CHICAGO. In normal times, Krystal Hornig and Tiffany Oehrke would be “busy as beavers” servicing conventioneers who come to town for exciting get-togethers involving groups as disparate as the International Brotherhood of Pipefitters and Asbestos Workers, a labor union, and the National Association of Pneumatic Fastener Manufacturers, a trade group. “Labor or management, it don’t matter which,” says Oehrke, whose curly brown hair falls in ringlets down to her eyes. “Right now, I’d do it with the goddamn sanitation workers,” adds Hornig, with a mirthless laugh.
McCormick Place, Chicago: Convention Capital of the Midwest
The two women are “lap dancers,” a non-invasive form of sexual stimulation that is a hardy perennial at bachelor parties and other all-male gatherings. “We provide an essential service,” says Hornig. “If anybody ought to be getting a god-damn stimulus check it’s us–we’re more stimulating than a grocery store.”
Not that kind of Lap dance.
But the two women and others in their chosen profession sit idle, with many business and professional gatherings canceled and social distancing rules placing them at least six feet away from potential clients, leaving them without income while rent, mortgage and car payments continue to come due. “It’s a tragedy,” says economic sociologist Claude Froul of the University of Illinois-Kankakee. “There’s a generation of highly-trained lap dancers that will likely be wiped out by the coronavirus. Just try and import a foreign replacement when domestic supplies are exhausted.”
“Why don’t you sit on my lap and we’ll talk about the first thing that comes up.”
Contrary to the stereotype, not all lap dancers come from Lapland, and many are reluctant to undergo re-training after taking many years to acquire their highly technical skills. “So that’s why Tiffany and I came up with ‘Virtual Lap Dancing,’” Hornig says, and she offers to demonstrate the technological breakthrough to this reporter.
“Take that MacBook or whatever it is you’re tapping away on and log in to virtuallapdance.com,” she says. “Use this one-time password: x7IoLL23#!”
The screen lights up with a gaudy home page, complete with flashing lights and a dark background one might find–if one were at all familiar with such a thing–in a strip club in Boston’s Combat Zone.
“Now–click on one of the girls, it’s just Krystal and me fer right now,” Oehrke says, and a tap on the touch pad sets up a standard one-song session with her friend. “That’s okay, my feelings ain’t hurt. Now put your laptop in your lap, and click on ‘Start.’”