“Bush will be here tonight, right?” a self-described “boring banker” asked me at around 1:00 a.m.
I certainly hoped that the president would come in. More specifically, I hoped that two shimmering American flags would unfurl across the club and he would suddenly appear in the middle of them. But as I had not yet made enough money to pay for a cab ride home, I was ready to settle for anyone remotely connected to the president—a convention gaffer, the White House gardener, the photographer who tracks the activities of first terrier Barney.
“Where are the others?” I asked the two lone GOP’ers in the club at 3:00 a.m. I’ve gotten pretty good at picking them out by now. A navy blue blazer is usually a dead giveaway. So is a pink polo shirt. And as one stripper put it tonight, some people “just smell like Republicans.”
“I think a lot of people wore themselves out partying hard Monday and Tuesday night,” one guy said. I could vouch for that.
But within half an hour, the population of the club had doubled—from 100 to 200. They were wearing those ridiculous patriotic ties again. The strippers wasted no time in untying them.
In my section, a black stripper in a lime green dress draped her arm around a man’s waist. “I love Republicans!” she cooed.
“Seriously?” the men around her asked, with evident insecurity.
“No, seriously. I love Dubya.” On her dress, she had pinned a button with a picture of the president wearing a cowboy hat. “I love Dubya!” she shouted.
A short man with spiky blond hair took my hands in his and stared at me. He recognized me as a fellow Midwesterner, he said—he was from North Dakota. “I have to go home tomorrow,” he said, still holding my hands. “I know,” I said, because there was not much else I could say.
A blond woman with a businesslike face stumbled over to us. “Are you having fun?” she asked the man, protectively. Then she turned her attention to me. “You’re not videotaping us, are you?” Tonight’s GOP crowd was somehow both reckless and anxious.
Satisfied that I wasn’t going to betray them, she stared at me earnestly and asked, “You’re voting for Bush, right?” “I don’t know,” I said. (“I don’t know that I’ll be able to sniff away that many brain cells by November,” I thought.)
“He was awesome tonight,” she said. “Awesome. He’s protecting us.”
Mara Hvistendahl, author of this blog, is a freelance writer, magazine intern, and perhaps now unemployed strip-club waitress.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 3, 2004