By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
There's not a mean bone in her surgically enhanced body, but she repeatedly makes it clear--sometimes in the presence of her husband, who is deaf and mute--that she is mine for the taking. I don't have the nerve to tell Ms. Staks that if I hadn't begun this bus trip as a gay man, I certainly would have converted to one after these unwanted invitations.
The woman I will come to admire most is Vanity, the Dallas resident who graduated from Carter High School and exhibits some truly awesome, athletic dance skills during her club act. She is beautiful in that muscular, force-of-nature, Angela Bassett way. She also possesses guts and good humor in abundance.
I first see Vanity in a state most club patrons never will--makeup-free, battling a stubborn flu bug with temporary over-the-counter remedies, and clutching Booboo, her beloved yellow-and-white stuffed giraffe, to her chest.
The Angela Bassett resemblance is cemented because, during the trip from Dallas to Houston, What's Love Got to Do With It? plays on six small video screens inside the bus. It took me a minute to realize the nature of Vanity's sniffing and snuffling during the film's brutal abuse scenes, when Bassett as Tina Turner is thrown around like a rag doll by Laurence Fishburne as Ike Turner.
A.J. Crowell quickly realized, too, that Vanity was crying. She offered the dancer a few words on what an intense film this is and how she admires Tina Turner.
Vanity laughed at herself for getting weepy during a movie. "I'd love to have Tina's success," she says. "But I'm never gonna have her man troubles."
She feels better the next morning as part of the small group that shows up for the Stevens & Pruitt show. The mission: Promote Ray Hill's candidacy for Houston city council, the goals of Adults for Legal Freedom, and that night's awareness party/fundraiser at XTC, an all-nude men's club.
A Sundown staffer makes some notes about basic facts to cover and briefs Sofia, Kayla, and Vanity. But as it turns out, shock jocks Stevens & Pruitt actually plan on getting the political dirt from Ray Hill, who will appear on the show after the women.
Once in the studio with the performers and on air, Stevens announces: "OK, our producers tell us you have to lift your shirts and show us what you've got."
There's a pause, and a bit of nervous laughter. Sofia leans forward into the microphone and says, "If you want to see me naked, check out the January '97 issue of Bust Out Magazine."
"No, no, we want to see them now," Pruitt insists. "Tubby, take these women out into the hall and counsel them."
Tubby is a tall, overweight lackey who plays Robin Quivers to Stevens & Pruitt's lightweight Howard Stern, except he's uglier (Sofia describes him as looking like a "giant pimple"), stupider, and doesn't talk as much as Quivers.
Kayla Kleevage relents, dropping her top without a fight, and so is spared Tubby's "counsel." Sofia and Vanity, however, are escorted one at a time into the hallway outside the studio door and very sternly given the facts.
Tubby to Sophia: "We don't take no for an answer on this show."
Tubby to Vanity, with a tad less severity: "There's no such thing as no on this show."
Sofia returns, giggling, to display her talents. Before she flashes a quick glimpse of one breast, Vanity lays down the law to Stevens and Pruitt:
"Vanity will show you her breasts when you drop your pants and show me your dick."
A toilet flush sound effect barely covers the word "dick," and suddenly, the frazzlers are frazzled. Stevens gives Vanity a nervous, irritated warning about foul language on the show, and after Vanity agrees to weigh the respective bosoms of Kayla and Sofia and decide which is heavier, the segment ends.
In the kitchen area of the station, Vanity can't help but giggle at her delicious coup. She rails against Stevens and Pruitt and snorts derisively at the "fake-ass Howard Stern" half of the pair who wears square, blue half-sunglasses. Demonstrating the symbolic nature of her on-air rebellion, she puts her feet apart, throws her arms up, and delivers a kung-fu kick to the air.
You can just picture Stevens and Pruitt on the other side of that hit, doubled over, clutching their aching privates and wishing to hell they'd never let this uppity woman near a microphone.
At an angel-faced 27 years, XTC owner Eric Langan looks barely old enough to enter his own establishment.MBefore a galaxy of porn stars and dancers takes the stage for the Adults for Legal Freedom show that Friday night, the blond Langan greets me in a cluster of harshly lit offices a couple doors down from XTC. The offices are mostly empty, save for one room full of computers manned by a jovial man with greased-back salt-and-pepper hair and a generous gut.
Stan is Langan's fiftysomething hired gun for his Internet video business. Eighteen months ago, XTC opened a site on the World Wide Web called "The Girls of XTC." What you get every Friday and Saturday night, after logging in to the site, is Eric's all-nude dancers live on your home or office computer screen. A video camera positioned above the club's L-shaped stage records the performances and flings them into cyberspace, to be retrieved by anyone who wishes to spend $69.95 for a four-hour block. (One-hour blocks are also available for $19.95.)