Tuesday, July 05, 2005

CRAP JOBS : The Strip Club

Although lawyers and politicians are universally considered to be the ultimate in scum-sucking bottom-feeders, there’s a species that actually feeds off these people's faeces. They like to call themselves public relations consultants because it sounds nice, but their number includes corporate shills, apologists, media whores, pundits, lobbyists, publicists and other assorted flim-flam artists whose job it is to smooth over the bumps with such a thick layer of bullshit icing, they’ll convince you it’s really delicious. I’m not proud of it, I’ve buried it in another job on my CV, but I spent 6 months slurping up what I thought was gravy from the bottom of the pond, and one of the things I choked on was the strip club. PR for a strip club, doesn’t sound like hardship, but stick with me here because there's one way to make sex as boring as last night’s mashed potatoes, you turn the lights up.

We had other clients, but how we got this one was shrouded in mystery, somebody owed somebody a favour, which suggests that blowjobs were involved. The client, let’s call her Madame X, owned a string of strip clubs, but insisted this one was to be classy, the kind of club she’d always wanted to own. It was to be sophisticated and professional, very different from the tacky sort of place frequented by dribbling raincoat-wearing perverts.

We needed photographs, so I got quotes from some good girlie photographers, and presented their proposals to her but she decided her cousin had a perfectly good camera and he’d done lots and lots of weddings. Oh-K.

The big day arrived. The photographer strolled in with his camera around his neck, and the girls trooped out for their shot, and all I can say is despite the best attentions of the plastic surgery profession, it was clear that hours of airbrushing would be needed. One of the girls, no doubt afraid of her mom, didn’t want to show her face, she turned her head away every time he clicked, and he didn't seem to notice at all. The lighting was garish, the poses were frozen clich├ęs, nobody but nobody would touch the pictures, but Madame X was delighted.

We sat down with the advertising agency, it seemed they also owed someone something, and they came up with logos, menus and flyers in short order and Madame X was pleased. We caused a stir in the morning traffic with girls in bunny suits shoving flyers through car windows. The tabloids gave us a mention. The moving billboard that travelled around the fine streets of Pretoria and Midrand was a giant pair of breasts, and you just can’t get more subtle than that. The tabloids started calling us back. One of the radio stations banned our commercial, but in PR no problemo, because when it comes to a strip club, there really is no such thing as bad publicity. Madame X was delighted.

Part of my job was to induce journalists to have lunch at the club so they could see how different it was from the usual tacky effort. How easy is that? Like wrenching Smarties from a sprog. I persuaded a staid Afrikaans daily newspaper to send one of their guys, and instead of the rugger-bugger sports writer, they sent a tiny blonde nervous-looking woman in baggy pants and one of those journalist foreign correspondent waistcoat things with all the pockets, who seemed utterly befuddled to find herself within the silver walls of Madame X’s establishment.

While I was assuring her of the fine quality of the place, the sheer class of the establishment and how different it was from the usual tacky places, three dancers assumed positions that would have made my gynecologist gasp. Then the food arrived, and let’s face it you don’t go to a strip club for the food, and it’s surprisingly hard to eat in a roomful of naked women and slavering men while simultaneously punting your product, and it didn’t help things when the Pofadder sales reps at the next table bought continuous table dances.

Then Madame X joined us at the table with her two partners, and The Sopranos had nothing on these two guys, all shark-striped suits and cigars, they kept their eyes on the figures on the stage, except when leering no higher than chest level. The journalist’s eyes darted around in panic, before long she remembered an appointment and managed to escape. No such luck for me.

We bought the newspaper faithfully all week, but she never said a word about her lunch date.

Madam X wasn't pleased

No comments: