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STARBOUND (second)

As Sylvia passed, each man suddenly became aware of her, and turned to watch her hurry into the dressing room at the opposite side of the dimly lit theater.  The rows of seats were filled with men who were eagerly staring at Duchess, waiting for the magic moment when she would snap off her G-string and reveal her shaved pubic area.  It was not mandatory for the girls to reveal their privates, but Duchess always did.  She needed the extra ten dollars that Borden, the manager, paid for any show in which the girl showed it all.  In truth, Duchess also enjoyed the thrill she got from showing everything.

Inside the long, narrow dressing room, girls sat at the counter that ran the length of the room.  Large mirrors were mounted on the wall over the counter, each illuminated with glaring bulbs.  The counter was littered with a variety of cosmetic bottles, jars, and occasionally, pieces of costume;  A red feather here, a crumpled G-string there, breast pasties and other of the strippers’ paraphernalia.  Of the eight small chairs that sat at the counter, three were empty.  One was Sylvia’s, one was for Duchess who was nearing the end of her on-stage stint, and one was for Rickie, a girl who had the day off.  Other dancers, in various stages of undress, occupied the other five places.  One of the other dancers, a woman who looked a bit too old and bulky to show herself nude for a living, sucked on a small brass pipe and expelled a stream of fragrant smoke toward the ceiling.  She looked over at Sylvia who was undressing hurriedly and putting on her costume in layers in the reverse order which she would remove them.

          “Better hurry, Angel.  Sounds like Duchess’s music is about to end”, she said.  At that moment, appreciative shouts and applause were heard from the audience.  “There goes her g-string”, the woman said as she put the small pipe to her lips.  Sylvia didn’t answer, but calmly continues to dress in her layered costume, checking each garment in the mirror before her.  The door from the stage swung open and closed again as Duchess entered carrying her discarded costume in a bundle held to her chest.  Her very white skin glistened with sweat.  The sound of a Red Foxx comedy recording could be heard through the door.  It filled the intermission between acts.  Within a few minutes Sylvia was ready, touching up her makeup in the mirror.  An intercom phone rang on the wall.  She reached for it and held it to her ear.  Tony, who was on duty in the control room, said it was time to go on.

          “Ready”, Sylvia said.  She hung up phone, stood and waited at the stage door.  The Red Foxx recording stopped abruptly in the middle of a dirty joke and Tony’s voice echoed flatly in the auditorium.

          “Now ladies and gentlemen, the always exciting, sweet and slender ‘Angel”.  A ripple of applause was drowned out by the opening strains of Rod Stewart’s version of ‘Tonight’s The Night’.  Sylvia pushed the stage door open and strode proudly into the red spotlight, which followed her to centre stage.  She swung into her improvised routine, moving with slow, gentle grace to the sensual music.

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