Sometimes I have to re-focus my snot-green eyes and glance again at the miniscule time and date bar on my watch to check that it is still August 2007. This week it's because our aspiring national leader, Kevin Rudd, went to a strip club in New York one beer-fuelled evening ........ about four years ago.
Bless Greens leader Bob Brown's little cotton socks. He would easily win a 'quote of the week' contest if I had anything to give away instead of crinkled chocolate wrappers: "Four years ago Kevin Rudd got drunk and took himself into a strip club. Four years ago John Howard, sober, took Australia into the Iraq war. I think the electorate can judge which one did the more harm."
On Channel nine's 'Today Show', 35% of their viewers bored enough to ring in decided that they would not vote for Kev-the-Rev due to his naughty night out in NYC. Well ram my face into a combine harvester and call me Fraser Gehrig - who here hasn't gone to a nudey bar at least once in their lives? Glenn Milne, the so-called journalist who released this information, perhaps should consider installing some nuclear block-out blinds in his own glass house because the memory of his slobby, drunken lunge at the founder of the Crikey during the Walkley Awards is surely a hell of a lot more offensive than sitting down and seeing a few bouncing objects in front of you.....
If that's all our silver bodgie Prime Minister Bob Hawke got up to - a drunken night out in NYC - we'd have been surprised; disappointed even. He was the Rhodes Scholar who held the world record for sculling beer from a yard glass. That didn't stop him from being elected and re-elected, did it? Not only that, but Bob-a-job was well known for venturing a little further beyond ol Hazel's green hills towards other perhaps more well-travelled women and yet he still managed to keep 'Little Johnny Howard' (who was in fact taller than Bob) well and truly ground under his heel like a long-forgotten juicyfruit.
Like Kevin, our country's baby boomer 'Milky Bar Kid', I too went to a nudie bar. (Waving away howls of protest, shrieks of shock, tears of indignation and dismay). Yes, I voluntarily and quite soberly decided to go and see the world-famous (well, in Adelaide at least) 'Dazzling Darryl' in glorious, flesh-toned action.
It was 1988 when my 20th birthday rolled around. It was the era of spiral perms, buying canvas 'Country Road' bags instead of their over-priced clothing, Rattle'n'Hum, MTV on Channel Nine after 10:30pm and saving up for a real pair of RayBans. Judgement at that stage of my life wasn't as razor sharp as it is now - I was convinced that LA Law's Harry Hamlin was intelligent, Arnold Scharwenegger was a comedy genius in 'Twins' and Terence Trent D'Arby would have a very long and successful music career.
.....Back to the balmy evening in early November, when 'Kokomo' ruled the charts and Charlene had just left 'Neighbours'. About a dozen of my closest girl friends decided it was a good enough excuse to hit the girlie bar next to ChaChi's Mexican Cantina on Glen Osmond Road. The boobie bar ran a male revue about once a week and we all thought it was high time to support our local performing arts.
I would dearly like to say that I was too drunk to remember any of it, but it wouldn't be true. It is very hard to describe how soul-destroying it was to be served drinks by a waiter wearing only a leather cod-piece. This had a silver zip across the ~er~ 'widest bit' that he unzipped and rummaged through a tad over-enthusiastically to hand out the rather warm one and two dollar coins he used as change. It certainly didn't add to the anticipation considering he looked like an overly-detoxed Mr Bean. However it wasn't his erotica-erasing appearance that made me sober; it was the price of the friggin' drinks - about a week's rent in my case. I nursed one meagre glass of Southern Comfort and coke like it was God's own golden tears.
Then, one interminable song after the other, the 'acts' came out. Fellas, it must be said: Penises are not pretty. In fact, being forced to endure proud displays of corned beef dangled in front of our eyes every ten minutes or so took me back to my first (and only) excursion to the Murray Bridge meatworks. Sheep carcases were hung ready for gutting, and the marauding meat flutes helping me visually 'celebrate' my birthday recalled the cruelly disrespectful methods the factory workers used to rip out the poor animals' gizzards, let them tremble and reverberate in their hands for a while before flinging them on to the metwurst pile.
By the time Dazzling Darryl, had, um 'dazzled' us, my comrades' eyes were firmly on the exit sign as we frantically tried to work out a subtle escape plan - we just didn't need to see any more overly oiled inverted triangles pretend to blow into their silver cowboy guns and 'seductively' whip off their satin riding chaps, let alone be forced to cheer and whistle and give their forlorn-looking nooky fruits a standing ovation. It made me realise that the male fruit basket represented a divine accident - it was as though one of God's assistants had inadvertently dropped a scrap pile of earlobes, kidneys and elbow skin while leaning over Adam with a dustpan brushing away the excess body hair.
Escape looked very tricky. Our path to freedom was blocked by several tables of drunk (therefore richer than us, and infinitely more stupid) girls on hens' nights, accompanied by their even-drunker mothers. These tables lapped it all up as the willy wigglers danced, going as far as rushing the stage and dragging them over to their tables for a lap dance. Our table, on the other increasingly-nauseated hand, steadfastly refused to make eye contact when Lug Nuts or Dazzling or Wazza Walnut or whoever the hell was on stage was deciding which table was going to be treated to a close up view of his ~ahem~ personality. Naturally, this meant that our table was selected. Every single time.
The Mulleted MC would scream into his microphone, "Sooooo ladeez, who is celebrating something tonight?" and I would immediately and savagely hiss at my friends: "If Any Of You Dare Say It's My Birthday I Will Never Ever Speak To You Again And I If I Have To Go To The Ends Of The Earth To Make Sure I Fill Out Lifetime Subscriptions To The 'Plain Truth' To You Forever I Will Do and Don't Think I Won't Set My Phone To Ring Pizza Hut Home Delivery On The Hour Every Hour To Send Orders To Your Houses And While You Are Dealing With Boxes Of Bad Food And Angry Drivers I Will Sneak Inside And Fill Your Toothpaste Tubes With Anusol Until You Are Left Crumbled In A Sobbing Heap, Pleading With Me To Accept Your Heartfelt Apologies For The Evil Act Of Saying 'IT'S MILLYMOO'S BIRTHDAY OVER HERE', I Hope I Have Made My Feelings Clear Enough To You."
Luckily for me, I had. There were enough inebriated brides-to-be clamoring for a poke at Policeman Pete's pectorals or a sly snap of Sizzlin' Steve's sequined snake-sling to keep the fellas busy and well enough away from me. Noelene, a Kahlua-charged mother-of-the-bride had hoisted her sausage-like bulk onto the stage and was attempting to treat us to a striptease of her own devising. This was our sign to leave the bar when all eyes were unwillingly repulsed and fascinated by the events unfolding on the stage.
So as a pathetic attempt at closing this with a moral - there's a lesson here for all of us. By all means go to your nudey rudey entertainments, but don't be surprised if you discover that you'd rather have the soles of your feet stapled to the back of your head instead. Perhaps that's something Glenn Milne, parliament-sniggerer Alexander Downer and Little Johnny himself should consider.