going to the club." The one Sarah was telling me about the night I met her. The VAULT. I told her I was scared. THIS IS DOLPHIN 1. HELP!!
"We'll smoke this and you'll be fine," she said, pulling the dime bag out of her jacket pocket "If you really want to be my slave, than that's the place to do it," she added with authority, arching her back like a cat as she slipped out of her clothes and walked topless across the room. As I looked at her I was sure that I had never been alone with a sexier or more beautiful woman in my life. The only thing preventing me from getting off my seat on the bed and embracing her was my inhibitions (not anywhere near full Dolphin yet).
"Do you like this?" she asked pulling a flimsy black vinyl dress from her closet. I think my tongue getting rug burn on her carpet let her know I did.
"We need some rolling paper," she said. "Why don't you go across the street and get some." I obeyed as if it were an order. [as well as later in the middle of the night to get cat food.]
When I got back she was sitting on the bed in her black vinyl dress, caressing Tabitha, her cat. A bright halogen light in the room (for some reason those lights always make ordinary scenes transcendental for me) illuminated the two felines- Sarah and Tabitha- like they were posing for a photographer's portrait. If only I had my camera to capture this cat goddess on film.
Sarah put on her fake leopard skin coat and her spiked heels and we were off. Before we stopped a cab, Sarah paused to flirt with an admiring homeless man.
"How are you this evening?" she said in her crisp British accent after he whistled at her. This chick is not to be messed with.
"Baby- you is lookin' FINE!"
"God bless," said the Catwoman with cold eyes, and we walked away.
We took a taxi to 10nth Ave. and walked down some spooky side street. We stopped and asked some dock workers where the Vault was. They said they didn't know. When we found the club, we were told it was men only night.
So we went down the block where we had noticed a couple of drag queens and other interesting looking people standing in line. This club was mostly gay, we were told, but come on in, it was only five bucks. We squeezed our way through the blockade of mostly tall muscular topless men- half of whom were hugging and dancing passionately. We found our way to a coat check where Sarah checked her fake leopard skin coat, and to the dance floor where music was pounding violently. She led me to the front, confident as if she had worked there for years, and right next to the stage where a man was dancing naked with a foot long plastic penis hanging from his crotch. At least I won't have to worry about any other guys hitting on Sarah at this place. I bought her a drink. She threw salt at my neck, licked it off in her catlike way, and downed her tequila as if it was water. I wanted to kiss her, but my Old Jew self consciousness was still in control.
We squeezed our way between drag queens and wildly dancing men to the middle of the dance floor, and started gyrating to the strong beat. I looked around, and almost fainted when I saw the massive sign hanging on the stage. O.C.D. NIGHT it read. There was an almost naked man in chains on the stage pretending to be counting the grains of a large pile of sand. A drag queen was proudly carrying a banner with PROZAC written in bright red letters. Is this a frieking nightmare? God is obviously laughing hard. I go to Israel , f ind the waves and the New Jew and realize I am home. In New York I end up fitting in at friek Prozac-fest?? get me out of this cave. But then my eyes were back on Sarah's sexy body and my mind was in the present.
"Here hold this, she said," pulling off her black wig. It was hot and we were both sweating. What am I going to do with this ? I stuffed the wig halfway down my pants. . . and was too drunk to notice when it fell out and got lost in the mob of dancers. But so was Sarah so I was O.K. (Later she noticed she was missing a wig, so I bought her a new one.)
Back at her motel, Sarah led me into her room acting as casually as if she were in Runway 69 leading me to the back for a lap dance. On her bed, she said her back was sore.
"Would you like a massage?" I asked.
"That's what Trent said the first night we slept together," she said, once again bringing up the man who I was becoming less and less fond of despite never having met the guy.
"And then you were with him for the next four years?" I asked. She nodded. "Well that was some long back rub," I said with a grin.
She took off her clothes, looked at me with her cool green eyes, and said "but I'm not going to have sex with you."

censored - sex with Isis

I was hurt. I awkwardly got under my small share of the covers and stared at Tabitha her cat as I listened to Sarah snore. I couldn't fall asleep for a while- partly because I still felt uncomfortable like the way I was when we she tried to watch me piss, but also because I was still overflowing from the manic energy generated from my obsession over this woman. I looked at her as she lay sleeping. She was beautiful. But something didn't feel right. This catwoman's bed was a long way from the waves off Tel Aviv. And I was a long way from home. . .
The next day, as I woke up and looked at the angelic figure at my side I wondered if I was still dreaming. (I think I've been dreaming the last six years . . .) That morning we took a bath together, and went and saw her friends Adam and Rich, the musicians. Sarah and I ate Chinese food. I went back to Columbia, to catch up on my work for The Daily Spectator, while she stripped at Runway 69.
Ariana, the overzealous Asian news editor, wanted to know "where the hell" I had been. I went to work interviewing James Lynch, the director of investigations for the Columbia Security Department. There had been an intruder who had been entering the rooms of female students for nearly six moths. Lynch thought they had caught the guy. The Spectator editors were convinced I was their ace investigative reporter, so they wanted me to get the scoop. James Lynch, a black big six foot two former NYPD officer, was told to expect some college reporter for an interview. Little did he realize that he would end up having to talk to some nut who is convinced he is the next Jesus with an obsession for truth transcending rational behavior. I stared him straight in the eyes. My wild look obviously made him uncomfortable. I went to High School in Milwaukee, buddy. Don't give me any shit. By the time I asked a few really harsh questions, he was really pissed off. I think I have a talent for getting people to this state.
"I don't think this should be tried in the student press," said Lynch, after a particularly pointed question.
My questions only got more offensive. When I played back what he had said five minutes earlier on my tape recorder, pointing out a discrepancy, his face turned purple, and he punched his desk.
"I know you reporters- trying to distort what I say- taking it out of context.
"Listen, I think students living in the dormitories have a right to know about the intruder, and if their security is in jeopardy," I said with the tone of voice that gets my father to call me a wise ass.
"Too many times newspapers blow things out of proportion."
"Listen, Mr. Lynch- I'm not getting paid for this. I do this because I enjoy it. Believe it or not, I'm on a search for truth. That's all I'm after. I want the truth. And if I don't get from you, I'll get it from somebody else," I told him, Double Mirrors in the back of my mind

©Dylan Tauber 1994-2018. All rights reserved.

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