True stories from a night at the Lucky Horseshoe Lounge

A thong or two I noticed checking out the Saturday scene at Boystown’s enduring male strip club.

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Photograph: Michelle Wang

Lucky Horseshoe Lounge

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Photograph: Michelle Wang

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Photograph: Michelle Wang

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Photograph: Michelle Wang

Lucky Horseshoe Lounge

The dancer I’ve nicknamed “Hipster Chippendale” in my head is a study in contrasts. He has two speeds: a hot-and-bothered, Home Depot paint-mixer hip shake that makes his dick flop violently in its thin jersey pouch; and a glacially slow rotation, as if he’s gyro meat cooking on a spindle, a move he garnishes with a teasing pull-down of his jockstrap, a garment that’s far more fashion than function.

Chip’s designer ’strap is jet black to match the rest of his outfit: bow tie, wide cuff bracelets, fingerless bicycle gloves, loafers and browline glasses. “Big Booty Jock,” or BBJ, another dancer I’ve nicknamed for note-taking purposes, visits his buddy Chip for some friendly teabagging. Both are working a recent Saturday night at the [node:33928 link=Lucky Horseshoe Lounge;], the unofficial southern terminus of Boystown’s Halsted Street strip.

While BBJ nuzzles at Hip Chip’s happy trail, the latter removes his glasses and chews idly at one earpiece, like a math professor mulling over some particularly vexing formula. Booty leaves and Chip’s relief arrives: Blondie, an unremarkable, yellow-haired fellow wearing a confusing tangle of black thong and baby blue, box-cut swimsuit, paired with white Converse All-Stars with no laces and all the enthusiasm of a Jewel cashier at the end of a graveyard shift. He reaches back to jiggle his right butt cheek in his right palm, while looking over his right shoulder as if he’s parallel parking. Beyoncé’s “Run the World (Girls)” is on, and Blondie has his arms out like airplane wings; his left hand then grabs his right elbow and he sort of stretches out a tricep. He’s exactly halfway between dancing and not dancing. It’s 11:45pm.

Nearby, the younger, sexier version of Bill Hader, whom I’ve of course nicknamed Stefon, lingers with a basket of popcorn from the front room’s amusement-park popcorn cart. Blondie’s solo turn doesn’t last long. Stefon jumps up on the stage—made up of 18 square tiles flashing red, white and blue—immediately locks eyes with me and aggressively grinds his pelvis, his femurs in his hip sockets like pestles in mortars. He then jangles his shoulders goofily, marionette-ish, to keep himself entertained while “Bad Romance” plays for the second time in an hour.

We talk later about the soundtrack at the ’Shoe, where he’s worked for two weeks. He introduces himself as Tony.

“I can’t believe there are people who listen to this shit all day long,” says Tony. “I like rock music, with real instruments.” Tony is bi and from Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he danced at a club called Rumors. He’s 28 but says he tells guys he’s 24.

Nearby, a twink in blue-and-red American Apparel briefs is reclining on the back bar, getting groped by four dudes and one bartender simultaneously. Behind him, on the stage, a skinny guy who might be Hawaiian, with a long, shaggy haircut, gets his ass smacked by an older gent who scurries back to his stool near the five-way grope-a-thon faster than the “Hairwaiian” can turn himself around. Missy Elliott’s “4 My People” is on, so everything’s already more interesting and a little tense.

Hairwaiian is the night’s only truly talented dancer, both creative and musical, probably trained to some extent, and doesn’t seem fazed by the spanking at first. But then, suddenly and angrily, he takes aim and spits his gum out at the drive-by ass-smacker, who seems to enjoy having touched a nerve.

George, from Bridgeport, who’s 22 and studying business administration at UIC and Harold Washington College, is standing next to me watching Viva La Bam on a muted television, which hangs above a hole in the Sheetrock behind the back bar. His bottom lip is pierced on the right by a small hoop, and he’s got a tattoo of a handgun “tucked into” the waistband of his assless white briefs. George, straight, is explaining how he began working summers at the ’Shoe—this is his second—when he stops short to say, “Hang on, I’ve gotta go be nice to these guys. I’ll be back.” Lit by a strand of lavender Christmas lights stuffed into an empty fireplace, two men with too-serious looks on their faces touch George to LMFAO’s “Champagne Showers.”

It’s shortly after 1am and multiple, unaffiliated bachelorette parties are starting to trickle in.

Robbie, 32 and from North Carolina, is a Horseshoe veteran with a Mohawk whose custom-made slingshot (waistband-over-the-shoulders) thong matches the garter around his thigh into which thick, neat stacks of bills are tucked and fan out. He laughs when I tell him what the other dancers said were their names, and he gives me their real ones.

Spot these and other dancers at the Lucky Horseshoe Lounge after 8pm on weekdays, after 2pm on weekends.

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