Hush Little Baby – Why It Creeps Us Out

I can only assume this flagrantly homicidal gem of a lullaby has escaped notoriety primarily because everyone who’s ever heard it falls asleep before the most incriminating verses are aired.  Whether the (one might say) druggedly soothing little ditty is responsible for any violent sadistic strains lapping at your subconscious is, of course, for you to decide, but perhaps you’d benefit from a good breakdown of all the evidence.

Hush, little baby, don’t say a word,
Mama’s going to buy you a mockingbird.
If that mockingbird won’t sing,
Mama’s going to buy you a diamond ring.
If that diamond ring turns brass,
Mama’s going to buy you a looking glass.
If that looking glass gets broke,
Mama’s going to buy you a billy goat.
If that billy goat won’t pull,
Mama’s going to buy you a cart and bull.
If that cart and bull turn over,
Mama’s going to buy you a dog named Rover.
If that dog named Rover won’t bark,
Mama’s going to buy you a horse and cart.
If that horse and cart fall down,
You’ll still be the sweetest little boy in town

//Hush Little Baby, Don’t say a Word//

Well, right off we can scratch the idea that this is a song intended for babies.  Babies cry, they don’t use words.  Mama doesn’t say “don’t cry,” “don’t yell”, or “don’t be obnoxious”, as a normal mama might be expected to hush a child.  She very specifically exhorts her child not to speak.

//Mama’s Gonna Buy You a Mockingbird//

Presents are usually the one occasion when you expect and delight in a child’s being noisy.  Birthdays, Christmas, whatever – any normal parent with a video camera to set up wouldn’t think twice about capturing a permanent record of those delirious squeals.  But THIS Mama wants her kid to shut up and accept, not just any present, but a PET – a bird, and a bird famous for incessant vocalizations at that.  There can be no doubt after this that Mama’s motive is something other than peace and quiet.  Mama’s use of the future tense is particularly striking; why tell a child about an extravagant present ahead of time, after you’ve just finished saying “hush”?  This whole setup smacks of bribery; Mama isn’t asking for a momentary reprieve from chaos.  She’s clearly trying to buy her tot’s permanent silence.

//If the mockingbird won’t sing…mama’s gonna buy you a diamond ring.//

Again, isn’t it odd how favorably Mama regards the prospect of the child’s pet making noise?  It sounds as though the bird’s noise-making abilities are its central draw; a silent bird apparently has no value and must be replaced with a more extravagant gift.  Putting aside for the moment the disturbing implication that Mama would regard a living animal as disposable in the event that it doesn’t behave as she would like it to, we ought to consider what sort of heavy silence she is trying to avoid in the first place.  Something is not being said, cannot be said, and Mama is doing all she can to smother that eery quiet with the promise of a song.  Additionally, it must hereafter be noted that Mama is totally loaded.  Mockingbirds ain’t cheap, and diamond rings even less so, but it is Mama’s persistent faith in the power of luxury goods to buy her child’s silence that speaks the most to her lust for material riches.

//If that diamond ring turns brass, Mama’s gonna buy you a looking glass.//

There is nothing blatantly incriminating in this line.  But there’s a hinted fondness to illusion, here – perhaps even subtle manipulation.  Diamond rings don’t turn brass, so either Mama never had the diamond to begin with or she’s able to mask its value.  Either way, the effect is to convey to the child-subject that a gift in the hand – even one of everlasting stone – isn’t beyond the powers of the universe to tweak, change, and ultimately destroy.  A pattern has emerged wherein Mama’s gifts lose value even before they are had.  It is as though Mama is using gifts less as a means of expressing affection than of favor – and she wants her kid to remember, what has been given can be taken.

As if to reinforce that message, the next proffered gift is a simple looking-glass.  An ordinary mirror,  in such sharp contrast to the elaborate expense of a diamond or the exotic delight of a mockingbird, it’s hard to imagine it NOT being intended on a symbolic level.  A mirror, should the diamond prove not good enough to hold the child’s tongue – a calculated invitation to reflect on one’s own value.

//If that looking glass gets broke, Mama’s gonna buy you a billy goat.//

Now we come to the first overt appeal to violence.  If the looking glass mysteriously “gets broke”, are we expected to believe the child is in danger?  It can’t have been an accident, can it, if Mama’s singing about it so long before it’s happened, and it can’t have been the child’s fault, or Mama wouldn’t return with yet another expensive gift.  Does anyone else notice just how many steps ahead this Mama is thinking?

//If that billy goat won’t pull, Mama’s gonna buy you a cart and bull//

We return again to the noted ease with which Mama can cast off living creatures as worthless when they don’t behave as she would like them to.  More sinister yet is the answer to an obvious question – what use does a child have for a billy-goat?  According to Mama, the goat’s purpose is to…pull.  We can assume the very wealthy kid isn’t working in a field.  Beasts of burden trained to pull have been used as torture devices.  It doesn’t sound like Mama’s bribing anymore.

//If that cart and bull turn over,//

Holy shit – this bitch ain’t fuckin around!  She’s gone from sly allusions to torture to the prophesying of a much more sizeable calamity.  Any injury caused the bull in this scenario is, of course, mere collateral damage – anything to send a message.  And just in case the kid thinks he’s getting off the hook in the event he manages to survive a cart-and-bull collision –

//Mama’s gonna buy you a dog named Rover
If that dog named Rover won’t bark//

Any dog named Rover – which would indicate any dog of feral (or at least stray) origin.  And Mama wants him to bark.  Who wants an untrained, barking dog for a child’s companion?  Torture artists, that’s who.  And if that fails to garner the brat’s allegiance –

//Mama’s gonna buy you a horse and cart
If that horse and cart fall down,
You’ll still be the sweetest little boy in town//

In case you missed the point earlier, little baby – your Mama wants you dead.  A leisurely-moving bull-and-cart crash may leave you wounded, but a horse and cart that falls down (down where?  Off a bridge, into a ravine?) – well, there are no survivors from disasters of that magnitude.  But you’ll still be the sweetest little boy in town.   Because you won’t be spilling any secrets.

Looking at all the evidence, it’s clear that Mama married up, to a wealthy old man who produced just one descendent – the small child who’s lone witness to his father’s vicious murder inspired the tranquil melody and insidious lyrics inexplicably beloved by mothers all around the world.

Case regretfully closed.

Things Stupid People Do at Strip Clubs

If you do any of the following things at a strip club, you will be a jackass and all of us strippers will roll our eyes at you behind your back and laugh about how stupid you are in the dressing rooms.  And so will the waitresses and bartenders and bouncers and managers, and other, better customers.

1.  Give Strippers Commands

You might think it’s cute to order a stripper, “let me see your tits”, or “turn around and grind on me”, but it’s not.  Strippers are entertainers; if we think it’s a good idea to grind on you, we will, but most of the time it’s not a good idea.  We are in charge of our performance, not you.  It’s important that customers respect this – for art’s sake as well as our safety.  You are not in charge.  Do not try to be in charge; you will make yourself look stupid.  There is no one-size fits all fantasy, and, accordingly, every stripper develops a unique style to fit her personality.  Some slow, sensuous styles do not mesh well with spontaneous grinding and flashing, and your attempt to project your own style of eroticism onto a random entertainer is a show of ignorance and disrespect.  If you want a grinder-flasher at a strip-club, look for a dancer who does that kind of thing.  We are under no obligation to perform in a way that suits you, hence the appropriate way to encourage a particular type of performance is to tip well when you see it. 

2.  Attempt Price Negotiations

Most strippers have personal minimums for lap-dances and VIP sessions, which may be higher or lower than any existing club-regulation minimums.  This is her estimation of the value of her labor, risk, talent, and time.  As you have no basis to judge her labor, risk, and time (and talent only if she has performed for you before), you are not qualified to issue a different price. You have no way of knowing whether there are other patrons present or shortly expected to arrive who will pay her well; you have no sense of relative supply and demand. If the price she names is beyond your budget, tell her so. She may adjust her price, or not. Don’t stand there trying to argue with her about it; you sound like a moron trying to convince her she charges too much when she has dozens of people paying her exactly that every night she works.

3. Initiate Physical Contact

Do not try to pull her clothes off. Do not grope, grab, or whip your dick out. Just as seeing food on display in a market isn’t an invitation for you to walk up and down the aisles ripping open boxes and licking produce, entering a strip-club doesn’t remove you to an alternate universe where random strangers are totally cool with you feeling them up. If you think seeing a naked body part means you have the right to do anything at all with that naked body part, you’re a moron who probably no one wants to date. Consent is a thing, even in strip-clubs.

4. Get Offended When A Stripper Asks for Money

It takes a special kind of self-delusional imbecile to walk into a strip club with no intention of compensating the entertainers. Self-delusional because to do so one would have to convince himself it was a regular club where hot chicks just happened to be teetering around topless in six-inch heels, eager to flirt and agree with everything he says. You chose to go to the strip-club, because of the strippers. We’re providing value to your experience, even if all we’ve done is walk, half-naked, across your line of vision.

You know we’re ok with you looking at us. You know if you smile at us, we’ll smile back. You know you can relax and enjoy the scenery because it is the stripper’s job to spend hours getting glammed up and being available for you to look. When a stripper engages you in conversation, she’s spending time with you that she might have spent with someone else. And if it’s an excellent conversation, and you enjoy each others’ company, it’s not hypocritical of her to expect compensation. Just as a cab driver or waitress who happens to be your friend wouldn’t expect you to stiff them on the tip, a stripper with whom you feel friendly shouldn’t have to deal with your outrage when she suggests that you take her for a dance. If you don’t want to dance, that’s fine – give her a tip anyway. No one’s trying to fool you; strippers work at strip-clubs. We are there to do a job, and you’re there to benefit from our labor, whether you take a private dance or not.

5. Answer “Hi, what’s your name?” with “I’m all set.”

It doesn’t make grammatical sense to answer a question that way, so you look stupid on that account. Declaring “I’m all set!” in response to a stripper’s greeting is rude. Maybe you don’t want a dance – fine, so wait for me to ask you for a dance to reject me. For all you know, I just want to have a conversation (I’ve had some good really good ones with people who told me up front they didn’t have any intention of dancing, just because I like to talk). If you don’t want to converse, that’s fine, too – then say, as you would to any human being who starts talking to you in a public place, “Can we save this talk for later?” or, “Thank you, but I’d like to be alone right now.” The important thing is to respond to the actual content of her overture, rather than issue some kneejerk rejection to assumed subtext because, hey, that’s a real live person talking to you and maybe she just complimented your shirt, because she likes your shirt!

6. Tell a Stripper to “Be Real”, “Be Honest”, “Cut the Bullshit”, “Tell me What you Really Think,” etc.

Stupid customers very often interrupt conversation with strippers this way. The trigger might be anything, from a too-big smile (as judged by said stupid customer), to the customer’s own question regarding why I’m a dancer, where I live, what my real name is, etc. These are customers who expect to be bullshitted and believe they can avoid being bullshitted by ordering the entertainer not to bullshit, or else feel a level of security in pre-emptively dismissing everything the dancer says as bullshit. His grounds for disbelieving her is her profession, so in essence he is asking her to stop being a stripper, right that very second and for exactly as long as she is talking to him.

Strippers may adopt personas, with fake names, to maintain divisions between work life and real life. It’s not surprising in an industry that is so wildly popular and at the same time so roundly vilified; many dancers feel the need to distance themselves from the actual entertaining. It is not for you to ask where her image ends and her reality begins. She will be as real with you as she feels comfortable being, and your telling her to be real with you will have no impact on that.

Whether or not you get something real out of the strip club experience depends as much on your mentality as on the talent of your entertainer, and if you’ve made up your mind that you’re not going to get anything real out of it then you can’t blame anyone else when that’s exactly what happens. Like a heckler at a magic-show, your average strip-club-skeptic is quite the dumbass.

7. Offer Strippers Advice on How to Do Their Jobs

Don’t tell me I’ll make more money by dressing more sluttily. Don’t tell me I should talk about sucking dick. Don’t advise me on my music or my moves or my target clientele or my use of my time. If you think that you know more than I do about making money as a stripper, you are an idiot. Your experience as one individual who goes to a strip-club sometimes is not more valuable than my experience as an entertainer who engages hundreds of patrons on a regular basis.

8. Speak for Your Friends

Whether you think your friend is interested in me or isn’t, you’re doing a disservice to them and to me by speaking on their behalf. You’ll waste my time telling me someone is interested in me who isn’t, and that shy friend you’re sure won’t want to talk to me may benefit immensely from the soft touch of a professional socialite. Believe it or not, making shy people comfortable is something most of us strippers know how to do, better than you. It’s in the job description.

9. Ask me on a Date

ESPECIALLY if you don’t intend to accept a private dance or otherwise compensate the time I’ve spent entertaining you. That’s like going to a restaurant and telling the waitress, “No, I’m not going to buy any food or give you money. But can you come to my house and serve my dinner later?” If you want me to take you seriously as a potential date, you have to take me seriously as an entertainer and a professional. You have to respect my job and the fact that my time has value.

There are other complicating factors as well. As an entertainer, my job revolves around fantasy, and crossing the line into your reality is a breach of conduct on my behalf. (Read “The Champagne Room – What You’re Really Paying For” if you’re not sure what I mean). Accepting an offer for a date creates a conflict-of-interest that may compromise what I do as an entertainer.

10. Act Jealous

Anyone who huffs that he saw me earlier talking to another guy is very, very out of touch with the concept of strip-clubs. Don’t be an idiot. It’s not girlfriends-r-us. It’s my job to talk to those other guys. Don’t expect me to sit by your side and keep you company all night after paying for one dance. If you want my undivided attention for any length of time, the appropriate thing to do is to pay for a session in VIP.

11. Remark, with your Eyebrows Raised in Shock, “You’re Smart!”

12. Bring Your Girlfriend

Unless she reads and agrees to also abide by these rules and regulations, paying special note to the “don’t advise me in how to do my job”, “don’t initiate physical contact”, and “don’t be cheap” clauses. In addition, she must not be offended if I ask you for a dance, and she must not sit on your lap when you sit near the stage and make grossed-out faces when the dancers come near you, preventing you from giving them money.

If you want to be one of those customers that everybody loves and is genuinely glad to see, don’t do anything above, and plan to spend some money. A lesser-known method of earning brownie points is to cheer for the dancers on stage. Even veteran dancers can get stage-fright and on a slow night it’s really demoralizing to take off your clothes and not have anything to show for it. If you’re all out of dollars but you think the lady on stage is doing a fine job, telling her so will pluck her spirits up and give her an extra boost of confidence for the rest of the night.

Mama’s Little Monkeys

Four little monkeys jumping on the bed
One fell off and bumped his head
Mama called the doctor and the doctor said:
“No more monkeys jumping on the bed!”

This rhyme refrains with one less monkey jumpin’ on the bed each round, until there are no more monkeys to sing about.

You may be thinking this is a story about a mama monkey and her four monkey babies in a fantasy world where monkey people talk and live in houses with beds like human folk.

But is that really what’s going on?

Mama is never referred to as a monkey. Nor is the doctor.

Mama and the doctor are able to speak and use telephones – their behavior is very human. But the little monkeys? They jump up and down with no apparent signs of intelligence, or even enjoyment, as one after another falls off of the bed and becomes incapacitated. Though mama is evidently concerned enough for each little monkey’s head injury to seek medical consultation, the simians exhibit neither empathy nor concern for their fallen siblings. They are as insensible to the pain of others as they are to the personal risks they take – they seem unable to stop or even to consider stopping. What we have here is no childlike pleasure at the prospect of a moment’s disobedience – this is a thrashing, violent hopping frenzy of such intensity that, by song’s end, every little monkey is put out of commission. The human woman we sing of is inexplicably in possession of a brood of creatures who have, to judge by their behavior, too little intelligence and too much raw energy to be fully human or monkey.

And yet, she is called Mama.

This brings us to the Doctor. Mama seems to have access to a private line – she calls the doc, not the hospital or the doctor’s office, and he or she answers directly. She speaks to the same person each time she calls – The Doctor, not A Doctor. So, it seems Mama has quite a close connection with this physician. All the more astounding, then, is the doctor’s relentless reply – “No more monkeys jumpin’ on the bed.”

It may not be fair to surmise from the missing ‘g’ on the end of the word ‘jumping’ that the Doctor acquired his or her credentials at an academic institution of lax standards. We can certainly argue, however, that the Doctor’s advice lacks all the hallmarks of a traditional medical exam – there is no talk of size, color, or shape of any bumps or lacerations sustained. There is no question of breathing or heart-rate, no concern that the monkeys are able to answer simple questions or are even conscious. There is no attempt to schedule a follow-up examination. The Doctor, in short, seems not at all intent on helping these little monkeys.

This, despite the over-involvement indicated by Mama’s having a private line and her compulsive tendency to call after each little monkey’s fall, regardless of the helpfulness of her doc’s advice. We can only logically conclude that this unorthodox, overly-involved medical expert made use of Mama’s generous womb to incubate his mad human-monkey hybrid until such a time as they might be medically able to meet the world.

But they were not ready.

Mama’s grotesque gestation might, indeed, have won the Doc a place in the halls of history – had her spawn, as intended, developed with the minds of men and the athletic prowess of apes, and the next stage of human evolution been bolstered by its last. As we have seen, however – this is not what happened. The little monkeys burst from the uterus in a bestial hopping rage beyond anyone’s control. As is often the case with genetic mutations, their skulls likely were too thin to sustain the impact of a fall from their maternal bed – they succumbed, one after the next, to certain doom, until the insistent mantra of their shamed creator came, at last, to chilling fruition – “No more monkeys jumpin’ on the bed.”

The terrible tragedy of Jack and Jill

If you previously thought Jack and Jill’s story hinted toward something sinister, the StoryWhore must now confirm your suspicions. The story of Jack and Jill is, indeed, one of the most horrifying in all of nursery rhyme-dom.

Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water
Jack fell down and broke his crown and Jill came tumbling after
Up Jack got and home did trot as fast as he could caper
And went to bed and bound his head with vinegar and brown paper

Let’s start with the first line: Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water.

The rhyme doesn’t specify, but tradition holds that the water source was a well. And that makes sense, from a certain perspective – they used a pail, so the water surface available was likely small. But why was it at the top of a hill? Wells are almost never on hills, both because water tends to settle in lower altitudes and because it requires a lot more engineering and manual labor to extract a substance from a hill while keeping the hill intact. One conceivable advantage to locating a well on top of a hill is the reduced threat of pestilence – if water tends to accumulate in lowlands, so do communicable diseases. What we’re looking at is a terrible disaster– nothing short of a very serious water shortage combined with the palpable fear of some unstoppable plague could have driven Jack and Jill’s people to locate a remote hillside water cache and to use it as their primary water supply. So it is clear that Jack and Jill inhabit a pestilent hellscape far removed from any significant human infrastructure. Why do they live at the bottom of the hill, if the water’s at the top? And why do Jack and Jill go together, if they’re only getting a single pail of water? Moral support, maybe, in this time of terrible tribulation? Let’s see if the next lines can gives us a clue.

Jack fell down and broke his crown

So, we can confirm that hill was a bitch to climb. It wasn’t a rolling green expanse, was it, if falling down it cracked Jack’s skull open? Picture instead the twisted spine of a dense stone outcrop – the uninhabitable, rocky kind of formation that might have trapped the receding waters of earlier rains and held them untapped for all time. These were desperate days, indeed. No wonder Jack and Jill went together – the arduous task of descending with a pail of water would seem to merit a buddy system.

And Jill came tumbling after.

Wait…so they both fell, one after the other. How did that happen? The poem says they went up the hill, so they clearly reached the well, but there’s no mention of the pail or water when Jack and then Jill come tumbling down. It seems as though something may have prevented them from completing their task – something dangerous enough to compromise the precautions of their buddy system and send one after the other of them bouncing down the treacherous landscape. What kind of menace could it be?

Up Jack got and home did trot,
As fast as he could caper;

Jack’s behavior in any normal circumstance would seem bizarre. No mention of Jill’s condition, but if a “fall” was enough to crack Jack’s skull, imagine what a “tumble” down the mountainous ascent could do. Jack doesn’t stick around long enough to find out – he jumps up, and runs home at top speed. What sense of urgency leaves him to abandon his climbing buddy without assessing her physical condition at all? What drives him ignore his own fractured skull, jump to his feet and start running? Clearly, this is a flight response. Something evil was waiting for Jack and Jill at the top of that hill – but what was at the bottom to make Jack so afraid? What, except…Jill?

And went to bed and bound his head
With vinegar and brown paper.

Well! There you have it. Jack and Jill were obviously the lone survivors of a zombie apocalypse. The hilltop well provided the only supply of water that hadn’t been contaminated by zombified corpse puss. They went together to fetch the water, after every other inhabitant of their town had apparently been turned – one of them to carry the pail, and one to carry the bow. Tragically, it seems a zombie or two must have made its way to the summit ahead of them. By Jack’s reaction, we can surmise they landed a few good bites on Jill just as Jack lost his footing and began to fall. The poor gal must have already been in her death throes by the time she started tumbling; knowing she would rise again, Jack had to run away as fast as he could once he was at the bottom. He runs not to a hospital, not to a nurse, not to a doctor (because, at this point, there are none) but to his own home, whatever that might have been, and tended his head wound himself – with vinegar and brown paper. Clearly, his primary concern was to mask the scent of his own sweet brains.

Case regretfully closed.

The Champagne Room – What You’re Really Paying For

Though rates vary widely depending on the entertainer and club you visit, an hour in VIP typically costs around $1,000, after tip. A half-hour most places will go for $400 or $500. For that much money, you should damn well expect something special, so I’m going to tell you the truth.

If you enter VIP and your entertainer tries to suck your dick, eat you out, or otherwise fuck you – you are being ripped off.

It’s not that I have any issue with getting laid for money. If you’re into prostitution, that’s your business. But if you want a champagne room experience – that’s my business.

If you think that they are the same business, you’re setting yourself up for a terrific letdown in one of two ways: either you’ll wind up with a sub-par entertainer and find yourself footing the bill for an oral encounter that is far above market price(in a public facility designed with publicity rather than discretion in mind) or you’ll wind up with a true entertainer and waste what should be an extraordinary experience worrying over the fulfillment of some slapdash boner-centric checklist you carried in with you.

Strippers, you see, don’t belong to the service industry. We differ from prostitutes in this way. It is not the job of a stripper to give you what you ask for. Strippers are members of the entertainment industry, and as such, a stripper’s job is not to provide you with something you already have or can gain elsewhere. It is my job to invigorate and sweep you up into realms of fevered fantasy that you can’t so easily escape.

The typical man does not want to venture into a situation that involves the risk of shaking up physical urges that must be left unmet. He does not want to, because he is under the unfortunate misapprehension that there is nothing to do with desire except to spit it out again. Desire itself is pain to him – it comes only to torment and be released, with perhaps no satisfaction except the libido’s cessation in the immediate wake of his obedience to sexual thrall.

This is bad; a result of bad teaching, and pleasure’s most faithful opponent from the dawn of man’s age. Fear of longing renders pleasure its own form of fear. Read between the lines of any femme fatale reference on film or paper; the ordinary male views sensuality as a wicked power but rarely evaded. The ordinary male can’t handle pleasure, just as the ordinary diner in today’s world can’t handle a scrumptious meal except by getting it over with as quickly as possible.

Consider the heady moment before a long-awaited kiss – the electric, warm energy, the natural high of looking at someone you are sure wants you. Desire isn’t some gruesome monster force to be beaten down and kept small inside of you – it’s a wide world in its own right. Submit yourself to the care of a master stripper if, and only if, you’re willing to explore a little tantric in-between.

In a champagne room, a VIP or even just one private dance, you can let your desire swell through all its rhythms, the chemistry between you and your entertainer charging up your consciousness as in a lucid dream. Moments spent in a dancer’s hands are moments to take with you, alive and changing, into the rest of your world. A dancer, a real entertainer, can bury herself in your mind and carry on with you into the future. Her presence will wake you some dull Monday morning with sparkling promise. Her memory will come at random times to cheer you with a quick excitement – a breath of renewal and perspective. You will feel her pulse, exhilarated and rising in your own veins the next time you come to contemplate those who block the doorways to your future – the skeptical, the frigid, the ordinary. You will remember – because she will have found it out in you – that you are alive, and young, and blessed, and that you believe after all in every unspoken promise of better things to come.

Odysseus told his men to tie him down and let him hear the Sirens’ song. The bard never tells us why, but we do remember that of all the men aboard his ship, the only one who made it through his saga was the one who dared to listen. Perhaps because his dreams were so great; he could not afford to treat desire as just another monster.