Friday, March 19, 2010

Newcastle: Keepin' it Classy

I don't know if you saw the article, but apparently my hometown is now some kind of STI capital of Australia. Before commenting, I will be quick to say that this has happened since I left the town.

But I bet I know what has caused this sudden spike in infections. And I could track it down to a little place usually called 'Number Five Union Street'. Number Five was a strip club. I'm not sure if it was the only strip joint in Newcastle when I lived there, but to be honest I can't imagine why anyone in their right mind would go there if they'd had any other options. 

Number Five wasn't the actual name of the place. It didn't really have a name, just the letters XXX painted above the door. As a result, people started referring to it by its address. I never went there myself, but I have heard enough stories to know how seedy it was. When I was in high school it was something of a rite of passage for boys who had recently turned 18 to have their first stripping experience at Number Five. I've always thought that African tribes must feel pretty ripped off that their rites of passage consist of painstaking feats of strength, wrestling lions and all that, when their Western equivalents get to do shots off naked women and call themselves men. But in the case of this particular rite, I don't think the comparison to lion wrestling is that much of a stretch.

As I mentioned, Number Five is pretty much just a door in the side of a wall. Inside it doesn't get any better. A dimly lit room awaits you, with a circle of plastic lawn chairs. The women come out and from the stories I have heard, these are not the kind of strippers you want making any large degree of physical contact with you. Yellow teeth, needle tracks, stretch marks. Exactly what you'd expect from the surrounds. Apparently they're aggressive too. A guy I went to high school with told me about how one of them decided to give him a lapdance against his will. He ended up fending her off with one of the chairs. Like a lion tamer.

I do want to be clear that I have nothing against strip clubs in general. If that's what people want to do then I don't see a problem, provided people act responsibly. However, if you live in a town where reported incidences of gonorrhea have quadrupled in the past year, maybe these are the things you should be looking into.

-Smackie Onassis

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