Drive-in theaters are practically extinct, diners are dying, but go-go bars are still common in working class neighborhoods across America. It's wholesome afterwork entertainment for the sweating man.
When I was a housepainter over twenty years ago, our crew would hit The Office in Center City or Penn's Port Pub, on Christopher Columbus Boulevard. After a long, hot day of scraping paint or standing on a 40-foot ladder, it was somewhat soothing to see lovelies pole dancing.
Yesterday, I went with Felix Giordano to Penn's Port Pub to rekindle some old memories and, well, long lost sensations. "This may bring a dead man to life," Felix joked before we walked in. He's 71, and I just turned 54.
In the early afternoon, there were only six aging, contemplative gents in there. We chose a reasonable vantage point and ordered two Yuenglings.
Within a hundred yards, there were also Club Risque' and Show & Tel, but they're gentlemen's clubs, and Felix and I just don't patronize such snobbish and exorbitant establishments. Once, a Club Risque' dancer did ask Felix for directions outside Wal-Mart, "She was stunning. I couldn't believe such a beautiful woman would ask me for directions!"
There are often beggars standing in the median on Christopher Columbus. Sometimes, you'll even see a homeless person sleep within sight of the Penn's Port Pub.
The SS United States is docked in Pennsport. Since its last vogage in 1969, all schemes to convert it to a casino, hotel, cruise ship, troop transporter or naval hospital have failed. The largest ocean liner to ever been built in the US, it molders and rusts on the Delaware River.
At Penn's Port Pub, they show all and don't bother with pasties, and it's generally assumed that's because it's a cops' go-go bar. Pennsport is still heavily Irish.
The Mummers are big here. They rehearse all year long for New Year's Day, when they can finally wear sequins, colored feathers and/or some outrageous, custom-made dress. Strutting down Broad Street, they strum a banjo, blow on a saxophone or twirl a gay umbrella.
As a blonde lady jiggled, writhed, hung upside down or spread, a man stared at his smart phone. There were two televisions on, but with the sound off. On a cooking show, seafood was being seasoned. Felix recognized an older black man at the end of the bar as the cook, "He's good. They have good food here."
As dark-haired Damiana squatted in front of my placid, resigned face, I confided, "Me and this guy haven't been here in twenty years. I don't think you were working then."
"No, I wasn't," she giggled.