employee: how old are you?
employee: wow, really? you look younger.
me: yes, do you need my ID?
employee: no, that’s fine. do you want a bag?
me: no, that’s fine. thank you.
employee: so you’re just gonna flash it around? people are going to be like “wow, her boyfriend is probably the luckiest man in the world”.
me: um, okay, please give me a bag then.
employee: okay. have a good one.
me: thanks. you too.
And then I grabbed the bag and hit my chin with the magazine because I’m a very clumsy girl.
While turning pages, I found a “Travel” page and was really surprised when I read: “Mex Appeal”. The number one destination: Tijuana.
I really hate it when I tell people where I’m from and then they immediately make a comment about donkey shows, or how it’s extremely unsafe and they’re afraid of my hometown.
Playboy didn’t do that.
I’ve been to two strip clubs in my life, none of them had donkey shows and no one that I know has ever said they exist. I want to believe they’re an urban legend. I went with six guys to these two strip clubs. The first was darker than what I’d imagined. When we got there, the first girl was already topless and then she took off her panties. The second girl was very attractive and didn’t take off her panties but one of my friends’ friends called her a whore while she rubbed her breasts on his face. She thanked him. He only gave her one dollar. He came back to our table and laughed. He felt proud.
We finished our Coronas and went to another club. This second location was brighter. There were mirrors and pink neon lights around the room. There were couches with old men wearing suits with women sitting on their laps. There was a woman on stage bending over wearing cool platforms. I was the only woman who wasn’t working there. I was being stared at.
One of my friends asked, “You want to leave, right?”
When he asked, it sounded like he was uncomfortable, and I’m not sure if it was because he was being a good friend and was trying to “protect me”, or because he felt awkward with me being there and felt like he couldn’t enjoy the strip club with his buddies. So we left.
About five years later, one of my friends told me about his experience. He said that you pay $5 dollars to get into this bigger place. You need to buy alcohol and you watch her. You share a table with strangers. You share her with strangers. Some strangers give her more money than you. She has candles and plays with them. She puts the candles near her breasts. She puts a lit candle in and out of her pussy. She puts a lit candle in and out of her asshole. She moves her ass like she’s in a music video and the candle is in there. Moving with her. She puts a dildo in her pussy and asshole. A person pays to put the dildo in and out of her. Everyone watches. You watch. You leave. You move on with your life. You remember her playing with candles.
The first time someone insulted my hometown to my face was in Orlando. I was eighteen years old and my sister was turning ﬁfteen, so my parents took us to see Mickey Mouse.
A bald man that worked at the hotel we were staying at asked us where we were from.
My mom said, “Tijuana, Mexico. Do you know where that is?”
The old man laughed and said, “Everybody knows where Tijuana is,” and he made the universal alcohol hand gesture. Because I care about clothes and that was the easiest thing I could do to demean him, I criticized his outfit, and even though he had no idea what I was thinking and probably wouldn’t have cared anyway, doing that gave me pleasure. (I was wearing olive pedal-pushers and a “French Connection” t-shirt that day.)
Later, some friends told us what youʼre supposed to say when someone asks you that question. They said, “You just say ʻMexico’. You donʼt need to specify.”
We got on the bus and drove away. We found a cartoonish version of Mexico in Disney World. All the food places sold burritos and nachos, and the employees wore sombreros. It was a tropical day. It rained. We got wet. We bought and wore yellow ponchos.
Nine years later, Kate Moss took off her poncho. She took it all off.
This was the second time I looked at a Playboy magazine. The first one was from the 80s and Madonna was on the cover. I’m pretty sure Madonna had a bush. There was a lot of pubic hair in that issue. Since the general public (or so they want us to believe) mostly makes fun of (or hates on) women with pubic hair, I foolishly assumed that there wouldn’t be any in this issue, in this magazine. Surprisingly, a lot of them do have some (the landing strip or more).
Unlike when I look at fashion magazines, I didn’t feel depressed or bad about my body while turning the pages.
Which makes me believe that maybe I don’t hate my body but I’m addicted to shopping and feel sad when I can’t buy certain things.
Which reminds me of that one time when I was in middle school and a bitch said she hated the way I dressed.
So yes, I learned to hurt a certain type of people, you can make that stupid comment, and it works. So I suppose that when people started to compliment me on my fashion choices, I didn’t want that to go away, so now a childish part of me feels like if I don’t dress well, people won’t like me.
Anyway, it was good to see those bodies. My roommate said something about Kate Moss’ nipples and I had never noticed them. Maybe I hadn’t paid attention to nipples in general until she pointed Kate’s nipples out. I imagined mine and compared them to Kate Moss’.
And later when I took my bra off to put on pajamas I looked at my nipples and thought “yes.”
I recommend buying this issue. It’s fun. There’s some really beautiful pictures.
Ana Carette is the author of Baby Babe and the editor of New Wave Vomit. She recently released a new chapbook called Sadmess.