The "sex issue" is a tired alt-weekly mainstay. One of the hoarier cliches is the writer who hangs with a stripper (dominatrix, porn actress, pick one) and reports back that, gee, they are people too — typically adding a chaste disclaimer of personal disinterest on the part of the writer. CityBeat's current "deviant sex issue" ventures off that well-worn path. Andy Klein reads for naughty bits between the lines of Strunk and White's Elements of Style, and when Erika Schickel and a friend leave their kids and men at home to go out for midweek lap dances, cool detachment is not their intent. The West L.A. strip club they choose is all nude and thus alchohol free, so "feels like the calm eye of the male sexual storm that rages outside in the world...here the man are calm" and leave them alone. Schickel realizes "the challenge of choosing a dancer lies in the fact that these girls were not created with my aesthetics in mind," but "Ava" turns her on and they go to a back room. The usual no-touching rules are thrown out:
My husband has a weakness for cool blondes. Heíd want me to go for her. There is a strange crossover between my desire for my mate and my desire for this stranger that creates a circuit in my libido. For the first time this evening, I feel a jolt of arousal.
[skipping graphic details...]
I am fully in touch with my inner strumpet now, and it is like meeting an old friend. There were times, before I married, when I would indulge in sex for its own sake. It wasnít always about love, or infidelity. It was just about the simple pleasure of bodies discovering each other. This feels like that, and it brings me back to my old self, as it simultaneously frees me from who I am now.
The song ends too soon, so I stay for another. When that one is over, I long for one more. But this is how they get you. I have reached my financial limit for the evening, and I pull myself away from her. Iíve gotten what I came for, and itís not like this is going anywhere. Not that I want it to. I am attracted to the women in the same way I am attracted to luxury cars. I appreciate their beauty. I love their lines, the softness of their upholstery, their purr. But I donít have a burning desire to drive one. We stand up and rearrange ourselves before picking up our purses and exiting the booth. I return to the table to find Kathleen waiting for details.
"How was it?" she asks.
"Divine," I say, sitting down.
Schickel's last story for CityBeat was about adult dodgeball matches. She also wrote and performed in Wild Amerika at the L.A. Theatre Works, billed as a hilarious "Darwinian exploration of mating, monogamy and motherhood."