In Latest Word's continuing team coverage of the second-biggest gathering of geeks in Denver this month – have you seen the goofy hats DNCers will wear? – I dispatched myself last night to Shotgun Willie's, the venerable club of strip on Colorado. Earlier in the week, I'd noticed that the club's marquee was advertising a Sci Fi Strip Off, in honor of this week's World Science Fiction Convention. I called the club, and they promised that an army of sci-fi geeks would be invading the space of space-garbed strippers. It was a culture collision unseen since the Flinstones met the Jetsons.
I somehow talked the club into letting me take pictures. So: If you happen to be the somewhat neglectful father of a rail-thin 19-year-old from Aurora, and you suspect your daughter has been looking for ways to act out, you might want to click away. Otherwise, by all means, enjoy the show.
But I must admit: It wasn't much of a show, at least from a geek-hunting journalist's* perspective. The club was packed, pulsing with a slightly more techno-y vibe in honor of the promised nerds. But as I cruised the club searching for conventioneers, I realized: all men look like geeky sci-fi writers when they're hunched over a railing, slack-jawed and chucking crumpled dollars at naked women. I asked around, and no one would cop to being from the convention. One guy was wearing a Star Trek shirt, but I never got to talk to him. He was ... occupied.
The Sci Fi Strip Off started around 10, but if anyone was joyfully awaiting the appearance of a Seven of Nine look-a-like, his fate would once again disappoint him. While the amateur dancers were provided with some small sci-fi accessories –- alien masks, toy laser guns, etc. -- they either ignored them totally or ditched them as soon as the music started. Which left us with plain old amateur strippers. Which is not as hot as you might think.
There was one potential saving grace. As he introduced the stripper hopefuls, club manager Matt, apparently a total geek, attempted to grill the girls about all things sci-fi. But whatever potential hotness he was trying to capture – sexual fantasies about cyborgs, dreams of stripping in a weightless environment – quickly evaporated into the club's thin, thin air.
For instance: On her amateur-dancer questionnaire, Stripper No. 1 had informed the club that she would totally sleep with Princess Leia. Hot, right? Yes. But then Matt, somehow smelling a fake through the patchouli, ruined the moment by asking a follow-up.
“What movie was Princess Leia in?”
Way to go, Matt. Who are you, Mike Wallace?
The embarrassment only continued from there, as stripper after stripper botched the chance to earn a $100 tip from the Star Trek-shirt guy.
Do you know who Captain Kirk is?
What sci-fi character would you sleep with?
Do you have sex on the first date?
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It was this last answer -– Sometimes? You're trying out to be a stripper! -- that reminded me that, yes, this was an amateur contest. And it left me with one important piece of advice for Shotgun Willie's: In a couple of weeks, when you host a strip-off for the Democratic National Convention, and your club is filled with Bill Clinton, do yourself a favor. Bring out the pros.
And don't forget the blue dress. -- Joe Tone
*A stretch, yes.