by Vic Cavalli
At 3:33 p.m. on August 19, 1979, Andrew Monaco was almost killed by his conversion experience at Fat Vic’s Striptease Club and All-Night Smorgasbord.
He’d come in as usual at 3:00 p.m. for a double screwdriver and had settled into his red padded chair in the cool dimly lit area next to one of the dancing poles at the tip of the pitchfork runways.
There were thirteen alcoholics, each minding his own business, scattered around the poles like stray gunfire, nursing their drinks, waiting for the striptease artists to appear.
The smoke-soaked blood-red wallpaper surrounding them looked like a massive coagulating wound.
Then the music began, the lights dimmed, and Julia came out. She danced the usual tease patterns to prepare the drunks for the circulating hookers. Julia was dark and beautiful, and Andrew thought of a sapphire saxophone as he watched her strong curves sway. Then she was done—just like that—and wiggled off stage in nothing but her high heels.
Then Jessica appeared, her long red hair still partially wet from the shower. She did the same thing with her beautiful body as Julia did—strongly swayed, showed it all, primed the pump for the hookers and took off naked.
Finally, at 3:26 p.m. (he remembered because he looked at his watch as he took a bang of his screwdriver), Angela appeared. Andrew concentrated. She was perfect, blonde, tanned. She seemed extraordinarily clean. Like the others, she executed the typical teasing moves for the transfixed drunks, but Angela did so with a pure awkwardness. There was nothing nasty about her perfect body. During the climactic
section of her teasing routine, she targeted Andrew—motioning him to sit closer, on one of the red leather stools right at the stage’s edge. Gently swaying, for Andrew alone she removed the final white slivers of her clothing; her pubic hair was precisely trimmed and fresh; and then less than a yard from Andrew’s face she lay her body down, arched her back and spread her goddess legs as wide as possible—it was a feature article snapshot right out of Gynecology Research in Review—and suddenly a white spotlight shone on her vagina. Andrew was shocked at what he at first thought was a small surgical instrument, but after whacking back his double screwdriver and focusing his failing eyes, he realized that Angela’s clitoris was pierced and dangling from it was a beautiful white gold crucifix. She froze in that sacrificial posture of surrender as Andrew stared. Then he felt silvery hot flames licking at his ears, a sharp thrusting pain in his liver, trembling beginning in his loins and emanating throughout his limbs, then a sense of nausea, then a sense of volcanic surging—his skull felt like it was bursting with lava, or with the scattered OO buck shot of a bungled suicide attempt. With a spike in his eye he gazed at Angela’s crucifix. She seemed a pure marble statue. The Jesus was perfectly centered between the crosshairs of his eyes and nasal passages. Her fragrant genitals were a dew-drenched morning garden of fresh blood-red roses; the intensely detailed Christ on the cross was white hot; and then a crashing thrust of white molten snow blinded him and forced him to his knees; hundreds of candescent clear floodlights flashed on—he heard his screwdriver glass shatter and Angela scream. Then all went black.
Andrew woke up in the club toilet, racked with pain and covered with urine and broken glass. He staggered to his feet, out of the can, through the silent club, and through the door onto the street. He felt like a routed mole in the scorching sunlight and began shouting “Repent!” to the countless corpses outside.
He hollered for twenty-one days and nights—never touching a drop of liquor or a cigarette—and for the first time in his life everything was beautiful. Then he stopped shouting. Instead, to each person he passed on the street, he whispered, “Jesus is the Son of God.” And although he never carried a sign, he was insulted and attacked in alleys. Once he was nearly pelted to death with Lysol cans. But as he gradually healed, existence became increasingly profound, delicate, and beautiful. And he began lighting a candle daily in front of the statue of the Sacred Heart in the north-east corner of the cathedral at the centre of the city that once held him like a coffin. And he never returned to Fat Vic’s.