And don’t hit back 

A private school in Bloomfield Hills. A girl with dyslexia and attention deficit disorder and a rockin’ ass. An ass that would get her some work, give her something to do for the next 10 years.

There’s an International House of Pancakes on Woodward just north of 12 Mile Road, but I would never recommend going there. People were sleeping with their heads on their tables. Plates shined with dried yellow guck; their juice glasses were stained with fingerprints.

We ordered things with made-up names. Things that could have been named anything but what they named them. They have stupid, ridiculous, insulting names for their breakfast selections. I don’t want to repeat them. They’re stupid. They should be ashamed. I was ashamed ordering my breakfast. Nobody should ever be ashamed when ordering their breakfast.

I’m sucking down yolks with “Miss Nude North America 2000.” She was making $2,500 a week before she gave it up. She worked at Centerfolds and Wild Mustang and a place in Wisconsin called Weasels where a guy once bit her on her right nipple.

“I had small boobs. It held me back. I had to get bigger boobs because I had the hips for bigger boobs. You have to have the hips,” she explains.

She was once crowned “Detroit’s Hometown Sweetheart” by a club owner. The club was a classic titty bar. The whole shebang. The mustaches and the hair gel and the guys handing you a towel in the men’s room. Eight-dollar drinks and a night of deep dark sighs.

She walks into the IHOP with a genuine beaver coat. A huge puffy furry thing. She throws it into the booth and tells me about an attack that took place one night in Wisconsin:

“I was always told to not hit the customers. Even when they grabbed me. I was told to look for someone, someone working security. I wasn’t supposed to hit the customers. Now remember, this was an all-nude show. Nothing. We didn’t have nothing on. And this motherfucker grabs me like he’s grabbing a six-pack of beer, if you know what I mean. I decked him”

On stage, her name was Gabrielle. For 10 years, her name was Gabrielle. She didn’t change it for nobody, no bar owner, no goateed hanger-on, no agent promising her the glittered sky of “only the best, baby, only the best!”

Ann Pearce is Blackfoot, Cherokee and German. She’s brown-skinned. She’s got a tiny blue jewel in her right nostril and hair as straight as a yardstick. She’s wearing a brown, jeweled dress that plays tap with her ankles with every strut of her pointy hips.

“A gentleman friend purchased these breasts. These are not real breasts. But I never did that cheap shit, man. I did the real stuff! The burlesque stuff! The stuff that Sally Rand used to do! The costume alone cost me 2,500 smackers!”

When she dropped out of the competitive, on-stage part of the business, she taught the girls that wanted to know what she knew. She taught them about the bump and the grind and the shitty food on the bus. She taught them about the men and the deals and the guys who would try to grab ya like a six-pack while you’re trying to put on a show. She taught them the business.

I want to know how all this started. Did something happen when she was 13 years old at an uncle’s house? Did she get shanghaied by a dude with greasy, pencil-thin mustache at a nonalcoholic dance club in Clinton Township? Did she answer an ad in the back of Teen Tears magazine?


Besides the fact that her mother “married well but divorced better,” there’s nothing in the profile that would make you see “10 years of titty bars” as inevitable.

“The worst place I ever played was a place in San Francisco. I worked the scariest club in the whole city. I watched a girl double-penetrate herself on stage in San Francisco. Do you know what I’m talking about here? Double-penetration? Yeah. It was bad.”

Pearce quit the business a couple years ago. Even though she said she had appeared more than 37 times in Cheri magazine, had taken more than 40 titles in the naked-woman racket, had reached the professional zenith where other women paid her for the secret gifts she could dispense … this titty dancer said, “Enough!”

She is still working the road. Now she’s keeping her clothes on. Selling merchandise for Faster Pussycat. She sleeps in the bus with all the other toadies and roadies and big-ass hairdos. She’s still tries to remember what the old, wrinkled bitch told her at the joint in Wisconsin.

“Don’t ever hit the customers.”

Yeah. That’s it. No matter what. Don’t ever hit the customers … especially when they’re grabbing ya like a six-pack.

Dan Demaggio dines with interesting people for Metro Times. E-mail him at

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