"I think I get it, Bob," Freed said as he stared at a red-lit stage. "I'm a masochist."
The bald bartender with too much makeup giggled at the confession. "Nothing wrong with being an M. I've seen your fencing matches on the tele. A swordsman like you takes pain well."
"Nah, not that type … I think," he added, really unsure what he thought about the kinkier aspects of sex. He never tried handcuffs and such, so Freed really was unsure if he would like that. "I'm the type who likes to be teased and denied."
"Well, that's why you're here," the cross-dressing bartender said cheerfully.
Freed just grunted. "Yeah. Here." The South Pole Club, a gay strip club, sitting with a bartender he knew by first name, waiting for a dancer whose real name he did not even know. "When will he be on?"
"Second act, same as always," Bob replied.
"Second," the green-haired man grumbled.
He wanted his favorite stripper to be the opening act, but that coveted spot was only for the club's darling, a true professional named Ice Prince. That man made everyone else look terrible, but he riled up the crowd every time. The man Freed was waiting for was a polar opposite to Ice Prince. They called him Thor, probably due to the lightning-shaped scar that ran down his face and over one eye. It was a frightening scar, plus the man was a massive blond, more like a body builder than a stripper, and when the clothes came off, all of his tattoos made for a stunning visual. "Threatening Thor" was what some in the audience called him, but that was what made Freed fall for him.
Bob brought over another martini without even needing to be asked. He knew this regular customer that well. "You should request him this time. I don't think you've ever spoken a word to Thor."
Freed blushed a little. Oh yes, it was tempting, but … "I wouldn't even know what to say to him. I'd choke up, stare like some idiot, act like a totally smitten fool. No," he sighed, picking up the new drink. "Like I said, I'm a masochist. I'd rather watch him from afar. After all, lightning is beautiful when seen in the clouds, but terrifying when it strikes right in front of you."
Bob's jiggling face pouted until his cherry red lipstick looked like a blooming rose. "Oh dear! I really shouldn't say this. We're not supposed to push customers into something they don't want but … oh dear."
Freed took his eyes off the empty stage and looked back at the bartender. "What it is?"
"Well, you see … Thor hasn't been doing well."
The green-haired man jolted. "What? Is he sick?"
"Oh, no, nothing like that at all. I mean work-wise. He's a good man, but his sort of personality appeals to only certain types of people, folks like yourself. Timid and masochistic, that's his pull. The thing is, those sorts also don't call on dancers for a personal session. The owner had some harsh words for Thor just yesterday. He said he'd better get at least one lap dance today or he's out."
Freed felt his heart drop. "They'd fire him? But he's good!"
"Talent and success aren't always hand in hand. Thor is a good man and a great dancer, but if he doesn't make this club money, Mr. Fernandes will show him to the door."
"Jellal Fernandes," Freed seethed.
He had seen the club owner plenty of times, coming out on stage to welcome good crowds, sometimes introducing if the club was having a theme for the day. He had a charming smile and either a tattoo or facial paint that really stuck out in some mystical sort of way, but there was something about the glint in his eyes. He looked at the crowd like looking at slaves that were moving to his will. Maybe that was a good comparison. The audience fell under Jellal's spell, enchanted by sex appeal and thumping music, driven to spend their hard-earned money on alcohol and lap dances.
"Bob," Freed said as softly as he could while still being heard. The bald bartender leaned in a bit closer. "What do I have to do to … um … to request Thor?"
Bob looked like he pitied Freed. He had broken the rules, but he liked Thor. He was a good man. If they lost Thor, they lost Freed and many others who came to sit in their seats, squirming with unfulfilled desire, too shy to tuck away the dollar bills, but still buying up the booze.
Deftly, the obese man pulled out a card and explained how to fill it out, including just how much attention Freed wanted. It was $10 standard, plus Bob explained that there were differences in contact. $10 was what he described as an air dance. No actual physical contact. $15 got a person one-way contact, but you had to keep your hands to yourself. $30 was two-way contact. Both dancer and receiver could touch one another. To splurge, he could get a private VIP room at $180 for half an hour of erotic dancing. Freed shook his head at that. He had money, but that seemed like too much for his first time. Also, Bob advised, he should tip the dancer. Some of that tip went to the manager to pay for costumes and makeup, but the rest went to the dancer himself. Strippers made most of their money in tips.
Freed filled out the card, blushing fiercely. Then he took his usual seat. His heart was pounding now, knowing he would finally get to talk with Thor. He drank a little faster until his head began to spin. He needed to slow down, breathe easier, and not make himself sick with anxiety. Thor's career was at stake!
The lights finally dimmed. Jellal came out to welcome everyone. A joke, a smarmy grin, and that glint in his eyes as he practically ordered everyone to "enjoy yourselves to the fullest." Then he moved aside, the stage curtain pulled back, music began, and the spotlight shined on the opening act: Ice Prince.
Freed had to admire this dancer. He was pure talent. He danced because stripping was something he loved to do. You could see it in the way he moved his body. This raven-haired rogue rallied the rabble, getting cheers and catcalls. His greatest talent was to tease, tease, tease, and then suddenly go from fully dressed to nothing but a thong in three seconds flat. It wowed every person there … everyone but Freed. What was so amazing about removing clothes that fast? He preferred more stripteasing to the dance.
Freed glanced around at the audience. There were regulars, himself included. He had given nicknames to most of them, just like the dancers on stage had nicknames to hide their true identity. As Ice Prince danced, the loudest hooter was "Pinkie," named because the kid (he looked barely old enough to be let inside) had bright pink hair. Really, could he scream "Hey look, I'm gay" any louder? Then there was "Beastman." Freed overheard his name was really Elfman, but he thought Beastman fit the hulking giant better. There was "Smelly," because the short gentleman with a super-firm chin always reeked of expensive perfume. Then there were some newcomers who had just begun frequenting the club within the past few weeks. Freed nicknamed them "The Dragon Twins" because they both wore the leather jackets of a biker gang with two black and white Asian dragons embroidered on the back. Really … gay men dressed in tight leather! One even had an earring and sometimes came in wearing a feathered boa. Could they get any more homosexually stereotyped?
Then … there was "Scarlet." In a bar full of gay men, she stood out as brightly as her ruby-colored hair. Freed had been stunned the first time he saw her arrive, so much so that he had to ask Bob the bartender if Scarlet was really a woman or one hell of a cross-dresser. The bald Bob giggled and said she was "Mr. Fernandes's woman." Apparently, Scarlet had a kink for observing gay men, which her lover fed by letting her sit in what was otherwise a club exclusively for men. Freed also heard rumors amongst the staff that Scarlet was even further indulged privately by Jellal and his identical twin, Siegrain. Freed really did not want to think about just how this woman got her homosexual kicks through twin brother incest. He supposed Jellal preferred to let the woman get her fill inside the club rather than risking the career of his rather popular politician brother by having wild rumors fly around.
The music ended, the blue light that accented Ice Prince faded as the crowd cheered wildly. The raven-haired dancer slipped backstage, but in no time he was roaming the audience, immediately going to Pinkie's booth for a lap dance. Freed did not know what Pinkie did for a living, but he was loose with his money when it came to Ice Prince.
Watching the darling dancer take his seat and start to gyrate reminded Freed of what he had ordered. He blushed brightly, and once again his heart pounded rapidly.
When the lights changed from blue to yellow, Freed actually gasped. It was coming, as sure as thunder after a lightning strike. The music rumbled to reinforce that concept. Then suddenly, the lights went out, a strobe light flashed with the sound of a thunderclap, and when the yellow light was back on, Thor was on stage.
Freed's throat went dry. It was always a flashy entrance, but newcomers were initially a bit shocked by the large man. The yellow light highlighted golden hair and made his eyes appear orange. Freed often wondered what his real eye color was, but the yellow-orange gleam was predatory and thrilling. Scarlet especially squirmed under that hard gaze. Freed glared at her. If she was so intrigued, why didn't she buy a lap dance. Or maybe she was not allowed to, since this was a gay club.
Unlike nearly every other dancer, Thor rarely used the brass pole. He could dance. The pole was only to stabilize him if he slid down, his back resting on the pole, while his knees bent to the sides, showing off the crotch hidden behind leather trousers.
Damn, he looked hot in leather!
Freed stared and thought about how those legs would soon be around him, how that crotch would soon be rubbing against him, teasing him. Already, he was hard, and his breath came panting fast. Then slowly, teasingly, Thor began to unbutton his white shirt. It was not the fast stripping of Ice Prince, but deliberate, drawing out the painful anticipation with a sadistic smile on his face. Under that white shirt, black tattoos, like some sort of tribal design, curled around the bulging muscles.
Freed watched the muscles work as Thor did a routine that was more like graceful fighting than erotic dancing. Sometimes, he caught movements that were definitely Tai Chi, and other times the gyration of his hips was beyond breathtaking. When he did that, with that firm gaze reaching the whole audience, the crowd gave a collective gasp. He was the god of thunder on that stage, hammering at the groins of men.
Even slower were the trousers. He took almost a solid minute just caressing the belt out, pulling it slowly from the buckle, slithering it from the belt loops, until the whole belt was in his hands. He folded it together, and then snapped it. It gave the sound of a leather whip, and Freed moaned.
Fuck, maybe he really was a masochist. Getting whipped by this sexual beast would be pure joy.
Thor never actually took off his trousers, and Freed guessed they were too tight to do so easily. Instead, he undid the button and unzipped the fly. It was just enough to show to the audience that, indeed, he was wearing nothing underneath. That happy trail went down, down, down, to a blond patch. The treasure was just below, hidden by black leather, a hint of a thick root nestled in those blond hairs, just enough to tease at a full monty without providing it.
Far too quickly, the song was over, the lights went out, the strobe light flashed like lightning again, and thunder rolled over the speakers. When the lights were back on, Thor was gone.
Freed was left breathless. His throat was dry, his hands sweaty, and his arousal was so painful, he was tempted to race off to the bathroom for a quick release. He would have, but there was one issue.
"Thor" was coming!
Next Chapter: "Lap Dance"