Pussy Galore

Diablo Cody--stripper, blogger, and "Pussy Ranch" cowpunk--takes a weird ride into the land of the brides

Diablo Cody can't find her way to the Wedding Fair. With a little luck, someone else will be behind the wheel when the Minneapolis stripper, blogger, and cult personality makes her way to the altar in October. I'm a lousy co-pilot--too easily distracted by Cody's storytelling powers. When, I ask, is the last time anyone traveled from downtown Minneapolis to downtown St. Paul via 280 North? Even on foot, with the convention center in sight, we get lost.

"I don't get it," Cody remarks, as we clomp down the path at the base of RiverCentre's parking ramp. "We parked right across the street from the building."

Like Cody's choppy cropped hair and visible body mods, her gait is even less stripperly than her media studies degree. Most peelers sashay like they're one bill from a backbend. Cody walks fast, almost marching, which makes perfect sense. She is a woman who plunges boldly forward, sometimes without knowing exactly where she's going.

Tony Nelson

"Until I started stripping, my career trajectory was typical of any middle-class college graduate," she recalls. (She used her real name back then, too; Cody Diablo came into being with her entry into the blogosphere in the winter of 2003.) "When I came here, I got a job as a standard-issue office girl. One day after work, I was walking down Hennepin, and I saw that Skyway Lounge was having amateur night. I've always been terrified of nudity, so I went. I wanted to scare myself. By the time I got offstage, I was actually grinding my teeth, cracked out on stripping. I had to do it again."

Finally, we roll down RiverCentre's escalator to the fair, just as the big band ensconced at its entrance bursts into an up-tempo version of "Over the Rainbow." "I had the blog at that point and I wrote about it," Cody recalls of her maiden voyage. "It was the first time anyone ever paid any attention to the Pussy Ranch. Of course, I had to court fame, keep upping the ante. The next thing you know, I'm doing dildo shows at SexWorld."

Last night as slow like Mrs. Butterworths. I spent most of my shift attempting to cut a swathe through World 7 of Super Mario Brothers 2. (This prompted one passing female customer to incredulously snarl, "She's playing Game Boy!," as if I should rise to my feet and entertain her. Clearly, she was jealous because I get paid to play video games in my underwear.)

--From Pussy Ranch, Friday, December 19, 2003

 

The Pussy Ranch (www.pussyranch.blogspot.com) isn't Cody's only literary outlet. She devotes a few hours nightly to a manuscript about her adventures in the flesh trade. The book is tentatively titled Candy Girls Can't Say No: True Tales of an Unlikely Stripper. "I know it's a bit '98 dotcom," she says apologetically about her project, " but people seem endlessly fascinated with the topic. I know I am."

Tall, with a modest prow that her abundant stern more than compensates for, Cody seems a highly improbable candidate for a career that revolves around a brass pole and the laps of her customers. Some of them pick up on the fact that she's swimming in unfamiliar waters. "One day I was working the room at Deja Vu," she offers, "and a guy grabbed me by the arm and whispered, 'I've seen a lot of strippers trying to be schoolgirls. You're a schoolgirl trying to be a stripper.'"

Danger plays a major role in Cody's motivation. "I'd love to write something that would put me in a life-threatening situation," she enthuses. The book, which seems likely to say some not nice things about not nice people, might just do that. "The club I work for now--Choice--is great. The other five were awful. Conditions in the industry are execrable overall."

Here's one of Cody's more recent accounts of that awfulness, in its workaday form, posted on Monday, March 22:

In reality, strip clubs are frenetic machines oiled with the sweat of diligent girls. Strippers often work 10-hour shifts, and all but the most experienced hustlers will spend that entire time going from table to table, attempting to make a tired sales pitch sound daisy-fresh. Wanna dance? Wanna dance? It's exhausting, and a stripper's very survival (and sometimes the survival of her children/partner/parents) depends on the strength of her hustle. There are no paychecks and no guarantees. There is no dental insurance, and there won't be a cake on your birthday.
Still, Cody remains wholly uninterested in a return to the cubicle. And it's not just the thrill of working naked that enthralls her, nor the book. "I make between $700 and $1,200 a week," she offers. "I'm not a big earner by stripping standards because I rarely go to work. And I refuse to give 'extras.'"

The Wedding Fair, it turns out, is all about extras: extra appetizers, extra fabric, extra portrait prints. The cavernous hall is packed to the ducts with exhibitors: bakers, dressmakers, jewelers, DJs, hoteliers, videographers, mortgage brokers. "It's like a lifestyle fair," Cody notes. "I wonder if they have cemetery plots."

The only firm item on our agenda here, as we weave our way from booth to booth, is to meet fair organizer and wedding guru Bruce Vassar. With more than two hundred exhibitors, the event declares itself the biggest of its kind in the country. Cody and I, both fans of complicated events, want to stand face to face with the captain of this mighty engine of frivolity.

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