THE INCREDIBLE WORLD STRIPTEASE FESTIVAL.  LESOTHO. 1980. FAKE DIAMONDS.

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The World Striptease Festival And More.... Oh Yes ! Does anyone realise  how difficult it is to play guitar while watching a series of Beautiful Ladies parading before you, progressively removing their garments until they are bopping around in nothing except a pair of High Heeled Shoes and a Feather Boa ?  This is not a "dirty" story but it is a bit naughty, and it's true. I was playing in a band in Maseru, Lesotho, in Southern Africa, {Holiday Inns}  We played as the "House Band" and accompanied various Artists in Cabaret and supplied live Music for whatever functions were being held. Well, Holiday Inns promoted " The World Striptease Festival " and our band supplied the backing music. In 1980 the town of Maseru was a cross between Las Vegas and Dodge City, anything goes. In the days of Apartheid it was a great "Mixing" spot for the different races in Southern Africa. Indian, White, Black, whatever,- anyone could go to Maseru and have a wild time.  When The "World Striptease Festival " came to town everyone went crazy. Holiday Inns was packed to Capacity. Booze, gambling, music, whores, pimps,fights, this all went on in Maseru for the week that the Festival lasted.
 
Lady in corset.The Striptease ladies were Beautiful and very refined. They came from all over the World : Italy, France, Germany, Korea , the U.K  and most of them were well educated. My wife Pina { Yes, She was with me} and I got to know some of the Ladies during the course of their stay and they were very hard working people. Invariably they  had a day job back home, and like most of us, had families to support, educate, pay mortgages etc. Quite,quite normal. But they also found stripping to be a lucrative source of income, and a nice way to see the world,and they did it with dignity. As I say, my wife and I became friends with some of the ladies, but it's still extremely disconcerting when "Gigi" for example, with whom you had  tea and scones in the afternoon, is prancing around you with nothing on but a feather boa and a pair of Stiletto heels. Then in front of 300 people this vivacious young Lady tickles you under the chin and with a beautiful  smile says " 'Allo JoJo !  'Ow are you ? You naughty boy, I saw you watching me taking my clothes off !  "  I mean what do you say ? - I say " Waga waga booboo Labambarooni, I'm a looney "  " Oh Mama !!" - and other crazy things. Then this beautiful creature says " Don' forget JoJo, I see you after the show, don' you run away you naughty boy" and the crowd goes mad,whistling,cheering and stamping their feet. Of course they don't know that "After the Show" means tea and scones again. Let me give you a little example of the amazing things that could happen in Maseru. One day a phone call came through to the front desk of the hotel. It came from the "Organisers of the Great Athens to Southern Africa Race" - a race which had to be covered by Land,Sea and Air.  The Final lap , which was now in progress, was from Cape town to Maseru and the winner would be arriving soon. Holiday Inns had been chosen as the winning post and  teams of reporters would be arriving from the South African Press, TV etc the folowing day to do the whole publicity bit. The prize was a million pounds. So crowds gathered outside the Hotel, excitement mounted, tension grew, then someone shouted " Here He Comes !!" The crowd cheered, and a very dusty beat up looking car roared up to the main entrance, screamed to a halt, and a very tired, unshaven guy leapt out, throwing his arms up in the air in triumph. 'I've done it, I've done it " he screamed. 
 
 
"A million Bucks" "Oh Man !" he exclaimed to all and sundry " That last lap was a killer, I nearly put the drive shaft right through the floor - I almost didn't make it ! "  The crowd went nuts, The management gave him one of their best rooms, he was Guest of Honour at Dinner, he was the life and soul of the main bar that night and ended up with a beautiful Lady in his room to keep out the cold Maseru night air. Of course it was all crap ! The guy was broke and made up the whole story. He had phoned from the next town. The Hotel didn't get any money, the chick didn't get any money, and the guy just drove away the next morning after breakfast. I saw him a couple of months later trying to sell pieces of coloured glass as Diamonds, Emeralds etc. And now for somethimg completely the same. Let me tell you how to dress and undress eighteen beautiful girls and get away with it.  Just four pictured here.  Imagine the other fourteen yourself.
 
 
After Maseru my wife Pina acquired the position of Head of Wardrobe in a production of "Hello Dolly' in Johannesburg, and that show had eighteen Beautiful Girls in it. Well the show had been running for two weeks when one of the dressers walked out. There was no dresser for the girls, so as a joke I said " I'll do it ". I had been watching the show for those two weeks and knew the routine. Then my wife announced to everyone that I was the new dresser for the girls. " What ? " they said " He's your husband, and he's a MAN ! "  Now, if you are gay the girls don't mind, so Pina says just that - "Don't worry, He's gay ! "  To me she says " Keep your mouth shut, you know the show, I can't find another dresser, and the bucks will come in handy !"  Oh Dear Lord, what did I get myself into. That first night I fearfully approached the first dressing room with about ten ladies in it and knocked on the door. There were screams of delight from inside, the door flew open and the half dressed girls dragged me into the room, screaming and laughing all the while. Oh, it was like being in a Very Scary Paradise, I had to help dress and undress these beautiful ladies, my face being continually banged by Boobies as I struggled to get them into their costumes. It was too late to run. If I  told them that I wasn't gay they would  tear me to pieces ! You can compare the experience to being locked in a cake shop while wearing a muzzle.  And then I had to go to the next dressing room and go through the whole thing again. And - oh no ! A cheeky little thing about 19 years old somehow knows I'm not gay. She's not going to tell the others, oh no, she's just going to torture me every night.  She has a look in her eye which reminds me of a spider watching a fly. When I go to help her she tears open her costume, sticks a beautiful pair of breasts out and says " Hey Joe, what do you think of these ? "  
 
I'm soaked in perspiration, and I just manage to make it back to my wife. " I can't do it" I croaked. " I just can't do it "  My wife is very tough, one dresser out and a show can fall apart. " Cut the crap" she says " There's a show to do"  Well, I still didn't have a South African work permit to get into Radio,TV, or any kind of regular gig, so I put up with it, which was real big of me. Actually after the first couple of nights my blood cooled down and it just became like any other gig. All thoughts of nonsense vanished from my head. The show was the thing and if you caused someone to be late for a cue you got your Ass kicked. The young ladies and I became very fond of each other just as people, and I vetted their potential boyfriends with all the Zeal of a concerned father. You think that's the end of my troubles ? Oh, no, no, no !!  A couple of nights before the end of the show, Pina tells me " Some of the girls are complaining that you're slowing down on the costume changes, maybe it is too much for you. You can dress the guys, there aren't so many changes. Louis, the Producer, says that's the best thing to do."  WHAT !! ?WHAAAAAT !! ?  Are you fucking nuts ? Have you taken leave of your little Greek senses ? " The Guys ? Please don't do this to me, no fucking way" But Louis the producer has decreed it and I need Louis. He can run 4-6 shows a year and I want the contact when my work permit comes through. There is one BIG Problem.  Out of the eighteen Male dancers sixteen are raving queens and everyone in the show thinks I'm gay, thanks to my crazy Greek wife. Now I find guys grabbing quick looks at my Ass.  And the whole thing has changed,- no more ladies. Now it's " Ooh Doll, what are you doing after the show Doll ? Where's my Max Factor ? Oh pass me my G-string Love !"  Well now, some of these guys are built like Arnold Schwarzeneger, and I really didn't want to offend anyone, so I declined the kind offer of a Candlelight Dinner and, if you'll excuse my French, I fucked off outta there mucho pronto. When I got back to Pina I was soaked in sweat but freezing. My teeth were playing a castanet symphony.  "Hang in there " she said "Just one more show to go".  Later that  night I had a very strange experience. I found myself wandering by Bruma lake, a big boating lake in Johannesburg. It was around midnight and the still lake reflected the full moon that floated in the sky. Off in the distance a dog howled forlornly. Suddenly Arnold Schwartzeneger jumped out from behind a tree.
 
Unlike the picture above, he was wearing a luminous pink leotard and a white tutu. He called to me " Hello Dolly, What are you doing after the Show ? Fancy a nice time sailor ?" Suddenly the air was filled with Barbra Streisand belting out "Hello Dolly" and 18 scantily clad ladies danced out from behind the bushes. The moon threw down a shaft of light which Illuminated the whole scene. " 'Allo Uncle JoJo " cried the girls in unison, dancing and prancing all the while. " You are a very naughty Boy for taking our clothes off, Ooh La la "  I woke up screaming and soaked in sweat. My wife turned to me and patted my shoulder reassuringly. " There, there, baby" she said " It's the last night tonight, you don't have to go to the theatre, I'll do the changes for you".  
 
    (c)     March 2002.

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