BOOB JOB? 

Three Flyer reporters investigate the newest downtown bistro-- Silk and Lace.

“I’m a boob guy,” a friend offered when I ran into him at a popular downtown bar. He’d just come from Silk and Lace, the much-hyped new club featuring bikini’d waitresses that’s got Harper Valley‘s panties in a bunch. “And I’ve got to say,” he went on, “the bikini tops were small, but the bottoms were, like, really, really small.” Apparently a little too small for the anatomy involved. Unable to put his dismay into words, he held his hands out wide, as if holding a large watermelon. “And the lights. Oh man, the lights ... “ His voice trailed off as he recalled the trauma. Goldschlager, stat! He was more than disappointed; he was fast sinking into depression. “I really thought it was going to be great,” he uttered as I swabbed his forehead and assured him that seeing near-naked ladies live can be scary. It was a clear-cut case of post-trashy-stripper syndrome. I prescribed a week of Internet porn, 7-Up, and saltines. I figured I could best empathize with this damaged dude if I experienced his nightmare. Flyer reporters Mary Cashiola and Rebekah Gleaves agreed to join me to check out Cotton Row’s latest blemish. We’d all seen the bistro’s hotties gracing the front page of last Friday’s Commercial Appeal and realized we were apparently missing one of the most important stories in Memphis. We would face the light, but not look directly at it. Good advice, really, when enjoying a wee nip at Silk and Lace. If this joint isn’t of the strip variety, I must be missing the point. On a small black stage a girl as pale as the recently fallen snow danced (read: thrust her pelvis in and out) to a hard-core rap song, aiming her Target-suited backside to the audience. A strobe light embedded in the floor shone upward between her legs like a heat-seeking missile, magnifying every scratch, scar, and dimpled chad. Struck momentarily catatonic by Silk and Lace’s unfiltered cheese, I snapped back to reality when I spotted two attorneys I know. We had a “You’re here. We’re here. It’s cool so don’t make a big deal” moment. I probably wouldn’t have noticed them if the place hadn’t been half- empty. Seating was still limited, however. “Ooh, the only space available is ass-side,” Rebekah said, reluctantly leading us to a table between three excited boys who kept jumping up from their seats like Robin Williams and three gruff trucker-types fondling their beer bottles. It occurred to me that the sole advantage of a place like this is that dressed women will not be ogled no matter how good-looking they are. The men are too distracted. We ordered a few non-sissy drinks and didn’t say much. Top 40 songs boomed and a woman dressed like a Dynasty extra in a red rayon blazer and a black fedora placed a high-heeled foot on the stairs of the stage to begin her number. Just as something Steinem stirred in my gut, Rebekah had an idea that convinced me she is meant for investigative journalism. We would get job applications. Mary laughed, but I could tell she wanted to leave. Why I turned my head then, I’ll never know. But I made the mistake of looking directly at the light and had flashbacks of the time I accidentally caught my grandmother getting out of the bathtub. Daisy, our friendly waitress, answered our questions about how much she made and what it was like working at Silk and Lace. She seemed pleased with her three days at the gig and reported that she made $75 a night, sometimes more. “Do ya’ll work at Platinum?” she asked. Yeah, sweetheart, we’re spies who’ve taped our double D’s down for the evening. Daisy tells us that we could work there and asks if we would we like to see the boss. Though I was picturing a scabrous, gut-heavy man chewing on a cheap cigar who would leer over us, inspecting our “talent,” a petite woman who looked like a soccer mom came to our table. She was warm and self-effacing, saying that she wanted to host a Harley party because “everyone in town is pissed at us anyway.” She told us that Silk and Lace’s barbecue is better than anything she’s ever tasted. I was ready to strap on an apron right there. But our interview wasn’t over. We followed her downstairs and were introduced to the boss. He chewed on a cigar, living up to my stereotype. As he sifted through a messy collection of applications, Polaroids attached, he asked the three of us if we had dancing experience. Um, well ... He assured us that it didn’t matter. Dancers “make $250 a night,” he said. “I need a Wonder Woman, a Catwoman, and that lady who wears a New York baseball cap,” he growled. The boss then cracked an astoundingly funny breast-feeding joke. I was so very charmed I didn’t want to leave. He told us to come in Sunday afternoon and audition for him. Rebekah promised she’d drop by after church. A job at Silk and Lace would be pretty cushy, all right. If the guy on the second floor videotaping the girls would do what Daisy had hoped for Ñ “Put us on ‘America’s Funniest Home Videos!’”-- then I’m certain great things are in store for them. Call me a backward feminist. I don’t care if women want to show their boobs to feed their families. It’s obvious self-exploitation works in America if you’re smart enough to look good doing it. Disciplined opportunists like Darva Conger and Linda Tripp cashed in on their 15 minutes and headed to the make-over doctors. And yes, they may be the butt of a lot of jokes, but at least they knew enough to keep their own butts far away from a strobe light.

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