My reasons for a trip to Shotgun Willie's were two-fold: I had read our recent cover story on the thirty-year-old institution's revamp and I wanted to get a glimpse of the original location before it was torn down, and my sister was moving to Seattle and the girl loves strip clubs. So I thought, why not make my little sis's going-away party the best ever, while also doing some research on living Denver history?
The resulting trip Friday night took me inside a world that looked exactly as I had imagined: totally '80s everything, from regular old box televisions playing sports to creepy wood-paneled awesomeness and black lacquer covering every inch that wasn't lit with neon. Much like the episode of Walker: Texas Ranger set inside a strip club that I had seen early in the week, Shotgun Willie's was like a step back in time, complete with a DJ who played AC/DC and something that sounded like Motley Crüe but wasn't Motley Crüe.
See also: - Photos: See plans for the new, improved Shotgun Willie's - We heart the Internet: An ode to the glittery stripper GIFs of yore - Sugar House swingers' club has closed, and with it the G-rated Alameda Grill
I learned several things on this second trip ever to a strip club, the most important being: a strip club is no fun without stacks of money. We, of course, hadn't planned on going with much more than $40 -- but lucky for us, an unnamed patron of the exotic dancing arts and good friend to my sister swooped in at the last minute, handing us $300 in one dollar bills. (See photo to the right.) Now we were going to the strip club!
This anonymous Bruce Wayne-type also stopped by Shotgun's several times throughout the evening to pick up our tabs, which meant that our skinny boyfriends who were so dutifully by our sides sharing buckets of Bud Light with each other and steak dinners with us also got the free ride. It should be noted that my sister and I are the coolest girlfriends in the known universe, because we not only invited our significant others to the party, but we shared the bounty of our strip-club treasure with them.
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Speaking of boyfriends in strip clubs, another valuable lesson I learned this night was that I cannot watch another woman touch my man, even if it is her job to do so and we are in her place of business. Each time a dancer approached my young stallion (that's what he called himself the other night, when I was complaining about being a cougar) I felt a deep rage brewing in my chest. My eyes and cheeks went red with every boob-smack to his face, to the point where I had to hand him a wad of money and turn away, for fear I might go into my Miss Piggy-styled blind rage, take the Bud Light bottle from his hand, smash it on the bar and just start cutting everyone involved.How I feel when I see another woman touch my man.
Planning this trip to Shotgun Willie's had been difficult (we rescheduled three times to accommodate all of our extremely busy days doing nothing), so we ended up at the club at 5:30 p.m. on a Friday. Stepping out of daylight and into the dank room that was scented and decorated like a novelty-size cigar box, I learned my next valuable strip-club lesson -- there are two types of dancers: pre-7 p.m. dancers and post-7 p.m. dancers.
Upon arrival I was shocked by the women dancing -- but in a good way. I remarked to my boyfriend how happy I was to see "normal girl bodies" dancing at their various outposts. There were bellies protruding, boobies of all shapes and sizes, shaking and women with short hair writhing awkwardly under the stain of fluorescent lights. I was stoked! The strip club wasn't so bad after all.
Then the shift change happened, and all the pseudo-reality washed away. Women with cellulite-free butts strutted to their stations as a DJ announced their arrivals. (By the way, my sister felt that it was no coincidence that once we moved from the dining area to the dancing tables, the DJ started playing Garbage and No Doubt.)
These dancers looked like strippers in the movies -- long, blonde hair extensions burned white under black lights, their mermaid hair never seeming to interfere with the complex gymnastic routines put on by their perfect bodies. The only part that threw me a bit was the number of strippers with braces, but as a former adult-braces sufferer, I could relate.
I was definitely jealous of the good-looking manicures and pedicures that passed in front of my face as I tried to stare blankly into no one's eyes. And, having such beautifully manicured womens' bodies so close to my glasses did make me realize that there are reasons one might bleach and/or wax in and around one's asshole. If multiple people were getting that close to my nether regions on a daily basis, I would want the surface to be hair-free, too.
But really, the only deeply disturbing part of the evening was having to look into the eyes of a dancer who devastatingly resembled another sister who's nineteen years old; my boyfriend later revealed he, too, got super uncomfortable when a dancer reminded him of his own teenage sister. It was a shared feeling of total ick that only a strip club could provide.
Overall, the experience was a positive one -- I learned that if I go to a strip club again, I won't be taking my significant other (though it is by no means his fault that I cannot control my rage problem). I also learned that strippers are women who are just people, like me. But with incredibly perfect bodies and a penchant for small talk.
The only thing I would change? The fact that the dancers had to share a pretty nasty restroom with the general public, which really pissed me off because as an employee, I would expect to be treated better than that. But I'm assuming that will be addressed at the new Shotgun Willie's.
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Seriously, women who work this hard shouldn't have to share a public bathroom with a regular old gal like me. It takes the mystery away from their profession, and that, after all, is what a writer like me is visiting the strip club for in the first place: a good story with a little mystery.