Masks On, Tops Off: Inside A Texas Strip Club
JESSICA BARRERA: You know, the fantasy in the club is that you're a big baller and you have such a great life. And your lifestyle is great. And the reality is these guys are just as broken as us, you know?
This is Death, Sex & Money.
The show from WNYC about the things we think about a lot...
and need to talk about more.
I’m Anna Sale.
JB: Every man wants to put the dollar in your G-string. And that's not allowed no more.
I called up Jessica Barrera at home in El Paso, Texas, where she lives with her husband and young son. She’s 24, and works at a topless bar called the Red Parrot.
JB: I know a lot of girls in the industry like to say, "I'm a dancer" or "I'm an exotic dancer," but for me, I just come out and I'm like, "Oh, I’m a stripper." [Laughs]
Jessica’s been doing this work for the past six years, since she was 18. But, she told me, her job looks very different today than it did before. Everyone who comes to the club has to get their temperature taken, wear a mask, and stay spaced apart.
JB: We have these buckets at the end of the stage where if they want to tip you they can either put it physically on the stage, or they can put it in the bucket. But there’s no way they can physically touch you whatsoever. And sometimes the guys just want to feel your skin, you know? Or be able to put it in your bra or you - you know, do that little move where you pull out your G-string and you look at them and they're like, "Oh my God," but you don't get that anymore. The interaction's not there.
AS: So you're dancing in a different way then, I imagine.
AS: If that way of interacting with the people watching you is not the same. Are you making eyes in a different way since that's what's visible?
JB: That's my thing now. I'm shooting eye contact to everybody in the club.
El Paso has been hit hard by COVID. Last fall, El Paso County was topping 1,000 new cases per day. More than 2,100 people there have died.
The Red Parrot, like all other non-essential businesses in El Paso, was shut down for several months last year. They closed last spring, then reopened, then had to close two more times. But since November, the Red Parrot’s been open.
COVID is keeping away a lot of customers. But it’s still a destination for some. Like Josh, a 32-year-old commercial truck driver.
JOSH: I see a whole lot of desert. I mean, I'm on the I-40. It's a lot of scrub desert.
Josh talked to me from his bluetooth headset, while he was behind the wheel of his semi, somewhere outside of Albuquerque. He spends a lot of time on the road. About 60 hours a week.
J: I think I'm delivering asphalt right now. I'm not entirely sure. I got big bags of stuff in the back of my trailer. But like, I've done copper wire back, I do...
The route Josh drives most often is between Los Angeles and Dallas, a 21-or-so-hour trip, mostly down I-10. It takes him right through El Paso, where he usually takes exit 37 off the highway and parks at the truck stop next to the Red Parrot.
[ANNOUNCER: Up next... is Krista...]
Before COVID, especially on weekends, there was usually a crowd.
DARIUS BELCHER: A lot of drinks being served, people just having a good time, spending money, enjoying themselves totally to the max, you know?
Darius Belcher is the owner of the Red Parrot. He’s been running the club since 2003.
DB: We were known, or we are known still, for bringing in the adult stars. So we've had any adult star you could name of come to our club and perform.
AS: And like, I imagine just like, dollar bills flying through the air.
DB: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Big-time dollar bills flying. Our clientele is more or less a little bit of the older crowd. So we might not have as many dollar bills flying around, but we have a lot of credit cards flying around.
AS: Mmhm. Like on a busy night these days, how many customers do you have?
DB: Probably 25 maybe 30 at the most. That's all day long. Where before the pandemic, we would average maybe 100, maybe 120. Same thing with entertainers. Now, before, we'd have 40, 50 girls here, 60 sometimes. Now, we only have, the most we've had is 15.
Until this week, Darius was only allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity, but he says they were rarely that busy. Now, the state of Texas is lifting state-wide restrictions on businesses and the state-wide mask mandate too. But Darius told me he’s keeping safety precautions in his club: masks, hand sanitizer, and for now, no lap dances. Customers, like Josh, are used to it.
J: I go for the company. I don't go, you know, for sexual gratification. I mean, yes, that is a nice part of being at a strip club. Like it's - I'm not going to lie, I'm a guy, but it's not the main reason why I go. I'm alone 60 hours a week with bare minimum human contact. Is it something that I miss? Yeah. Is it something that I'm going to stop going to a strip club because I don't get anymore? No. Because, I go for the human interaction, mostly.
AS: And for you, what’s more fun about a strip club than just going to a neighborhood bar?
J: Mostly, I know everybody at The Red Parrot. I know the bouncers, I know the bartenders, I know the girls. I'm a social butterfly. I've never had a problem talking to strangers. And in fact, I actually have a problem talking to strangers in the sense that I talk to strangers all the time. So like, I would, I would like bounce around all night. Even go sit at other people’s tables and have a conversation with people. The main thing that I've noticed is that it's a little tamer. Not necessarily like that it was wild before, but instead of having a group of friends hanging out at a table, it's maybe one or two people.
AS: Yeah, that sounds like it must have a really different vibe inside. Like there's people talking and connecting, but not in the same like raucous, everybody's on a night out together kind of way.
J: Yeah. What was a party is now a library.
As you might imagine...bringing in tips is a little easier at a party than in a library.
JB: Pre-COVID, and this is the absolute top dollar amount, I worked a double, but I made $1,800. The least I've been walking out right now with COVID, was like 50 bucks. And sometimes it's nothing that I'm doing wrong or anybody's doing wrong, just there's nobody at the club. So you can't really make money, there's no one to get money from.
Like most strippers, Jessica—who goes by Violet at the club—works as an independent contractor. The money she makes on the floor is all that she brings home at the end of the night, minus a “pole fee” she has to pay to the club—25 to 50 dollars depending on what time she dances on stage.
JB: I think $55 is the highest, and that's like around 10.
AS: When you're getting ready for a shift, how do you prepare?
JB: I shave everything always. If you're a stripper, your best friend is a razor.
AS: Like you don't have any body hair?
JB: No, besides the one on my head and my eyebrows. And then I just basically get to work and I have to change into my outfit. My outfit's a two-piece. Black fishnet stockings. Black Pleaser eight-inch heels.
AS: Pleasers? What's that mean?
JB: That’s the company that makes these super heavy-duty heels that - it’s a stripper shoe.
AS: It’s incredible to me they’re called Pleasers. Whoa. [Laughs]
JB: So cute, right? So, my hair I kind of just let it do its own thing because when I'm on stage, I do like these little like hair flicks. Like, [ffoff]. I'm always, the thing is I always make sure to just catch the attention, like, boom, and then hold for just a quick second and then let it go, you know? I feel like I've just been dancing so long. I kind of just already know like how to get that attention. I get that attention by my song choices. Right now my favorite song to dance to is Red Light Green Light. It’s by Duke Dumont. That’s my show stopper and there's a little part that's like, "When I say red light, I want you to stop. When I say green light, I want you to go." Then there's a little part that says, "Hit the strobes," and the strobes come on. And no matter what you're doing, you're going to turn and look at me.
[DUKE DUMONT: "RED LIGHT GREEN LIGHT"]
AS: I want you to understand a little bit about just how the - what is communicated with words and what is communicated in an unspoken way when it comes to the money transactions? And I wonder how that's changed during COVID? Like when you move off the stage, in a pre-COVID world where you were able to touch, where there were lap dances, like, was it up to you to sort of make those sales?
JB: Yes, but at the same time, there's kind of, there's already a set price. For every song, it's $20, a song is three minutes. For every song that you dance, it's a $20 dance. So right now that we aren't doing dances - luckily for me, I've always had my customers. And my customers are more talkers. I like to think of myself as a therapist. You know? Like, they know I have a baby, they know I'm married, they know almost everything. They're not really into the bump and grind type of thing. So right now, with COVID, it still affects me because a lot of my money I would make off dancing or playing pool because we have pool tables at work - I'm actually an excellent pool player. But, it's just different now because how do you tell a guy, "Hey, give me $20 for sitting here for an hour," you know? Because they're just going to tell you, "Well, you didn't have to sit here."
AS: So you like, you'll sit and you're visiting with them, but it's up to them choosing to give you a big tip. It's not a set price way in the way that it was pre-COVID to get to spend time with you.
JB: Yes. Pre-COVID I'd sit down, chat a little maybe get a shot or drink or something and then I would tell him, "Oh, would you like some dances?" "Oh ok," so at least you can kind of calculate your money there. It's funny because pre-COVID I actually have all my customers programmed in my phone as dollar amounts. [Laughs]
AS: Tell me what that means. Like their typical tip or like -
JB: Men are creatures of habit. So. [Laughs] It's so funny to say, but I have customers who give me $200 or would get $200 worth of dances and that's what they would get. I have customers in my phone under $400, meaning they always get $400 worth of dances from me and not to mention if they get dances from anybody else, but I know who's who, luckily, you know?
Josh is one of Jessica's regulars. He'll often text her as he's rolling into town, to see if she'll be at the club. Jessica told me she's got him saved in her phone as $200.
J: I go in with a budget.
AS: So you know, you know when you show up how much money you're planning to spend?
J: Yes, I don't spend more than $400. $200 on dances and $200 on alcohol.
AS: What do you usually drink at the Red Parrot?
J: Honestly, Jäger and sugar-free Red Bull. It's the only thing that I can drink to my heart's content and not wake up with a hangover.
AS: Wow, that doesn't give you a hangover? That's impressive.
J: Uh, I don't know why.
AS: And now, I'm curious how you think about it, like the money for the dancers. Because you can't do lap dances. Like have you had to rethink how you do tips and what you pay them for?
J: Yeah, well, I mean like either way, you're taking up somebody's time that they're at work, where they're expected to earn money. You have to compensate them for that. Prior to COVID, I would compensate them by buying dances, you know, for just their time, you know? Now, it's like tipping more on stage, you know? If they need to make a certain amount of money, I try to help out where I can. Like it comes down to, if you're going to hang out with me all night, you are losing the opportunity to go make money at another table.
AS: Yeah, I mean is that, has that felt a little like awkward that there's - because there's more of a system when they're selling dances for their time.
J: I mean not really, because like I said, a lot of these people are my friends. So you know, I wouldn't want to see them in a bad financial way. I mean, it's not like - and, they don't push the issue. They're not pushy with that. Like they're not saying, "Oh, you owe me this, this, and this for hanging out with you all night." No one's ever done that.
AS: Mmhm. Do you ever say, "I've got $200 set aside to tip you tonight"?
J: Oh always! I make it very clear.
AS: You say it at the start? Like so they know -
J: Yeah, it's just being upfront, like, "Hey, this is what I have. I can only spend this much money. And if you need to go and make more than the said amount, let me know." I'm usually fine with them - like, 'cause I can understand that this is a job. If you need to make a certain amount of money for the day to be right with your bills and whatnot, like, go do that.
JB: I always tell my customers, "If you're not my man, you have no reason to get jealous." So luckily my customers, sometimes I get annoyed sitting there for so long, or I just need to go do something new. I'll be like, "Okay, I'll be back. I'm going to go make money." They're always like, "Okay, girl, you go make that money."
AS: So I want to understand, when the first shutdown happened when the pandemic began, and the Red Parrot closed, what did you do when you lost that income?
JB: So once the pandemic hit, I still wasn't working. I had just had my baby, and I wanted to be home. So I had left the club for a long time.
AS: And so did you have any income when you were a new mom, when your baby had just arrived?
JB: My husband's always worked. So we've both always had jobs. He has a pretty good job.
AS: But you had no like, um, paid leave or anything for you?
JB: For myself, no.
AS: So when did you first go back to work?
JB: I went back to work when the club reopened. I was like, "This is my shot. I'm going back." You know, at first, I was very paranoid because of the pandemic. But with how strict my work is on COVID, I'm not that worried anymore.
AS: Was there a part of you that was like, "I'm not sure this is worth it. I can just wait this out a little longer."
JB: Um, I would say that, yes. You know? Because you never know, the thing about COVID is you can test positive, and basically, what we're all relying on is for people to have a conscience and say, "Hey, I'm not going to go out even though I feel fine. Because I have COVID." But unfortunately, there are some people who don't care. So, you know, you never know that the guy you're sitting next to got a positive COVID result and just feels fine.
AS: Yeah. When you said, when you had the thought, "Now's my shot, I need to go back," how much of it was, "I need to go back and be earning some money"?
JB: It's funny because I think everybody always thinks like, "Oh, you're in it for the money." I needed to go back for myself. Ugh, I was...I've always, since the age of 15, I've always worked, always worked for myself. That's what was embedded in my mind, work and survive, work and survive, work and survive. And I, now that I have this baby and everything, I feel like a lot of myself was lost. And when work opened back up, I was like, "This is my shot." My job really is my confidence. And I was like, "I'm going back to the club. I don't care. I don't care if I'm a little bit bigger now. I don't care if I look different," and I actually changed my name. I used to go by London, I came back to the club, I was like, "It's Violet, bitches."
AS: [Laughs] Wait, tell me that, why were you like, the old name doesn't fit anymore. I need a new name?
JB: Okay, so London did these gorgeous pole tricks. I'd go to the very top, very, very top of the pole and then I'd grab onto the pole and I would walk down. I would like glide down. Now Violet, on the other hand, Violet just kind of rolls around on the ground.
JB: That's what she does.
AS: I love that, as like somebody who's gone through pregnancy and then how your body changes. "I have a new name and I'm rolling around. I'm not getting up on the top of the pole anymore."
JB: You know? I don't have insurance, I can't be risking the biscuit.
DB: Right now we're just piecing everything we can together.
I talk more with Darius, the owner of the Red Parrot, who is frustrated by the lack of government help when he deals with a lot of government oversight.
DB: We have, I would call them wellness checks, by the sheriffs that come in here. It's not like they come here and say, "Oh no, you can't do that, you're shut down." No, they come in here, they do their check and they leave. They've been doing that for 20, 22, 27 years.
AS: Wait, do they call them "wellness checks"? That's a funny term to think about those....
DB: I call them - no, no, I call them that. I call them that. [Laughter]
AS: And that's the check to be like, "They're not doing anything they're not supposed to be doing in here," right?
DB: Yeah. It sounds ten times better instead of me saying "Oh man, we got raided last night."
This year, compared to a year ago, there’s been a big jump in the number of mothers of school-age children who don’t work outside the home. 1.4 million more mothers, according to the Census.
The podcast The Double Shift is looking at the disproportionate effect of the pandemic on working mothers in a new series launching today. The first episode features a woman named Jenna, in Oxford, Mississippi: a single mother of two, who describes leaving her waitressing job last year and having to ask friends and family for money.
Jenna: The past few times I've needed help, I like go through, well I've already asked that person for money, and I've already asked that person and you're thinking like who else can I ask that I'm close enough with to be that vulnerable?
One of the hosts of The Double Shift, Katherine Goldstein, put us in touch with Jenna. Jenna told me about a restaurant worker friend who lent her money last year and then months later asked Jenna for some help in return.
J: And she was like, "I hope you know, having to ask for help is harder for me than it is for me to pronounce the word Worcestershire," you know? And she was like, "I still don't know how to say that word." It just became this sort of shorthand, like if one of us needed the other - whether it was financial or you know, emotional it was the kind of like "Code red: I need you!"
AS: I love that! And you didn't have to say it, you could just text it.
J: Right. And I think it's because like, you know both of us are very stubbornly independent people who really hate asking for help. And so it's - it really spared us both that, like I said, that taxing moment of having to explain what's going on this time.
Whether you're a mom who's left the workforce, or just someone whose financial situation has shifted in the past year, we want to hear from you. If you've asked friends or family for money, how did it affect your relationship? Was it awkward? Did you come up with a shorthand? And if you're someone who has lent money, we want to hear about that too. Tell us about it. You can send us an email or record a voice memo and send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And make sure you go listen to the entire Double Shift episode about Jenna's story. It's really good. There's a link in our show notes.
On the next episode, our producer Yasmeen Khan checks in with Donna Perry, a mother and business owner from Brooklyn, who she first interviewed in March 2020. In the last year Donna contracted COVID and recovered. But she lost her best friend and more than a dozen members of her church to the virus.
DONNA PERRY: Am I angry about COVID? Yes. But in addition to that anger I also feel a sense of hope. COVID allowed me to appreciate time and not take time for granted. I heard Les Brown say one day that procrastination is the arrogance in believing that God has to give you another day, so I'm really starting to believe that.
This is Death, Sex, and Money from WNYC. I'm Anna Sale. Darius Belcher, the owner of the Red Parrot, knows that even in non-COVID times, the potential customer base for his strip club has its limits.
DB: In this business, one thing you do understand you're only going to get a third of the community, no matter what.
AS: A third is an interesting - why a third, not half, not quarter, a third? One and three, you got a shot.
DB: One in three, because you got the guy that's in a relationship with his girlfriend that says, "Oh, heck no, you're not going to that place babe." And then you have the religious part of the world, you know? That want to, you know wanna, "Ban them. Get them away, get them away." And the other third belongs to me. I'm sorry. [Laughs]
The Red Parrot is a family-run business. Darius's brother Kevin opened the club in the mid-'90s, after a short career in the NFL. And until recently Darius's mom did their accounting. Darius took over the club after his brother died in 2003.
DB: Growing up, my brother was my idol. I didn't have to turn to Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, to see like, "Wow, you know, these are my idols." My brother was my idol. So when my brother was good in high school, what did I want to do? I wanted to be a high school football player. My brother was good in college, I wanted to do the same. So the bond that me and my brother had was just unbelievable. And for me to have the opportunity when he was sick and he was like, "Look, man, I want you to keep this legacy alive." And that - that was like a welcome burden put on my back because I knew it was something I can do. So, it hurts me to be in a position that we are in right now to know that any day, you know, the way things are that it could be our last day. Not by any fault of what I've done. Not because I've mismanaged money, not because I've got 17 strippers pregnant, you know? [Laughs] Not for any of those things. The reason why we're in the position we're in right now is because of our government.
He blames the government, not the pandemic more generally, because Darius feels like he's been unfairly left out of government aid programs. Businesses of a "prurient sexual nature" have longed been deemed ineligible for federal business loans and grants. And that extends to pandemic aid, like the PPP - the Paycheck Protection Program. Darius found this out last spring when he went online to apply for help.
DB: I got on their websites. Plain as day, got ready to fill out the application. As soon as I got on there, they say, "Business ineligible. Adult entertainment." So, why even begin to fill out an application when they're already telling me ahead of time, I'm going to get denied?
AS: So I just want to understand, like you are running a legal business. You're running a business that's paying taxes and employing people. Have you ever run into any rules before that say you're not eligible for this program or this government support because of the nature of your business?
DB: Oh, my goodness. The last part you said, "The nature of your business." We've tried to get all kinds of loans pre-pandemic, and we were denied as well then. You know, we're always told that we weren't able to get loans because, again, the nature of our business. As you said, I pay all kinds of taxes. We have articles of incorporation that says that we are a legal corporation. You know? So, it's not like we don't run....we run a very good business. And what it has done is it's handicapped to me. I still have a mortgage or a lease the pay, I still have electric bills to pay during all this pandemic. They've occurred, the cost occurred and my lights has been on, thank God. My electric bill at this point is probably about $4,000 or $5,000. My cable bill at this point is probably about $7,000. What I owe my owner is probably about $60,000 or $70,000.
AS: The property owner, your landlord.
DB: Yes ma'am, Yes ma'am. You know, and all those things at some point, everybody's going to want to cash in, you know? Nobody is even caring about whether you got any assistance or not and I'll tell them, "Hey, look, I didn't even get any assistance." "Well, I'm sorry, sir. We have to go ahead with our procedures." It's just very frustrating.
In the past year, a few strip club owners across the country have filed lawsuits in federal court, fighting their ineligibility for government pandemic aid. Judges have sided with a handful of business owners, but the federal rules still stand.
DB: It's been tough. It's been very difficult. You know, on a Friday I used to do maybe $3,000, $4,000, $5,000. Now I'm barely doing $1,000. You know, it hurts. It's painful. It's depressing. I try to walk around, try to keep a happy face, try to encourage my - the employees I have working and the entertainers I have, the customers. They all, "Oh man, how are you doing? You going to stay open?" You know in the back of my heart, it hurts because sometimes I want to say, "Gosh, man, I just don't know." But I can't tell them that. "Oh, yeah, we're going to make it, man. We're going to be all right. We're going to be all right." Sometimes I just want to pull the mask off and relate my real feelings about how I feel.
Darius says he used to employ 25 staff people at the Red Parrot. Bartenders, bouncers, waitresses, in addition to the dancers who worked for him as contractors. He told me all but four of his staff have left to find more stable work elsewhere. Jessica told me that some of the dancers she used to work with have turned to sex work on sites like OnlyFans to make up for the lost income.
JB: I just don't think I would be able to do it. Like, I've worked at nude clubs and I left soon after because I'm just not comfortable you know, showing the whole enchilada. That's me personally. I don't know. You know, the way I think about it is, "I'm a mom and I'm a wife." Because at that point like, it is a lot more sexual for me. At the club, it's more of a fantasy. Like it's a big tease, but I feel like OnlyFans and cam girling, you know, you're actually being sexual and I think that's the part that turns me off about the idea.
AS: If the Red Parrot went away, what would you do?
JB: [Sighs] I think at that point, I would just have to transform from my beautiful unicorn figure and become a regular person, a nine to fiver. That's the reality I don't want to hit because I genuinely enjoy my job. I love being a dancer. It's my favorite thing to do. And I don't want to become a regular person.
AS: Why not dance at a different club?
JB: I've tried every single club here in El Paso and although they are good, the Red Parrot's my home. You know, they take care of us. Other clubs, they see us like I see my customers, dollar signs. And they don't care about your wellbeing. At least at the Red Parrot, they kinda coddle you, you know? They feed you, they make sure you're okay. If I fall, they pick me up. It's just little things where - I've been a dancer for so long, I've realized that it's the little things that count in a club. I couldn't imagine going and dancing anywhere else.
AS: Have you thought about what it would be like if the Red Parrot closed, for you?
J: I lived it for like four months. It was boring as all hell. Like it breaks up my week, it gives me a chance during the week while I'm working to relax and when it was closed, I was stressed because I had no decompression, it was work, work, work, work, work, work, work. And you know, what's the point of making all that money if you're miserable? I'm not married, I don't have kids, both my parents are deceased. I live with my sister and she works as much as I do. So I'm not going to go to an empty house because that's even more depressing than staying in the truck. Actually, I've only been home about eight days in the last 10 months.
AS: You just spend your time off out on the road?
J: Well, I mean we have a truck yard, so I'll go to my truck yard and we have showers and stuff there. A lot of the times I'll do like, you know, I'll clean the truck up, I'll get things ready for the next week, and go back out again. That's what I'm saying is, is when the club was closed, that was my life, was driving all week with nothing to do in between. Go back to the truck yard and do it all again with no human interaction whatsoever.
AS: You said you felt yourself feeling stressed like, for you, did it make that much alone time begin to feel less tolerable?
J: What I tell people is about truck driving, you got to be fine with being by yourself. And for the most part, I am. However, during that couple of weeks where nothing was open, it felt I hadn't had a day off in a very, very, very long time. Because even though I'm only there for a few hours, that is my day off. Even if I got to work the next morning, even if I'm only there for a couple of hours, that is my time off and that's what I've considered my time off. It's when I'm around friends being able to hang out and drink and have fun with people I know. And when the club was closed, it just felt like I was going crazy.
JB: They're very, very good, loyal customers, the truckers. And for them we are the only stability. You get me? You know, like I say, I like to refer myself as a therapist who strips. [Laughs] And I've never noticed it until now, but a lot of these gentlemen just, a lot of them have a lot of things going on and I feel like I've gotten to know them a little bit better right now since COVID because the strip club is this big facade of beautiful woman, wealthy guy kind of duo, you know? The gentlemen in these clubs, they're never telling you any details about them struggling, or them having a hard time. And with COVID, I've just realized they're just like us. Like they're, you know? They're not dollar amounts, they are people. They are people that have things going on in their lives, just like us.
That's Jessica Barrera, a.k.a. Violet. When we checked in with Jessica recently, she told us that Josh, the truck driver is no longer saved as a dollar amount in her phone. She wrote in an email, "He moved up to his name saved in my phone as Josh because he sent me money to pay my electric bill."
Death, Sex & Money is a listener-supported production of WNYC Studios in New York. This episode was produced by Katie Bishop. The rest of our team includes Afi Yellow-Duke, Emily Botein, Yasmeen Khan, and Andrew Dunn. Our intern is Emily Tafur.
The Reverend John Delore and Steve Lewis wrote our theme music.
I'm on Twitter @annasale. The show is @deathsexmoney on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. And wherever you listen to our show, please subscribe so you never miss an episode.
Thank you to Brooke Smith in Kansas City, Missouri, who is a sustaining member of Death, Sex, & Money. Join Brooke and support what we do here by going to deathsexmoney.org/donate.
For now, the Red Parrot is still open. Josh told me he expects to be heading there soon and when he pulls off the I-10 for that rare night off, they'll welcome him in like all their regulars, by his nickname.
J: It's called "cousband."
AS: Wait, "cous-band like half-cousin, half husband?
J: Yeah, so there's another dancer and we are both white and very white at that. And I guess it came down to, "Oh, look, you guys look alike and you're both Caucasian, you must be related." ... It was a weird nickname and yeah, that's how it came about.
AS: I got to say that's a good nickname, "cousband."
J: Ehhh. Sometimes.
I'm Anna Sale and this is Death, Sex, & Money from WNYC.