Yesterday I pointed you to a story our friend Sarah Hepola wrote for the Times Style section. Today I bring you an essay she wrote for Salon about an online dating experience that did not exactly work out for her. It’s a good read, recommended.
But after I read the story, Sarah and I had an email exchange that I asked her if I could share. It’s about topless bars.
TIM: When you write for New York, you aren’t afraid to play up the Dallas stereotypes, are you? Steakhouses and silicone … Ubiquitous strip clubs … Etc. You watch yourself, missy.
SARAH: Wait a minute. Strip clubs ARE ubiquitous. That’s not a stereotype — that’s reader information. The steakhouses and silicone line might be considered a stereotype, though I could point you to a handful of D Magazine pieces that characterize the city in the same way. I’m only allowed to poke fun at Dallas if I’m writing for a Dallas magazine?
TIM: There are no more strip clubs here (per capita) than there are in Vegas or Atlanta or Houston or Chicago. In fact, Wiki says Portland, OR, has more strip clubs per capita than any other US city. Now, Dallas’ clubs will be better. No question. But not more numerous. And certainly not UBIQUITOUS. [Ed: After I emailed with Sarah, I did a bit more digging (though not much). In this PolitiFact examination of which city is the stripper capital of the United States, Dallas didn’t even come up. But Manhattan did.]
SARAH: OK, “ubiquitous” is too strong a word. They are “ubiquitous” on my drive out to the airport, but I realize that’s a sliver of the experience of living in the city. Still, why are you embarrassed by Dallas’ reputation for having a lot of strip clubs? Do you really think that’s an untrue stereotype? I think D should do a story on this. It’s fascinating to me. When I worked at the Observer, both [named redacted] and [name redacted] informed me that Dallas had more strip clubs than any city in the country, a fact I banked away because it came from two trustworthy journalists and also because whenever I write for NY publications, I like to sling around cheap and easy lies. But the myth is so powerful and enduring (it was quoted on the first ep of GCB, as I’m sure you remember), it’s worth exploring. I’d do that story if you wanted it.
At which point, I informed her that Joe Bob Briggs had already done that story. Again, though, Joe Bob’s story revealed that we can, with some authority, claim to have invented the “gentleman’s club.” He didn’t say that we’ve got more of them than any other city. That’s not true.