GO-GO-ING GONE by Tina Mattern
It was the 60’s and many young women had lofty ideals of what they wanted to be in life: a brain surgeon, an astrophysicist, the next Marie Curie...
Me? I wanted to be a Go-Go girl.
Let me just say that at this time, most clubs in Portland Oregon which employed Go-Go girls, were not topless venues; I had no interest in flashing my 17-year-old, nearly non-existent breasts on stage, or anywhere else for that matter. I just loved to dance and an audience would be a dream come true, not to mention getting paid to boot. One day in early spring, I got my chance…
“Check it out!” My friend, Kathy, waved the classified section of the paper under my nose.
“Check what out?”
“It’s an ad, Go-Go Girl wanted. And it pays $100 a week!
I was immediately intrigued as Kathy knew I would be. I had confessed my dream of being a dancer; ballerina or Go-Go Girl, either one would do. I had no ballet training but I could shake my booty with the best of them. And get paid for it? Whoo-hoo! “Give me that!” I said, snatching the paper out of her hands.
On my next day off, I slapped on a ton of makeup, donned my short, white, fake fur dress, my fishnet stockings and white Go-Go boots, and in the early afternoon, presented myself at Agostino’s Supper Club downtown for an audition.
The place had been there for years, run by Mr. Agostino himself and his wife, who bartended. It was he who greeted me when I came in the door, asking to see the
Manager. “I’m here to audition for the dancing job,” I announced with a nervous grin.
Old man Agostino looked me over with amused interest. “How old are you, little girl?” he asked.
“Twenty-one!” I assured him, hoping he wouldn’t ask for I.D.
He didn’t buy it for a minute, but surprisingly he didn’t pursue the issue.
“Well, I’ll tell ya…you go on into the bar there, jump up on that stage and lemme’ see what you got.”
I looked past the railing separating the restaurant from the bar to see a large, unfinished plywood stage filling the corner of the room. Lining the open portion of the stage was a makeshift bar with a dozen or so barstools. The place was empty except for a snoring drunk at one of the tables across the room. Agostino waved a hand at the stage. “There’s a jukebox station up there on the wall, see? Go punch in the number of whatever you wanna dance to.”
I hurried over and up the three short stairs to the stage and peered anxiously at the jukebox. After a moment of looking through the available music, I sighed with relief; there was one I knew I could do justice to! “Wipeout” by the Surfaris. I punched in the numbers and as the frenetic drums surged, I cut loose with my hip-shaking, shimmying, finger popping moves. Glancing over as I spun, nearly losing my balance, I saw the old man, shaking his head. But he was smiling.
Afterward, he motioned me over to the booth where he was sitting. “Slide in here next to me,” he said. When I hesitated, unnerved by his wicked smile, his wife laughed and said, “Go ahead and sit down. He’s too old to even remember what to do with a young thing like you.”
Agostino barked out a laugh and said, “Come on, sit down, sweetie.” He looked appraisingly at me for a minute or so and then said, “You’re inexperienced, but you’re cute and you’ll learn. Now, about a costume…”
I nodded eagerly, picturing white short shorts, a halter top and the white Go-Go boots I was wearing, just like those Goldie Hawn sported on Laugh-In.
“You get yourself a French cut bra,” he said. “Get a padded one, you get my drift?” he added, looking pointedly down at my B-minus bosoms. I blushed. “Sew some sequins on it, see? And you’ll need a bikini bottom with sequins and some fringe too. Spike heels too, 4 inches. You’ll start Saturday night. Be here at 6:30.”
I skipped out wearing an ear-to-ear grin. I was now an official Go-Go Girl! Next step: getting the costume made, since I didn’t sew. I had it! I would ask Katie, my mom’s dressmaker/close friend to make it for me. It would be tricky to ask such a thing of her without Mom finding out, but Mom was out of town for two weeks.
“Uh…Katie? Do you think you’d mind sewing these sequins on this bra for me? And this bikini bottom too? Oh, and this fringe? Katie looked at me with pursed lips. “What’s this for?”
“A….costume party!” I blurted. “I’m going as a…a Playboy Bunny.”
She stared at me.
I added feebly, “I just need to find some ears and a tail.”
* * *
Saturday night at 6:30 I was at Agostino’s. I paced anxiously, waiting for my turn. I was the 3rd girl in the line-up, a nervous wreck, my legs shaking like jello. When I was announced, I hurried up the steps to the stage, put my 3 songs into the jukebox and stood staring out into the glaring footlights waiting for the music to begin. I looked down at the bar to see no more than three men seated there. Two were lost in their drinks, one was reading the paper. The Wipeout drums began and I pasted on a smile and went into my moves. I shimmied to the left, shimmied to the right, spun around and fell off the stage. Right into the lap of Mr. newspaper-reader. He jumped up with a “What the…” , which dumped me from his lap, which threw me against the stage stairs where the unfinished edge of the plywood cut a three-inch long gash in my thigh. One of the waiters hustled me into the back room before I could bleed all over the carpet.
I went home early that night.
* * *
I had been dancing for three weekends, when Mr. Agostino called me over. “Have a seat, little girl,” he said. I slid in, smiling, expecting to hear how well I had been doing.
“Bad news, honey, Mary’s Club down the street is killing us. They got topless dancers now. We’re gonna have to go topless too if we wanna compete.”
I stared at him aghast. “I…I…well, I can’t do that!” I stuttered, blushing.
“Yeah, well,” he said, with another of those pointed looks down at my stuffed- into-falsies but still barely visible breasts. “We’re gonna have to let you go.”
I sat staring at him for a second before outrage rose unexpectedly up. “What? That’s not fair!” I said. And then, trying to recover my cool with humor, blurted, “Hey, I’m topless!”
Agostino snorted a laugh, “Yeah, but that’s not the kinda topless we’re looking for.”
So much for my dancing career.
Years later when I confessed to my mother about my short-lived escapade, she laughed. “Oh, I knew all about that,” she said, “Did you seriously think Katie believed the costume party story?”
I had, actually.