After a relatively tame weekend, I was ready for some excitement — and I found it — in the form of “Fresh Meat Tuesday” at Exile (893 N. Fourth St.). Somewhere between the banana hammocks and the leather, I found a weekend’s worth of fun on a school night.
It was the darkest bar I’d ever seen. The only light came from the mirror ball, beer coolers and the glowing red “X” on the stage. The bar stools were almost completely full as we tried to grab a drink. Seated directly across from me at the bar was a man I’m fairly certain was one of my cheerleading coaches from high school. I’ll never know for sure — he didn’t look up from his phone.
“You look nervous,” a man with a slight frame donning a banana hammock said to me. I probably looked that way. Of all the LGBTQ bars I frequent, I had never stepped foot in Exile before, nor had I ever been to an amateur stripper night. “I haven’t been here before,” I said (as if it wasn’t painfully obvious). “What should I expect?” He gave me a sideways smile and replied “Just watch, honey.” As if on cue, DJ Venus announced the next dancer. He jumped on the stage and a large plume of smoke billowed out of the machine around him. He started dancing on the stage, but moved to a small podium closer to the crowd. One by one items of clothing came off. He ripped his white tank top with great precision to expose his chest and a tribal tattoo. By the end of the number, only his skivvies remained. After leaving the stage, he went around and chatted up bar patrons in his underwear. Since I wasn’t sure of the proper stripper etiquette, we went outside.
Exile’s patio is one of the best in the city. It wound around the side of the building, and opened into a large courtyard. We found a spot at a picnic table and finished our drinks under the stars to escape the smoke machine. Back inside, the last dancer was ready to go on.
A country song blasted through the speaker, and the shirt ripping continued. After he finished performing, the DJ announced the show was over, but not to worry because more strippers were scheduled on Sunday, and “Oh, there is ‘VCR cleaner’ available upstairs.”