Dec 23, 2014

My Sunday School Teacher's Stripper Sons

When I was a kid in the 1970s, my favorite Sunday school teacher was named Brother Dino (not his real name).  He was young, in his mid-20s, with black hair and a thick black moustache -- rare for Nazarenes.

He had only been saved for a couple of years -- before that, he was a Catholic! -- and he knew all about movies, dancing, drinking, card-playing, carnivals, circuses, and Catholic Masses. He framed them as destructive and evil: "Look how horrible my life was before I got Saved!" -- but the stories were brash, colorful, and seductive.

Brother Dino was our cabin counselor at Nazarene summer camp during the summer of 1974, just after eighth grade. One day I saw him naked in the shower.  He looked like this guy: muscular body, hairy chest and belly, very impressive beneath the belt.

Nazarenes typically didn't have many kids -- why bring kids into the world, when the Rapture would come at any moment -- but Brother Dino and his wife had lots, four girls (born 1968, 1970, 1973, 1975)  --and, just when they were giving up, two boys, Mickey and Dom (1977, 1978).   I didn't pay them much attention -- I left the Nazarene church when the oldest was only about 10 -- but my mother told me about the them their talent show and jump quiz triumphs, their dates with the new preacher's kid, their participation in International Institute, their colleges and marriages and children.

She never mentioned the stripping. But my brother Ken did.

At Christmastime 1999, I was back in Rock Island home for the holidays, and as my brother drove me away from the airport, we passed a low gray building.  "That's a new strip club," Ken announced.  "Where girls take off their clothes," he added, as clarification.

"Any male performers?"  I asked.

"As a matter of fact, Tuesday is lady's night, with guys taking their clothes off."

I didn't ask how he acquired that information.  "Hmm...lady's night, only women allowed, I guess."

"And you know who the top dancers are?  Brother Dino's kids, Mickey and Dom!  Brother Dino can barely hold his head up in church anymore!  What did he expect, when he gave them Catholic names?"

Mickey and Dom were now in college -- one at Augustana, the other at St. Ambrose, the Catholic college in Davenport.  And on Tuesday night they made extra money by performing at the strip club.

Men were allowed in "if accompanied by a lady," so I called an old college friend, and we went to the 10:00 show. I was the only man in a crowd of twenty or so women.

Having not seen the boys since Mickey was a toddler and Dom a babe-in-arms, I didn't know what to expect.  They came on stage dressed as college jocks in sweatpants and Augustana and St. Ambrose sweatshirts.  They pretended to argue about college rivalries, and in "anger" stripped each other out of everything but their jockstraps.

 They had smooth, muscular bodies -- rather surprising, given their dad's hairiness, and not as sculpted as the male models of West Hollywood, but certainly impressive.

They danced together on a little stage, then separated and worked the crowd.  I think it was the oldest, Mickey, who gyrated toward my side of the room.  I held up a dollar.

He approached, grinning, his smooth chest shining with sweat, and thrust his crotch suggestively toward me. "I'm an ex-Nazarene, too," I told him, shouting to make myself heard above the music.  "Your dad was my Sunday school teacher."

He looked surprised, but kept grinning.  "Small world!" he said.  "You gay or is she your girlfriend?"

"Just a friend."  He straddled my lap.  I shoved the dollar inside his jock strap and felt around to see if he was as big as his dad.  He was.

"Cool!  You guys the best tippers!  Wanna kiss?"


He bent over and kissed me briefly on the lips, as I shoved another dollar into his jock strap.  The crowd squealed in shock or delight.  Then he rose and backed away and gyrated toward a woman who was holding up a dollar.

My mother tells me that both Mickey and Dom are married with children now, working in human resources and telecommunications, respectively.  Their stripping days are far behind them.  But I'm sure that they're gay allies.

Rock Island has changed.

See also: Matt the Bartender and the Y2K Bug