Fundraiser tips big, tries "whack-ass shit."

Most of the Republicans in the club tonight were obviously—almost ridiculously—identifiable. If they weren't wearing red, white, and blue ties or handkerchiefs, they were donning straw cowboy hats with buttons on them that read "Wild Wild West Saloon." (The hats came from some party held at a nearby bar). At one point, a man combined the two looks, wrapping his stars-and-stripes handkerchief around his hat in a fashion statement that was pure Bush.

But one man there was more subtle in his allegiance. He was dressed in an understated suit with no visible patriotic accessories, his black hair slicked back neatly. Only by looking at his cuff links—silver things punctuated by black stars—could you tell that he was a Pioneer, meaning he'd raised at least $100,000 for the president's re-election. (Of course, he showed them to me within five minutes of making my acquaintance, so he wasn't all modesty.)

He was clearly at ease in the club. I was a good waitress, he told me, and he knew how to tell them: He had owned a strip club. He kept a dancer at his side and bought several dances from her.

After three dances, she separated from Mr. Pioneer and found me. At this point we had the classic waitress-stripper exchange of information—how much money did this guy have? And was he cheap?

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"I don't know if it's going anywhere with him," she said. "I know he has money, but I'm not going to sit here all night for $60. He's married. With children." I wasn't much help. He hadn't tipped me yet. But I could confirm the married bit. There was a nice silver band on his left hand. It went rather well with the cuff links, actually.

Before long, though, she had attained what is every stripper's nightly goal: He took her into a private room. The rooms rent for anywhere from several hundred to a thousand dollars an hour.

Meanwhile, the straw hat contingent of the club was partying away. There was not a still dancer in the place—and not a hint of shame, either. I remembered reading that the Boston strip clubs had sat empty throughout the Democratic National Convention—not because the Dems are more virtuous, I think, but because they can't afford the political risk.

The Republicans, meanwhile, seem to believe they're invincible. When I asked one table of guys whether they were coming from the party for delegates, one said, "No, we would never do that." He looked at his friends and laughed. "Yeah. But hey, don't tell anyone, OK?" His voice seemed devoid of anxiety.

As I was leaving the club tonight, I saw Mr. Pioneer's stripper. "Hey, did you do all right?" I asked.

She shook her head. "It took so long to get him in there, and then when I got him in he tried to do all this whack-ass shit to me."

I wish I could reveal what exactly "whack-ass shit" entails, but strip-club etiquette is to not ask.

On balance, I have no complaint with Mr. Pioneer. He told me he knew how hard my job was and left me a 35 percent tip. Appropriate, really, because Tuesday's convention theme is the compassion of the American people.

 


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