When Pope Gregory the Great rolled out the first list of Seven Deadly Sins in the late Sixth Century, he ranked them in order of severity. And you know what ranked last? Lust. The least deadly of the Seven Deadly Sins. So, lusty types — we got that goin' for us. Which is nice. In the centuries hence, Lust has probably become the most popular Deadly Sin, especially if you live in or around Tampa.Hereabouts, you can indulge in a veritable cornucopia of prurient interests. Lingerie modeling, swingers clubs, escort services, peep shows, porn video booths, "sensual rubs," Asian massage (with or without happy ending), stores with all manner of adult toys, phone sex, personal ads, street hookers — all are readily available.
But perhaps the lusty endeavor we're most famous for is strip clubs. Titty bars. Totally nude cabaret. Call it what you will. (True story: A few years ago, Slash, the guitarist for erstwhile rock superband Guns N' Roses, was appearing at a guitar clinic in Clearwater. We got to talking at a reception the night before and he asked me to take him to Mons Venus. He'd heard about it in L.A.)
Here's a suggestion: If you find yourself feeling lusty on, say, a Wednesday afternoon, shut down the computer, hang up the phone, put the wrenches back in the toolbox and head out on a strip-club field trip. A friend and I did so recently. We chose a section on and around Adamo Drive that features its share of adult businesses.
Early afternoon is an unusual time for titty bars. I recommend it. Diamonds, Déja Vu and Ybor Strip had no cover, although Déja Vu charged a mandatory $5 for bottomless soft drinks. (We had come for bottomless women.) The vibe was far removed from the cliched after-dark image of wild-eyed fellas climbing over each other to stuff 20s into garter belts.
We shared space with a handful of brooding loners and furtive pervs. The dancers nearly outnumbered customers. That allowed us to have some "quality time" with the ladies. Before you start snickering, reader, this did not include illicit activity. (Management at the Planet stubbornly refused to budget dollars for the VIP room.) But if you are thusly inclined, a private dance at Diamonds (5718 Adamo Drive, Tampa, 813-630-0707) costs $10 for the room, $25 for the dance.
The much-vilified six-foot law that mandates strippers keep lunging distance away from customers is, said one of the entertainers, up to their individual discretion. I'm not going out on a limb, though, by suggesting that procuring a lap dance around here would not be all that hard.
In the interest of full disclosure, we told the strippers that we were doing some anthropological research, so the dollar signs in their eyes should not get too big. To our surprise, they still hung around and chatted with us. Far be it from me to allege that the women were slinging bullshit, but they did bring out a certain incredulity in us.
"Tyler" at the Ybor Strip (3819 E. Seventh Ave., Tampa, 813-241-6969) was a fresh-faced cutie who said she was 20, had graduated with a double major in two years from a private college in North Carolina, and because she was the daughter of a billionaire, "didn't do it for money, but because it's fun." She incorporated ballroom dance into her show. An artist.
"Jackie" at Déja Vu (6805 E. Adamo Drive, Tampa, 813-644-8784), a vivacious blonde with a radiant smile and great pole moves, told me she was pregnant and told my friend she had stomach cancer. He swears he heard her right.
But of course you won't be going on a strip-club field trip for the conversation.
During their afternoon dances, most of the women tended to be low-key, more writhing and grinding than gymnastic. In all, I thought they could've put a bit more imagination and effort into the disrobing — most of them simply shucked off their garments to complete nudity, save for stack-heel shoes. In the nice surprise department, my buddy and I, both staunch fans of natural breasts, were pleased to find a relative lack of silicone.
All told, we found our strip-club field trip a pleasant diversion — and I kept reminding myself (and him) that I was getting paid to do it.
If a titty bar atmosphere is too public for your tastes, allow me to suggest The Legend of Sensual Secrets near the Stadium (4613 N. Grady Ave., Tampa, 813-877-SHOW). Set in a nondescript building on an industrial strip, the establishment basically affords you the strip-club experience in private. Sensual Secrets has a theater license to show X-rated movies, a cabaret license for stripping and a live nude modeling license.
The customer can choose from seven theme rooms (Roman, outer space, showers, etc.) You can select from an array of models on duty. It costs $40 for the room and you negotiate a price with the entertainer, which generally ranges from $100 to $300. For mood setting, management gives you tickets to activate porn films. Then the lady enters. And the doors close. Management advises the women about all prevailing laws. There are no surveillance cameras in the theme rooms. Like the song says: And when we get behind closed doors ...
Let the lust begin.
Although Sarasota/Bradenton does not share the same lusty rep as Tampa Bay, there are no shortage of outlets. Exotic dance clubs include Peek-A-Boo Lounge (5412 14th St. W., Bradenton, 941-756-6444) and Cleopatra's (3824 U.S. 41 N., Palmetto, 941-723-0704). For lingerie modeling, try Sheer Sensations (5119 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, 941-359-3666). For toys, check out Adult Pursuits (5759 Beneva Road, Sarasota, 941-336-3501) or Adult Fun Shop (5608 14th St. W., Bradenton, 941-753-1988).