What's better than big tits and good spelling?
That's right: nothing.
Only problem is, there aren't many opportunities to mix the two, which is why God made stripper spelling bees, and is why the Observer jumped at the chance Sunday night to see the inaugural stripper spelling bee at Baby Dolls Topless Saloon.
After a preliminary screening round, seven girls in bikinis earned the right to spell in front of a packed crowd of raucous and possibly semi-erect men for a $500 prize. In the first round, Baby Dolls' DJ Robert Pennington cut the fat eliminating three girls with the word "circumcise" (the c-i-s-e at the end could fool anyone), "entrepreneur" and "gyrating" (tricky words maybe, but they shouldn't have been butchered to the extent that they were).
In the second round was the Big Reveal, where Pennington rather anticlimactically asked the four remaining contestants to take their tops off. They did, and one girl was promptly eliminated after misspelling "lieutenant." At the beginning of the third round, only three girls remained.
Then shit got shady.
After one stripper, a 20-year-old brunette named Ella, correctly spelled "benign," contestant Serenity, a 24-year-old blonde under employ of Baby Dolls for all of 12 hours, stepped up to spell her word "C-h-a-u-f-f-u-r," catching both Fs but missing the E. Or did she?
After some confusion, Pennington checked with celebrity judge Patrick Bates, a retired NFL safety who first found fame after being drafted 12th overall by the Los Angeles Raiders in 1993 and was later named one of ESPN's top 50 busts in the history of the NFL draft. Bates said that he actually heard the E, and Serenity was saved. The third competitor, a seemingly bright Amazon, misspelled "clientele" (forgot the last E) and suddenly Ella and Serenity were the two finalists.
As Ella and Serenity took turns spelling words in front of a tense crowd (none of whom, we must applaud, tried to shout out answers to words), it was hard to shake the feeling that the fix was in. After Ella misspelled "confidentiality" but wasn't eliminated, Serenity tripped up on the ensuing "hippopotamus." A couple errorless rounds later, Ella accidentally spelled "harassment" with two Rs, understandable save for the fact that large anti-harassment signs draped from every wall. Surely through osmosis Ella would've gained that "harassment" had one solitary R.
Pennington then lobbed "tattooing" to Serenity, who correctly spelled the word to eliminate Ella and win the $500 prize.
In her post-game interview by the DJ booth, newcomer Serenity said she was confident going into the contest.
"I love to read, and I've always been really good at spelling and grammar, so I thought, 'Man, I have to win.'" She plans on using the extra funds to help pay for school as she pursues her Master's in social work.
But controversy whirled when it was later unearthed that Bates had actually been a judge at a similar spelling bee in Las Vegas, where the contest was fixed. Was this one fixed, as well? Had Ella been hosed? Was she part of the conspiracy?
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If Ella was involved in the scandal, however, she played her part well. She was fiery after the loss.
"Infuriated," she began. "I'm very competitive. And it was $500!" She drives 90 minutes to work at Baby Dolls, and the money would've been used for gas or to help pay for her undergraduate education.
In the end, the whole thing lasted about 12 minutes, and when the music came back on, it was back to patrons leering at bare flesh and throwing away their children's future one bill at a time. And possible corruption aside, the bee was a welcomed change in the monotony at the strip club, and showed that maybe some -- but definitely not all -- women who strip are stupid. The stripper spelling bee takes place at Baby Dolls Dallas every Sunday night at 10:30.