By Clare Donaher
What comes to mind when you hear the words Hurricane Irma? Destruction? Devastation? Desperation? All of these ring true, but for me, Hurricane Irma brings a different set of D’s to my mind. Double Ds, actually. Hurricane Irma was the name of the first woman I met in the new strip club on the outskirts of South Oakland. Famous for her charity work with the families forced from their homes due to the hurricane, as well as for her large breasts, Hurricane Irma is as much as an inspiration as she is a skilled erotic dancer.
The Edgy Stripper Establishment (ESE) is a post-modern strip club that has just opened this September. Well-known for its controversially named strippers and legendary onion rings, the ESE has proved that behind the body glitter and bump-and-grind of these sex symbols are political activists waiting to make their stories known. ISIS was the first artist hired by the club, and she has remained a popular favorite among the patrons. When I asked her about her name, ISIS was visibly upset. “It just, like, makes me so sad. Like, ISIS is so bad. They do so many bad things to so many people and it just sucks. It really sucks. So I call myself ISIS to raise awareness about ISIS so that other people can be aware and know how bad ISIS is, too.” Unfortunately, her actions seem to have had the opposite effect, as shown by the interviews conducted with some of the club’s frequent visitors. “ISIS? Man, I love ISIS,” one man, Dinodas Fairbairn, claimed when prompted. “ISIS gets me so hot. I wish I could have sex with ISIS.”
Another of the dancers, Climate Change, with a bod as hot as her name, had this to say: “We are really making a difference here. When I heard that some people didn’t believe in global warming, I knew I had to do something. So I dropped out of law school, bought a G-string, and never looked back.” Before I could ask a follow up question, she began promptly making out with one of her fellow-dancers, Dakota Pipeline.
The last member of that night’s line-up was clearly the crowd favorite—a man in his mid-fifties with no shame and wads upon wads of dollar bills shoved between his legs. I sat down with him after the show as he reapplied his vanilla-scented body lotion. “I dance because I can’t imagine life without dancing,” he said, wiping sweat seductively from his receding hairline. “It’s like breathing to me.”
“And your name?” I asked. “What statement are you making by calling yourself ‘Pat Gallagher?’”
The man waved his hand. “I haven’t decided on my stage name yet. My real name will have to do for now.” He took a swig of his water bottle and took a deep whiff of his evening’s tips. “It’s go-time, Gallagher,” He whispered to himself as he strutted back onstage to a sea of roaring fans.