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August 23rd, 2006 Byron Beck | Queer Window
 

The Other Jefferson Dancers

Res-erecting a "lost" art form, one stripper at a time.

     
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Last time I set foot in the Jefferson Theater was in '02—for "Nasty Karaoke," an event with little karaoke, but a buttload of nasty (see QW, Jan. 2, 2002).

Recently, I paid my eight bucks and ventured back into the "Jeff," one of the Left Coast's last big-screen porn theaters. I'd heard a group of live male dancers called "Thunder" had started performing there. For two hours, on Thursday nights, the dudes go "full frontal," making it more like the Gaiety—a Times Square gay burlesque club featured in Madonna's SEX book—and less like the quickie dingle-danglers posing at the Stark Street bars.

The Jeff hadn't changed much since my last visit. The Southwest 12th Avenue space was still separated into two theaters. The big one, where the dancers perform. And a smaller one, where other stuff "happens." I was surprised to see the same dog-collared naked guy sitting in the same seat, doing the same thing I saw him do four years ago. I was even more surprised to see Ray Billings, the Jeff's owner, who vanished in '03 only to pop up again last year (see WW, June 2, 2004, and July 27, 2005). But what was more shocking than seeing Billings alive was how much the boys here reminded me of those dirty dancers who once swung their asses, literally, from the rafters at the Three Sisters Tavern, turning a quaint queer tavern into the most mouthwatering of watering holes in P-town.

I'm sure it had to do with the fact that a few Three Sisters dancers were now at the Jeff—including one-half of the infamous "twins." Since "Six Tits" closed shop in '04 I've seen these dancers at other clubs. But I've rarely seen them perform like they used to—that is, until Thursday night. Instead of quick reveals, there were full-contact lap dances, dicks flopping inches from faces, and men in search of places to stick dollar bills on other—nude—men. It was pervy performance art—and just like the old days.

Then there was "Blake." Despite having doffed it all only three times, this angel-faced, nubile newbie stripped like a seasoned pro. He also did two things I've rarely seen other dancers do: smile and have fun. Blake made the event his own twisted Boy Scout jamboree. Instead of tying knots he, well, he...returned my quarter when he saw I had dropped it on the floor. Now, that's sweet?

What wasn't as "sweet" was some of the audience. A shirtless guy, bent on stealing the spotlight with high kicks and a twirl, was encouraged to return to his seat. And a few guys looked like they were here for something entirely different. Whatever.

These days at a bar, if you're lucky, you'll get a grab and maybe a tickle. At the Jefferson, at least for two hours on Thursday night, you get a genuine slice of local history. How can you beat that?


Thunder performs every Thursday night at the Jefferson Theater, 1232 SW Jefferson St., 223-1846. 9-11 pm. $8. 18+.
 
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