Authors: Greg Raffetto
s amazing how clueless you are, just before your whole life’s about to change, isn’t it? I mean, it might be a boring day, it might be a fun day even…but you never suspect its going to be a
day—not that kind of special of a day. Not the day you might be, could be or ever
be “discovered.” That only happens in the movies. Not to regular guys like me. Does it?
It was fall quarter of my senior year at UCLA, and today was a pretty good day—the day of the UCLA-USC game. It was a balmy evening, and there seemed a sort of electricity in the air, full of post-game excitement. I can’t recall whether we had won the game or lost, but it was
big cross-town matchup
for its tailgate parties, so naturally, I was still a bit hammered. I was traveling with my roommate, Dave, (who was driving), at the Jack-In-The-Box drive-thru at National and Olympic in West Los Angeles, not half a block from where the old Chippendales club was located. In my fuzzy stupor, I’m contemplating deeply upon nothing more than the sumptuous banquet of burgers and tacos we’d just ordered, when I noticed this strange, squat, well-dressed, swarthy, little middle-eastern fellow inside, and he was just staring at me with these dark, piercing, beady little eyes.
I turn to Dave and mutter, “What’s with the
over there; is he staring at
?” Dave replies, “Who?” I say, “Over there. The little guy. That little oompa-loompa guy! Him! There he’s
at us now!”
Now it turns out that it was actually a lucky thing for me that the drive thru line was backed-up and slow that night, because it allowed time for the following to happen: A minute or so later this tall black guy with thick spectacles comes out, walks up to our car, and hands me a slip of paper. It read “Steve B., 396-4045.” Immediately I’m wondering whether this guy is trying to pick up on me, and so I ask the guy “What’s this?” The tall guy looks at me blankly for a couple of uncomfortable moments, acting as though I were somehow crazy not to trust some random guy, let alone one handing me a name and number scribbled on a torn-off slip of paper rather than, say, a business card. He then simply says, “Its Chippendales,” and abruptly turns and walks away. My roommate and I then proceeded to debate whether this was real or just some half-baked scheme by a gay oompa-loompa and a tall black guy to put the moves on the two of us.
A few days later I got up the nerve to call the number. It was indeed the famous Chippendales main office, or so it seemed to be anyway. I stammered nervously, and told them of the circumstances of my calling, and then I spout out “Hey, I’m no Arnold Schwarzenegger,” to which the fellow on the other end responds “Kid, if Steve Bannerjee saw fit to give you his
name and number, I’m sure you’re probably good enough for Chippendales. Why don’t you come on in for an interview?” I graciously thanked him, and told him I would think about it, as I shakily hung up the phone. I then began to mull over just how much my parents just might kill me if I were to get a job at the famous strip joint. I wondered whether I could even “hack it” there. I wondered, jeez, would I even
working there? Well, I figured, heck, I could always quit, but the issue of my parents’ opinion was much more of a quandary. What would they think? How could I tell them?
It took me nearly a month to come to a decision on the matter, and it weighed heavily with me that I was currently working no less than three jobs to help pay for school at the time, and I knew with a job at Chippendales I could have just the ONE job on weekends only, and after all, I didn’t HAVE to tell my parents, not right away anyhow. So, after many beers on a Friday night, I finally just said to heck with it, and I made up my mind to do it. I called up Chippendales again first thing on Monday morning and set up an interview. I don’t know why I waited until 9am Monday morning to call—this was a nightclub operation, I could have called on Saturday and they would have interviewed me on Saturday, and if I were qualified, I could have worked that night.
As it was, I called Monday, and they wanted me in for an interview immediately, since the owner had spotted me personally. For some reason, I
wasn’t all that nervous…I’m not sure why, but it probably had something to do with the fact that, on some level, none of this was real to me yet. It just wasn’t registering with me as being true—someone must surely be playing some big giant, cosmic prank upon me. I dressed in my [then] bitchen Z-Cavaricci jeans and tank top, and blew dried my hair twice even though I knew it would get messed up in the wind anyway as I rode my Honda Elite scooter to the interview. When I left my apartment, I was feeling oddly calm about the whole thing.
I have to say, I really hadn’t the first clue as to what to expect when I got there. Were they going to ask me questions? Would they test me? See if I could wait tables, pour drinks? Would they test me to see how much weight I could lift? Or would it be more cut and dried, beefcake style? Would they take pictures of me or parade me in front of women for a thumbs up or thumbs down session? Jeez, in what stage of undress could such a parade take place, I thought? Good God, would somebody be looking to…..to measure me….to measure….my….my manhood……my penis? Yiiiiiiiiikes!!!!! So now I'm thinking: FLACCID OR HARD!? HARD OR FLACCID?! AAAAAAAAAGH!!!!!! By the time I pulled up to the curbside address of the office and saw the sign with the “Chippendales” emblem, I was a wreck.
I sat on my scooter for a few minutes, with all manner of thoughts racing through my head. I had to make up my mind
what my limits were
--how far I would and would NOT go to get this job. I had heard that somewhere that some of the Chippendales were gay, and I wasn’t, so I wasn’t about to give anyone the impression that I was gay, not that I had anything against gay people. God bless gay people; let ‘em be gay if they want. I had gay friends as a matter of fact. Okay, so what if they ask me to
do some straight stuff, like see how well I can kiss girls or something? Jeezus, what the hell am I thinking, this wasn’t a porno shoot I was going to, this was a simple interview to work at a nightclub, I told myself. It’s just an interview to work at a nightclub with your shirt off, Greg, didn’t you see “Bachelor Party” with Tom Hanks? That’s all it is! Just a nightclub job with your shirt off. So long as you don’t put your dick in a hot dog bun and serve it to anybody, that’s all it is. Just a nightclub job with your shirt off, Greg. Stop worrying and get your head together! I looked up at the “Chippendales” marquee above the door, and it at least answered one question for me—this was no cosmic joke—this was the real thing. This was THE Chippendales. I took a few deep breaths, tried to clear my head, and though I was nervous, by golly I got up off my scooter, ran my fingers through my hair and began to walk toward the door. I told myself, heck, this is an office just like any other office, and I steadied myself and grasped the front door handle firmly. But I knew this wasn’t just any other office. This might be my big chance in life. If I played my cards right, I might be about to become A CHIPPENDALE. I swallowed hard, steeled my nerves and began to pull the handle… and then…*fart* (oops!). I froze. Let’s try again. I swallowed hard, steeled my nerves again, began to pull the handle and then… *nothing * (relief..whew)… I smiled for a moment, confidently
pulled the door all the way open, and swaggered into the Chippendales front office!
As I entered the doorway, I was stricken firstly by the modesty office itself, and secondly by the immodesty of its occupants. Traipsing across the floor from one room to another was a guy wearing only blue athletic shorts and a white boa (yes a white boa!) all chiseled and shiny, not even glancing sideways as I entered the room, even as announced by the bell on the door. Behind the front desk was a young gal, twenty-one perhaps, bleach blonde with long, brightly-painted nails, nightclub makeup and an extremely low-cut, pink Chippendales tee-shirt, and bursting forth from it were breasts the size of volleyballs. Look her in the eyes, Greg, look her in the eyes, the EYES, THE
. “Hi, My name’s Greg Raffetto, and I’ve got a two o’clock appointment.” Before she can answer me, my eyes betray me [Dammit!] and steal a glance down at her ginormous beasties. She reacts unexpectedly…“Just had ‘em done,” she says “Wanna feel ‘em?” and then this girl GRABS ME by my right wrist and pulls me towards her, placing my hand squarely upon her left breast! “I’m Sylvia,” she smiles, with a little bit of red lipstick sticking to her teeth as she begins to suck it off of her teeth suggestively. “You’re Greg, right?” “Uh, yeah,” I respond, dumbfounded by her presumptuosness, but getting half a chubby too, I must admit. “Steven,” she calls back, “your appointment’s here!”
“Send him back!” Came the reply from the rear room.
Now I had thought that this was Steve the owner, but it was a different Steve. Turns out that getting to speak with the owner was quite a bit more difficult, and that being discovered by the owner, as I was, was something special indeed. I went into the back room, where there’s this guy behind his desk but no chair for me to sit. He introduces himself to me as Steve
, and he’s supposed to be the talent assistant or something, and he’s obviously scoping me out head to toe, giving me the once-over. Jeez, now what’s this guy going to ask me to do, I thought, because I’m not going to “do” anyone! Then the guy asks me to take my tank top off. Nervously, I comply. Silently, I’m thinking, hey, I’m here for a job and that’s it. I don’t know what kind of show they’re running here but…oh holy crap, here comes that girl Sylvia…with a tape measure! Oh Shit! They
GOING TO MEASURE MY WIENER! Oh my GOD! I
IT! I AM FREAKING OUT AS SYLVIA PROCEEDS TO KNEEL BEFORE ME AND REACH OUT TOWARD MY PENIS! AAAAAAGH!!!!! At this point, my face goes white, and I feel dizzy, like I’m about to pass out or something. Then Sylvia places the top of the measuring tape at the height of my crotch! OH GOD! HERE SHE COMES! CLOSE YOUR EYES AND JUST LET HER DO HER BUSINESS! AAAARRGHHH!! Sylvia then…. slowly…. moves….the other end… ...down to…. the floor. Oh Sweet Mary Mother of
God……. she’s….. she’s….. she’s….she’s taking my freaking
! After innocently checking my waist-size and neck size, then, Sylvia disappeared. Slowly but surely, the blood returns to my head, and thankfully, I do not pass out in the middle of the interview. Yeah, I’m sure that would have gone over really well if they had found out that, yes, I want to be a Chippendale, but oh, by the way, I nearly pass out if a girl starts to get anywhere near my junk! Sylvia came back a minute later with a pair of black pair of spandex pants, and white collar and cuffs combo. As she handed them to me without a word, I turned to Steve and, puzzled, asked him, “Does this mean…?”
“Mean…mean, what?” says Steve.
“Am I hired?” I ask quizzically.
“Yes, yes, you’re hired! Welcome to Chippendales!” And just like that, I, a one-time nerdy geek boy from Huntington Beach had become, of all things...a Chippendale.
Hired on a Monday, I was to start immediately working as what was called a “host.” I was given no further instruction other than that I was to “talk to the ladies.” It sounded fairly simple. The nightclub was open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, so my first night was to be that coming Thursday. I was told to show up early, around 5 o’clock in the afternoon, and the other people there would tell me what my duties as host would entail. You’d think I would have gotten more of a job description in advance than that, but I didn’t. All I was told was that I 'had the personality for it.’ Still, I figured I would just do what the other guys were doing and just pick it up as I went along.
I was only making minimum wage also, which didn’t sit too well with me, but I figured I’d make it up in tips or something—all I knew was that Chippendales guys made a lot of money, or so I’d heard. That was a minor concern to me anyway—I hadn’t quit two of my other three jobs anyway…not just yet. At the time, I was still working 30 hours a week as an assistant to the director at UCLA Extension’s Marketing Division, and another 6 hours on weekend days as a test proctor. I had quit my other weekend job doing door-to-door sales selling Firestone auto service cards—that job just sucked—not because Firestone sucked [Firestone is great...don't sue please]—its just that door-to-door sales sucked, as everyone well knows.
Came Thursday, time for work, and I already had a quandary on my hands. Where was I going to “suit up,” at home or at work? I decided to don the spandex pants and wear my regular pants over them. Wait, no, a second none-too-minor problem. Underwear. Boxers or briefs…or none? I had both boxers and briefs, actually, and of course the old birthday suit. Then I remembered that strippers normally wore what’s called a ‘G-string’ and that was the one thing I did NOT have…or did I? Wait a minute….yes I DID! Turns out, my
good friend from high school,
, had given me a little black G-string that said “Make My Day” in red lettering on it as a gag gift at the senior breakfast! So, I set to the task of digging through my memories box, and found the little bugger, and stepped into it. Triumph! Still fits! And with a slip and jiggle, there I was, ready for work, and none too soon it looked. A little baby oil on the chest, and off I went, like a lubed up Chippendales astronaut monkey ready to be shot into space.
But before I go on, let me tell you this. Ya know what else I found in my memories box? A single, black, bow tie…a bow tie which I had, for some reason, started running around wearing around my neck during the summer between my 8
Grade graduation and Freshman year in high school—a la Chippendales. It brought back some memories, I’d long since forgotten. It was only then that I realized that I had always, on some level, wanted to be a Chippendale. And now…it was happening for real. Ya
know, I’d completely forgotten about those days until now—you’d think I’d have remembered when I first got the number from Steve Bannerjee to become a member of his club, but I didn’t. It wasn’t until now, with my own private “Memories Box” before me, that I realized that this…this whole thing…was
destined to be
. I mean, who else goes around wearing a bowtie around their neck at age fourteen? Dang it, I was MEANT to be a Chippendale!
With one last look in the mirror, I grabbed my keys, and off I went…off for my first night at work…as a CHIPPENDALE.
After a 30 minute drive, I finally arrived at the cross-streets and address in downtown Los Angeles where the Chippendales club was supposedly now operating and I have to say my first impression was, man, in the daylight anyway, this was a bit of a dump! Well, what nightclub wasn’t after all? I grabbed my jacket and headed for the door at the bottom of the covered stairs, which was obviously the main entrance. The door was old, creaky, and not hung right--like the wood and metal door to an old schoolhouse or a barn. It was still light outside, but as I opened this door, the darkness from the nightclub seemed to reach out into the daylight and grab me even in the waning sunlight. It smelled dank, and it was dead quiet, and then some indiscernible clanking. I stood there for a moment, in the perforation between the day and I knew not what of night. I had time still--I
was early. Well, I thought, whatever I’m getting myself into, I’d better get to getting into it, then. I’m not doing myself any good standing here with one foot in and one foot out. So with that, I stepped into the darkness, and began climbing the dimly-lit staircase in front of me, the heavy door slowly creaking shut behind. I was keenly aware, then, of each waning milli-section of daylight as that door swung slowly shut, and finally, clank! There it went. I was on the third step, climbing ever higher on the stairway to heaven or hell, I knew not which. I could tell, even in this horribly-lit stairwell, that the red carpet was so full of gum, dirt, drinks, pukestains and whatever, that you could only tell what color the carpet
by looking at the sides of it. Yeechh! Better turn those lights down a little further, I thought.