Absent in person, Anne materialized between Klanger and me in spirit. Didn’t we almost expect her to emerge at Rick Blaine’s Place and simply gesture that one of us light the cigarette she’d jammed into its holder?
Oh, yes. A minor affectation, her cigarette holder. A narrow three-toned contraption spun in onyx, silver and ivory stages. Part of her Madame Sin persona no doubt. With the right, um, suitor, the wand could become a conversation piece.
Whether Anne used it to reduce the tobacco’s effect, liked the way it made her look, or as a prop that somehow lessened the unseemliness behind the pursuit of what a much higher percentage of those living outside Las Vegas might’ve seen as an unsavory practice, it was an effective distraction that deepened interest in her. Maybe I should’ve asked but why must all mysteries be solved?
Seeing Anne at Rick Blaine’s Place with it presented an amusing picture. Observing her with the same accessory inside her home, both of us then completely rendered vulnerable through nakedness, our mutual states making us more or less equals, added pleasant provocation. Heightened the whole louche sense of escapades that were indulged and would be later.
All these scenes missed were her slipping into and being artlessly concealed in silk kimonos.
Klanger and I didn’t regard ourselves as competitors. Instead, we saw ourselves as collaborators. We perceived Anne differently. He concretely, me abstractly. Either way until we met again three years later neither of us had yet bothered making any effort to convert Anne, these days the idea of Anne, into our respective mediums.
Klanger had drawn the most preliminary of sketches for a possible sculpture. These, however, he’d stuffed into some drawer somewhere and had either purposely forgotten or lost.
She’d migrated into the back of my mind. There, Anne had aligned herself with a whole gallery of Las Vegas-met people who might someday have populated a post or be the topic of a vignette.
But the basis of a serial? Never saw that coming.
At least that was the plan, so far as plans around here went. But Klanger appeared and brought her from the deepest recesses and shadows under the Klieg lights again. Strangely, and Klanger agreed completely, in contemplation Anne grew more solid than when either of us swapped favors with her.
Even if either of us saw religion in the spiritual sense rather than as philosophical fodder, Klanger and I knew our prayers for Anne’s return or another woman approximating her character would never be answered. Instead, if Rick Blaine’s Place was to remain our shrine, we’d have to accustom ourselves to women on the downside of alluring. Women burdened with issues seeking men who somehow navigated past all kinds of female domestic dramas to achieve gratification.
Once a colleague of Anne’s, okay, a sister stripper, suggested she’d make a better connection with either of us because unlike Anne and plenty of others pausing on stage then flitting around the room, she was still single and childless. If that woman joked, she just barely did so. Truth and fewer complications favorably weighed her point.
Honestly appraising the “girls” working at Rick Blaine’s Place and other Las Vegas lower-tier jiggle joints, they did seem the refuges of women stuck in straits. Too many popped out of the same template. Each had latched onto a bad boy who’d graduated into recidivism, or worse, had a record making him damned near unemployable. Unplanned first children led to unwanted seconds and thirds. And while good decent labor availed, noble toil paid lousy wages.
Anne’s trail to the same circumstance veered substantially from the usual spiral. Klanger and I agreed she performed more from stubbornness than survival. Maybe sensing that difference was the lure making our respective antennae quiver.
Others perving alongside us reminded me of sordid dad-types who daydreamed about the neighbor woman next door naked. Given that a lot of common-law wives and reluctant mothers earned their daily bread at Rick Blaine’s Place, the thought that more than a few beer-and-shot duds glanced up from their video poker machines in hopes of seeing the rock ‘n’ roll chick down the street topless onstage. After a three-song preview of what could be had, she sashayed throughout the crowd hawking “private dances.” On the tour, she might’ve spied a peeper from up the street.
On one hand, the sport determined how much groping secured his silence. On the other, the piece calculated the right amount to mulct from him.
If the girl “worked on the side” the pair could skip hurried and furtive relatively circumspect private room hanky-panky for much less restrictive – and more lucrative – encounters at an address elsewhere.
As stated, Anne, similar to countless women in her field, had children as well as the meatstick who sired them nearby. Whether a ceremony still legally bound them or ever did remained murky.
Anne’s relationship with the father of her children wasn’t strained or contentious. She called it “ambivalent.”
Hers was feline behavior. While canines are known for affection and fidelity, Anne, like a cat, blew hot and cold with her suspected husband. One moment she adored him; the next she expressed the sort of sudden disdain that might’ve chilled the Mojave in August.
Did her sideline attract Klanger and me to Anne? Weren’t both of us unconsciously, instinctively driven to the bold, if not altogether outré?
Admittedly the linear figure ogled on stage could never have been confused for an obvious sex purveyor. Striking, almost severe as Anne appeared, our society prefers finding and mining unbridled carnal voracity from voluptuous women. Don’t curvy buxom women do better jobs of feeding fleshy fantasies than the rail thin and small-breasted?
More canvas to splatter imagination upon.
What surprised the three of us more? That her peculiar deviance left the metal sculptor and content creator untroubled? Or that she needn’t entail her specialty to us? Mere mention sufficed. Not that Klanger or I ever received satisfaction from such a practice, but our already knowing the subject surely further distanced us from the busters she habitually met at Rick Blaine’s Place.
These days, large percentages of Latinos and Asians reside in Las Vegas. Particularly Filipinos. Behind English and Spanish, Tagalog serves as Southern Nevada’s third dominant language.
Others from Asia or bearing Asian heritage also imprinted good swaths of the city. So Far Eastern and Pacific Islander spectators and entertainers weren’t uncommon presences at Rick Blaine’s Place.
Infrequently, though, appeared customers whose demeanors set them apart. In gentlemen’s clubs regardless of creed or religion, a common thread yanked all. Nearly naked women, sanctioned chauvinism, booze, all that leveled accents and origins. Jiggle joints have the power to transform vastly different men into the same assholes.
Neither raucous nor aloof, these visitors, Japanese as we later discovered, maintained a composure which could’ve passed for inscrutable. Eying their expensive attire should’ve inspired questions to how these cats landed in Rick Blaine’s Place rather than any seemingly more suitable platinum club.
What drew such men there? And why? Anne, of course, along with any other practitioners of her bent in attendance. They came there to inspect her, to determine whether she worthy enough for their special purpose.
Given her display at Rick Blaine’s Place, its wild hit or miss of compensation, Anne derived good chunks of income from these unusual side gigs. However, it wasn’t any extremely depraved flatbacking that kept wolves at bay.
Upon learning of her profitable side work, her two less adventurous, less demanding casual companions shared this same drollery: “A perfect diversion for Las Vegas.”
The Japanese drew pleasure through a sensual practice called kinbaku. They sought women supple, flexible, women possessed with high tolerance and steady temperament. The first two traits Klanger and I could vouch for on Anne’s behalf.
The second pair ought have baffled anyone unfamiliar with kinbaku – or mistook its decorative nature for shibari. No. Those boys intended to get off after a fashion, not stand back and gaze in appreciation.
In Las Vegas, Anne occupied a line upon one of doubtless many exclusive Sin City lists. A list of amenable participants.
Close seats and cheap drinks at Rick Blaine’s Place allowed casual evaluation of her. Done anonymously, Anne never would’ve known she’d undergone consideration until the phone call stating time, place, and remuneration in return of her acceptance. That’s how she was informed of these engagements. Anne was heavily engaged during the big electronics exhibitions and automotive conventions.
Between us, Klanger and I suspected her biracial composition, European/Polynesian, weighed heavily in her favor. Her being half white likely further incited the strangers’ desires just because it was so forbidden fruit-like to have such a woman in that setting.
Kinbaku. Gaijins should understand this the term for Japanese rope bondage.
(To be continued.)