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Stripped In Pornland

by Jaime Dunkle

Chalice II

A tiny, blue bag of o-white powder sits next to tubes of lipstick and expensive, non-synthetic brushes in Chalice’s open metal makeup case, on the counter of her station in the dressing room.

She teeters over to my station in black vinyl six-inch heels, which make her tower over everyone at a total of six feet and four inches.

The silver glitter specks on her mini dress twinkle like stars across deep space.

"Can I borrow your Skinny Puppy Last Rites CD?"

I smile. It’s 1999 and we’re the only strippers we know who have the guts to dance to industrial.

"Of course," I say, as I dig it out of my bag.

"Come over to the house tonight," she says. "Let’s party."

She dangles the bag of MDMA powder from her long, manicured ngers and then sets it down.

Before I can answer, she runs up the stairs. Each step exhibits the grace of a cheetah.

I hadn’t done any variation of ecstasy in years, but I knew I had to join her. We sit on the oor, at the edge of the bed that’s now hers. My face ushes and my palms itch.

Chalice hands me a mirror with a thin MDMA line spread across it—like a stratus cloud across an afternoon sky. I stare at it and dget with cut straw in my hand.

"Don’t tell me you’re having second thoughts," Pharaoh says and bats his natural half-inch eyelashes. He’s my ex and Chalice just moved in with him.

He’s right. I’m reluctant, because I remember the last time we partied when he had a girlfriend—before our rst failed (and brief ) dating stint. Somehow we willed an orgy with our mind (so we thought) so that we could have an excuse to make out in front of his girlfriend at the time. Neither he, nor I, partook in the evening’s sexcapades. Instead, we glanced over as we passed the writhing bodies in the living room and hall, on the way to the bedroom where his girlfriend found us. The three of us ended up in bed together, but his girlfriend fell asleep. He left her for me. Then he left me for drugs. I gured he and Chalice were a good t, since drugs were their thing.

I plug one nostril and plunge into the line. The powder burns my nose and tastes sour as it clots down my throat in bitter chunks.

"Good goddamn," I say, as I snort louder than a walrus.

Chalice grabs me by the hands and leads me toward the dresser. We stand together in the doorway of the bedroom.

"Do some magick," she says. "Like you do with the O.T.O."

I don’t respond with words. I close my eyes—so does she. We press our foreheads together under the door frame.

The Egyptian goddess, Nuit arches across my mind as outer space bejeweled with stars and planets. In my mind, I recite the lines of the priestess role in the Gnostic Mass:

But to love me is better than all things; if under the night-stars in the desert thou presently burnest mine incense before me, invoking me with a pure heart, and the serpent ame therein, thou shalt come a little to lie in my bosom. For one kiss wilt thou then be willing to give all; but whoso gives one particle of dust shall lose all in that hour. Ye shall gather goods and store of women and spices; ye shall wear rich jewels; ye shall exceed the nations of the earth in splendor and pride— but always in the love of me and so shall ye come to my joy. I charge you earnestly to come before me in a single robe, and covered with a rich head-dress. I love you! I yearn to you! Pale or purple, veiled or voluptuous, I who am all pleasure and purple, and drunkenness of the innermost sense, desire you. Put on the wings, and arouse the coiled splendor within you: come unto me!" [Liber AL, I:61]

"To me! To me!" [Liber AL, I:62]

"Sing the rapturous love-song unto me! Burn to me perfumes! Wear to me jewels! Drink to me, for I love you! I love you. I am the blue-lidded daughter of sunset; I am the naked brilliance of the voluptuous night-sky. To me! To me! [Liber AL, I:63- 65]

Chalice pulls away, with tears in her eyes. She slumps on the bed.

"I saw her," she says.

"Who?" I ask.

"The goddess of space," she says, although I told her nothing about who or what I was invoking.

"Her name is Nuit. She’s Egyptian. I said her prayer from The Book Of The Law." I say and sit next to her on the bed.

"Thank you," she says, with her arms wrapped around me. She weeps.


Daniel from Cash Me Onstage Booking Agency hires me to book strippers, then he nds out I’m eager to get out of stripping.

Some stripper shifts start as early as 7am, if you can imagine that. A few steak joints in the ’burbs open that early. The dancers are almost always late, except the older women— and, by older, I mean they’re in their 40s-60s.

But, I don’t deal with those problems because I arrive at the oce at 9am and, by then, Daniel practically has three phone cords wrapped around his neck, like a telecomm noose. His face is a permanent beet red. His oce desk is covered in weed, post-its and empty water bottles.

"You want to work nights this weekend? Then get your lazy ass up and get to the club NOW," Daniel says into the receiver and stands up, his eyes glazed and bloodshot. "You’re already 30 minutes late."

He slams the phone down, grabs the bong, takes a hit standing up. He coughs for a solid minute, his face a bruised purple, as mucus ies from his mouth. He sits back down at his desk and loads the bowl, then hands me the bong. He grabs a pad of paper with a list of dancers’ phone numbers.

"We need to send someone else there, just in case. Start calling!" he says.

I take a modest hit. Exhale. I study the texture of legal pad paper between my ngers. I read the list aloud.

"Jasmine, Diamond, Star, Athena, Destiny, Amber, Gypsy, Rose, Luna, Misty, Brandi, Nikki, Hunter, Brittany, Alice, Hannah, Gia, Maddie, Shelby, Lily."

We both laugh. The smoke still lingers over our heads.

"But, what if the scheduled girl goes in?" I ask.

"We’ll have to either send whoever gets there second home, or convince the club to let them both stay," he says.

"So, I’m going to piss someone o, either way?" I ask.

"Basically," he says. "Welcome to hell." He takes another bong rip as I dial numbers on the landline.