Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The King of Pop and Rose the Stripper

A Michael Jackson memory...

In case you missed it, Michael Jackson died in June. Now that the orgy of media coverage has died down somewhat, I've decided to share a memory of MJ that begins almost 30 years ago in, of all places, a strip club on Long Island. Sometime during my freshman year at college, some friends and I, having the urge to see naked women (not as readily available back in the pre-internet/cable age) decided to see some strippers (that's what we called them back then; they weren't erotic dancers or adult entertainers yet). At that time there were laws on Long Island prohibiting totally nude dancing in establishments serving alcohol. To get around this, some clever entrepreneur came up with the idea of opening a private social club. The idea was you became a member by paying a cover charge (and were issued a nifty paper membership card). Then you could purchase alcohol and enjoy naked women to your heart's (or any other organ's) content.

Our destination was The Salem Social Club in Port Washington, on the north shore of Long Island. I don't remember too many details about the place, but I clearly remember one of the strippers; Rose was an attractive blonde with wholesome looks (the kind of girl you'd call All-American). She had a small rose tattoo on her calf (and as I write this, it occurs to me that Rose probably wasn't her real name). One of the songs she danced to (it might have been her first one but details are lost in the mists of time) was Rock with You, one of the hits from Michael Jackson's Off the Wall album. I'm sure she danced to other songs and I know there were other dancers, but for some reason, Rose dancing to Rock with You is the only thing I remember. I won't pretend to understand the workings of the human mind (least of all my own), but it is a fact that to this day, almost 30 years later, whenever I hear Rock with You, I think of Rose. My brain is now wired so that Rock with You and Rose are forever intertwined; a Pavlovian meeting of King of Pop and 1980's Stripper.

My best friend Richard was at the strip club in the winter of 1980 and he also remembers Rose. I called him recently to ask him to clarify some of the details of that long-ago night (his memory is even better than mine). He corrected me on the name and location of the club for example. He also associates Rose with Rock with You but I think it's just conditioning from me talking about it over the years. Anyway, here is Michael Jackson before his coronation as King of Pop performing what has long been (and probably will remain) my favorite of all his songs.

1 comment:

  1. Man, they tried to shut that place down for years. (Keep in mind that the same town didn't even allow chain fast food.) I used to live around the corner and would walk past it going to and from school. Back then it was called "Salem Inn". After we moved away, we came back for a visit and the name had changed to "Salem Social Club". At the time I was too young to know what "technicality" meant, but obviously the name change was some kind of loophole to remain in business (I was old enough to have a fairly good idea of what went on in the place). Finally the place was busted in the early 1980s (though I notice that it took the undercover officer 25 visits to determine what was going on...)