If your ideal night at a strip club involves jockeying for position with a mob of drunken, Dockers-clad conventioneers, paying eight bucks for a juice concoction, and hooting at a silicone-stuffed porn star as she submits to something resembling a full-blown gynecological exam...well, BJ's is definitely not the place for you. This scruffy little North Side club has little in common with the downtown corporate flesh palaces of our day. It is, rather, your father's kind of strip club: a topless-only, no-cover neighborhood joint where dancers may be a little frayed at the edges but, heck, at least they sometimes join the patrons at the bar to knock back a few after a set. As befits its traditional qualities, BJ's is consigned to a properly seedy part of town. Across the street is Jug Liquor ("We deliver!"), and just down the block is Irv's Bar (legendary for its hair-of-the-dog morning-drink specials). Not that you'll need to patronize either of those establishments. Unlike the all-nude strip clubs in town, BJ's has a full-service bar. The reasonable prices guarantee that patrons won't have to suffer through a set in an unnecessary state of sobriety. A can of Bud goes for two bucks, a Heineken is four. Housed in a windowless, ramshackle one-story building, BJ's looks like a typical small-town bar, with the requisite fake-wood paneling, low-slung ceilings, pull-tab booth and snack machines. There is also a game room, which is nicely furnished with three pool tables, darts, and a couple of pinball machines. The dance stage, which sits behind the oblong bar in the main room, is small and spare, with two brass poles and mercifully low lighting. The talent at BJ's is, um, real-world, coming in all shapes and sizes. There is little evidence that any of the performers have squandered their earnings on the plastic surgeon, which, we must say, is also refreshing.


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