Another Night in Paradise
As she turns and saunters toward the back of the stage, giving all the tables in the front row a good long look, Paris steals a glance at the garter snug against her tanned left thigh. It's plenty of time for her to add up the cash folded neatly under the garter and know it's not enough. Time is running out. If she wants more tips, she's going to have to earn them.
Smiling like a kid on Christmas morning, Paris whips her body around the pole, her back arched suggestively, her legs splayed. That did the trick. A man in a suit makes his way to the stage. Paris beats him to his destination, crawling across the stage to meet him, her smile now more naughty than nice.
His name is Don, and he's in town for an insurance convention. Paris noticed him earlier. Guys in suits are always big tippers, but he just sat there with his friends and nursed a series of $5 Bud Lights.
She hooked him this time. Don fumbles a bit as he removes a crisp $20 bill from his money clip. He blushes a little when she shakes her breasts in his face, a little more when she leans over and plants a wet kiss on his cheek. He slides his money underneath her garter.
Paris gives him another kiss, stands up and strolls to the back of the stage. She sneaks another look at her garter and, this time, she smiles.
All night, every night, this scene repeats itself at strip clubs all over Dallas. And that scene is all anyone ever talks about whenever they talk about gentlemen's clubs--or topless bars or strip clubs or whatever you want to call them. It's all about the girls swinging around the pole and the guys watching them.
But while everyone is preoccupied with Oz, they never notice the man behind the curtain or, in this case, standing in a shadowy corner of the club, surrounded by computers and video monitors and racks of CDs. They never get the third side of the story, the one told by the men whose job it is to prolong the fantasy--and inflate the bar sales while they're at it. These men (and, yeah, they're almost always men) are equal parts parent, party host and program director and, in many ways, they're the engine that makes this little red Corvette run. They are DJs.
The life of a strip club DJ is not the endless party people might expect. It's not illicit hand jobs and once-an-hour spins of Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar on Me." Despite the constant presence of women in various states of undress, it's not a very sexy gig. After a few hours on the job, the women all begin to look alike. Plus, there's too much work to do, between running the lights and keeping track of the order of dancers and making sure the computer is running properly and, oh yeah, playing a new song every three minutes or so. As for drinking and drugs? Well, you try making it through a 7 p.m.-to-4 a.m. shift while maintaining a buzz.
"You're here to make sales at the bar, pump up the crowd, play the right music and deal with about 50, 60 girls a night," says Lance Hicks, a DJ at The Fare Room at Cabaret Royale. "That's a job."
That said, it's not exactly like Hicks and his fellow DJs are working in a coal mine. If they ever feel like they are, a reminder is usually just one song away.
"How does the thrill go away?" says Jim Hickerson, who DJs at the Penthouse Key Club. "It doesn't ever go away. It's just nice. Very, very nice. I really never get tired of looking at women, beautiful women. Everybody always asks me, 'How do you do it?' 'Just another night in paradise' is what I always say."
"Oh, yeah. That's right, she's back, guys, and here we go! Guys, it's Andrea!" The first few bars of Franz Ferdinand's "Take Me Out" spill out of the speakers as Andrea, a full-figured rockabilly girl, makes her entrance.
Upstairs in the DJ booth, a woman offers enthusiastic hugs to everyone in sight before rattling off her recent itinerary, which includes a stint in California doing her "porn thing." Lance Hicks smiles and nods, holding up his end of the one-sided conversation while he gets the music ready for the next dancer. After another minute or so of her monologue, she says her goodbyes and leaves the booth.
"Who's the porn star?" he asks with a laugh. William Thompson, the day-shift DJ, shrugs his shoulders. Both DJs assumed the other knew her. Huh. She must have left to do her "porn thing" before they started working at The Fare Room. Thompson has been a DJ here only five months or so, Hicks around eight.
But Hicks, 40, is no rookie. He's been a DJ at various strip clubs for eight years, and he's as surprised as anyone that he's lasted this long. Like most strip club DJs, he never expected to wind up here, doing this.
Don't take that to mean Hicks is ashamed of what he does for a living, or that he's keeping his résumé ready and scouring the want ads. It's just that this is the kind of job you stumble into. You wake up one afternoon and realize you've been doing it for 10 years. Also, you don't really want to do anything else.
A few twists and turns aside, Hicks' origin story as a strip club DJ is not all that different from most. After more than a decade working in sales and marketing at the local office of Polygram Records, Hicks was selling ad space at The Met, the now-defunct alternative weekly. A few clubs were among his clients. He became friendly with the managers and, given his background in the music business, intrigued by the DJs. One day, while picking up an ad, Hicks worked up the nerve to pop the question.
"I just said, 'What does it take to DJ in a place like this?'" Hicks says. "The guy said, 'Well, I need somebody for Saturday afternoon. Why don't you just come on in and fill in?' Well, I filled in. I sucked on the mike but walked out with a couple hundred dollars for a Saturday afternoon. I thought, well, that was kinda fun, you know. So I went ahead and just kept on doing that every Saturday. And then eventually, you know, you can make a pretty good living, so I just decided to do it full time."
It's the strictest definition of "full time" when you're on the night shift at The Fare Room, an all-nude BYOB club that's part of the Cabaret Royale building just off Walnut Hill Lane. Hicks works four or five nights a week, and his shift lasts from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. But Hicks never has to watch the clock. There's always something to keep him occupied.
As if on cue, Jessica walks in. She has a twinkle in her eye. Quite literally. Her eyelids are encrusted with fake diamonds. She strikes up a giggling conversation with Thompson and another dancer named Jade (every club in town seems to have at least one girl named Jade) that eventually sucks in Hicks.
"Were you up here when I was doing that?" she asks Hicks, as the befuddled smile returns to his face. "I was all imitating the day dancers," she says. "Let me do my impression; you can see who--you know the day dancers, right, how they dance? OK, who am I?"
She raises her arms and loses her smile, shaking her hips with a bored look on her face.
"Some drunk girl?" Hicks ventures.
As Jessica stomps away, another girl comes in and asks Hicks about the song she wants him to play the next time she's onstage. Apart from a pair of stiletto heels, she's naked.
Which brings up a question: Does Hicks ever get tired of seeing naked women?
"Oh, yeah. I mean, some girls you don't want to see naked." He laughs. "Late night, we get some really good-looking girls. I mean, it's different. When they come in to tip you or we're talking about a song she wants played, and they're standing here--like that girl that came in naked? I wasn't paying attention. You kind of get that way. You're thinking about work. But, no, I never get tired of naked women."
Then again, Hicks doesn't see as many naked women as you might expect. The DJ booth at The Fare Room is directly above the club's main stage. It used to be virtually impossible to see what was going on below. The club fixed the problem by installing a video monitor in the booth. The grainy black-and-white image that appears on it isn't exactly titillating. It's just clear enough to confirm that there is, in fact, a girl onstage.
Not having a girl onstage is death to a DJ, but dead air is even worse.
"That's when my heart stops," Hicks says. "We have a program here that sometimes it'll freeze. And I'm like, 'Oh, my God.' So I've got to reboot the computer. So luckily we have two, just in case something like that happens. I'll have to ad-lib something while I get a CD on and get some music going. That's what gets me freaked out."
Jessica is back. "Can you do 'Trick Pony' again?"
He nods and turns to the mike. "That's it, guys, c'mon, clap your hands, staying out there two times for you, that's right, Taylor!" He turns back to Jessica.
"And then 'Jackson, Mississippi?'" she asks, before hustling out the door again.
Hicks taps a few keys at his computer and clears his throat.
"A little "Trick Pony" for you right now. C'mon, first time tonight, guys, that's right, Jessica!"
Britney appears in the doorway. Every club also seems to have a girl named Britney. She catches Hicks' eye with her pink vinyl shorts. They have hearts cut out of the hips.
"I like your shorts," he says.
"Thanks, they're new," Britney says, re-examining her wardrobe choice. "Let's see how much money I make in 'em."
"I bet you'll make some money tonight."
Hicks has a vested interest in that happening. Every dancer tips him about 10 percent of whatever she makes, which is industry standard. That kind of income makes an 11-hour shift worthwhile, but it also means he takes care of his own retirement fund. That's the tradeoff. You don't get a 401(k) when you're dealing in stacks of wrinkled $20 bills. But Hicks doesn't worry much about retirement. He's a youthful-looking 40 and, in his shirt and tie, doesn't appear that different from the way he did when he was trying to get the clubs to buy ads in a newspaper. He guesses he can hold out for another decade.
"I think DJ is the best job you can get," he says. "I don't want to get into management. I like music too much. I like talking with the girls and having fun. If I keep it clean and stay off the alcohol and keep healthy, I can do another 10 years."
"Round number two, your last song right here with the beautiful Angel, your final chance now. Mallory will be next, followed by Pink."
Across the room, with his crisp white shirt and tie and immaculately coiffed hair, Robert Pennington looks more 9-to-5 than most of the businessmen ogling Mallory.
Of course, it's not terribly difficult to appear more professional than a group of guys spending their lunch hours at a topless bar, specifically Baby Dolls, the jewel of the Burch Management empire. (Among others, the company also owns Cabaret Royale and The Fare Room, Million Dollar Saloon, P.T.'s Gold Club and La Bare in Arlington.) It's early on a Thursday afternoon and an hour or so before today's Christmas VIP party. Plenty of those VIPs are already here, showing off their holiday cheer by flashing cash at the dancers.
A graduate of Louisiana State University, Pennington might have been one of them if the DJ at The Gold Club in Baton Rouge had shown up for work that day 15 years ago, when he was working his way through college as a bartender at the club.
"Nobody else knew how to use the equipment, and they just threw me up there," says Pennington, who's been a DJ since he was 14 and plying his trade in the topless-bar industry since he was 18. "I saw the potential to make more money as a DJ than as a bartender, so I stuck with DJ-ing. Just right time, right place."
He's still not sure if he wants to stick with it forever. He's only 33, young enough to put his journalism degree to use or get a PGA teaching card and work at a golf course (he's about a -7 handicap now, but he's been better). Maybe even get back into concert promoting, another of his post-college jobs. Right now, though, he's happy where he is.
Mallory, the dancer on deck, pokes her head into Pennington's booth.
"Um, I'm in the champagne room," she says. Meaning: "I'm not going onstage next, because I'm about to make more money giving a private dance."
Pennington nods and grabs the mike.
"Pink will be next."
Pennington has been at Baby Dolls for seven years and with the company for 10. He's well-known in the industry, but to the people he meets outside the topless-bar business, he's just a guy who DJs in nightclubs.
"Any time I tell someone I'm a topless-bar DJ, they do the fake topless-bar DJ voice: 'Oh, and here's the beautiful...'" Pennington says. "So, yeah, I just lie to people, because you get the same 15 questions: What are the girls like? Do you have sex with the girls? Do they do a lot of drugs up there? Do they make a lot of money?"
The answers are less interesting than the questions: Pennington gets along well with most of the girls. No, he doesn't have sex with them, unless they're dating, which rarely happens. No, they don't really do a lot of drugs. Yes, some of them make a lot of money.
Pennington's cover is not technically a lie. He spends much of his free time spinning records at clubs where the dancers (usually) keep their clothes on. He doesn't make any money doing that, but he enjoys it. For one thing, it allows him to exercise his DJ muscles.
"Let's get started, I'll tell you about our Christmas VIP party. Free barbecue till midnight tonight and don't forget, guys: 4 to 8 today, dollar domestic and Bud beers, along with dollar well drinks. So stick around, it's all coming up, part of our VIP Christmas party." Pennington cues up U2's "Vertigo."
That didn't take much work--not the actual DJ part of it, anyway. He just pushed a button. At Baby Dolls, it's all MP3s and computer programs; when he's at Candle Room, a regular club, he uses CDs and vinyl, mixing everything by hand.
Working in regular clubs also allows him to meet women. It sounds like a punch line: A guy surrounded by nearly naked women all day can't get a date.
"No normal girl wants to go out with a topless-bar DJ," Pennington says. "You know, they think the DJ is in the DJ booth getting, you know, blowjobs and hand jobs from dancers. It's a double-edged sword: You don't want to date the girls that you work with, but no other girls can date you either because you work in a topless bar with a bunch of strippers. Like, 'Oh, you sleep with all the girls.'"
If anything, the opposite is true. While we've been talking, there have never been fewer than four topless women in our field of vision. Not that Pennington has noticed. He is at work, after all.
"I'm more interested in what song am I gonna play five songs from now," Pennington says. "Or what kind of lighting am I gonna do for this next girl. The nakedness is in the back of my mind. It doesn't even register anymore."
He has a point. Sit behind the counter of the DJ booth for an hour or two and the sight of a pair of bare breasts becomes almost mundane. Do it four days a week for 10 years and they become as routine a part of the workplace as TPS reports and Styrofoam coffee cups.
Pennington does happen to notice the girl hovering outside the booth at the moment. She has long brown hair and long brown legs. But he's not really interested in either feature.
"What do you dance by?"
"OK. Where did Ryan run off to?"
"Oh, I don't know."
"Is that Ryan right there?"
"Yeah, that's Ryan. Am I, am I, am I next?"
"You are next. Yeah. One more song." Pennington looks over her shoulder. "Hey, you're onstage right now."
Ryan looks panicked. "What?"
"You're onstage right now."
"Are you kidding?"
Unfortunately for her, he is not. That's one thing no DJ jokes about, and Pennington is even less of a comedian than most.
Ryan scurries onstage just in time for the beginning of Shania Twain's "That Don't Impress Me Much."
While Pennington is busy giving Ryan a tardy slip, a man in a rumpled suit awkwardly approaches Natasha and gracelessly requests her presence in the champagne room. Pennington dutifully takes the order and flags down a waitress, changing the dance list and quickly cueing up a new set of songs in almost the same motion. He's a pro's pro.
"A lot of people are like, 'All you do is sit up there and pop CDs in,'" Pennington says. "Well, I wish it was easy. It's like any other job. If you don't play the right songs, the right types of music, if you don't do the lights like the girls like, you won't have a job here. That's pretty much what it boils down to."
"Let's keep the fun coming your way, ladies and gentlemen, 127 beautiful entertainers for you tonight. Truly one of our finest stepping out for you right now, you can see her on the World Wide Web at heathernicole.com, also featured on The Howard Stern Show on the E! channel, partying with the likes of Randy 'Macho Man' Savage, Vince Neil, Hulk Hogan and, of course, my favorite, David Hasselhoff. Ladies and gentlemen, the beautiful Heather Nicole!"
Heather Nicole laughs as Sammy Hagar's "The Girl Gets Around"--and her first set of the night--begins. The women who dance at Penthouse Key Club know Jim Hickerson is good for a laugh. That's what they like about him. Well, most of them. A few think his smart-ass routine sometimes leans a little too heavily on the second word. But for the most part, they know that when Hickerson is in the DJ booth, they'll walk out onstage in a good mood, which means more tips.
"I say something stupid to her or make a joke or tell her how good she looks and put a smile on her face when she walks through that curtain," Hickerson says. He's carrying a few extra pounds underneath his polo shirt and Tommy Hilfiger jacket, and he's compensated for his thinning gray hair by adding a goatee.
The key is the DJ booth, which is positioned just behind the stage. One window looks out on the club, and another smaller window opens behind the curtain, where the next dancer is waiting to go on. This is where Hickerson, who's been working here for a little more than a year, earns his keep, where he gets his chance to turn a frown upside down. Yeah, he's a good talker and, sure, he knows what songs will keep the crowd and the girls happy, but that skill is the real reason Hickerson has rarely been out of work during his 20 years in the business.
Hickerson, 46, got his start as a DJ at roller rinks in Michigan. He moved to Texas to get away from the cold, which was the extent of his plan at the time. He found work through a buddy who had a lighting and sound business, and one of their clients was a topless bar in Lewisville called Wranglers. When the friend's business went under, Hickerson started working for Wranglers, figuring it was better than anything else he could come up with. He'd do something else eventually.
Eventually never happened. From the since-gone Wranglers, he moved to The Fare, back when it was still on Greenville Avenue, back when he needed an endless stream of Crown Royal and Cokes to keep his nerves quiet and the party loud. He gave that up a long time (and a handful of clubs) ago. These days, he's replaced the Crown and Cokes with a few Red Bulls to kick-start the night, some Arizona Iced Tea to keep the caffeine in his system and a couple of packs of Camels just because.
"It didn't take very long to figure out that, you know, I thought I was real funny and having a good time when I was drinking, but all I was, was just drinking," Hickerson says. "So I just said, nah, I can't do that anymore." He points out the window. "You see that one light stuck on the kind of bright pink? Yeah, it's supposed to be blue. Shit."
Heather Nicole struts to the back of the stage as if it's part of her act and pokes her head in the booth. "Can you remove that red light?"
"That's what I'm trying to do, but it's stuck. Sorry. I can turn it down."
She laughs and starts dancing again.
"A lot of the girls are afraid of light," Hickerson says when she leaves. "I hate that, too: 'I've got cellulite.' I say, 'Honey, I can't remember the last time I saw a really good-looking girl with her clothes off and said, "Oh, my God, she's got cellulite!'"
A girl named Bella leans into the booth from behind the curtain. She's due up next and wants Hickerson to hunt down a couple of MP3s for her set: the new Alicia Keys song and Gavin DeGraw's "I Don't Want to Be." The DJ last night was able to do it for her. Hickerson seems skeptical that Keys would have anything fast enough to play here, and he doesn't know the other song. He says he'll give it a try and steps out to find an ashtray. When he comes back, he notices her still waiting at the window.
"You're talking about getting 'em right now?" he asks.
"Because I'm going out pretty soon."
"Oh, no, well, I have to shut the computer off in order to switch something over, so it's pretty much--unless you want to wait until the end of the night. That's about the only time I'm gonna be able to get it."
"OK, well, the other DJ did it while they could still be playing music..."
"Sure he did, because he brings his own computer in."
"No, he did it from this one."
"No, he did. I was standing right here."
"OK. I believe you, baby."
"No, you don't." Bella stalks off, back to the dressing room. Hickerson just laughs. He turns his attention to the list of tonight's specials from the kitchen. He's sold the sizzle. Now it's time to sell the steak.
"Also, you wanna keep in mind, we've got a walk-in humidor featuring over 200 of your favorite imported and domestic hand-rolled cigars, available for you right now. All of our managers are half-Cuban and half-Dominican. They have everything there is to know about a fine cigar. Let's bring out for you the beautiful Bella!"
Halfway through the Ashanti song he picked for her, Bella still hasn't arrived. "Maybe that girl did get mad," he says, more to himself than anyone. He clicks on the walkie-talkie that connects him with the dancers' dressing room. "Hi, is Bella back there? Well, we need her onstage." He clicks it off. "That's the hardest thing, when you can't get a girl onstage. Because you can't really do anything about it."
Bella never shows. Hickerson moves on.
"Let's keep the fun coming your way, Cody, standing by for you. Let's rock the house a little bit for you, a little STP rock and roll and a hot new act stepping out for you, get those 20s, 50s, 100s out, make a new friend tonight, the beautiful Cody!"
She doesn't show either. Hickerson grabs the radio again. "OK, guys, now we're looking for Cody. This is two in a row. Cody."
He waits a minute then changes the song to the Foo Fighters' "All My Life." "Let's keep the fun coming your way, ladies and gentlemen. You can't find one, you move right on to the next one. Truly one of my favorites. All my life, I've been searching for this girl right here! Gonna play a little Foo for you tonight, ladies and gentlemen. She'd like to wish everybody a happy holidays. Ladies and gentlemen, the beautiful Cory, main stage!"
Cory appears in the window, stubbing out her cigarette. "It's fucking up my smoke."
"You're the best. I'm sorry about the cigarette."
At times like these, Hickerson may wonder what would have happened if he had taken the job that Q102 offered him 15 years ago. He always wanted to be a radio DJ, but at the time the money wasn't good. Just then, Keri pops by to ask about her songs. This time, it's the girl in the window who puts a smile on Hickerson's face.
"He's a badass DJ," Keri says, watching me watch Hickerson. "He is, like, awesome. He's nice, and, you know what? He's good at picking out songs, too. I mean, he knows, like, every song there is."
She gives her breasts a good shake for Hickerson's benefit before she goes back to the dressing room. Thanks to Keri and Cory, Hickerson's frustration has vanished, one of the advantages of working with several dozen scantily clad women and being in a position to make them happy. There will be some down times, but like he says, it's just another night in paradise.
"How about a round of applause for all the lovely ladies of The Clubhouse giving you a table dance? Somebody give me a 'hell yeah!' Hey! Stick around, we're going all the way to 4 a.m. The party's here at The Clubhouse, the place to be! Oh, yeah! Whooo! All right, let's bring up another sexy lady, main stage, first time up this evening, say hello to Venus!"
As The Fixx's "Red Skies at Night" fills the smoky air of The Clubhouse, Dr. Rock, in his perch high above the stage, is doing more dancing than Venus is. Odds are, everyone in the club is watching Venus, or maybe one of the four other naked women languidly wriggling around on another stage. But the way Rock sees it, if even one person is watching him, he's going to give them a show.
Truth is, he could do that just by standing there. Born 51 years ago as Glen Procell, Dr. Rock stands well over 6 feet tall, and his teased and feathered hair-metal hair adds a few more inches. With his name and appearance, Rock is a caricature, and that's kind of the point. No one wants to party with a short-haired guy named Glen Procell. But everyone wants to hang out with the glammed-up Dr. Rock. That's why he's been voted Disc Jockey of the Year by Adult News & Entertainment several years running.
"I put a lot into this," Rock says. He's not always Dr. Rock. When he's taking care of his 10-year-old daughter, he's Mr. Procell. "I have fun. And some people just don't have fun. They just look at it as a job, what they gotta do, that they can't do anything else. I like doing this. And then I take it a step further. I'll get out there and perform myself...Whatever it takes to make everybody happy and smile."
He's been working here for seven years, since the club he was part owner of, Club Legacy in Arlington, was sold. But he's been around The Clubhouse since before it opened in 1995. He was even offered an ownership stake, which he turned down. ("I could kick myself in the butt over that one," he says.) More than the girls, and almost more than Pantera's Vinnie Paul and Rex Ewing, who are among the owners, Dr. Rock is the face of The Clubhouse. It's not difficult for him to command respect--and more than a little affection--from the dancers.
"I always have a little orientation with them so they can know what I'm about and they can hear what this club's about, what we do here, the way we do it," Rock explains. "This is how we roll, and I guarantee you, if you listen to me, and listen to the great management staff we have here, we'll make you some money and you'll be happy here."
Almost 20 years of experience have proven this theory to Rock--not that he set out to become a leading authority on the ins and outs of the strip club business. Though he seems to be born for the role he plays, Rock's occupation is as accidental as the other DJs'. He came to Dallas in the early 1980s. He'd just come off the road with his band The Prisoners and was settling into his new job running a construction company.
While his crew was working on a site near Webb Chapel Road and Northwest Highway, they'd spend their extended lunch hour at Caligula XXI. During one of those lunches, the DJ celebrated his birthday a bit too vigorously, downing three hurricanes in 10 minutes. The manager, Terry Brown, remembered Rock from his days with The Prisoners and drafted him into service.
"So I jumped on the mike and helped him out that afternoon, and it was like I was a natural for the deal," Rock says. "And then the nighttime group came in about 6, 6:30, like they do in this business, and the owner, Nick Rizos, went, 'Who is this guy? You need to get this guy on for our nighttime.' So I started doing it, like, three nights a week, then four nights a week."
Before long, Rock had acquired his DJ name--he was pre-med at Louisiana State University--and a full schedule of DJ gigs. He'd found his calling, not to mention a way to buy a new Corvette. When he started working at The Clubhouse a decade later, he knew he'd found a home, too. And it's a happy one.
"All right! Who's having a good time out there? Say 'hell yeah!' Who wants to get drunk tonight? Say 'hell yeah!' Who wants to get laaaid tonight? Say 'hell yeah!' Who wants to get high tonight? Say 'hell yeah!' You're kidding me. I don't believe you."
"I want to get high!" someone screams from downstairs.
"Well, go up to the second floor. You'll be up higher. All right, coooming to the main stage, please, gentlemen, here's Mariah! C'mon, shake that booty!"
He cues up Nelly, P. Diddy and Murphy Lee's "Shake Ya Tailfeather" as Mariah does just that. He disappears across the hall into the dancers' dressing room, where he keeps two lockers to store his costumes. He comes back in a backward baseball cap and shades and starts doing a routine he learned as a Mavs ManiAAC. This season, Rock joined the big-man dance team that entertains fans during Dallas Mavericks games. Again, he's a natural.
One of the girls, Brooklyn, briefly interrupts his dance.
"Hi, honey," Rock says, lifting up his sunglasses.
"Will you, um, put the dark lights on to cover my fat ass?"
"Ah, yeah. I like that fat ass, though." To prove his point, he gives it a smack.
When the song ends, and he and Mariah have both finished their dances, he heads back to the mike. "Tip those girls! Hey, Mariah, you missed one!" A stray bit of currency is in the middle of the stage. As she bends over to pick it up, Rock lets out a flatulent-sounding duck call. Mariah smiles up at the booth and flips him off.
He lets out a belly laugh as one of the managers comes up behind him, landing a fake punch.
"You can't hurt steel," Rock says. "I'm telling you, you can't hurt steel! I'm Dr. Rock. I'm the ayatollah of rock and rolla!"
The manager stares him down and laughs. "Lick my nuts and shut up."
Rock lets out another big laugh and cues up the 69 Boyz's "Tootsie Roll," a bass-heavy rap. Celeste, one of his favorite dancers, joins him for another Mavs ManiAAC routine. Everyone's happy.
But how long can it last for a man who's already spent half a century on earth and 20 years in the gentlemen's club business? Naturally, Dr. Rock looks to rock and roll for his answer.
"I've always told myself--because I've been asked that question before--who's the oldest rock-and-roll band in rock-and-roll history that's still performing?" he says. "The Rolling Stones. If they can still rock and roll at 60, I can still rock and roll at 60. And so I've still got a long time to go."
He pulls up Ugly Kid Joe's "I Hate Everything About You" for the next dancer, Brooklyn. There probably isn't a person here tonight who would direct that sentiment to Dr. Rock.
"You guys are awful quiet out there. Where's all the Dallas Mavericks fans in the house tonight? Texas Ranger fans? Dallas Cowboy fans? Dallas Stars fans? How many people don't care about sports right now, they just wanna see naked women tonight? Thank you. Thank you very much. All right, let's continue on, bringing up another beautiful lady, coming up main stage, feast your eyes, here you go, Brooklyn!"
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