Behold the Power of Fangs!

Sharp teeth and fishnet stockings transform the typical bump and grind

"We're about sensuality, not sexuality. We're not about putting stuff in everyone's faces," Mel, who sorta serves as the girls' housemother, explained. "It's a different concept. We're not a strip club."

Well, the girls did strip, but in addition to the taped nipples, there were other differences that distinguished it.

Josepher expounded: "Girls in strip clubs end up doing things they don't want to. But all the girls here are mistresses [dominatrixes], so they already go into it with respect."

Tony Gleeson

"We're not here to serve them," Mel said defiantly as her contacts reflected the black light and made her eyes look possessed. "They're here to serve us."

While we were talking, one of the dancers handed Mel some cash and reported that she was going to do a private session in one of the rooms.

Who was serving whom?

"You're like their pimps?" I asked astonished. "You take a cut?"

"No, they're just renting the room from us," Josepher corrected.

Ah, like a contract, it's all in the terminology.

At a table by the small circular stage, Heather and her boyfriend, William, held hands as they watched a performance by the redhead whose bottom had been much abused during the stage show.

"We've been to strip clubs together, but we prefer this because the girls aren't money-hungry," William said before adding that he also appreciated the gothic/industrial music like Nine Inch Nails and White Zombie.

Later, the redhead (whose stage name is Blaze) confirmed both his observation and Mel's claim.

"This is empowering to women because we're in charge here," she assured. "We don't make as much [as strippers] because we don't exploit ourselves like that."

I was soon drawn to another woman at a nearby table who shared my love for Betsey Johnson fashion. She wore a leopard print dress and a big smile. Introducing herself as Vanessa, she told me she was a PhD candidate, an FAU instructor, and a single mom, and she was having a great time.

"How often do you get to see a vampire burlesque cabaret?" she asked.

I couldn't help myself: "I believe every week."

She laughed.

"Yeah, I don't get a chance to go out that much. But actually, it's not that much different," she said referring to her home life. "We have the light-up skeletons, but we don't have the cute dancing girls."

She too found Cabaret Vampyra a femme-friendly event: "I may come back. I like the way the dancing girls have real bodies. I think women would rather look at that."

Those at the table next to her did not share her opinion.

"If I had more money, I'd go to Scarlett's," the redheaded, freckled-faced guy asserted before introducing himself as Carl, a BCC math tutor. "But they have good music here."

I asked him if strippers held more appeal than the vampires. He replied in the affirmative.

"What would you do if you were a vampire?"

"I would rule the world," he said after a little bit of thought.

"How would the world be different?"

"I'm not sure. I don't know if you can really change the world... I'd make the world more advanced, warp engines and all that shit."

Hmmm. I don't think anyone else ever conceived of vampire engineers. Probably because fangs clash with pocket protectors.

Yury, a young microbiologist whose Colombian parents gave her a Russian boys' name, had other vampiric dreams: "Vampires have a power of seduction. I would seduce all the blond, blue-eyed girls I could. I used to think blonds are stupid, but all of a sudden, I can't get enough of them."

Well, she already had the unquenchable thirst. Maybe she was already the chupacabra.

Before I left the table, I had to comment on the blond guy's T-shirt.

"I date sluts because that's all there is"? I said reading its text. "How does your mom feel about that?"

"I'm gay," he retorted.

"How does your dad feel about that?"

"He's the one who bought it for me," he said, satisfied he'd made his point, though I was uncertain what it was.

Before I left, I ran into Stephanie.

"So? Did you decide?" I queried.

"I wanna do it," she said, reaffirming her decision with eager nodding and suddenly looking wistful. "Hopefully my boyfriend will understand. I mean, I want someone who will support what I do."

But then she was excited again: "Ever since I was 15, I've loved dressing up like this. It's always caught my attention."

And I couldn't help but feel excited for her. For her excitement, her desire. After all, so many times we don't know what we want or we deny ourselves our desires, for whatever reasons. And those moments when we figure it out and commit to it — that, my friends, that is empowerment.

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