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G-strings at the Boardwalk

Last Sunday about 10 p.m., a two-car caravan of girlies was shaking with bass and peenie-happy energy and flying down Federal Highway toward La Bare (2750 E. Oakland Park Blvd., Fort Lauderdale). The group's avowed intent: to ogle nearly naked members of the dominant half of the population. The secret goal: to determine whether women are as crass as men when it comes to the strip-club thing.

We were mildly disappointed when Lola, a veteran of the 3-year-old male strip club, disclosed that we were not going to get the whole package but rather wire-enhanced packages hidden away behind G-strings. That was OK, though, because we were going to get to see a little sumpin', at least.

Then we pulled up to La Bare to find the doors sealed and the parking lot, well, bare. A sign posted on the door disclosed that the club was open only Wednesday through Saturday and was closed on New Year's Eve, a tough fact to swallow for a single female with an itch to scratch.

Next, we went to Spearmint Rhino Gentlemen's Lounge (3411 N. Federal Hwy.) to beg directions to an open male revue. The front-desk girl and manager were stumped. It seemed odd that she couldn't come up with anywhere in Fort Lauderdale for ladies to assume the voyeuristic role when her club was littered with fully nude women whetting the appetites of table after table of jolly-seekers. As we were driving from the parking lot, a group of pervy, frat-boy-looking mofos tried to wave us down and thumb a ride. No thanks, boys. Tuck those beer bellies back inside your belts, 'cause we're just looking tonight.

There was only one hope: gay men's libido. So we drove to Boardwalk (1721 N. Andrews Ave, Fort Lauderdale), with Lola ranting the whole way: "A dude can go and see a bitch ride a pole any time he wants, but if a woman wants to see a guy swing his shlong, she can't do it. That's not right."

When our fabulous foursome arrived at Boardwalk, formerly a Flanigan's restaurant, we were anxious. After all, a party girl is welcome in the more upright gay bars, but when it comes to the underbelly of the scene, she might find herself pushed to the fringe.

"May we enter?" we inquired at the front desk.

The thin, dark-haired man behind the counter pulled out a form and said, "First, you'll have to sign this." Attached to a clipboard was a special release for females stating that we were at least 21 years of age, would consume at least two beverages, and would refrain from touching the dancers. Later, I talked to Annie, an older, husky, no-nonsense blond, who informed me that the document was part of a club policy meant to protect women from being approached by the dancers.

Upon jotting our John Hancocks and peeling five bucks from our less-than-thick wads, we were permitted passage through the black velvet curtain. The entrance opened into a crowded midsized bar lit by blue Christmas lights wrapped around the rafters. There was a hunked-out stage on either end of the large, centered bar. On the front stage, a beefcake "top" type -- a guy with pitcher appeal for those unhip to the lingo -- wearing black, short briefs was bouncing in rigid, tame motions that shook his abs and thighs yummily but revealed little evidence of dancing talent. On the back stage, a bottom boy --- one with catcher appeal -- was dancing with his ass stuck out toward two older, heavy men who were feeding bills into his strap.

The slender, tank-topped MC screamed into his mic as we passed the stage, "Fish are in the house." Despite the flagrant rip on vaginal odor, we whooped in the expected girly tones, acknowledging our status as a novelty, and made a space for ourselves at the bar. He continued, "Why don't you come up here and play with the sharks?"

That's a tough one: maybe because we had to sign release forms promising we wouldn't?

There is, of course, the issue of feeding the talent, and we weren't sure whether we could even approach the sharks. Dollars weren't exactly flying around the club's main room. The black curtain behind us at the bar, where the strippers kept disappearing, concealed a place where I suspected the real dough was made. Tex, a midheight, hulky blond man in black cotton underwear emerged from the, uh, VIP room to bum a smoke. He asked me if I liked his thong. How could I reply but in the affirmative? He said he was going to party at the "Life's a Drag" event at VooDoo Lounge (111 SW Second Ave, Fort Lauderdale) afterward and said we should go.

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Courtney Hambright

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