HANGING OUT WITH MR. MARCH
In order to maintain his buffness, Playgirl's Man for March Greg Lane eats practically no fat at all. He says this caused his blood cells to get "all clumped up." Luckily, a blood doctor told him to eat mass quantities of broccoli, and he was cured. At the moment, Greg Lane is on his third plate of broccoli and chicken at the Country Buffet restaurant in Westminster. He says he eats lunch here every day.
"It'll be easy to find me," he had told me on the phone. "I don't look like anyone else in there."
No oxygen tube running into his nose, in other words, no extra eighty pounds, no crying grandchild on the banquette seat beside him--and certainly not a sign of age, stress or deterioration. Lane is large and Teutonic, with muscles everywhere, and a clean, open face with a narrowing of the eyes caused by high cheekbones. He is a dead ringer for the plastic action figure known as He-Man. "I look better with short hair," he says, "but I keep it long in back. That way I can do a lot of different things with it. Still," he emphasizes, "I do think I look better as a short-hair."
I write all this down because we are here to talk about Lane's career, which is inextricably tied to what he looks like, and because it is my job to be intrigued.
But it would be wrong not to admit right off that I am not intrigued by pictorials of naked men. ("Pictorial": what a Hefner word--and what a Hefner world, full of photogenic people doing ordinary things unclothed, unless their lips are slightly parted, in which case you are invited to join their Private Moment.) Playgirl is known for naked men in their natural habitats--outdoorsy or inside-my-rustic-cabiny--their semi-fluffed penises prominently displayed. I know women who get an honest kick out of Playgirl, but what I get is horribly embarrassed. I have had good times with penises, not to mention a ten-year relationship with a particularly nice one, but when I suddenly am exposed to a penis I do not know personally, I tend to shut my eyes and scream.
"Oh, come on, now," says Lane, in good-natured tones, "it's just a job." So when he gets up to replenish his broccoli, I slide the Playgirl out of its plain manila wrapper and look.
Oh, God. I am as mortified as ever. Here's Lane shaving, naked, in the mountains, in his truck. Here he is relaxing (semi) stiffly on a mountain patio. Looking pensive, climbing a rock, and tangled up in sheets. At one point, he's pretending to be asleep, face down. I'll bet that was a relief.
"You have no idea what it's like to keep a hard-on for hours," he agrees. "I never did anything like that before in my life."
That supreme effort grossed him one thousand dollars, "which is nothing compared to what women make," he says. "Twenty thousand, I think it is. We're way behind." Still, he thinks posing for Playgirl will pay off in other ways, even though he has taken, and will continue to take, more than his share of grief.
"Everybody jokes about it," Lane says. "You're gonna catch something everywhere you go. Say I'm in a bar doing a birthday party and some guy wants to start something. Usually he has some kind of complex. You just have to figure, he's the bum who hangs out in a bar drinking, and I'm the one making a hundred bucks for twenty minutes' work. Or you look at the belly hanging over his belt."
Or you tune in to your childhood dream, which, in Lane's case, was to be a dancer. "My Mom and my sister thought it was a great idea," he recalls, "and they still do. They've come to my shows." In which he takes off a costume to music, prances about naked or near-naked--depending on the gig and the law--and collects a fee and tips from admiring women. Lane began dancing--he seldom calls it stripping--at Western State College in Gunnison, where he majored in criminology and minored in sociology. He danced during off-hours in the Marine Corps--which he credits with instilling in him the discipline and stage presence it took to do the job. By 1991, he was on the road with an all-male revue, eventually landing at the apotheosis of male-stripper clubs, LaBare's in Dallas.
"A lot of the guys at LaBare's had sugar mamas who bought them motorcycles and everything," he recalls. "But those guys do the lip-lock thing"--tongue-kissing bar patrons for tips--"and that repulses me. I always figure, if you kiss them on the cheek, they won't expect anything more. It all goes right back to sociology."
Returning to his native Arvada in 1992, Lane started Bare Assets, a telegram stripping company, with a fellow stripper known as Christian. "He's Italian," says Lane, "but he tells people he's half Korean, half Blackfoot Indian. We have Hispanic guys and black guys, too. There's Dirty Dalton, he's a rocker, and that's his name for a good reason. We got lots of women, oh, and the fat girl--she's a 292-pound woman who sings in her church choir and has been in two porn movies. As a matter of fact, we also have a fat guy, although there's not as much call for him."
In fact, Lane deplores the "thirtysomething guys who tell you they used to be a dancer, but they're all out of shape. I hope I never get that way," he says. By 35 (ten years from now), he intends to be strictly managerial. That means he has to hustle now, and hustle he does, making personal appearances during the few days that remain of his March reign, and selling autographed Playgirls at twelve bucks a pop. In his very limited spare time, he raises rottweilers and does a little snowboarding. And there is always the image to maintain. For example, he can't admit to any kind of monogamous relationship with a female, because what kind of fantasy would that fuel?
"When you strip for a woman, she thinks she's in a relationship with you, on whatever level," he says, explaining the illusion he must maintain if he wants to leave the gig with a G-string full of cash. Not that it's always illusion. Essentially, it is not unheard of for a tipper to have sex with a stripper, "but it's called sex in the Nineties," Lane explains, and it seems to consist entirely of masturbation--occasionally even simultaneous masturbation. "But no touching," Lane says. "Absolutely not." And anyway, he says, none of this applies to him. "I'm kind of straitlaced," he says.
He would rather talk about the Bare Assets basics. You have, for instance, a choice: Your stripper will dress up as a cop or construction worker, or take off a tux. Once, Christian even had to improvise a flamingo costume, complete with pink feather stuffed down his pants, as a present for a local female judge. "Of course, I'm not gonna say which female judge," Lane adds. And that's not all. You get a series of party gifts, each accompanied by a joke. You get embarrassed, but you also get a chance to embarrass your friends.
By the time our talk is over, I rather like Greg Lane. I mean, he eats broccoli. He raises rottweilers. He considers himself "a shy type." Technically, he works on the outskirts of the sex industry, but nothing about it seems salacious to me anymore. I wish him well. I hope the women out there manage to show him a little respect. "It sounds cornballish, I know, but it makes me feel good to put a smile on someone's face," he says. And he does. Which is nice. But none of these warm feelings make me want another look at his penis.
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