If you missed part 1 see https://caroleconnolly.wordpress.com/2014/05/28/new-barker-in-the-neighborhood
I reported for my first shift at the Off Broadway Club at precisely 5:00 as instructed. I wore my sneakers, and carried my high heels, in case I had to bolt. Bronco, the combo manager and barker, was there to greet me with a big smile; there is a big difference between a leering grin and a smile. Bronco was smiling. I was starting to trust him. At this point, he was my only touchstone.
“Hey, glad ya made it! Come and meet the boys.” The “boys” of North Beach were soft-spoken, well-dressed Italian guys, seated at the bar; drink in one hand, cigarette in the other. “That’s George Di Bartolo behind the bar. This here is Gino; Voss, his wife Yvonne, and that’s Mario over there, and Carlo sittin’ next to him. What was your name again?”
I stammered, “Carole. Carole Jean.”
“Oh yeah, well that will have to change. There can only be one “Carol” here and that’s Carol Doda. Arright, you can be C J. C J Jordan. I’ll show you the dressing room. Change into your uniform and come down here for training. It’s easy. You won’t have no trouble.”
As I climbed the stairs to the dressing room, I was in a daze. Standing in the cocktail lounge, I couldn’t take my eyes off the woman, Yvonne, sitting at the bar with the men in the pin-striped suits and ties. She was stunning; a big-haired platinum blonde, with big pouty shiny lips, big perky chi-chis, a tiny waist, and big batting long-lashed piercing eyes. She spoke barely above a whisper; “Nice to meet you C J.” cooed the sex-kitten. Bronco said her name was Yvonne. I thought for sure that was Carol Doda, from the pictures I saw in the window display.
I changed into my white turtlenecked angora uniform, put my heels on, went to the bar for training and sat quietly waiting for the first customer to walk through the door. In walked another gorgeous big-boobed blonde with a raspy voice. She greeted the group sitting at the bar, and said: “I’ll be in my dressing room. See you onstage.”
A few more attractive ladies trickled in and went upstairs. I was just sitting there like a bump on a log. Suddenly, music blared through speakers, the lights dimmed, and there were topless girls dancing on round tables situated throughout the room. A few men came in off the street and Bronco gave me the nod. I stood up, went to the bar to pick up a tray and ordering pad, and George-the-bartender winked at me: Go get ’em C J!” I didn’t even think he knew I existed, let alone my name.
The place filled up to a sold-out audience. The show went on; Carol Doda came out, cajoled with the audience, sang a little, stripped a little, and mesmerized the mostly male audience. I did not go topless, at least not yet. I made a pile of money and couldn’t wait to come back for my next shift. At this rate, I could afford to live – well at least pay the rent. I might need another job to pay for food. Oh, and I would need tuition money. I planned to get my California teaching credential from San Francisco State. My New York credential was not recognized in the golden state. Oh well, I liked going to classes, and I had plenty of time during the day.
My degree from State University of New York at Cortland was in Physical Education with a minor in dance. I was about to get a physical education all right. The perfect opportunity presented itself when I was walking around in the Marina District a few days later. There was a “help wanted” sign in the window of the Marina Health Spa on Lombard Street. I popped in, asked for the owner, and a tall man was pointed out. “That’s Tom, the owner.”
“Hi. I would like to apply for the job. What is it?”
“Floor instructor. When can you start? I need somebody right away. Got any experience?”
“Now. I can start now. As long as it’s a day shift. I can only work days. I have a degree in phys ed.”
He didn’t ask why I could only work days, which was a good thing. “Well, we train you anyway. You just have to weigh, measure, and show the ladies how to to use the machines. How about you start tomorrow, 9:00? Fill out an application at the desk. See you in the morning.”
I looked around the club and recognized most of the equipment from the college gym at Cortland. I had no idea what the row of canvas belts attached to metal stands was for until I saw a hefty woman step onto the platform, unhook the strap, place it around her ample bottom, and flip a switch. Huh? It’s a vibrating machine? Does she really think vibrating that jiggling mass of blubber is going to make it go away? Oh well, I just work here.
That night at the “Off Broadway”, Bronco introduced me to yet another handsome Italian guy named Eddie Belasco. He was boisterous, loud and full of mischief; I like him immediately. He said: “Hi C J, I heard about you. You’re a dancer, eh?”
“Well, I did minor in dance in college. I am NOT a table dancer. I studied ballet, modern, jazz, and social dancing.”
“We got a show comin’ up at Bimbo’s. I’m the choreographer. Why don’t you come check it out this Friday? I’ll get you the night off from here. You might want to audition for it.”
“What’s Bimbo’s? Is it topless?”
“Well, yeah. But it ain’t dirty. It’s a revue. Like they got in Vegas. Bimbo’s is a big show hall on Columbus. Carol Doda sings out front on the stage and the girls dance behind her. It’s a good show. You’ll see.”
“Okay, I’ll come. But, I’m not trying out if it’s topless. I’ll just be in the audience.”
To be continued…