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May 28, 2001
By JULIA RUBINER
You’ve probably seen the video for Madonna’s "Music," the #1 hit single from her 2000 album of the same name. It features the singer and her girl posse out for a night on the town, complete with vaguely comic limo driver, a bunch of club revelers, an animation sequence and – the price of admission as far as I’m concerned – five divine strippers.
As the author of a book on exotic dancers, I was afforded the opportunity to help cast those strippers by invitation of one of Hollywood’s hottest casting directors, whom I’d met through a mutual friend. On an exceedingly tight deadline, the two of us (and assorted hangers-on) hit Crazy Girls and approached a splendid dancer there, but it became apparent very quickly that we needed volume, and fast.
What to do? She called the publicist for premiere porn purveyor Vivid Video, home of several outstanding feature dancers; I called Z-Bone, titular figure in Z-Bone’s Strip Club Connection and, in fact, the most stripper-connected guy in Los Angeles. Both sprang into action and it looked as if the matter was well in hand – until Madonna threw a monkey wrench into our well-laid plan.
The casting director had already been instructed to select only the most beautiful girls, those with flawless forms, not to mention advanced stage moves and exemplary pole chops. Complicating matters was the initial gag order that prevented us from telling the girls whom they were auditioning for. These constraints in and of themselves made for a tall order, even in L.A., THE hotbed of semi-professional models and other comely entertainers. But then Miss M. dropped the bombshell – ALL DANCERS CAST MUST HAVE THEIR GOD-GIVEN BREASTS. Great. This forced us to say goodbye to the raven-haired stunner we’d recruited at Crazy Girls, among several other promising prospects.
We could only redouble our bush-beating and get on with the auditions, at which point my role in the casting process took on a greater dimension. At first, my job at the tryouts was limited to cueing music and offering an opinion here and there. However, word had come down from Madonna again, this time that she would be receiving a lap dance during the strip-club scene in the video. Dancers auditioning for the clip would now be required to show how they’d lap (a pregnant and just-starting-to-show) Maddy, in addition to how they’d perform onstage. Someone – a woman – would have to supply a lap.
One at a time the dancer hopefuls trouped through the small, windowless, white-walled, brightly lit box that served as the audition room. They would present the casting director with their Polaroids (taken by an assistant in the reception area of the studio). She’d then mark them off on the ledger indicating who represented them and where their audition was on the videotape. They’d hit their mark for the cameraman, who would instruct them to give their names and turn profile. In less than the space of one song they would need to stare down the camera, show off their moves, take off their tops (there would be a European cut of the video) and lap the blonde in the folding chair – me – AS IF SHE WERE MADONNA.
For even a highly practiced stripper, it’s difficult to smolder mightily, bare one’s breasts and seduce a lap client stone-cold sober at 10 in the morning. Add to that the arctic air conditioning and larger challenge inherent in the task at hand. The dancers knew they were being considered for a video by a female superstar, directed by the highly acclaimed Jonas Akerlund (a MAJOR clue as he’d shot Madonna’s "Ray Of Light"), that was guaranteed massive exposure in the U.S. and beyond. Many dancers aspire to acting careers, and several of those before us had stars in their eyes. The fee wasn’t bad either and would ultimately be driven up as Madonna became choosier and choosier.
So, how did the girls do? Unfortunately, the commotion they created in my jeans was not necessarily an indicator of their success on the small screen. But some of them did knock the casting director dead while reducing me to rubble.
The first of these was Heather, a cat-eyed blonde (think Joey Lauren Adams of "Chasing Amy") with a gorgeous figure in black lingerie and a rhinestone choker. Dancing to Madonna’s "Erotica" – which SHE brought in – she presented some fairly prosaic faux-stage maneuvering, but when she pressed her forehead against mine to start her lap dance, all memory of that was erased.
(It bears repeating that these girls were topless. In Los Angeles’ topless establishments, dancers with uncovered breasts are legally enjoined from coming within six feet of the customer; lap dances are performed in the equivalent of a bikini, which is also frequently the case at nude clubs, where the lack of alcohol at least allows naked women to get close to patrons at the rail. Needless to say, the "six-feet rule" was not in force at OUR club. And if a dancer is going to allow you a close encounter with her breasts, so much the better if they’re the genuine article.)
Heather immediately grabbed me by the hair and jerked my head around. I don’t know about you, but I like a girl who takes control. She proceeded to linger with her lips a hair’s breadth from mine, then kiss my neck, caress my bra-free breasts and once on her knees between my legs, playfully lift my T-shirt and nuzzle my ripped abs (okay, a bit of poetic license about the muscle tone). That she was not adequately warmed up and I could hear her joints cracking in no way diminished the power of her performance. Only my extremely high level of professionalism prevented me from running dizzily after her when she left the room.
I caught my breath during the next audition, a mile-high Carrie Otis look-alike named Vanessa with poker-straight red locks, bright blue eyes and Jean Harlow brows. Before getting down to the business of removing her tube dress, she babbled on about her flight from Vegas and her boyfriend, which I attributed to nervousness and coffee but which the camera operator felt was derived from Bolivian marching powder. Despite the ampage, her steps were lackluster, as was her lap work, though she did give me the eye while rubbing her clit against my knee, which is ALWAYS good.
I continued to work hard but cheerfully in my chair as the parade swept by. My pleasure-mixed-with-business approach was not lost on the video’s director. As a previous commitment had kept me away from the earliest stripper auditions, the casting director’s female assistant had first occupied the chair. She had never been lapped and evidently, it showed. Then I came in. After the first audition tapes featuring me as lap object were sent to the director, he said, "Keep that blond in there; she really seems to be enjoying herself."
At one point a lanky Asian lass with short platinum hair, wearing sensibly heeled black pumps and jeans, entered the room. Her name was Maya Malaysia. Her agent – or whoever had told her about this audition – had failed to inform her that removal of some clothes was part of the drill. She had no problem taking off her top; it was the bottoms that got her into trouble. Underneath her jeans was a pair of black, standard-issue underwear (no g-string, which was the norm among the other dancers). And it wasn’t even the underpants that were the problem; it was the pantiliner, its "wings" (adhered to the outside crotch area) plainly visible as she did her dance. She didn’t seem to realize the pantiliner was making its presence known, which was probably for the best. The casting director and I could only smile awkwardly. Ultimately, though, it was her lack of dance ability – we didn’t believe this girl was actually a working stripper – and not her panty protection that disqualified her.
Another hopeful, Guadeloupe, wore a clingy little number that left little to the imagination, particularly her enormous breasts. In addition to those, she sported big black hair, razor-thin brows, out-to-there false eyelashes and seemingly indelible lip liner. Her appearance verged on the grotesque (and those white shoes didn’t help). She happened to bring in some photos of herself, one of which captured a beautiful young woman in very little makeup. Indeed, less is frequently more, but I must admit that the sensation of those oversized orbs draping themselves here and there about my person was quite stimulating.
An Old World-looking stunner named Sarah – pale, translucent skin, hair in a tight knot – danced to The Cars’ "Moving In Stereo," a brilliant accompaniment to her slow-burn, dare-you-to-blink routine. She removed a white handkerchief top to reveal some of the most charming little tits I’ve ever had the pleasure to observe (their diminutive stature made perfect sense considering this girl’s impossibly delicate frame). The next dancer, Ebony, provided contrast with her ample proportions – she made the most of her substantial behind, slapping, jiggling and squeezing it with gusto. She wore a hot pink ensemble and plenty of tattoos. She was also notable for a piercing of her genitalia (one friendly labia popped out to say howdy while she gyrated on the floor at my feet).
All of these girls had something to recommend them, but none had really blown us away. Then came Sophia – Ay, mami! A fiery Brazilian with a mane of curly, golden-brown hair and the face of an angel, she wore a purple, floor-length velvet gown and danced to Marc Anthony’s "I Need To Know." Her first move was a breathtakingly high kick that revealed the green satin lining of her halter-topped frock. We were struck dumb as she followed that with some amazingly fast ‘n’ fancy footwork, the kind of terpsichorean precision one would not think possible in six-inch stilettos atop office-grade carpeting – we could hear the gray fabric protesting as her heels stabbed and slashed at it. The fact that Sophia’s body was as awe-inspiring as her professional-caliber Latin dance, effectively nullified her strictly by-the-numbers lap attempt (which nonetheless afforded a whiff of her intoxicating perfume).
After this hard-to-follow act came a hapless gal whose CD kept skipping and who herself skipped accidentally a few times (the carpet proving a major impediment). The irony of her song choice – Sade’s "Smooth Operator" – was not lost on us. We felt terrible for her, but the show must go on.
And on it did with a second incredible performer, Ricky, a brunette bombshell with classic, Golden Age Of Hollywood looks. Decked out in tastefully lacy black thigh-highs and matching bra and T-back, this girl looked smart (think Natalie Wood), which always hooks me, and she wowed us with her showing-you-how-it’s-done step execution; but it was her set-the-client-aflame lap offering that made me ask breathlessly where and when she danced out there in the real world (which she momentarily made me lose all sight of). To the strains of En Vogue’s "Giving Him Something He Can Feel," she woman-handled me with cold hands and warm crotch (the girl was a heater), her in-my-face focus leaving me spent and whimpering.
Another dancer, Nubia, was memorable for improvising when she found that folding chair woefully lacking in exploitable surface area: She jumped up in the air, landing on my thighs shins-first. The pain was searing. This was decidedly not "What A Girl Wants," as her music intimated. My discomfort gave way to fascination as Dakota took the makeshift stage. If she hadn’t come from a reputable source, I would have sworn this girl was 14. About as all-American as they come, she resembled Helen Hunt, if Helen Hunt were prettier and had the body of a wood nymph. Her wavy chestnut locks trailed behind her as she meandered through a few perfunctory turns. That changed, however, when she climbed aboard, moaning provocatively in my ear and trembling with seeming desire. "Hose me down," was all I could say.
One of the would-be video vixens, a granola blonde with an inch of black roots – Harmony – floored me by tendering a cassette mix compiled by a San Francisco DJ I’D FUCKED 10 YEARS AGO IN MICHIGAN (his name was printed clearly on the tape insert). It was all downhill from there, though. She mounted perhaps the weakest audition – the bare feet might have been a clue, though another candidate did fare well in trainers – scarcely approximating dance at all, let alone the highly stylized conventions of stripping. She then faked her way through a zero-mileage lap, comprised primarily of her simpering coyly while kneeling on the floor in front of me. E for effort.
The proceedings were redeemed with the arrival of bootyshaker extraordinaire LaShauna. Despite her diminutive stature, she radiated confidence as she strode into the room with no makeup, a black bob and sturdy platform boots, displaying considerable presence before she’d busted a single move. Adorned with tattoos and body jewelry – including a large piece dangling from her bellybutton – she mesmerized with a no-holds-barred demonstration of the stripper’s art, paying special attention to back-end gymnastics. Her lap abilities were equally fierce, with plenty of contact and just the right glow of perspiration to signal she meant what she said, albeit non-verbally. LaShauna fully embraced her role as entertainer.
Bianca, on the other hand, couldn’t quite get the eye-contact thing down. There was no doubting her vivacity or beauty – clad in a red velvet two-piece, she was, in fact, a dead ringer for Bianca Jagger. But, obviously uncomfortable with the exercise, she averted her gaze for the entirety of the lap dance. If she couldn’t look at me during this simulation of intimacy, how would she fare with Madonna? Next.
That would be Candy, a strange little creature whose giant head consistently seemed at odds with her short, squad body. Her amber contact lenses and rhinestone eyebrows sparkled as she chatted with us, gamely but unsuccessfully trying to don her silver thigh-high boots in a timely manner. Before beginning her performance, she doused herself with body spray, which, judging by the funk emanating from a few of these girls, was right neighborly of her. Her presentation was serviceable and she WAS sweet, but in the end, Candy was simply too scary for serious contention (her apparent ignorance of depilatory methods added to the terror).
My last chance to assess this pool of talent came courtesy of Michelle, an exquisitely sculpted, incredibly wholesome pixie with flowing brown tresses, a bewitching smile and a gold star in the middle of her forehead (to be sure, she looked like the type of girl who enjoyed working with children). The art damage implied by red suspenders and a jaunty Taj Mahal track alone made her one of my faves. But the extent of her kooky charm came into sharper focus when, during her surprisingly steamy lap, she leaned gently on my shoulder to unhook her top from her shoe. Now I wanna be her dog.
Exhausted? Imagine how I felt. Though this space does not allow for enumeration of them all, I participated in 21 auditions over the course of two days, with one stretch spanning 16 lap dances IN A ROW. For those of you doing the math, this adventure represented a cash value of a minimum $400.00 and much more when one considers the premium placed on up-close-and-personal semi-nudity. Moreover, the ever hands-on Madonna has now seen my beaming mug on tape – that must be SOME small degree of separation, right?
And who did she select to appear in her "Music" video? If you’ve been following along at home, it will come as no surprise that Sophia, Ricki and LaShauna made the cut (with bitter regret, I must relate that two of the five chosen for the clip exhibited their lap techniques for the casting director’s assistant and not me). Next time you see the video, make sure to spot LaShauna prowling the stage, Ricki cavorting in the back of the limo and Sophia giving Madonna her lap.
You won’t see me in there anywhere. Nor was I on set during the shoot (which, fittingly, transpired at Crazy Girls). And as suggested, I never did meet Madonna. But many years from now, when my strip-clubbing days have long since passed, I can say to anyone who will listen, "I was Madonna’s lap dance stand-in."
*Some names have been changed to protect the privacy of the dancers.
Julia Rubiner is a free-lance writer and editor of the work-in-progress Taking It Off: 10 Strippers Bare All. Her essay "I Was Madonna’s Lap Dance Stand-In" originally appeared in the 2000 issue of The Used Bin, a yearly journal of ruminations on popular culture.
April 16, 2001
Britney from Mr. J's is participating in the AIDSRide in June and taking 7 days to ride a bicycle from San Francisco back to Los Angles, which will help fund low cost health care and AIDS prevention programs.
But she needs your help. To participate in this annual event, she must get $2700 worth of pledges by May 11, 2001. To help, go to their website at www.aidsride.org and enter her rider # 5889 and make a pledge to help. You can access the pledge sheet directly by clicking here for PDF format. It's for a good cause, and well... she's got a nice butt.
When asked how she got involved with this event, she said, "At first, I decided to do the AIDSRide purely as a physical challenge. I've taught Spinning classes for years, and when I lived in DC, I trained many of the Raleigh/DC AIDSRiders indoors, but never actually participated in the ride itself. When I heard about the California AIDSRide, it seemed like a great way to see parts of the state that I hadn't yet visited."
In fact, training for this ride has given her better insight into this disease. Britney remarks, "Through my training with other AIDSRiders, I gained another reason for wanting to participate. I know much more about the disease, and have met many heterosexual people contracted HIV through means other than sexual contact or needle use."
Britney is a former elementary school teacher and have taught all the way up to 8th grade algebra. Too bad none of my math teachers ever looked like Britney. For those into statistics, she is 6' tall and her measurements are 36D-26-38. As you can imagine, she is very athletic and enjoys working out, cycling, kickboxing, hiking, snorkeling and of course, exotic dancing.
If you would like to find out more about Britney, see more pictures of her, her schedule at her club, or her important ride back to Los Angeles, visit her website at www.ocbritney.com.
January 24, 2001
The creators of "Will Strip For Food" have come back with another play called "Eve of Paradise," an erotic comedy about suicide. Although this play does not deal with the strip club industry like the previous play, it is again written by Raelle Tucker. Sera Gamble from "Will Strip" plays the part of Eve in this dark outrageous comedy and shocking new play.
The play has a very interesting beginning. Raelle was estranged from her father until she was 17. Her father, a prominent playwright, was dying of AIDS. She joined him in Los Angeles where he told her that he was working on a new play with a lead character based on her. After his death, she found his unfinished play and decided to finish it. "The final script ended up mirroring our relationship more than I think he would have intended. Basically I got a chance to say what I wish I would have said while he was still alive. I got to resolve my feelings toward my father in this sort of bizarre dialogue from beyond the grave," says the younger Tucker.
As for what the play is really about, she says, "It's a sexy and wild play that will probably freak a lot of people out. It's kind of about how you rebel when your parents are the rebels. I think what it has to say about parenting and death is really important." Although these are heavy topics for a comedy, Raelle thinks that she's found a way to laugh at it. "And you get to see Sera naked, of course," she adds with a smile. Always the great pitch from the writer.
This time out, the young Tucker is also directing the play herself. "I decided to direct this project because the material is so personal to me that I would be afraid to trust it to anyone else. The characters may seem really unusual and crazy to everyone else, but the truth is, they are based on my family," confesses Raelle who has been directing since she was a teenager.
Ms. Tucker has gathered a great cast for her play. Her father is played by Peter Moore, who has done a lot of television work. Her mother is played by Terra Shelman, a former belly dancer. Steven Johnson plays the bisexual alien. Yes, you heard that correctly. The uptight lawyer is played by Steven Marshall and of course, Eve, the daughter is played by Sera Gamble. "She is incredibly talented and sexy as hell. And did I mention she gets naked?", reminds Raelle.
As for any difficulties playing a character based on her friend Raelle, the playwright and director, Sera Gamble says, "I think it's easier in this case. I mean, this is more or less her life story, her situation when she was 19. In the course of my friendship with her I've heard a lot of the background on these situations. I suppose in a way that's hard too, though, because I have to not only respect her life here, but I have to bring this character to life through me. I can't just imitate Raelle. That's not the way I work as an actress." "Luckily, Raelle understands that this is Eve, not her anymore. It's a character, a fictionalization of her world. I mean, there's a bisexual alien in this play. There's some over the top liberties being taken here," laughs Sera.
The world premiere of "Eve" will be at Glaxa Studios, 3707 Sunset Boulevard, in Silverlake starting February 8th through March 3rd on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8pm. For reservations call (323) 957-4612 or visit their website.