Airport Lounge Gentlemen’s Club 5881 S. Howell Ave. Milwaukee, WI 53207-6229
I post this letter as a last-ditch effort, as I am not a man of the telephone, and old-fashioned human interaction has failed me entirely. In the course of querying friends and colleagues as to “just what goes on at that Gentleman’s Club?” I was met with two different responses. Women grew quickly uncomfortable, while men guffawed knowingly, as if my inquiry was an outright jest. I only hope you will take my request in earnest, as such consistent evasiveness has served only to whet my appetite for information. It is my understanding that the term “gentlemen” refers to propertied members of society, those whose birthright affords a lifestyle free from financial worry and toil. Like many members of the middle class, I harbor a near obsessive preoccupation with the doings of my more fortunate countrymen. I frequently browse Ralph Lauren and Williams-Sonoma stores and occasionally take in films starring Helena Bonham Carter.
I notice that your club does not offer facilities for tennis, golf, polo, or any of the recreational practices associated with the gentleman class. I assume that your club features parlors for billiards and chess, in addition to a library, ballroom, and dining room. When I have driven by at night, the parking lot is chock full of vehicles that, to my understanding, would be more suited for the club’s help. I have read that many gentlemen indulge in a practice known as “slumming,” during which they temporarily masquerade as members of the proletariat. I must confess that I never would guess such behavior would manifest itself so convincingly with such a motley potpourri of rumpled pickup trucks and gaudy sports cars. Perhaps I am wrong, and these vehicles belong to the help, in which case I must wonder why they are not consigned to the rear of the establishment?
Respectfully yours, Kenneth H. Cleaver
Dear Mr. Cleaver,
I do not believe that sincerity is your strongest trait. Your letter is so obviously an attempt to make any person that reads it within our establishment feel diminished. I do not feel diminished. Our business is what it is. Most women would grow uncomfortable when asked about a topless bar, since a considerable amount of the upstanding members of their community, their husbands, the very men that get comfortable in the front pew at church are also the same men that gather around the stage occasionally . . . laughing, smoking cigars, and leering at young women’s bodies. It helps them to feel superior, similar to the superior way that you felt as you composed your letter. Yes, we do have our fair share of truckers. I’m sure it gets pretty boring on the road, and they will go that extra couple of miles to have their lunch and a beer and a conversation with one of the girls. I can say this about the men that pass through our doors. Some of them are wealthy businessmen, many are blue-collar workers, and we have our fair share of the handicapped. It is so easy to point your discriminating finger at this business as you masquerade yourself as a “gentleman” from inside the protected confines of P.O. Box 810. A true sign of intelligence, Ken, is not just the ability to articulate, but to communicate. The only honest message that you’ve communicated is that you are arrogant. Illuminating you is an impossibility because the social confines that you’re set for yourself allow you no room for growth or understanding . . . just judgment.
I have passed your letter on to the Walworth County Sheriff’s Department, as they have asked us to keep them apprised of any odd inquiries.
Thank you for your patronizing letter, The Management
From the June 14-20, 2001 issue of the Northern California Bohemian.