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The audience applauded appreciatively.  Sylvia, whose appearance fitted well with her stage name ‘Angel’, was a favourite with the ‘regulars’ at Paris Paradise.  Unlike any of the other girls, Sylvia looked into the faces of her audience during her performances.  The audiences were accustomed to the sulky, resentful expressions usually shown by the dancers.  But Sylvia liked showing herself, and she liked the easy money that stripping brought her.  The lonely, rejected men in the audience were made to feel warm toward Sylvia.  They saw her as a real person who existed in places not connected with her nude dancing in Paris Paradise.

Not until the song ended did Sylvia remove the outer layer of her costume.  The audience didn’t object.  She danced beautifully, and her warm, friendly personality extended out of the red spotlight, over the footlights, and into the hearts of the men in the audience.

The second song came on, and offered a change of pace.  Frank Sinatra’s voice filled the room with ‘You Make Me Feel So Young’, and Sylvia swung and spun as if the lyrics were guiding her.  Her long, well-shaped legs swept her from one side of the stage to the other, affording all members of the audience a close look at her muscled body.  This, too, endeared her to the audience.  Most often, the dancers kept to the centre of the stage, robbing those on the extreme left and right sides of the audience of a clear view of what they’d paid to see.

Sylvia’s routine unfolded like a flower, shedding petals.  Songs by Neil Diamond and Lou Rawls provided the balance of her music.  The audience applauded enthusiastically, whistled, and called for more… more… as Sylvia gathered up her costume and ducked backstage and into the dressing room.

After she showered in the small stall at the back of the dressing room, Sylvia came out to her place in front of the mirror.  She relaxed for a few minutes before dressing in her street clothes.  Marisa, a tall, lean black girl sucked on a joint and handed it to Sylvia.  Marisa was a transsexual in her twenties.  She was born male, and by the time she had turned nineteen, she’d had several operations to become the woman she always felt she should have been.  Her own father was the surgeon who helped her make the transition because he couldn’t bear to see her suffering as she did when she wore the male body that felt to her like a prison.  She had been a female in every way but physically and never knew a happy moment until she became a woman.  Finally, she took great joy and satisfaction in earning her living exhibiting her altered body.

Marisa was beautiful, with long, golden hair that looked stunning against her chocolate coloured skin.  Marisa’s real name was Caroline Shaw.  She had been Carl Shaw before her transformation, and she was the closest thing to a friend that Sylvia had among her associates in the small universe of exotic dancers and club workers.  Marisa was still big as a man.  For the more observant, her large hands and feet, and her height of almost six feet would tell of her original gender.  Sylvia held the pungent smoke in her lungs and handed the joint back to Marisa, who lifted it carefully to her full, red lips.

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