Glory Days

The return of the male strippers

In honor of its 25th anniversary, the strip-club-for-gals La Bare held a reunion March 18, inviting former dancers back for one more night of jock-strapped glory.

Alumni, according to club management, include "doctors, lawyers and police officers." Somehow, no Methodist Hospital open-heart surgeons showed up on this Friday night with strategically placed beepers, and we must have missed the cops and lawyers.

Ronnie Dreyer came, though. He danced at La Bare for 15 years beginning in the early '80s -- we're getting a headache just thinking of the music that must have been involved -- and now, at 42, owns an air-conditioning business.

Dancer "Joshua" concentrates on what's important at 
La Bare.
Daniel Kramer
Dancer "Joshua" concentrates on what's important at La Bare.
Clutch is about to go corporate.
Joe Murphy
Clutch is about to go corporate.

He was with his wife, whom he met while working at the club, so he was pretty tight-lipped when it came to describing his glory days. Strangely, he was more than eager to demonstrate that he never enhanced his banana-hammock, unlike today's La Bare dancers, who looked like they were smuggling gnomes.

"Believe it or not, not all white guys are the same," he said, and we took him at his word.

Rico Corpuz, 30, showed up with the intention of putting on the costume that made him famous during the '90s -- a big-gutted, umbrella-wielding old man known as Mr. Fellatio. As if that isn't creepy enough, his signature song was Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean." Too many mixed messages there these days, so he took a pass. (Or at least he passed as long as we were there. The alumni were sitting around the bar and the lure of the stage grew stronger with every round.)

Corpuz is now a hair stylist. He became a dancer in lieu of going into the Army.

He said his older brother got him started, after he saw him come home one night from Chippendale's with a stack of sweaty bills.

"I wanted to get a piece of that," he said. And as Mr. Fellatio, he did.

And made many a lonely bachelorette happy along the way, no doubt.

Shaggy Dog Story

John Nix is the head of the city's animal shelter and the bete noir of Houston's pet activists (Bete noir meaning, in this case, someone who doesn't know how to run an animal shelter).

After a rugged stream of media stories -- including one written, as a reader put it, by "a man without a soul" (see "The Fido Solution," by Richard Connelly, February 3) -- pet lovers won't have Nix to kick around anymore. He has announced his retirement after nine years at the helm.

Elena Marks, the city's health policy director, says the city hopes to have a new director "like yesterday, or at least as soon as possible."

She'll look outside the city, but admits no expertise. "I wouldn't know how to run a shelter if my life depended on it," she said. "I've been talking to all my friends in the animal community, saying, 'If you have any leads, let me know.' "

The city's pound has long been caught in an unchanging pattern -- 1) years of incompetence or, to be kind, underfunding; 2) a sudden media spotlight on helpless doggies and pussies in dim, smelly, overcrowded cages; 3) promises of new committees and a commitment to change; 4) see No. 1.

Marks, like others before her, says this time will be different. "We expect to see a very good program...and we expect the changes to be institutionalized, so that things are done right when people are out there looking at it and also when there are no people looking at it."

So Step Three is complete...

Double Clutch

When you hear about a corporate Board of Directors made up of fuzzy-headed people who never have a bad word to say, you naturally think of Enron.

But Wendy Gramm and the rest of that see-no-evil crowd have new competitors -- the board of directors for the Mascot Hall of Fame. Dedicated to preserving the culture and folkways of the large-craniumed population of the nation's sports mascots, the enterprise is the brainchild -- if that's not too strong a word -- of the guy who was the original Phillie Phanatic. And among the mascots invited to be on the Hall's board is none other than the Houston Rockets' Clutch.

Clutch doesn't speak in public -- hey, he's Enron material! -- but he does communicate by e-mail.

He says he doesn't expect to get into the issue of protecting whistle-blowers. "Referees are the best whistle-blowers I know," he says, indulging in a bit of mascot humor.

But we had to ask one other pressing question, given the famous brawl in the stands at the Indianapolis Pacers/Detroit Pistons game earlier this season. When a player dives into the stands to fight a fan, does the mascot jump in to help the player or help the fan?

"Are you kidding?" Clutch replied. "That horse mascot (Hooper) for the Pistons was out of the arena and on his way running home for cover as soon as the first beer was thrown. Whenever there is trouble that we aren't causing, mascots are the first to turn yellow and run for the hills."

Geez, that sure sounds more and more like the Enron board. What's Wendy Gramm up to these days?

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