Jan. 28, 2019

HOW-TO DANCE, STRIP, AND SERVE BEER---ALL AT THE SAME TIME.

My Favorite career among a lifetime of various careers… was hosting Talk-Radio Shows.  Talk Radio is a great place for enlightenment, controversy, shared experiences—and what I always enjoyed adding, when possible: a little shock value to excite my listeners.

I hadn’t been back in Little Rock long before an old friend invited me to dinner. After eating, he suggested we visit his new hangout on the other side of the river, known to very few. The place was called Snug Harbor and, from the outside, was nothing more than a small, wooden shack with a metal roof and a dirt driveway. It was located on an out-of-the-way stretch of road near a community called Crystal Hill.

 Inside, Snug Harbor was both snug and primitive. Pieces of plywood had been laid across saw horses to form a waist-high bar. The only other object in the room was a lighted jukebox. Customers could either stand around the bar or sit in folding chairs to drink their beer.

 Snug Harbor’s owner, a single woman in her early forties, had somehow managed to get a liquor license despite having served time in prison. Apparently, she had friends in high—or low—places. The owner didn’t serve food—only beer and carbonated beverages. If customers wanted something to eat, they either brought it with them or had it delivered.

Looking around the room, crowded with males, it didn’t seem strange to be the only female customer. There were other females around but they were busy, waiting on customers. That is, until someone dropped a few coins in the jukebox and then—to my surprise---the waitresses turned into strippers. The friend who took me to Snug Harbor had failed to mention its uniqueness. Perhaps he wanted to save the best ‘til last.

The first song, a popular country song called “Swingin” began playing on the old jukebox. I watched in awe as one of the young waitresses put down her serving tray and, in a businesslike fashion, removed her clothes, every stitch. Now, completely naked, the very young girl walked up a stack of concrete blocks to reach the plywood “stage” and began dancing. Strippers in Arkansas—who’d-a-thunk-it?!?!?

I visited Snug Harbor every night that week. Intrigued with its “raw” concept, I talked with the owner, watched the waitresses’ strip, and made a few lasting friendships. Everyone agreed to be guests on my radio show. Each had a unique story to tell.

Until the moment I introduced them on my live radio show, I’d kept my mystery guests a secret. I didn’t promote their upcoming visit because I didn’t want the holier-than-thou set to monopolize the show’s airwaves. Most of all, I didn’t want to jeopardize the livelihood of Snug Harbor’s owner and workers by alerting law enforcement. Several waitresses were single mothers, supporting small children. Their only incomes were the hourly wages/ tips earned at Snug Harbor.

 Within days, Snug Harbor became a hot spot for every man in the Little Rock area, regardless of education or job title. Soon, the owner and her waitresses were the hottest topic in town.

The Snug Harbor interview was a “first” for Arkansas. Each waitress talked about her reason for dancing naked in front of a male audience. One by one, the girls discussed how it felt to have her body exposed, including stretch marks, fat, surgery scars and birthmarks. One girl talked about turning her monthly period into a positive by decorating the strings of her tampons with feathers, tassels, and ribbons.

 Another girl, embarrassed by her flat chest, described how she painted a bulls-eye around each breast and glued clusters of bright, shiny sequins to each nipple.

One of the most surprising revelations came from the waitress/ stripper who—on Valentine’s Day—trimmed her public hair in the shape of a heart, dyed it bright-red, and tied a bow in the middle.

The most memorable waitress was the young girl who danced on-stage, big-pregnant. Unmarried, she refused to abort her baby. The owner said regular customers, realizing the girl had no other means of support, made sure the pregnant waitress/stripper received the biggest tips. Finally, the owner revealed how having Snug Harbor as her very own business, had helped her turn a financial daydream into a successful reality.

She also discussed her drug habit—the reason she spent five years in prison. She explained how she worked with her “girls” to steer them clear of drugs, alcohol, and unprotected sex. She sounded powerful when she told me and my radio audience: “I tell my girls to never give anything away for-free. Think of yourself as always on the clock, working full time. If a guy wants to have sex with you, then he has to pay for it....just like he pays for the music and the beer! Make damn sure he understands—“dessert” costs extra!”

Snug Harbor remained a controversial topic during my radio days. More listeners loved it than hated it and, regardless of future shows and interesting guests, nothing or no one could match the ratings I received the night I interviewed Snug Harbor.

Shortly after being guests on my radio show, the owner and her waitresses sent me a thank-you note. Inside the note was a guest card stating, “Sally Miller is invited to dance....on stage....at Snug Harbor....at whatever date and hour of her choosing.”

I must admit: THE OFFER WAS TEMPTING.

Sally Miller