By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Even though eating food at a topless bar is as wrong as having sex in a restaurant, you have a God-given right to trustworthy consumer information when it comes to eating out. My research reveals only a few places where you can fill your cakehole. Here's a look at my attempts to fulfill my desires:
CASING THE JOINT I strolled into Café Royale in Farmingdale, one of the mega topless clubs on the Island, at 5:30 one evening. They get porn stars and famous strippers like Heather Hooters to perform here. Two or three patrons and dancers sat at the bar while a couple of dancers wearing little more than a pair of heels did their thing on the stage behind it. I didn't smell any food, and there was no buffet in sight. I asked the barmaid if they served food and she said no. It looked like she had just encountered the biggest pervert of her working life.
CASING ANOTHER JOINT At the Crystal Café, also in Farmingdale, the room was dark and the AC was blasting. It was very dark and the small stage was lit only by black light, and I couldn't see the dancer so well. But I knew my nipples were hard. I could make out that the dancer was prone, giving one patron a private squirm. She looked like she was trying to be his cocktail napkin.
I sat down at the bar and asked the barmaid if there was any food besides the vending machine in the corner. She offered a bar pizza. Soon my appetite would be sated. I gave her a twenty for a $6 Coors Light and got back 14 singles. I got the message. I figured I would be the first customer ever to tip for a pizza by stuffing dollar bills into the barmaid's bra.
I noticed a crusty microwave and a toaster oven on the bar. They looked like they were last used during the Nixon administration. So I wasn't too disappointed when the barmaid returned too soon and said, "There's no pizza. The fridge went dead. Sorry." I bought a bag of Wise potato chips from a machine in the corner. They were superb as always.
BACKGROUND CHECKA retro-cynic might say that Gossip, in Melville, sounds like a place for bored housewives to have quiche and coffee. Actually, it's a place for bored husbands.
The outside of the club looks like a fortress out of Planet of the Apes, but the inside looks like Bada Bing, the club on The Sopranos. Inside, the atmosphere was upscale but predatory. Every guy walking in is a new fish on the menu.
There's a dining room downstairs open later at night so I took a seat at the bar. A partially dressed dancer slinked over immediately. Her name was Dolita and she said she was from Paris. She claimed to be a lingerie model by day. She offered to show me her "Eiffel Tower." Hey, I'm the one who should be showing an Eiffel Tower. Was there more than met the eye here? A little piece of Tenth Avenue right here on Route 110? I was relieved when Dolita whipped out a tiny replica on her key chain.
WHAT I WAS THINKING The dancers have a worse deal than writers. It is my understanding that it is common practice for a dancer to pay 100 bucks a night for a chance to work. She gets to keep the full $20 for each table dance and $30 for each lap dance. Are table dances for people who don't have laps anymore? The champagne room has its own economics. But remember, there is no sex in the champagne room.
WHAT I WAS DRINKING I ordered a Coke. It was a very reasonable $5.
I EAT! I asked about food and was happy to be presented with a large menu that included grilled portabella mushrooms, penne a la vodka, "international salad," chicken marsala and filet mignon. There was no strip steak.
I was hungry but self-conscious, and Dolita's hand massaging my leg was reminding me that I'm also married. I thought it would be appropriate to order something with dressing so I chose the Caesar salad with grilled chicken for $12.95. It was surprisingly good.
Dolita left me to my dinner.
I went home for dessert.