BEDSIDE CHAT 4: Betty Boop & Boober Eats in Quarantine
BEDSIDE CHAT 4:
Length 2:07:22 Date: Apr. 18, 2020
by Dr. Susan Block.
Is everything different or have we been here before?
It’s my fourth Bedside Chat of the Coronapocalypse, inspired by FDR’s Fireside Chats, broadcasting live from bed (aka, the couch) in the Womb Room of the little Love Church of the Bonobo Way at the village of Bonoboville, in isolation.
But this is our time to cozy up together for a nice, free-ranging chat about “Love in the Time of Coronavirus” (with a hat tip to Gabriel Garcia Marquez), focusing on sex (as always!), food (yum!) and pandemic history (“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”—George Santayana), masked and tasked with staying six feet apart.
Creatures of the Mask
We are all masked men, masked women and masked gender-fluid people now.
We are creatures of the mask.
Even the Tangerine-Tufted Dingleberry-in-Chief tells us to wear them, though he himself doesn’t wear a face mask, obviously afraid his spray-tan will come off inside it as sputters and rages against journalists who have the nerve to question him.
For setting such a ridiculously bad example and for so much worse, I release my ever-deepening disgust with the Big Baby Bully Game Show Host proclaiming his infallibility and irresponsibility via my ritual flogging of our tRump voodoo doll—back to being under gag-order with an empty Corona beer bottle after last week’s Easter/Passover gagging with a golden egg.
Thanks to this Presidunce’s incompetency mixed with pettiness (withholding masks and other essential medical gear from states with Democratic governors), there’s still a mask shortage for the folks on the front lines trying to save our sorry asses in this mess.
The good news is that you can make your own, as I did (or tried to do) with my Betty Boop bandana.
Though honestly, as I look at the photos, I notice I make a mess of my mask. Or it makes a mess of me.
Apparently, these homemade masks are not as easy to make as the tutorials suggest, at least not for all-thumbs amateur like me.
Channeling Betty Boop
If I get her pouting her famous purse-lipped pout at just the right angle, my Betty Boop bandana makes the perfect mask.
Unfortunately, her tiny lips keep disappearing under my chin and her iconic curly dark hair under my eyes makes me look like I’m sporting an enormous black handlebar moustache.
Like a fabric creature spilling out of control, parts of Ms. Boop-boop-be-doop emerge from the top and bottom, rendering the whole thing virtually ineffective and effectively unsustainable… but fun!
“Betty Boop was the first cartoon of an openly sexual woman, a caricature of a flapper girl on the cusp of the Great Depression.”
It’s not just because BB’s always fun, nor that she’s the most interesting bandana in my very limited collection.
It’s also because she was created in 1930, just a couple years before FDR delivered his first Fireside Chat.
She’s impossibly adorable, but seductive as a vamp and a little bit melancholy.
If Betty was a dog, she’d be a cross between a poodle and a pug.
But she’s not a dog, she’s a woman.
Indeed, Betty Boop was the first cartoon of an openly sexual woman, a caricature of a flapper girl on the cusp of the Great Depression.
“Boop boop be doop!” says it all.
With her erotic 1930s pedigree, Betty Boop is perfect for a Bedside Chat…
Animated depictions of BB’s spirited, suggestive dancing in skimpy attire were toned down after 1934 when the Hays Code went into effect (has there ever been an instance of the Hays Code not being a sexually-repressive killjoy?).
I’m far from the only one drawn to Ms. Boop’s Weapons of Mass Seduction; many have loved and adored her over the course of some nine decades.
Betty Boop is as fascinating as Bettie Page, whom I interviewed in 1996, and more universally accessible, being a cartoon.
Sometimes she roleplays a nurse, which is rather appropriate for the Coronapocalypse.
We love nurses!
And as much as we honor and respect them—every day, but especially in this health crisis—some of us can’t help but have Nurse Fantasies too (hey, we’re only human).
Don’t harass anybody, of course(!), but there’s nothing wrong with fantasizing about your favorite heroic medical professional. And you can talk privately with one of our Therapists Without Borders about that anytime.
Just make sure to donate some cash to the medical worker support group of your choice every time you get a boner for a doctor.
Learning from History: The Influenza of 1918
But what about reality? Our world has changed so suddenly and drastically. our streets empty and our hospitals full.
Photos: Harry Sapien
As we play dodge ball with the spiky little toxic orb, mourn the dead, and just try to survive in this obscenely unequal society of ours, we are all wondering, how long will these changes last?
“Just a year after the Spanish Flu went away in 1919, what did we get: The Roaring Twenties, the stock market skyrocketing, the Jazz Age of Betty Boops, Bathtub Gin, The Great Gatsby and the erotic world of Weimar Berlin… for the lucky and the plucky, it was one big sex party almost all decade long”
We seem to be in touch more than ever on social media. Folks are socializing and organizing with a passion, which is one reason it’s silly to call it “social distancing.” What some of us are doing to “flatten the curve” is physical distancing, meaning staying six (or more) feet apart.
So while our social connections might be stronger than ever, we can’t (or shouldn’t) physically touch one another—no hugs, no handshakes, no air-kissing—which is pretty disturbing, unnerving and rather unbonobo.
However, though touch is deeply important to our mental and physiological well-being, it’s pretty useless if you’re dead, so… no touching.
Who knows? Though all things considered, that looks like where humanity is heading.
Then again, there could be a bounce back into physical hedonism (hopefully ethical hedonism)!
Let’s jump into our favorite time-traveling DeLorean and ride back over a century to the year 1918, when the H1N1 “Spanish Flu” (which was really the “Kansas Flu,” as that’s where it started, but the WWI-neutral Spaniards were the first to report on it, so got stuck with the name) killed 50 million people around the world.
Just to put this number in perspective, we’ve had over 150,000 deaths so far with COVID-19, which is over 150,000 too many, but nowhere close to 50 million. Also consider that there were less than two billion people on Earth then, compared with 7.5 billion now.
Plus, not only was there was no internet to connect people, there was no TV, radio and barely any phone service either (talk about real social distancing). Though the critical imperative of physical distancing was sporadic.
A tale of two cities demonstrates how important it was—and is—to play “keep away,” physically speaking: After a few cases of the deadly virus floated into Philadelphia and St. Louis, Philly—my hometown—held a big, crowded, military parade while St. Louis shut everything down. Within days, the City of Brotherly Love was overwhelmed by the virus, killing more than 12,000 Philadelphians in six weeks, while St. Louis “flattened the curve” and kept their death toll under 700.
My own father was one of the thousands of Philadelphia children who caught the flu of 1918.
Obviously, he survived and lived a full life, but he contracted Parkinson’s disease towards the end, and it’s said by some that this was caused by the Spanish flu, so this hits me close to home.
I wonder what scars might be carried by those who “recover” from COVID-19.
It’s eerie to look at photos from the flu of 1918, to see the people going about their business in their old-style outfits, wearing masks much the same as ours. Much may have changed since then, but the “essentials” have stayed the same.
It’s also worth noting that though it was pretty damn devastating, just a year after the Spanish Flu went away in 1919, what did we get: The Roaring Twenties, the stock market skyrocketing, the Jazz Age of Betty Boops, Bathtub Gin, The Great Gatsby and the erotic world of Weimar Berlin!
It wasn’t great for everybody; with unbridled capitalism, it’s never great or even good for everybody. But for the lucky and the plucky, it was one big sex party almost all decade long.
Then the economic bubble burst, and what did we get after that?
The 1929 stock market crash, the Great Depression, the Nazis, World War II and the atomic bomb.
So you never know what may happen, but you ought to be ready.
And we were so not ready for this.
Photo 1: Selfie. Photos 2: Harry Sapien. Photo 2: Gideon
We’re still not ready!
Step 11 in the 12 Steps to Liberating Your Inner Bonobo in The Bonobo Way is to “Swing through Life,” that is, adapt and do what you have to do to grab the next branch of survival and avoid tumbling to your death.
Most of us are staying home, masked, sanitized and watching reruns like troopers—trying to do our part to flatten that curve—as history and the scientists advise us.
Some of our beautiful billionaire friends and lovers are contributing a few million here or there to select causes, but a more bonoboesque, equitable system of sharing is needed.
It’s time to #FlattentheInequalityCurve.
Meanwhile other humans—mostly squawking Trumpers looking like something out of the Zombie Apocalypse or Shaun of the Dead—are stopping what little traffic there is to protest… what? Science?
At first, I felt safe from the madness that seemed confined to Trumpian strongholds in the Midwest and Florida, but just down the road here in Huntington Beach, California, Trumpers are gathering to answer their Dear Leader’s call to “LIBERATE” themselves from their Democratic governors’ “stay home” orders, so they can… what? Spread the virus “freely”?
Love the dude with the “COVID-19 is a lie” sign while wearing a mask and a Hazmat suit just in case it isn’t.
I must admit, it’s demoralizing to see these ammosexuals and bozos destroy one of my favorite words, “liberation,” comparing these “protestors” to Rosa Parks. For decades, I’ve been all for sexual liberation, women’s liberation, bonobo liberation, liberation from war and fascism, but I draw the line at death liberation. That makes as much sense as those signs on the Nazi concentration camps: “Work makes one free.”
But there’s also comic relief, like Republican lawmaker Bob Brooks getting ready to vote to liberate my own state of Pennsylvania (that was so “liberated” in 1918, it killed 12,000 in six weeks), wearing an N-95 mask that’s supposed to be for health workers.
And check it out: he’s wearing it upside down.
Enough with the power-mad nincompoops!
Pandemic or pansensual, our needs for food and sex are two of our most basic animal drives. In a way, we combine them when we share a romantic dinner with kisses between courses, or when we use a little whipped cream to make oral sex tastier.
“More than just basic drives, food and sex are two of the most vital elements of life for humans and other animals, and two of the richest representations of love.”
It’s not just a human thing either; bonobos love to combine food and sex. Check out Step 5 in the 12 Steps to Liberating Your Inner Bonobo in The Bonobo Way: “Mix Food and Sex,” and you’ll see how they do it. Although the gustatory speed at which bonobos combine bonking and bananas might give most of us human apes indigestion.
More than just basic drives, food and sex are two of the most vital elements of life for humans and other animals, and two of the richest representations of love. We humans often use food and sex as carnal metaphors for this deepest, most elusive of emotions. After all, love is pretty abstract. You can feel love in your heart (or is it “all in your head”)? But you can’t hold love in your arms or savor it in your mouth. This is where chocolate kisses, hot buttered buns, sweet creamy pies and big hard cucumbers come in.
Food and sex bring love to life.
Recipes and positions vary, but the basic needs hold true. I believe that our intimate, sometimes confused food-and-sex associations have their roots in the beginnings of life itself. As Drs. Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan suggest in Origins of Sex: Three Billion Years of Genetic Recombination, the first “meiotic” sex acts were a kind of cannibalism on the cellular level. Consuming led to reproducing, which led to more consuming, and then here we are, reenacting that primal cellular scene, eating each other up with love.
In the COVID era, unless we’re in a pretty monogamous relationship with someone we know isn’t sharing spit or sweat with someone else, the only really safe sex is solo sex, as I’ve discussed in Coronavirus Spring on Counterpunch and my first Bedside Chat of the Coronapocalypse.
As far as food goes, the restaurants may be closed, but the groceries are open, and Americans appear to be eating everything we can get our disinfected hands on.
Though experts reassure us that we probably won’t have food shortages, supermarket shelves are often empty due to panicked food hoarding.
Folks be scooping up pasta and peanut butter like they’re, well… toilet paper!
Fortunately, you can’t eat or drink with a mask on. So maybe we won’t see skyrocketing rates of obesity which, by the way, is a telltale “pre-existing condition” that makes obese Coronavirus victims more likely than others to die. That’s not meant to be “fat-shaming,” but to encourage people to provide a little less of an appetizing meal for these crowned critters to feast upon.
Not that all this Corona-Renaissance of home-cooking and avid eating is a bad thing. Whipping up some delicious comfort food can be a form of self-love in itself.
I like to eat my bananas straight out of the skin, but many folks in isolation are trying their hand at baking their own banana bread for the first time.
If you’re co-habiting with a partner, making dinner together could be fun “date,” with the possibility of sensual, post-meal lovemaking for dessert.
Boober Eats are Lucky Devils
What if you can’t cook?
Those who love to eat and drink “out” are out of luck, most restaurants and bars being closed in the Coronapocalypse. There are just drive-thrus, take-out and delivery.
No strip clubs are open either, of course. This can be economically devastating to the Hustlers crowd, as well as the more numerous, honest strippers and other sex workers who are pulling a lot less of a hustle on their customers than your average insurance broker.
However, unlike other workers, sex workers get no COVID relief from the John-in-Chief who paid Stormy Daniels $130,000 to stay quiet about their affair, but won’t pay other sex workers 13 cents to stay off “the street.”
Sex workers are workers too!
But time doesn’t stop for injustice, the rent must be paid, the lights kept on, and everybody’s got to eat.
Someone say “eat”?
They say that “necessity is the mother of invention,” and sex workers are some of the world’s most inventive people.
Enter Lucky Devil Eats at Portland’s Lucky Devil Lounge, owned and operated by the inventive and amiable Shon Boulden who, as a St. Paddy’s Day Facebook joke, posted that his strip club would now offer food deliveries featuring topless (with pasties) dancers bringing you hot food and drinks to keep his staff employed.
Shon’s joke was greeted with an avalanche of serious support from followers, customers and staff, and like a good bonobo sapien who “swings through life,” he brought the Lucky Devil kitchen (in Portland, if you sell alcohol, you have to sell food, so every club has a kitchen) from the periphery into the forefront of his world.
Delivering bags of goodies, steak bites, burgers, corn dogs, beer and CBD-infused sodas to all parts of Portland, brought to you by scantily-clad strippers and their bouncers (got to keep the bouncers employed through the Coronapocalypse too), provide you with nourishment, with a dash of hot sauce for pizazz and a flash of melons for dessert.
And thus, Boober Eats was born.
At least, Shon called it “Boober Eats,” until Uber Eats, a company with a reputation for exploiting its workers, issued him a “cease and desist” order. Though in the meme-viral Internet world, the name stuck. Google it and you’ll find Shon.
Nevertheless, it’s just more of those unfair practices regularly exercised by Big Business against the little guys. I mean, it’s not like they’re spelling it “Buber Eats.”
But in the meantime, Lucky Devil Eats it is, as accentuated by the bouncy staff’s blinking devil horns. For a strip club with closed doors, they seem like quite a jolly crew, taking turns joining my Bedside Chat, with Shon at the helm.
Though wearing pasties, mostly, they seem all too happy to show off and shake those lovely boobers.
As well as booties (Booter Eats?). Thank you Shark Girl, aka Toxic Shark, for your delightful backdoor display.
Thank you Brodie, Reign, Brooklyn and Josh and everyone else at the Lounge who chatted with us, as well as spun around the stripper pole. In heart pasties, “Fuck Me” pasties and no pasties.
Thanks for offering us a bag of Lucky Devil Eats, even though it’s an empty bag.
It’s true that the strippers make a lot less money in Shon’s new culinary endeavor, but at least they make some money, get to wear sneakers instead of stilettos, and maintain the social camaraderie of the club.
Over the webcam, I can feel how solid, sexy and important-to-life that camaraderie is.
I can’t vouch for their physical distancing, but everybody does keep their masks on pretty much throughout our interview.
Food Delivery Strippers in the Coronapocalypse also creates great public relations for Lucky Devil Eats, the Portland community and the general international sex worker community.
Thanks Michael Donnelly, my fellow Counterpuncher who happens to also be an Oregonian, for being the first to let me know about Boober Eats.
Damn, there I go, calling it that again.
We could have gone on and on with Shon and those loveable Lucky Devils, but there’s another lovely food-and-sexpert on a beautiful bed awaiting us on the other side of the country in Florida…
When Your Favorite Chef is a Stripper
From one lounge to another, we slip into a whole different milieu: a single bed, queen size, in a light, airy, rather feminine bedroom.
Chelsea Tara, Holistic Chef of Flavour Junction and Mermaid Stripper of the Cotton Club, looks perfectly appointed for a nice, cozy, very sexy Bedside Chat in her private boudoir.
Unlike our other guests, Chelsea is not wearing a mask. But then, she is alone in her room… or somebody’s room.
She believes the best way to fight the virus is to live healthy.
Chelsea herself appears to be the epitome of health.
She loves oysters as aphrodisiacs, as well as juicy chocolate-covered strawberries.
Sadly, she has no food to share with us. No, Chelsea is not starving, she’s just staying with friend and can’t be spilling oysters in bed.
But she does tell us about making a splosh-like clip for her fans that features her pouring a milkshake all over her beautiful breasts.
Whereupon she shares a fabulous flash of those beautiful breasts.
Chelsea misses dancing at the Cotton Club where she gets to express her polyamorous feelings, much the same way that the Lucky Devil dancers feel.
Strip clubs aren’t *just* workplaces; they’re the humming heart of female-driven, sex-positive communities, and right now, many are “on hold,” leaving many strippers not just financially adrift, but emotionally unmoored.
Determined to stay positive and focused, Chelsea’s using her quarantine time to follow a relatively straight career path promoting her holistic health cuisine which she keeps separate from her stripper world.
I respect her need to live an erotic double life, and I feel honored that she’s willing to talk about both in our Bedside Chat. I’d also love to see Chelsea Tara the Stripper Chef as a character, both real and cartoon, to integrate her two passions—food and sex—both essentials to life and love.
For now, we’ll just have to follow her rising stars of culinary and erotic art separately.
And follow those bouncing boobers! Yes, we’ll definitely follow those, even if we have to follow totally separate accounts for each of them.
We Are All Lucky Devils Now
We wind up with Chelsea and close the show… only to find ourselves back with Lucky Devil Eats.
What a treat!
So after our official sign-off, we keep Bedside-Chatting away, as well as boob-and-butt-ogling.
It’s a virtual interstate-after-party!
As is often the case, it’s when the “show” is over that guests really unwind and say what’s on their mind, even if the cameras are rolling, so Shon gets a little more frank about politics, strippers, small business ownership, sex and food.
They even make it real, showing off the night’s earnings in the form of old-fashioned cash.
Though I never get to hear Shon’s favorite Lucky Devil Eats item. The pizza? Pasta? The steak bites? Of course, at this point, with the club music blaring and strippers shrieking, he can’t hear me. Such are the limits of a virtual interstate after-party.
Speaking of food and sex, it’s time for Bonoboville’s Saturday night supper.
Bonoboville has some of the world’s greatest unsung chefs.
Photos 1,3,5: Harry Sapien. Photo 4: Sunshine McWane
Sploshing is “erotic food play,” not recommended for the Coronapocalypse. First of all it would mess up your mask.
Photos: Harry Sapien
Fortunately, there’s one person I don’t have to stay six feet away from, and that’s my person, my witness, my Capt’n Max, because we are self-isolating together.
“Self-isolating together” has become a special kind of “Commitment in the Time of Coronivirus” that is both more and less serious than marriage.
Yes, we’re lucky devils, Max and me. And Shon and his Lucky Devils appear to be pretty fortunate too. To help sex workers less fortunate, please donate to the Free Speech Coalition.
Eventually, without much fanfare, my Captain and I go return to our state of personal isolation, deepening in our understanding of what the Bible might mean by “the two becoming one flesh,” savoring the simple but now almost-taboo touch of human skin-on-skin, falling into each other’s arms off the cliff of the “little death,” and getting who-knows-how-much closer to the big one.
© April 18, 2020 Susan Block, Ph.D., a.k.a. “Dr. Suzy,” is a world renowned LA sex therapist, author of The Bonobo Way: The Evolution of Peace through Pleasure and horny housewife, occasionally seen on HBO and other channels. For speaking engagements, call 213-291-9497.
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