"Las Vegas Stripper Convention: The 2002 Gentlemen's Club Expo"
An army of pole dancers, their fans and flesh-trade pros infest a Las Vegas hotel. HUSTLER attends the sleaziest conference since the G8 Summit.
by Dan Kapelovitz and Giddle Partridge
Photos by Giddle Partridge and Faria
Every year, hundreds of exotic dancers, men's club owners and lap-dance fanatics congregate in Sin City for Exotc Dancer magazine's Gentlemen's Club Expo, the world's largest stripper convention. Tonight is the expo's awards gala, the stripper universe's version of the Academy Awards. Vacationing families at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino gawk at the gold-chained club owners, drooling mooks and costume-jewelry-clad bimbettes who are on their way to the event. Even though the striptease-biz conventioneers are dressed in their ceremony-attending best, tourists nonetheless nudge each other and giggle as the sexpots scurry into the theater with their oversized breast implants pouring out of pseudo-Vanna White gowns.
Between award presentations for such categories as "best full-nude club in the Midwest region," a handful of dancers provide "entertainment." Dressed in a white-and-black sequined tuxedo covered in red flames, striptease artist Aspen Reign lip-synchs to "Great Balls of Fire" as she humps a grand piano and headbangs to the music. The blond, athletic performer yanks off her pull-away pants and removes her bra, revealing her red G-string and pasties.
By the bar in the theater's lobby, a few minor celebrities make the scene, including Mötorhead frontman Lemmy, ExtenZe pitchman Ron Jeremy and porn legend Ginger Lynn, who is surrounded by porn paparazzi. "It's been wonderful," says Lynn of being recently profiled on the E! True Hollywood Story, "and much more exciting, I think, for the people at the grocery store."
In the girls' bathroom, strippers fondle each other and exchange tampons while gussying themselves up in the mirror. One of the many bleach-blond pole straddlers complains about her male meal ticket: "Oh my God, he's a stalker. I don't want to say anything, because he kind of helps me out, but he acts like he's my boyfriend or something."
Blimp-boobed models Minka (72HH), Maxi Mounds (75MMM) and Kayla Kleevage (50iii) spend the evening together in the lobby. The same plastic surgeon created the six mega-breasts that collectively adorn the cantilevered trio.
"Jacktastic," a hard-core Minka devotee, is so excited about standing next to the self-proclaimed "largest-breasted Oriental in the world" that he appears ready to shoot his load in his pleated khaki slacks. "Minky is the star of the show," says the thirty-something man who is actually one of the more normal-looking male attendees. Jacktastic has lost three girlfriends due to his Minka obsession. "They're just jealous of Minka," says the breast fiend, who, unlike the majority of the men HUSTLER spoke to, at least has had girlfriends to lose. "Big busts are a big turn-on; I like to put my cock between them and ride them like there's no tomorrow."
The next day, seminars are held on such topics as "The Fine Art of Marketing" and "Fighting Big Brother." The 100 or so club owners sit in rapt attention as Larry Boyd, founder of Guest Services International, lectures them on the importance of hiring a guy to hang out in the club's restroom to hand out paper towels and offer breath mints to patrons after they tap off at the urinal. "A professional bathroom attendant can be your eyes and ears, keep litter off the floor, the seats dry and the bathroom smelling better. Entertainers appreciate that their customers clean their hands. The most common objection to hiring a bathroom attendant is, 'My customers want privacy.' Privacy to do drugs? Privacy to vandalize the bathrooms and engage in sex?"
Later that day, in the hotel's convention hall, rows of vendors promote their strip-club-related products: everything from ATMs that dispense dollar bills for easier tipping to makeup that won't rub off on the crotch of a lap-dance customer.
Attendees are instantly greeted by Vanna Lace, a garish stripper-turned-showgirl who go-go dances continually on a cube which serves as her portable mini-stage. Batting her huge fake eyelashes, the tan and incredibly fit spokesmodel simultaneously gyrates and speaks about her career: "I'm the first to go mainstream--to dance on the Strip. Come see me at Skintight at Harrah's."
Lightdancers, an "outreach ministry for exotic dancers," has its own booth. "We are here to offer them some spiritual encouragement and support," says the female half of the Christian couple. "We recognize that this industry tends to sap their spirits after a short while."
In the back of the hall, various peelers show off their wares, hoping to book feature-dancing gigs around the country. Kayla Kupcakes, dressed in a purple-and-teal, metallic Lycra bodysuit and feathered headdress, plucks away at her unplugged, flying-V guitar to "I Feel Like Making Love." Although nudity is banned, one of Kayla's flesh-colored nipple bandages falls off mid-performance. "Those are the best cupcakes I've sever seen," quips the deejay, with what will have to pass for wit at this convention.
The last two days of the Expo are dubbed the Fan Fair--a chance for pole-dance aficionados to get within drooling distance of their favorite lap dancers. The Fan Fair's first event is the bikini contest. In a roped-off and out-of-view area near the hotel's wave pool, a slew of perverts watch in the sweltering desert heat as approximately 50 gals parade their itsy-bitsy two-pieces for the chance to win thousands of dollars in cash and bookings.
Backstage, girls slather baby oil on each other and help one another camouflage their ass acne with makeup. In a seeming attempt to impress the judges, many of the chicks sport French pedicures--a sign of stripper class. The majority of the gals' heels are ripped open from standing all day in cheap stilettos.
Two scouts from The Ricki Lake Show are backstage seeking "articulate strippers" to appear on the pleasantly plump television host's program.
A contest official explains the rules to the greased-up bikini babes. "We're judging on breasts, butt, legs, face and overall. If you touch your boobs, your butt or your bathing suit in any way, you will be disqualified. Any questions?"
"Can we do the splits?" asks a bathing-suit beauty.
"Can we bend over?" asks a Hawaiian Tropic contest reject.
After a moment of thought, the official decides, "Yes, you can bend over."
The girls are having a difficult time going onstage in numerical order. A well-built, mathematically challenged brunette struts across the platform in a gold lamé, two-piece bathing suit that barely covers her nipples and gash, causing an overzealous audience member to stand up and bark like a dog.
After the competition, fans who have paid for a VIP pass are allowed to snap pictures of the contestants. The horde of amateur pornographers plead with the three ladies who have agreed to stick around for the photo op to strike more explicit poses. "Come on, give us a Christmas shot," begs one shutterbug.
After a few minutes, the girls take off, and a thick-necked man in a yellow SECURITY T-shirt informs the pervert paparazzi that the photo session is over. The 30 or so lensmen grow angry that they sat in the boiling sun for hours only to have their hopes of obtaining adequate masturbation material dashed.
"This blows," says Angelo Nusumeci, a payroll processor who came all the way from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to ogle the bikini-clad meat. "We paid $200. Last year at Caesar's was way better."
"Don't blame us," says the security guard. "Blame the ladies; it's hot, and they don't want to hang around."
That evening, the Miss Exotic Dancer USA Contest--the Miss America Pageant for pole dancers--is held at Little Darlings, an all-nude, nonalcoholic strip joint. Twenty-one gals, each the winner of her statewide preliminary competition, perform elaborate, ten-minute sets in the smoky, neon-lit club.
Just as the show starts, a male audience member verbally insults 2002 Entertainer of the Year winner Mercedez, prompting another gent to defend her honor. A melee breaks out, and a mass of bouncers, brawlers and bystanders knock over tables and chairs and nearly crush an innocent photographer. The theory that serving Red Bull instead of whiskey will prevent violence is obviously wrong.
Ryan Stone, a tan dancer with a black, braided ponytail bobby-pinned to the top of her head, takes to the stage in a rubber ninja costume, equipped with a nunchaku and studded ski mask. Her performance resembles a Tae-Bo workout video.
Next up, a black stripper in a New Wave getup deep-throats a rolled-up 8x10 picture of herself after shoving it down the front and the back of her G-string. Fans fight for the glossy head shot, which has been anointed with cunt juice, ass-crack sweat and saliva.
The climax of the festivities is the strip-club meet and greet. While the mega-breasted chicks were absent from the previous night's contest, tit queens dominate today's event. The Paradise Club allows the girls to take off their tops, but only if they have purchased a $60 sheriff's card. Kayla Kupcakes is pissed; she didn't know about the county's revenue-generating scam and is therefore forbidden from removing her clothes. Barely any fans buy her Polaroids. Why would they, when they can purchase a genuine autographed picture of their heads smushed between exposed, tan, fleshy augmentations, even if they do resemble stretched-out, sutured-up, over-inflated beachballs?
A topless blonde in a leopard-print skirt is working one of her fans, an 83-year-old widower from Chicago, who has been an admirer of strippers ever since he saw Margie Hart perform in 1938. The dancer keeps convincing the man to give her money, and he happily obliges.
Across the room, Chelsea Charms, whose gargantuan silicone sacs are five times the size of her head, attempts to sell her uber-bras for 90 bucks.
A dancer enthusiast from Phoenix is snapping photos for his "Boob Brothers" Yahoo! chat group. He explains that he likes strippers because they are "larger than life," presumably speaking of their teats, and that he only buys Polaroids of the Titanic-titted chicks because he can see the regular girls at his local strip club. "If you're spending money," he says, "you want a spectacular picture that has some meaning."
At least as much meaning as a snapshot of a couple of overstuffed melons is capable of conveying.
(This article first appeared in the March 2003 issue of Hustler Magazine)
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