|Media night at the Penthouse Club. FYI, that's not me.|
Media day must be a nightmare for them. Most of us don't make enough money to throw it on stage, no matter how enthusiastically they shake their near-bare buttocks at us.
But they also make conversation. Conveniently for me, the first beautiful woman in lingerie I approach, Naomi, says, "My job is to represent Penthouse. By being gorgeous and friendly and polite. (long pause) And by representing the food."
Great! Since the press preview only has snacks which aren't on the actual menu, I ask Naomi what she knows about the real food.
"I'm from Texas. I love meat," she says, standing about four inches from me, making concentration difficult. "I just had the best steak here. I like Mike. Mike is the chef. I like the chef." I envy Mike, but learn little.
For my next interview, I'm drawn to the most beautiful woman in the room. Her name is Katya, she's from Estonia, and she doesn't know much about the food either. I chitchat longer with her because it's media day and normally private-esque time with her like this costs $100 for three songs, so I get about $40 worth of talk about California weather for free.
As for the private booths in back, with smoked glass, pleather couches and video screens, to visit one of those with the girls, I can't tell you how much that costs. The security guy says, after I prod him (not literally), "It depends. We take cash and credit. They range from $350 and up depending on how many girls."
But "service" has real meaning at the Penthouse Club. When they let the public in, I watch a group of five guys order two bottles. Each has a woman sitting on his lap until one decides he doesn't like his. His friend is forcibly holding hands with a silicon-enhanced half-Japanese woman; forcibly, because each time she lets go, his hands wander in what he thinks are stealthy fashion down to her panties until she grabs them again. Second base obviously costs more than $650.
The drinks on the menu are all sickly sweet. My friend tries a couple, but I give up and order a Makers Mark Manhattan; I don't know what it would cost outside of media day. The bartenders are all female, showing a lot of cleavage, and as a group slightly more attractive than the women on stage. I wonder if they're from the same labor pool, and if so, which task is considered more desirable. The Manhattan is respectable.
The highlight of the food they do serve the media -- which you can't have, sorry, but part of the club experience is not having what you want -- is mini roast beef and pork sandwiches, freshly carved. They're pretty good, so I line up to get another and find myself behind Katya from Estonia, which is how I notice that most of the 25 cm2 or so of fabric she's wearing on her 5-foot-10 frame is deployed on her front side.
We make small talk again -- about $15 worth -- and when she turns around she wraps her arms around herself. Maybe she's cold. Later I run into a wine-writer friend who says, "The kind of nerdy humor, irony, that I usually use just doesn't work here." I realize that the best possible opening line in the Penthouse Club would be, "You've heard of my father."
|The lapdance room: $100 for 3 songs|
When I get home, my wife asks if the women of the Penthouse Club were as beautiful as those at the Bada Bing on the Sopranos. I say they were very different, and I think that may reflect regional tastes. Most have tattoos. Fewer are blonde; there are many more Asians.
(Two days later my guest at the event calls excitedly to tell me he's in one of the photos from the event on the Penthouse site. So I look at the photos, in the normal light of morning, with no alcohol in my system. How do the women look? I'm just going to quote my friend's wife, who says, "I could get a job there.")
My wife asks about the breasts. Were they enormous? Again, not as much as on TV. Some of the women had notable silicon, but most did not. Most of the women seemed like ordinary 20-somethings (and a few 30's) who just happened to be wearing lingerie. Almost all were slender, but that isn't unexpected in San Francisco. Maybe realistic women are part of the attraction. When your lap dancer says, "I'm working my way through grad school," maybe she really is. English majors gotta eat too.
And these women do have skills other than suppressing their shyness. Which is a skill for sure: tell the truth, could you stand around making small talk wearing 25 cm2 of fabric?
I'm standing idly when Tora from Humboldt introduces herself. She tells me how much she would like the food if she could eat meat, but the hormones make her crazy. She says she's not into dairy because "the concept of dairy is weird." I try doing her job for a while, pretending to be interested in what she's saying. It's hard. I mean, difficult.
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