Sunday, February 21, 2010

NC-17

I had an incredibly exciting weekend, and by exciting, I mean not for children.

It involved witnessing a full-fledged drug bust by the drug enforcement agency in the middle of a downtown neighborhood, as well as going to a glorified strip “bikini club” as an undercover journalist.

I saw someone get arrested, with two guns pointed at his head until he “GOT DOWN ON THE GROUND NOW!” 10 nearly naked women dancing in a terribly raunchy way, and I was even patted down by a S.W.A.T.-like security guard.

“They violatin’ ” said a nearly naked “dancer” who was sitting on my male friend’s lap at our small table.

“What is this, the airport?” I joked when they had searched us all at the table, their guns visibly on display.
The fact that they were checking for guns and weapons was a bit…telling about the place.

Everyone usually gets patted down at the door but we had gotten there early and were now being retroactively patted down, and they searched everything — pockets, purses, bodies. I was patted down both my legs all the way to my feet.

The “undercover journalism” part was that I was there to see if there was any stripping at the club.
It is not zoned as a strip club, but everyone is suspicious that nudity takes place.

The noise and complaints were so bad that the council actually voted to mandate an earlier bar closing for everyone supposedly because of this one establishment.

For the article, I talked to the bar manager over the phone, who said there is no stripping, just girls in bikinis dancing and the nudity claims are just rumors.

I didn’t know anyone who had been there before, so I didn’t know if he was telling the truth.
I remember I asked one of the council members if he had ever been to the club to check it out.

“No! I’m a family man!” he told me, horrified.
“Well, the only way to know for sure is to go,” my editor told me.


Some friends and I arranged to go Friday night (the “nipple patrol” as we called ourselves), and we were excited to learn it was free Patron tequila night until 11 p.m. The bartender, who was (tightly, but fully) clothed did not know how to make a margarita.

We got there much too early, at 9 p.m., and there were only four people inside and no one in bikinis.

The “bikini”-wearing dancers leisurely came out from the back of the bar over the next hour or so, whenever they were dressed and ready.
They were all black women, and the clothing they were wearing could have fit into a child’s T-shirt pocket.
I've never seen anyone on the beach wear those types of “bikinis.” Some thongs were made out of chain-link material.

Flyers on each table promised that 20 dancers were going up on stage that night, and for awhile, my friend and I were the only non-dancer females in the place.

One very tall woman, dressed in sparkly red lingerie with knee-high boots, came right to our table at sat on my friend’s lap. His girlfriend eyed him from across the table.

He didn’t say anything, because we were undercover. We needed to see if she would strip for him or ask him to go to a back room or something.

“People like me because I’m so tall and I’ve got really long legs,” she said, stretching them up in the air. (At five feet tall, I was jealous.)

“How tall are you?” I asked her.
“Well, I’m 5’9 and I’m wearing 7-inch heels so I’m like 6’3,” she said. A true Amazon!

The dancing was pretty pornographic.
It consisted of each one of them simulating sex in different positions — concentrated gyrating from the front, from the back, while hanging on a stripper pole, on the floor, while hanging upside down on railings, while sitting on someone’s lap, even while doing a split. The material left nothing to the imagination.

People gave money to the dancers during these performances by throwing the money up in the air, and having it flutter down to the stage.
Rap artists call this “making it rain.”

Several times, out of the corner of my eye, I saw money being exploded into the air —poof— and was mesmerized watching it slowly fall down, like a dollar bill shower.
One bill actually got stuck in the metal slats on the ceiling and a dancer had to climb the pole to retrieve it.

The vibe was pretty raunchy all-around, including the dirty rap music the DJ was spinning. I would have been completely embarrassed if my mother was there. The women weren’t naked, but they were naked.
I think that’s going to be my lede for the article.

We made a big well-to-do out of it, and, because my friends are the greatest, it ended up being a lot of fun, with lots of laughs.

The next day, we told everyone about the experience as we gathered to help my new roommate move out of her downtown apartment and into the house I share with my twin sister, Joy.
The six girls-only crew (empowering!) drank mimosas and loaded boxes into each of our cars for the caravan over to our place.

As we were moving, and all outside at the same time, a very ordinary-looking powder blue minivan pulled up and seven S.W.A.T-team police officers with black masks and shiny badges jumped out.
They had bullet proof vests, guns and a black log to bust open locked doors. We froze.
The team walked towards my parked car as they crossed the street and for a second I thought it was their target.

“Oh my God, follow them!” said one friend, who used to be a crime reporter and loves the excitement. “They’re going to bust a house!”

No! What if there are gun shots?” Joy asked cautiously.

We were too curious not to follow them, but stayed on the opposite side of the street. They marched (yes, marched, in unison like the army) around the corner. By the time we turned the corner, they had already gone inside the house.

“D.E.A.! D.E.A.! OPEN UP!” we heard them scream. Nearby dogs were going crazy. By now, a handful of gawkers had gathered across the street.
It’s not everyday you see an army of police officers with black masks downtown, on a sunny Saturday morning.

We then saw a young, shaggy-haired guy (who in different circumstances I would have thought was cute) lean over the balcony of the house, looking down over the ledge.

He didn’t look scared, considering a team of police officers had just forcefully entered his house. He looked confused.
Maybe he’s the upstairs apartment tenant, and the cops are raiding the downstairs apartment, I thought.

Nope.
Within 15 seconds, two cops bust open the balcony door, immediately pointing guns at his head, right there in broad daylight.
“GET DOWN! GET DOWN ON THE GROUND NOW!!” They looked espeically scary with their ninja-like black masks on.
The guy got down immediately, and they handcuffed him. We couldn’t hear much over the dogs barking and the cars passing by the busy street, but I did hear the police refer to him as “a secondary.”

All of us spectators were chatting it up.

What kind of drugs do you think it was?
Can you believe they showed up in that van?
Why are they wearing those masks?


"For protection! an older man answered. They can’t be recognized, or else they could be seen at a restaurant or something and get popped!" He had clearly thought this through, which made me concerned.

Amidst the commotion, the landlord showed up. She was a large, blonde woman and we quickly figured out who she was because her car had a “historic downtown rental company” sticker on the back window.

She just happened to have been driving down the street showing some college kids an available apartment nearby when she saw the crowd. She walked up to the house.

“I’m the landlord!” she said to the masked man on the porch. “What is going on here?”
Of course, we couldn’t hear the response.
She laughed loudly, and then handed him her business card before coming back to us.

“You all think you’re smarter than them, but they’ll catch you!” she announced to the crowd. “Selling drugs on the property.”
“So, the apartment’s available now?” laughed one of the spectators, and we all joined in.

No real action happened after that. They drove the minivan to the front of the house and got out a large, black wheelie bag, a camera and computer. It was then that we noticed there was a female S.W.A.T. team member and talked about how bad ass that was.

I called everyone to tell them the drug bust story on my way home.

“It was crazy!” I said. “They were wearing black masks!”
“Oh, and last night, I totally saw strippers gyrating on the floor.”

These were not stories for a baby shower, which Joy and I attended on Saturday night.
The shower was the opposite of the dirty Friday night and scary S.W.A.T. team Saturday.
They served beets with goat cheese for crying out loud!

It was a wonderful all-women, all-baby shower, and the mom-to-be was realistic and down-to-Earth about being pregnant. She was open to our harsh line of questioning about it.
See, Joy and I don’t have close friends who have children. This was my second baby shower.

The best thing about being pregnant?
Having the future daddy wait on her hand a foot ( Sweeeeeet.)
The worst?
Not drinking!


There were soft blue decorations with bows everywhere, vegetable lasagna and classical music playing. Baby showers are quite possibly the most polite party ever.
It was the exact opposite scene from what my eyes had witnessed the previous 24 hours.
It was not raunchy or offensive, it wasn’t illegal, and no one was handcuffed. It was nice, sweet and calming.
I wondered for a minute if the female S.W.A.T. team member had been to one lately. I bet she could use it.

-Jenny

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