By Rex Breathes
Call it lingerie modeling, private nude modeling, a jack shack, or whatever you like, but at last count there were 16 such establishments in Portland so they must be doing something right. While strip clubs are in decline -- about 42 in Portland, or however many the OLCC will allow -- lingerie modeling shops are multiplying like rabbits. At this rate, Portland could have as many nudie modeling joints as strip clubs by the year 2000. And it all started just five years ago, when X-otic Tan gave Portland the first glimpse of shake and bake nude modeling in '92. Could this be a conspiracy? Nude modeling shops infiltrated by aliens studying the human orgasm so they can take over the earth?
Brandy, who recently made the switch from booth dancer to lingerie model, sums up their appeal by theorizing, "A guy just wants to do something strange with someone who won't call him later, or ask him for money, or give him any shit, or argue, or complain, or cry, or stomp their feet 'cause they're not gettin' their way. They just want a non-committal relationship for a half an hour."
I guess that's all the time your average businessman has for a relationship these days -- about 30 minutes. Because it's mostly your everyday, upper middle class kinda Joe who comes in to see Brandy and her friends at Private Pleasures -- one of the newer lingerie modeling shops in SW Portland. While those on the outside believe it's only weirdos or sickos who go to see nude modeling, Brandy insists that over half of her customers could be your brother, your uncle, or your father -- ordinary guys who are married or in relationships. It's those kinds of men who make up the regulars that enable lingerie shops to go forth and be fruitful and multiply. Middle class America is flocking to see live nude modeling.
And they're plopping down a good chunk of cash to do so. Sessions in Portland range from a low of $29 to a high of $60 -- all for 30 minute shows. Then there is tipping, not required but certainly encouraged (wink, wink) on top of that. While the establishment that charges $60 places no emphasis on tips, the prevailing attitude is: Tips are not required but certainly appreciated. And if you want a special type of show then a tip is necessary.
So, all you lactation fans, if you want to see Brandy's "Got Milk" show, you had better get out a tip because, finally, motherhood has become a profitable enterprise. "I can squirt it into a cup if they ask for it," Brandy clowns. Sorry, but I'm lactose intolerant. Do you have that in soy?
Brandy likes the comfy, homey atmosphere at Private Pleasures because she can just sit in the back, between shows, and pump her breast milk. And that's important since she's just six weeks post-partum (at this writing). You do a little show, get a nice tip, then relax, watch TV, pump your breasts, and put the milk in the fridge for later. (Heck, why not get an espresso machine in there and offer the customers cappuccino with steamed mother's milk? Call it Mammiccino.)
Brandy is happy with the switch from booth shows to nude modeling. "I get paid more for doing less at lingerie modeling," she quips. For Brandy, lingerie modeling is just "... like acting; it's a different way of acting and I get paid for it." So, for all of you out-of-work actresses, why wait for Hollywood to come to Portland? With the proliferation of lingerie modeling shops here, it looks like there will be plenty of work for budding (or nursing) thespians.
Brandy describes the role she plays for the customer when she says, "This is a striptease. I like to tease you; I'm a major tease." Hey, if it was good enough for Natalie Wood in Gypsy then... as the prostitute pines to Jack Nicholson at the end of Carnal Knowledge, "The sky's the limit."
But the role playing can get more complex and demanding as the lingerie shops expand to offer domination rooms, shower shows, and two-girl shows. X-otic Tan is opening a Victorian room where the model will assist the man making his transformation into the woman who lives inside him -- repressed and longing to get out. Make-up, wig, foundation, clothes, and the whole nine yards. The model will direct the man in assuming the toughest role of all: crossing genders. And, of course, as the lingerie shops explore more difficult role playing, we can safely assume that when it comes to tips, well, "The sky's the limit."
Maybe we should all just think of lingerie shops as the new wave in community, semi-professional theatre. And just like the legitimate theatre, they would sell season passes to subscribers; save on the five show package and support the arts!
Having labored for years in the salt mines of booth shows, Brandy's not going back. But she does point out some notable differences -- advantages and disadvantages for both. With booth shows, the pluses for the customer are: it's more anonymous and all the extras, what you pay and what you get, are handled up front. Also, overall, both shows are cheaper.
For the sex worker, booth shows offer more security, according to Brandy. Being hermetically sealed in a four by five foot box and cut off from the customer by a pane of glass enhances her feeling of safety with the customers. As a result, in a booth show Brandy would let herself go more and give her customers more of the old head-thrown-back-having-an-orgasm. (Is that real or is that an Academy Award performance? And does it matter?)
"In the booth shows you want to give them the illusion that you're losing control. In the lingerie shows, I'm in control at all times," she explains. So, when Brandy is alone with the guy, one-on-one in the modeling room, she is less inclined to just throw her head back, close her eyes and go for it because, "I don't want the guy to get the idea he could take advantage... in the throes of passion." But, on the other hand, she says, "They respect you more in the lingerie places. In the booth, they treat you more like an object, talk dirty, because there's no eye contact." While on the subject of eye contact, she adds, "You can make a guy come quicker if you're giving him eye contact." So, if you want to make sure you get your whole 30 minutes worth, guys, never look her in the eye.
Memorable moments for Brandy in her long and winding booth show career: "I peed in a cup for $60; took about two minutes." And then there were the guys who would take out their lighters so she could see them doing their business, and say to her, "Do you like this? What would you do with this?" And she's thinking, "Don't burn yourself!"
Memorable moments in lingerie modeling are yet to come. But, so far, Brandy likes the transformation from booth shows, where she says, "You're trash," to lingerie shows, where she says, "You're classy trash." Not to mention, "At lingerie modeling, we get TV!"
It must be millennium madness when part of Brandy's job description would be: "I squirt milk," and "I see a lot of dicks all day long." Brandy hasn't had a customer yet who was "too shy," which is fine with her because the more they masturbate, the more they tip. And those tips, although never required, are deeply appreciated. Welcome to the world of the 30 minute relationship. Time's up.
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