When asked what they like to see in their news and current affairs, focus groups invariably say “more investigative journalism”.
So with this in mind, and hoping to break a big story for the readers of Cracker, I have dutifully spent not only my working days, but also every night this week in strip clubs all around Wellington waiting for politicians to come in. No luck yet, but as long as Russell keeps approving my expense claims, I’ll keep doing the hard yards.
Seriously though, who would’ve thought “have you ever visited a strip club” would be 2007’s answer to “are you now or have you ever been a Communist?” Well, for a few days anyway. Um, hello, they’re legal. Even if you want to apply something of a moral standard, why not ask when they last visited the Casino? Did not Christ cast the pokie players out of the temple, or something?
I find all this even more surprising given that over the past few years strip clubs seems to have become somewhat normalised as an acceptable form of entertainment. I’d hazard a guess that of the half dozen or so times I’ve been to a strip club in the past couple of years, it’s been with a mixed group of males and females. And this almost seems to be the rule now. I don’t know why, whether it’s curiosity, some post-feminist reclamation, or the fact these women grew up idolising Demi Moore in [EDIT: 'Striptease', not 'Showgirls', ka pai Michael] instead of Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music'.
(Although having said that, Julie Andrews played a Nun who abandoned her sacred vows because she couldn’t keep her hands off her boss, right? Dodgy. And while we’re at it, what sort of moral should we take from 'Grease'? If you want to get your man, you should dress like a prostitute?)
Anyway, the point being, these days your modern day strip club is more like Cobb & Co than anything seedy and forbidden. They’ll start offering kids meals next. Traffic Light anyone? Blue Devil? Pink Panther? Anyone?
Personally I miss the old days a little bit, when strip clubs were seedy and being there felt dodgy. Wasn’t that the whole point? You don’t have sex in a public place because you enjoy having a pinecone jutting into your back, and it’s Playboy, not NZ Naturist Magazine that teenagers hide under the mattress. The modern strip club is really just a bit ho-hum.
So it’s not just male politicians we should be looking at, the Alexander Downers, the John Keys and Dover Samuels. If Katherine Rich is hip enough to go to the Cure last week, then who’s to say she isn’t popping down to Mermaids with the rest of the National caucus of an afternoon? I also note that as with the “yes, but I didn’t inhale” defence, it seems that most politicians quizzed decided it was okay to say “yes, a very long time ago when I was young”.
(Barack Obama’s response to the “have you used marijuana?” question is a classic. “I inhaled. Frequently. That was the point.”)
I’m not saying politicians should go to strip clubs, I’m just saying if they do, so what? If it’s good enough to be sold legally on Courtenay Place and Queen Street, then who are we to judge? Why should Darren Hughes, a young man in his twenties, with blood presumably as red as his hair, be made to feel ashamed if he decides to accompany his friends down to Sante Fe of a Friday evening? He shouldn’t.
(For the record, I’m sure Darren Hughes has never gone to Sante Fe on a Friday evening. He’s an MP after all, and knows we expect better from him.)
(For example knowing that Tuesday is cheap beer night at Sante Fe, not Friday)
A couple of administrative matters.
1. I was interviewed for National Radio's Mediawatch the other weekend. Here's the podcast, my interview is towards the end.
2. My Metro piece on Wellington, 'Capital Punishment' is now online. If you didn't mange to buy a copy you might want to read it for free there.
3. TV3 once again doesn't disappoint by providing extended Boobs on Bikes coverage on its website. Enjoy.