Big als peoria illinois
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Pardon me then when I was disturbed to learn that one of Peoria's most famous and accepted social institutions is a strip club. Packed town hall meetings to discuss the local high school cheerleading squad. But Zuccarini, who has worked at Big Al's for the last seven years, is certainly making money from these women's bodies.
Pro sports is all about bodies. Since the s, it has been the only adult entertainment business in the area that has a liquor. So they use them.
Men go. Women go. They are not in a position where they can be physically abused," he said. By Georgia N. The bigger the bills, the better. Men--some dressed in neatly pressed khakis and polo shirts, others still talking about the last long shift at the local plant--drinking beer, enjoying lap dances, burying their he in the dancers' bare chests. Before I stepped through those doors on Main Street, I never really thought about what "a den of sin" would look like.
On more than one occasion, when I have told people outside the tri-county area that my newspaper covers that I live and work in Peoria, they have asked--sometimes jokingly--if I've been to Big Al's. All right, so I'm one of the sexually oppressed masses. The club has earned its fame. When I left Big Al's at about p. Lap dances and flirting, of course, but the dancers are not officially allowed to date any of the customers, and the customers are not allowed to buy them drinks. Big Al's employees might have chosen to become strippers, and in that sense they are upholding a lot of what the women's movement fought for.
They are probably right. Your newspaper exploits you as a journalist.
But paralegals and journalists use their minds, not their bodies, to make a living--or at least so I like to think. Minor league baseball, frequent pledges of allegiance and lots of singing of the national anthem.
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Isn't that exploitation? Soccer tournaments, Girl Scout cookies, barbecues and Bible study classes. We're here to see naked women. We've come such a long way, baby, that we can get naked if we want. And on weeknights and weekends, a few choose to strip and a lot choose to leer at the world famous Big Al's, the city's neon-lit tribute to gender equality. Hendricks went so far as to compare stripping to an art form and the men who come to watch them "perform" to visitors to an art museum.
Four strippers once interviewed by my newspaper said they had so much money at the end of one night of stripping that they would pile it up in the middle of the apartment they shared and jump in it for fun. And Peoria has given me all of that. Want to keep up with breaking news?
Postcard from peoria
Most men really did just watch and sip their beer. They enjoy the freedom the industry gives them. Couples go.
After all, the third-largest city in the state has long been equated with the essence of middle America. I doubt any of the customers are interested in learning the group's average SAT score. There were few lewd comments from some men who had had a few too many to drink, but no grabbing and no groping.
I called up Big Al's one day and made an appointment to talk to the managers and visit the club. Many Peorians are happily married, raising children in thriving communities, taking them to county fairs, packed village hall meetings, minor league baseball games, soccer tournaments and Bible study classes. Subscribe to our newsletter.
And in the end, both Zuccarini and Hendricks argued that the adult entertainment industry will never die away. Still, Zuccarini insisted that his club was not some beer-guzzling strip t or touch club. Neither manager could respond to my concern, voiced as a feminist, that a strip club undermines any progress our society has made toward gender equality over the last 30 years. Welcome to Peoria, this mecca of mediocrity.
When I moved to this city ofin June, I expected to find myself living among all things all-American. We make sure that we are very professional, and we make the customers feel right at home," Zuccarini said, explaining that he regularly talks to the customers to make sure they are getting all the cognac, cigars and lap dances they want. A Maplethorpe exhibit, to be exact. So, I decided it was time that I go. County fairs featuring tractor pulls, livestock shows and country western music. The old vaudeville saying, "Will it play in Peoria?
Postcard from peoria
How else am I going to make money? With Dave Matthews' "Crash" playing in the background, two Big Al's managers--Lloyd Hendricks and Al Zuccarini--tried to convince me that stripping was just like any other 9 to 5 job, minus the clothes. His security staff does not hesitate to ask a drunk man to leave the club or to remind customers that the dancers will not fully unclothe unless they see the tips start flowing. Women dancing on stage wearing nothing more than spiked heels. And most people aren't embarrassed to admit that they go.
More than enough to reserve my right to be disgusted by the success Big Al's has found in Peoria--this supposed cradle of middle American values and attitudes. For the most part, the customers did behave themselves. An agriculture report on the afternoon news. Pardon my bias, but isn't getting naked to make a little money just a bit degrading?
Company after company brought their products to the heart of Illinois, assuming that if their TV dinners and stainless steel knives were good enough for Peorians, they were good enough for the rest of blue-collar America. At this age, how else are they going to make that money? When in Peoria do as the Peorians do. P eoria, Illinois. I have long since abandoned my assumption that the Midwest is a collection of small, chaste towns, but I still don't understand the way many Peorians accept, support and patronize Big Al's. Everyone who is here wants to be here just like you want to work for the Journal Star.
But by becoming strippers, they also reinforce the idea that it is okay to judge a woman based on her body alone. T hat final image of a woman being auctioned off to satisfy some male ego was more than enough to discredit any arguments in favor of strip clubs that Lloyd Hendricks and Al Zuccarini made in our hour-long discussion.
One week later, accompanied by three male reporters from my newspaper, I ventured into the club, cringing as I walked by a advertising that night's amateur contest.
Big Al's, a "world-famous gentleman's club" located in the middle of downtown, features "the world's most beautiful women," fine cigars, cognac, a lunchtime buffet and Wednesday night wet T-shirt contests. Or that the very use of the term "gentleman's club" is a return to an era that most women would rather leave behind. Just because they're naked, people think less of them. According to one manager, Eric Clapton was once spotted in the audience.
Georgia Alexakis '00 is a government concentrator in Winthrop House.
Businesspeople here for conventions go. For years, Peoria was the test-marketing capital of the nation before the equally unremarkable Des Moines, Iowa, stole away that distinction.
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By going to Big Al's they pursue some still existing male fantasy that somewhere out there at least some kinds of women are meant to be leered at and ogled. Olympic athletes use their bodies. But after spending more than two hours in Big Al's on a busy Thursday night, I have a pretty good idea. I could not continue to criticize what I had never seen for myself. She is working as a reporter this summer for the Peoria Journal Star and has no plans to go back to Big Al's. These women have a talent--their bodies. A big, shiny brass pole.