It was the story of old men pulling along oxygen tanks and hoses as they walk into Buck Rubs, the local Gentleman’s Club as well as the story of slow farmer brothers whose mother pack them a brown paper sack with a can of beer (BYOB), a bag of chips and $1.00 for a lap dance on their weekly visit to Buck Rubs that made me want to go. These and other images made me curious as to who attends Buck Rubs and what goes on in this down home country strip club. It seemed like a slice of local life that as a communicator it may provide fodder for stories, or at the very least, provide me with some insight into the human condition.
These stories came through Todd’s painting partner, of his wife’s relative who frequents Buck Rubs. He’s a farmer himself and has never been married. He took a personal interest in a few of the girls and takes them to concerts and shows “on the side,” helps them out with medical bills (when one needed an operation) as well as put one or two through college. His favorite (I’ll call her “Tessa”) has since retired from pole dancing and works the floor. I plan to seek her out and hear her personal story.
I’ve looked at the huge billboard advertising “BUCK RUBS” when heading into Reading for years, as well as seen their ad front and center in the Reading Eagle’s Entertainment section. I couldn’t get any takers to escort me there until my writer friend Jill Gleeson came to town to accompany me on another story, to a nudist camp. I wasn’t sure if there would be any correlation between the two nude experiences but just in case, while I had wild & crazy Jill here, I thought I’d take advantage of the company. My friend, Bob is in town so we got him to be the other “chaperone,” which made the girls free.
Two largish bouncers greeted us at the door, asked to scan our driver’s license and the one asked Jill, “Haven’t I seen you here before?” She didn’t take that as a good sign.
“There is no touching the girls whatsoever and absolutely no photography.” We were OK with both of those.
City- born and bred Jill had no idea what a buck rub even was so we educated her.
(A deer rub describes the abrasions caused by a male deer rubbing his forehead and antlers against the base of a tree. They appear in the late summer or early fall, when male deer rub the velvet off their newly-acquired antler growth or during rut season. The area between the forehead and antlers contains a large number of apocrine sweat glands, and leave a scent that communicates a challenge to other male deer while also attracting potential mates. The size of the rub usually varies with the size of the deer.)
Already Jill is getting an education!
The place was pretty empty, except for about three individual men, sitting at their own tables. An elevated dance floor with lights around its edge and a clear acrylic pole protruded from the center into the ceiling. A half-dozen girls with heavy make-up and very skimpy sexy clothing walked around and sat at the bar stools. They all could have used some exercise and a few- a tad dieting. We took a table up front and moved our chairs in clear view of the performance stage and cracked open a beer. We were ready.
The first girl to perform was amazing as she did very impressive movements on the pole which took great strength and agility. I was convinced she led a past life as a gymnast. Her body was athletic and gorgeous although her face was scary looking with strange make-up. Except for a few butt rotations, I did not find her offensive. She was topless and once or twice, men would walk up to the stage, and without touching her at all, they would stand there while she rubbed her boobs in their face. Then they slid her a one dollar bill. ONE DOLLAR! Northern Berks County farmers are stingy.
After #1 girl was done, she came directly to our table and asked all of us if we were interested in a lap dance for another whopping high price of $1.00! Our men (as well as Jill and I because we were included in the proposition) said “no thank you.” Party animals we were not.
There was a dry erase board by the bar on the wall, listing all the girls who were working tonight- a group of 20, out of about 40-50 who are employed there. That is a lot of girls for just a handful of folks in the audience.
The pole performances went rapidly downhill from here on in. Next up was a very young skinny girl whose body to me, looked as though she has not yet undergone puberty (I’m sure she was at least 18 and she did say she weighed 95 pounds and wished she had some more weight and curves). She was a beginner, the disc jockey announced, only doing this occupation for 8 months. After her performance, she too came and asked us if we wanted a lap dance and after we again declined, we proceeded to ask her questions.
“How did you get into pole dancing?”
“My mother is the bar tender here. “ Our heads immediately swiveled around to spy the short plump pony tailed, t-shirted mother who actually looked motherly behind the bar). “My sister also dances. She is really good. Sometimes, we have ladies night and our brother performs. “
A family affair, we think! OMG!
As a mother, I wondered what possessed another mother to raise her children in a strip club. Desperation you’d think, but maybe not. Nearly everything in life is a choice so why Buck Rubs for her kids? I mull this around at this particular time in my life as I put together my personal story for a book using the whole world to raise and educate my kids.
“Do the guys do pole dancing too?” we asked.
“No, they just kind of strut around up there,” she laughed.
“Do you take classes on how to pole dance?”we asked.
“No, the girls help one another out and teach each other different techniques.”
We asked her if she liked her job and she said “It was okay.” She’d been trying to get another job for 3 ½ years and just finally became employed at a local hospital and she is so excited for the chance to do that kind of work.
When Bob asked her if it was St. Joe’s Hospital? she said “Maybe,” very cautiously and slowly.
And I thought, Oh Bob, the poor thing probably is worried you will creep on her like other men that come in here probably do, when all we were doing is just being interested in her as a person. This is when I realized that I would like to take all these women out for breakfast and just talk about their lives over coffee. THAT would be the real story.
When we asked her why the place was so empty on a Friday night at 10 pm, she said business has been really bad lately. She works 6 hour shifts, dances multiple times a night and only makes about $40! Wow! We couldn’t figure why even Mc Donald’s and Sheetz wouldn’t be more attractive work.
She then asked us, “Are you all celebrating something tonight?”
We laughed. “No. Just out for the night.”
Any girl who was not up to dance, milled around the place, which did not consist of really anyone, so the girls just sat around talking and laughing amongst themselves. One regular in the corner had three around him chatting it up.
Later on, some Hispanic workers who just came out of the nearby mushroom plant walked in and plopped a six-pack down in the middle of their table. They sat there stone faced and unmoving the whole time and never wanted a lap dance either.
Only two dancers out of all of them took off everything off down below and one in particular behaved as though she would like to be a porn star someday. She smiled and made eye contact the whole time she was dancing, which was not the case with any other dancer. All the rest seemed to be in their own little bored world, just going through the motions…a very, very low energy experience for all.
Sure enough, when she came down to ask us if we wanted a lap dance (“no thank you”) we also inquired about her life. She said she was doing a lot of traveling to competitions in other states and taking classes and hoped to go big time sometime soon, whatever that meant. When we asked her if she enjoyed her work, she answered with an enthusiastic “Yes, I do!”
Jill and I did not find the whole evening erotic at all. Perhaps our men did slightly (esp this last girl who strives to be a porn star.) But they are men.
There was a dancing girl for every man’s fantasy: one with profuse tattoos, a Black girl with a generous butt and a super abundant bosom, the extremely thin, the roly-poly, etc.
Jill and I longed to know the rest of the story, the back story of these girls, but we would have had to dish out a lot more than dollar bills and put in a lot more time.
Todd & Bob said if I probably went to Buck Rubs multiple times and had them get to know me and trust me, they would probably meet me and tell me their story. It would be a good project to pursue for a larger writing project, similar to writers who go to live with the homeless to learn who they are and hear their story uncensored. But I have a more important book to write and unfortunately, that isn’t something I think I could handle- frequenting Buck Rubs.
It is slightly intriguing to think about returning for “Local Talent” night at Buck Rubs. They say it is really something to see “wanna-be” locals strut their stuff and try their hand at pole dancing. The crowd gets pretty lively. We wondered if there aren’t some casualties, like muscles letting go on the pole and landing head first on the floor, causing concussions or even permanent neck injuries! Yikes!
I was also told that I might want to consider attending Al’s Diamond Cabaret Lounge, another Gentleman’s Club outside of Reading, which might give me a better idea of what strip clubs are usually or also like. At Al’s, they get Professional pole dancers and porn stars and the men are more lively and there is higher energy (That might not look very pretty to a woman- High masculine energy), but I think my time for attending men’s gentleman’s club are over.
We never did get to meet and talk with “Tessa,” the girl whom our friend’s relative is so fond of. That’s because she recently won a million dollars in the Wheel of Fortune (I kid you not) and I assume, is on to bigger and better things. Perhaps she can bring a stroke of good luck to the rest of the dancers at Buck Rubs and lift them a tad higher up the pole of life.
…now on to the Nudist Camp