The Recipe For A Frosty Pussy

Literature

10.04.2017

The Recipe For A Frosty Pussy

In a piece of creative non-fiction, Megan Dunn writes on a downtown Auckland strip-club at the turn of the century, artists and their muses, and the ingredients that tie them all together. 

Preparation

Find the laminated list of ingredients wedged behind the bar. Spirits were up. Each top shelf bottle a high rise glinting in the mirror - Bombay Sapphire, Jagermeister, Johnnie Walker Black Label, Galliano, Frangelico, Tia Maria, Smirnoff Ice, Make sure you get the measurements right.

Malibu

was a stripper from the Gold Coast who’d previously worked for Mitsubishi. Malibu from Mitsubishi. I was getting it all down. Including the juicy details. Like Malibu’s tits. Her implants pointed upwards like satellite dishes, her nipples aimed into deep space. I spent a lot of time serving her behind the bar. Bad plastic surgery is so in your face. LOL. The boss used to look over at my flat chest and joke, “all this one here needs is a pair of tits.”

A few technical points:

First you have to fill the shaker with ice.

“Who Let the Dogs Out?” was on high rotation that summer. Or was it winter? It’s hard to tell when you’re inside, watching the mirror ball spin and smoke cough out of the machine in the corner. On Sundays the celery stalks sat inert in their Bloody Marys as the ice machine iced and the regulars didn’t tip.  

“Anyone can buy a party,” said Kate, a nurse who danced under her real name and wore a white bikini that looked a bit like an elaborate bandage.

Ingredients

The juicy details. (Misogyny: BYO.)

Preparation

My mother always used to tell me I was special. Somehow I got to find it annoying. I guess I realized early it was just one opinion. So when our primary school teacher gave us an assignment to incorporate a list of words – including special - into sentences, I knew exactly what to do.

I wrote: I am special.

I knew I was meant to produce a more complex sentence, but in its simplicity I felt that my sentence was complex enough. Even so, I could not have predicted the extent of my teacher’s rage. He berated me in class until my face felt as scorched as a flaming Sambuca.

Still, I’d made my point. I was…

Peanuts

“You look like that girl off WWF,” the guy at the foot of the stage told me.

“Thanks,” I said brightly.  

“I don’t know if it’s a compliment,” as he popped another nut from the tray.   

The next night a couple sitting in the same spot coyly invited me home with them. I suspected it was just a word assignment. They had successfully incorporated threesome into a sentence.

Kahlua

How much?

I Facebooked Laura: Can you remember the recipe for a Frosty Pussy?

Her: All I can recall is Banana Liqueur. Cream. Baileys. Maybe Malibu? Possibly Triple Sec or Kahlua?

On reflection why was it ever named a Frosty Pussy? she said. I guess there was no market for a hot day-old fish drink. Lol.

Triple Sec

Mick worked for Sanyo. Drove a Beemer. Wanted to take me for a ride on Sunday.

The guy who looked like Billy T James:

     Meet me at Sinners later.

     Sinners. Later.

     Always whispered.

The Elephant Man:

     tipped Laura five dollars every time;

     that golden foil Chang distinctive under the strobe

     One night in Bangkok makes a hard man

     look like a pawn out of an 1980s music video.      

     Raybans reflecting the mirror ball, in the fug

    his fag nose-dived the tray and he began to grunt, “Hhuh!”

“A Diva doll, a Diva!”

The house Brut, popular, but only when the girls had to pay.

 He lived in a shack by the sea, sand dunes built up outside his window. I mocked his collection of Robert Ludlum novels. Their bold spines spoke of high-octane adventures lived by male protagonists who – I imagined - visited strip clubs in their spare time where exotic dancers ran amok, their palomino legs kicking in and out of bed-sheets.

Cream (lots of)

I had a brief affair with a guy who organised dance parties in Tauranga. I met him on a boat. The night was black. My diamantes were sparkling. I was feeling…special.

I woke to the waves lapping. He lived in a shack by the sea, sand dunes built up outside his window. I mocked his collection of Robert Ludlum novels. Their bold spines spoke of high-octane adventures lived by male protagonists who – I imagined - visited strip clubs in their spare time where exotic dancers ran amok, their palomino legs kicking in and out of bed-sheets.

I’d studied the Classics. (Or at least watched the Merchant Ivory adaptations of the Classics.) I knew my stuff.

Yet I was twenty-five and still judged a book by its cover.

Banana Liqueur!

Fresh out of art school, hot for Kathy Acker and I LOVE DICK.

At university, we annotated the cult classics as though they were textbooks.

Chris Kraus loved Dick and so did I. Not the same Dick of course. (There were so many.) But mine was still an intellectual that I couldn’t fuck.

Acker and Kraus had both worked in the sex industry too, and they were artists.

I was an artist too. But I wanted to be the muse. And I thought working in the sex industry might be amusing. And if not, I’d heard the tips were good.

Mocktail

“You can have a virgin Seabreeze,” I told the drunk across the bar.  “Or as I like to call it, a cranberry juice.”

“Do you know what facetious means?” he asked. 

I woke to the sound of children playing in the Jewish school next door and looked out across the tawny carpet. Sunlight stuck its fingers through the net curtains. I’d mounted Christina’s World above my bed. The print was still in good nick. A pair of Chinese love balls lay on the carpet gathering dust. Who knew what else lay in that flaxen grass, waiting to be swept asunder? Christina, Christina. She inched forward on those weak legs, giving it everything and taking it too.

The guy who ran dance parties woke up and browsed beneath the sheets.

“You should shave,” he told me.

“Why? You don’t,” I said.

It was hard to know what Christina would drink if she could get into a bar: moonshine? What if she’d just lost her keys after a big night out, and couldn’t get back into the house? She didn’t ask to be painted like this. To feel like this.

The guy who ran dance parties got dressed and left. I lay in bed listening to the echo of children outside and the tinnitus in my ears.

Later at work bespectacled, mild-mannered, Geoff flipped out his notebook. In it he kept a running tally of the hours he’d spent at Showgirls. He looked like a character from…

The Far Side

I first saw Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World at a friend’s house after school. I knew immediately I had encountered a different way of seeing things. At the time, it seemed like it might have been Christina’s. My friend’s house was bigger than ours; I stared down at the crushed autumn leaves in her parent’s empty spa pool. It was Sunday, or if it wasn’t it may as well have been. Christina looked like she had nothing to do, other than chores. Although under closer inspection her legs do seem a little…

Tweezers

After work each night I sat on the sink in the bathroom and plucked my eyebrows. Easing each hair out from under the skin provoked a sense of satisfaction that might have been akin to Wyeth’s, as he dipped his tiny brush in egg tempera and got to work on the individual blades of grass that all populated the world of Christina.

A Chicken Pie and a Mac’s Gold

The regular I resented most came in for the weekday lunch advertised on the blackboard outside the door: $5. FREE ENTRY.

Baywatch

The most popular dancer was a young mum who had once worked as a lifeguard out at Piha. She told me if they had been under water too long they didn’t come back.

The mirror ball blacked out. An extra litre of darkness descended. A shadow moved on to the stage. The dancer wore a black body stocking adorned with fragments of mirror like a suit of armour. She caught a laser beam between her hands. Optical stripes zig-zagged around the club, bouncing off the mirrored shards of her suit. The dancer refracted the light. The boss was very proud of the laser show. He sat in the dark watching as the music surged: "Superstar DJ, here we go!" 

I walked home after the roller doors had rolled down and the sun had come up.  The day slowly fizzing like a Berocca. The street cleaner whirred along the gutters. Last night’s kebabs splayed open on the pavement in Jackson Pollock swirls. Through the gaps of buildings, the sea glassy, glinting, light rippling and rolling, dappling the waves. Auckland’s self-esteem was on the rise. The Sky Tower had been erected and lit purple at Christmas like a lurid swizzle stick. The waterfront was scrubbed up. Soon, the dank old bus station would get a makeover and remerge as Britomart.

Around the corner on Fort Street, silhouettes of naked women danced across a battered pink façade. Chipped signage and fake fingernails. The hollow glow of an open doorway. No bouncers stood outside the Stairway To Heaven. The bottom end of town was unpoliced and I was just another passer-by, saving my tips to go overseas, free to treat my sexuality like something only money could buy. I was a walking cliché, though I didn’t see it that way at the time. How many do?

Umberto Eco once wrote that the clichés are having a ball. But I think what he really meant is that they are having…

“AN AGAVERO!”

My favourite dancer wore a Liz Hurley black dress with a slit up the side barely policed by safety pins.

She snapped her fingers at the bar.

Tequila shot. Neat. Nineteen.

One night out we stopped by her Lego apartment on the waterfront.

On the wall above her bed: the Desiderata.

 “My mother had that,” I said.

“I love it,” she told me. 

I’d always assumed the Desiderata was written by some medieval monk in a turret, but it was actually penned in the 1920s by a man called Max Ehrmann. Go figure.

Milo

Why was I so offended by this particular request?

I was a bartender at a stripclub. I wore a tight pair of blue Lycra hotpants. I didn’t want to be fussing over Milo, grinding up the brown crystals into a warm comforting blend for Destiny to cradle in the palm of her hand.

Milos were for children. Mothers make Milos. Like my Mother made Milos for me, at home sick from school, feeling sorry for myself. A Milo (especially a full milk Milo) bespeaks a domestic tenderness that the strip club stands in direct opposition to.

Sometimes Destiny requested Milos for two!

“It’s like therapy for me here.” Kevin had once kayaked down the canals of Amsterdam with his wife, and recommended it. I often found him nestled in the fetal glow of the lap rooms, thigh to thigh with Destiny, both nursing their respective Milos.

He’d first visited Showgirls on Father’s Day and the girls smiled at him. Unlike his wife and daughter. He vowed he would stop coming to the club when the girls stopped smiling.

 

Heineken

was not one of the ingredients of a Frosty Pussy.

The sports therapist drank one Heineken a night. He’d first visited Showgirls on Father’s Day and the girls smiled at him. Unlike his wife and daughter. He vowed he would stop coming to the club when the girls stopped smiling.

On my day off he drove me to his house in the suburbs. It seemed a long way to go each night for a smile. It was just a house, clean, but not psychopathically so. Quiet. Still. His hands trembled as he kneaded my skin. Outside the window, an empty washing line and a lemon tree.

As he worked on my back, he told me he preferred the girls with their clothes on. He’d hired a private detective to find his favourite dancer who came off the cruise ships. British, a ballerina. He was worried about her. The private eye found her working at a boutique clothes shop in Parnell. The sports therapist waited across the street until she came out of the shop and saw him.

It’s just a guess, but I don’t think she was smiling.

Who let the dogs out?

The girls gathered in a semi-circle on the outskirts of the stage. The glitter ball spun its web of manufactured light. Rain shyly peddled her wares on stage. I winced at each inch.

“Most of us could get one like that at home,” some dude said.

Who let the dogs out? Who, who, who, who?!

And what of my own meanness, worn tartly?

Who, who, who, who?!

The Frosty Pussy was always a bitch to make.

Actually, I never heard a man order a Frosty Pussy unless it was on a dancer’s behalf.

Disclaimer: we never fully established who let the dogs out. Let alone why.

Preparation

My initial interview took place downstairs at Showboys. The bar was infused with a golden after-glow. I wore a plunging turquoise top and a padded bra. He wore a blue shirt open at the neck and a gold chain. Makeup: yes. Heels: yes. Botox (His), Breasts (His & Hers.)

He drank a bottle of Evian wrapped in a blonde serviette.

“You’re tall, you’re good looking and you’re going to make me lots of money.”

In retrospect, I hope at least one of these statements was true.

The photographer

stood close to the black-mirrored doors, whipped out his portfolio and showed me his b&w proofs. “You’re the most beautiful girl here,” he said. So I assumed he’d just arrived. His business card read: Rufus Violet.  

In his warehouse apartment was a colour photograph of an Asian girl wrapped in cellophane, but otherwise quite nude. It wasn’t one of his.

I got changed into some 1950s underwear and sat on a single bed on set, fingering a wad of notes. Perhaps I’d robbed a bank and was waiting in this hold-out for my man to come?

Rufus told me I had to feel it. When I looked at the proofs I saw he was right. Whatever it was, I wasn’t feeling it.

Later I ran into him on K Road and he told me he’d left his girlfriend and was now dating his psychiatrist. I’d seen her photograph in his studio. Dressed in leather chaps, exiting a prison cell, holding a bullwhip. Feeling it.

Elvis, Marilyn and the Blues Brothers

were mounted on the awning above the club in an unholy trinity.

I stood outside on the red carpet. The guy who ran dance parties pulled up on the other side of the road.  If I was Robert Ludlum, I could probably tell you what kind of car he was driving because I would know. A police car pulled up after his. Lights strobing. The officer got out of the car. I shook my head and went back inside: I didn’t want to know.

Nice buns

Privately I thought of the Baker as the most boring man in the world. At the end of the night, the girls all gorged on his out-of-date buns. Except for his favourite dancer, a petite brunette called Annette. They stood in the twilight glow of the fridge by the lap rooms. Later I found out from Laura that Annette was anorexic and that the Baker really brought in the buns for her to eat. Then I felt…

Shit

In the girls’ room, Moesha bent over and inspected her butt in the full length-mirror, then removed a tiny wad of toilet paper, before going on stage.

Bacon (I always forgot at least one of the ingredients of a Frosty Pussy)

Remember that old game Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon?

I LOVE DICK has just been made into an Amazon series starring, of all people, Bacon as Dick. I guess Dick is never really that far away, although sometimes it can feel like it.

I re-read my copy of Kraus’s cult classic from my art school days and saw things differently the second time around. I now knew that sex industry books were terribly passé, i.e. not special. I also knew that Anna Christina Olson suffered from a degenerative muscular disorder that prevented her from walking and that she was Andrew Wyeth’s neighbor. I was especially chastened by Kraus’ paragraph about how the go-go dancers thought they were being avant garde getting their tits out, while the male clientele were just getting richer.

Not all the male clientele, of course. On her day off Laura once saw the Elephant Man in a petrol station, pumping gas. “HHuh!”

Axl Rose said everybody needs some time on their own. He probably didn’t mean on Christmas Day, though.

 

Sugar Syrup (if required)

On Christmas Day I sat at home in bed eating strawberries and listening to ‘November Rain’. It was the dark night of the soul, only it was broad daylight. The sunshine through the venetian blinds was starkly revealing. Dust motes performed a festive ballet as they drifted towards the tawny carpet. A pile of loose change clogged one corner of the bedroom. I had bought a one-way ticket to London with my tips. Soon I would fly away and join the real Eastenders. In the meantime I had another strawberry.

Axl Rose said everybody needs some time on their own. He probably didn’t mean on Christmas Day, though. Above my bed, Christina was also alone; the sole subject of her world. It didn’t look like Christmas at her place either, but maybe she just hadn’t put up any decorations.

Then I had a minor epiphany. Christina wasn’t alone. Wyeth had seen her. He wasn’t in the composition, but his painting acted as witness. Alas, I wasn’t that good a drawer.

Slash launched into his epic guitar solo.

SHAKE

Go placidly amidst the noise and haste,

“AGAVERO!”

And remember what peace there may be in silence.

“Hhuh!”

As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all people.

Recently, I did a Google search and found 15 things you might not know about Christina’s World.

The sight of her picking blueberries while crawling through her fields “like a crab on a New England shore” inspired Wyeth.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant, they too have their story,

Like the Baker who bought in his out-of-date buns for Annette.

 Avoid loud and aggressive persons. They are vexations to the spirit.

“Meet me at Sinners later. Sinners.”

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for there will always be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Once, my tip jar remained empty all night, until Laura noticed and took $5 from her own jar and placed it into mine.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

“It’s a complete flat tire!” When Wyeth sent Christina’s World off for a show in 1948, no one wanted it.

Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

The concept, title, pink dress, and slim limbs were modeled after Christina, who was in her mid-50s at the time. But Wyeth asked his then 26-year-old wife to sit in as model for the head and torso.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery.

“I should keep an alligator in the till to bite your fucking hands off,” the boss said.

But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals and life is full of heroism.

“All this one here needs is a pair of tits.”

In the composition, Wyeth also took some liberties with the architecture and surrounding landscape to better emphasize the scope of Christina's journey.

Be yourself.

“A Diva doll, a Diva!”

Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Yet Wyeth also wondered if the painting would have been improved if he “painted just that field and have you sense Christina without her being there.”

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

 “I rang to say goodbye,” the voice on the phone quavered. “I hope you have a good time in England.” 

“Who is this?” I asked.

“Kevin.”

“Kevin who?”

“Destiny’s client.”

The Milo drinker.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.

Some naysayers have attacked the painting’s popularity, calling it a dorm-room poster. Critics have also said Wyeth exploited Christina’s infirmity.  

Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

One person who didn’t object to Wyeth’s depiction of Christina was Christina.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

Once when asked why, she simply smiled and said, “You know pink is my favorite color.”

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Christina’s World is still outta sight. The internet is filled with memes that attest to its universal appeal.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.

Down the hill from the Olson house is the cemetary where Andrew Wyeth is buried in the family plot close to Christina.

And whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace with your soul.

“The place is full of fucking losers,” I said to Laura one night as we looked out over the bar,

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.

“…and then there’s the men.” 

Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

The Frosty Pussy was quite a sweet drink, really.

But Laura can’t remember how to make it anymore and I never knew the recipe by heart.

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