Erin Markey in "Puppy Love: A Stripper's Tail"

Some girls give me money,

Some girls buy me clothes

Erin Markey’s one woman show Puppy Love: A Stripper’s Tail is a must-see tale/tail for all you ladies and gents (but mostly ladies) who work in the gray area between theater and erotic arts in New York. It’s also worth seeing if you don’t work in that lovely, glistening niche of the alternative entertainment world. But if you are a woman who has ever wondered how glitter got into that, or categorize men as “sweet hearts” and “pervs,” or looked in the mirror and said “I’d do me,” this is a show you can’t miss.

Guys on the other side of the tip rail will appreciate this play too. Strippers, erotic performers, and sex workers have earned their own technical name in the world of knuckle dragging, ham-knecked, mouth breathers: “stripper crazy.” Stripper Crazy is the kind of girl who, after three cocktails, leans over and whispers in your ear that she thinks you’re a sweet heart, and do you want to go to the bathroom for some X-rated fun? Then, three cocktails later, when you’re at the bar buying her another drink, you hear her siren giggle as one of the pervs from the table next to yours, the table of guys who earned her scorn when they leered and cat called, hoists her over his shoulder and takes her to the bathroom for a little X-rated fun.

Erin Markey in her "boob hat"

Some girls take my money,

Some girls take my clothes;

Some girls get the shirt off my back,

And leave me with a lethal dose.

Ms. Markey is able to straddle the rail, as it were, because Puppy Love is about the homoerotic relationships between women in the adult entertainment biz. Those girls are hot, and who wouldn’t want to get freaky with them, right? So if you’re turned on by the shimmering, slippery vision of Aphrodite on that stage, throwing love from her fingertips and graciously accepting the adoration of the crowd, don’t you think the other girls watching her from behind the stage curtain are turned on too? If you have been on the customer side of the tip rail you may have shelled out a fifty to see two girls get freaky in the “shower show,” two girls in g-strings in a clear shower booth somewhere in the VIP room soaping each other up under a cascade of sexy water; and you probably used the memory later for some private X-rated fun. (A reliable source tells me the club owners keep the water freezing cold so the girls are always nipping. O tempora! O mores!) Be honest, anyone in that shower stall might get their head turned by the experience. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

When the lights come up, Ms. Markey creeps onstage in a gray, old lady wig doing her impression of Mr. Bernstein from Citizen Kane or Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard — an apt choice that captures with complete accuracy the self-mythologizing nature of “stripper crazy.” She tells us that when she graduated from a Midwestern college with a degree in theater she was determined to pursue her dream of being on stage … by applying for a job as Chucky Cheese in his eponymous house of pizza. When that didn’t work out she became a stripper. (It’s all theater.) Our heroine’s first job is to choose a stripper name, and the only rule is it can’t be your own. So she chose her sister’s confirmation name: Saint Bridgid, patroness of Kildare and Michigan. Erin sheds the wig and her shirt, and we are transported back to the uncomplicated days of the early 2000s, and the delectable sight of her tight, naked body for the rest of the show.

The first day on the job Brigid meets Sky, the candy sweet, ultra feminine stripper who eschews the gaudy, fluorescent gear worn by the other girls and only wears soft, natural pinks, the color of girls’ flannel footie pajamas and baby bunting. Brigid, who in Celtic mythology is the goddess of androgynous wisdom — a perfect mix of masculine and feminine, like Minerva or Athena — sees a Venus, an Aphrodite, an Ishtar, goddess of the purely feminine, and is rapt. Brigid describes taking a seat on the customer side of the tip rail while Sky is dancing, and Brigid is seduced. For the remainder of the play Ms. Markey develops metaphors of masculine desire, husbanding her lawn, for example, or taking care of her red pickup truck (a genital metaphor), and casts herself as the John who comes to the club and spends all his money to worship at the shrine of Yoni.

The best moments of the play are when Ms. Markey sings to the accompaniment of Rich Campbell and band. Ms. Markey has a strong voice, and hanging upside down from the stripper pole, dressed in a diaper, bonnet and nothing else, opening her eyes to crazy, get-me-out-of-here size, belting out songs of frustration and desire, she really gives perfect expression to the phrase “stripper crazy.” What makes it “crazy” is the unique mixture of narcissism and commerce that shapes a stripper’s soul. “I would do me” is their creed and catechism. But they only do it for a price. Brigid nickel and dimes her customers for every scrap of attention, but she finds herself paying the price for Sky. Brigid is obsessed; she is jealous; she is the screaming, selfish, intolerant infant, who doesn’t give a good Goddamn what that man wants from her woman, she wants the breast!

Sky, the feminine ideal, is true to her Mars and gets knocked up. The romance between Sky and Brigid is falling apart, and Brigid makes a last, desperate appeal to Sky: move with me to New York City. You can guess how it ends: Brigid on stage by herself, performing a one woman show, throwing love from her fingertips to the adoration of the crowd.

Puppy Love: A Stripper’s Tail

May 19, 22 @ 9 p.m.

Performance Space 122

150 First Ave., NYC

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