Strippers Versus Porn Stars

By Joel Stein

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Strippers Versus Porn Stars:

I don’t like strip clubs. Sure, I like some things about strip clubs, such as naked women acting as though they desperately want to have sex, which is my favorite way for naked women to act, compared with what famous painters like to have them do, which seems to be mostly reclining or eating fruit.

But there’s a lot I don’t like. Strip clubs blast music I would suffer through only if I were out trying to pick up women. But the women at strip clubs are already naked, so there’s no reason to endure 50 Cent’s “Candy Shop.” Also, I find it hard to get turned on by even the hottest chick grinding on my lap when a creepy old guy is staring at me from 10 feet away. This may be because I was never an altar boy.

And unless you really plan in advance, you have to ask for a bunch of singles in change when you walk in. Which means you’re getting reused strip club dollar bills. Ever since my first strip club experience I’ve pictured our first president as a moist old man reeking of vanilla and soused with baby oil and glitter. And once you get those singles, you’re committed to handing all of them out at the club because you cannot enter them into the non-strip-club economy. “Thanks, housekeeper, for cleaning my room. Here’s some syphilis!”

The problem, in short, is that I’m a porn guy. There are strip club guys and there are porn guys. Sure, there are men who don’t like either, to whom I’ll refer, for the purposes of this article, as “low-testosterone half-men who need to keep this fact to themselves because they’re making the rest of us look bad.” And yes, there are men who like both, whom I’ll call “not getting any.” But even men in those two extremes have a slight preference for one or the other.

We porn guys are too self-conscious to buy into the fantasy that strip clubs demand. I’d have to take a year of classes at Second City before I could act as though I believed a woman was into sliding down my leg, since no one has ever wanted to slide down my leg. Paying to talk to a hot woman with a fake name who is telling me that another fake name is her real name does more damage to my ego than those horrifying moments when I notice there’s a mirror over the hotel-room desk where I’m enjoying porn.

Far worse than the lap dance is the pre-lap-dance chat. None of my fantasies involve conversing with a 20-year-old. My fantasies involve a slutty-­looking woman in a thong telling me about new experimental fiction. Instead, Mercedes tells me how cool it is that I’m from L.A. and how she’d love to move to L.A. since she’s really into spiritual stuff.

Porn establishes a safe distance between me and women who are pretending to be turned on. Seeing a gang bang in person would be horrifying, but I can actually watch one on a small screen as I drink tea. I’m not responsible for porn stars’ lives, any more than I have to worry about the childhoods of Sandra Bullock or Sally Field. But you have to interact with strippers, which means unsexy things like empathy and caring can occur.

Besides, strip clubs come with all the depressing compromises of actual dating. You settle for the lap dance from the girl who walks up to you because she’s pushy or because she’s closer to being your type than anyone else in the room. You don’t have to make such compromises when looking at porn. Moreover, porn informs you about fetishes you didn’t even know you had. And when you accidentally run across a clip of an unknown fetish that grosses you out, it’s even better. Men who are turned on by women in high heels stepping on rodents? Freaks! The foot fetishists, diaper wearers, clown fuckers—they make me feel delightfully superior. You never leave a strip club feeling you have a healthy attitude about sexuality.

Porn stars are so sex crazed they will do anything a man wants. Lap dancers, on the other hand, are so in control they will dance only for the length of a pop song and will not allow the man to move. The only part of lap dancing that seems like a perfect fantasy is the idea that a woman would ask a guy to dance and then allow him to sit still. I wish lap dancing were popular at weddings.

Maybe it’s because I was never in a fraternity, but I think it’s weird to want to get turned on in front of a group of your friends. If a woman is rubbing her breasts in my face and staring at me, I don’t think, This would be much, much better if Mike were here.

I know we porn guys are the creepy raincoaters who have our most honest sexual experiences with a computer. And I know we’re responsible for getting women to do things that are much more extreme and degrading than dancing naked. But at least we differentiate between romantic relationships and financial ones. And at least you can trust our dollar bills.


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