Despite an intense campaign by local queer business groups, Vancouver is still a repressed and prohibition-minded town. The few remaining queer bars mostly target the young and affluent. That’s why a place like the Dufferin Hotel is so important.
An honest to God dirty-old man bar, 1970’s décor, and patrons and staff who proudly display beer bellies and hockey hair. Operating like a speakeasy during this time of societal prohibition, the Duff offers sanctuary to its loyal clientele, most of whom exist on the fringes of polite society.
And tucked away behind the disco, in the back bar, is a tiny stage, a filthy mirror and some of the wildest erotic entertainment in the country. I’ve heard some people remark that the strippers at The Duff are homeless men trying to make a quick buck and/or they are hustlers advertising their wares. Although it’s true that the men who get up to take it all off at the Duff tend to be a bit rough and unpolished, there are ARTISTS in this house.
During the summer of 1999 the town was abuzz with the hilarious antics of a young, long-haired stripper at the Duff named Dan. What makes Dan’s shows so different is his aggressive style, which combines the best of punk rock and performance art with the aesthetics of gay pornography.
In his mid twenties, tall and slightly built, Dan’s been stripping at the Duff for two years now. He has his own fan base who pack into the tiny back bar every Saturday night. His only nemesis seems to be the bartender, “Leather Vest”, who is more than likely to pull the plug on the show just as things start to get interesting.
In September 1999 I gave Dan a list of questions for a possible interview. Two weeks later he handed me a cassette on which he had recorded his thoughts and observations, and I have transcribed the tape here for your reading pleasure.
“This is Dan for the Poser interview. Describing my sexuality? Mostly straight but gay friendly. It kind of comes in waves, I’d have to consider myself to be 95% straight, because the only attraction I have to guys is in physical appearance, and when it comes to sexuality I always think in terms of females, and so all the stuff that I do with guys at the Duff, making out with them and grabbing their cocks and so forth is for amusement only, I kinda like it that way, and the few times I have gone home with guys, especially a few repeats, that’s been for my amusement too. It’s not that I hate getting a blow job but it’s not what I think of in terms of sex.
I got into stripping from reading the Coquitlam Now in my carport and saw an ad in there that said go-go boys needed for a downtown gay bar. So I phoned up and I talked to Mr. Grant and I didn’t even know what a go-go boy was, but I had to find out more about this job. He was saying “yeah, you know we don’t want guys jerking you off on stage,” and “you know that it’s a gay bar?” So I said, “yeah that’s ok,” and I thought I’d try it out. I went down and had an interview with Mr. Grant, which is totally ridiculous, and my friend Christine got me all done up with make up and nice clothes and stuff before the interview.
My friends were very supportive. The first couple of times I started stripping it was just such a big shock. I was OK to strip in front of strangers but I didn’t want my friends to come down and watch. But eventually all my friends were coming and I was cool with it.
When I first started stripping, my show was all about trying to do some really good dance moves and I noticed how important it was to make eye contact with the audience.
Now after some good dancing and some smiling and I’ll go onto some more fucked up moves. I’d clown around, see how much water I could dump on my head, see if I could make people be uncomfortable, see if I could put some life into the crowd, do something a little crazy.
In the beginning my main attraction was to make cash, and in order to get more cash I started to get off the stage and get more into it with the customers, to make out with them, to get on top of them.
Then all of a sudden it wasn’t just about cash any more even though that was my original drive.
I describe my style as erotic and ridiculous. I like to be enthusiastic and responsive to the audience and there’s a lot of obsession with details like sniffing things and rubbing cream on myself.
I try and do what’s appreciated. I like to dance really fast, do some push ups on the rails. My style changes when I anticipate getting naked because at that point I get a little bit nervous about taking off my clothes and I get a little bit worried that I don’t have a boner, that I have a soft on. I start acting out and making a spectacle of myself with fruits and vegetables.
Sometimes when I’m pissed there’s more interaction with the audience with finger penetration in my ass, making out, drinking people’s beers and sticking my dick in people’s beers and stuff. So my style is an outward aggression of sexuality with excessive forwardness.
Sometimes I say to customers: “Yeah buddy, I think you should give me five bucks!”
My style has several different levels to it, the erotic level, the pure dancing and aesthetics, the pure ridiculousness of it, how I try to outdo myself every single time. There’s the personal appeal style where I try to make everyone see what they want to see. I try and read their minds to figure out what they want to watch.
My relationship with the crowd depends on how drunk I am. In general it’s pretty good, and I’m pretty frank with them and they hit on me and stuff but that’s all good, I enjoy it. I get drunk and have good conversations and arguments with them.
Maybe there’s some exploitation on their part but there’s exploitation on my part as far as treating them as a cash object.
And maybe I feel like a piece of meat and maybe I don’t, but I’m still going to get the cash.
I try and wear the most ridiculous clothes. I bought some leather pants that I love. I like to use capes, baggy shorts, shirts filled with stuff to make me look fat, strange eyewear. The second day I ever stripped I picked out my football jersey and a big yellow football.
Mr. Grant came up to me one day and said, “You’re getting really creative with the shows.” And I said “As far as my mind can expand that’s how many different shows that I can create.”
But then I started to run out of things to do! And I felt really crappy that I had to repeat some stuff. Although not the Construction Worker because I was starting to do that every Friday.
The Hockey guy is always cool, but I always try to do something different and I ended up quite a few times looking around the back alleys by the Duff looking in dumpsters for stuff to use in my show. One time I found this big styrofoam container and my friend Chris filled it up with four liters of water and threw it all over me during a show.
I found some leather straps that I use, and some plastic containers that I urinate in. Once I did a pizza show where I shoved my dick into a pizza slice, and I fucked a samosa one day. That was pretty cool. It went everywhere.
Once I smoked a couple of dubes on stage, and sometimes I’d do the Alcoholic Show, or The Old Man Show where I’d wear a wig. I did the Cocaine Show because I saw D in the changing room snorting lines so I got some sugar from the bar and I put lines around the stage and snorted them.
Last year one night at a party I said: “If you guys come to my show tonight I will fuck a chicken on stage!”
Chris had suggested it a few weeks before when we were talking about ridiculous shows. So on the way downtown we stopped off at Safeway and picked up a barbecue chicken. At the Duff I did a full show in front of an amazing amount of people in the audience. I pulled out the barbecue chicken that was hidden in my bag.
Everyone started screaming: “It’s a CHICKEN!” and I fucked it! Shoved the drumstick up my ass while I ate the other drumstick. Fucking got chicken pieces all over the place. I ate the drumstick that had been in my ass – well, actually I don’t know if I ate it or not, but probably I took a bite. It’s mandatory to at least sniff everything that comes out of my ass.
Amazing because the audience was so into it, everything I did, the shock value was just enormous.
The funniest shows at the Duff have been where I’m laughing at myself just as much as everyone else was laughing at me. The first time I decided, “Man, I want to quit this place and I’m going to do something really fucked!”
So near the end of my show I whipped out this towel and put it down, and underneath the towel was a garbage bag, and I was dancing around slower and slower holding my dick and eventually the stream came out and I pissed for like a minute, everyone just stood there in awe. The first of a series of pissing shows, one of the many shows that was excessively funny.
In terms of going too far, you could say that the pissing is going too far, or me and Chris throwing jam on ourselves and getting pudding all over the place, and slapping cocoa butter off my ass and nailing customers is going too far. I don’t think any of that is going too far.
I mean I’ve gone outside naked twice and stayed out there about 30 seconds and no one saw me, so that’s not really going too far. That’s more like a grey area.