I was going to start this story off about how many different facets there are to Atlanta and blah blah blah. As I was typing it, it felt contrived and senseless. We all already know that. What I can say, is that my favorite part about the city is the people, places and things that rule the fringes. The seedy, alley dwelling, hard drinking, bullet-hole riddled, sometimes toothless, basement bar kind of stuff. I am sincerely, and ever-so completely defenseless against the threat of a raucous time. So you can imagine, when a stripper bus beckoned me on board about a year and some change ago, I had to go on. Here's how it happened.
To truly experience what I am about to relay would take some seriously vicarious out-of-body voodoo. How could I explain such a thing as stumbling onto The Fantasy Ride? Sure, some could totally pull together bits and pieces of their varied nefarious weekend escapades and sort-of stitch together what riding on a bus filled with strippers is like, but does that really even count? No.
You have to get a lap dance while breaking the speed limit and throw some cash down because the girl did a special trick on the pole at a red light. You have to be wary of your wallet and your heart, and wonder why the seats are so sticky.
The law of attraction played a major role in the night my friends and I discovered The Fantasy Ride around a year ago. It was my girlfriend’s birthday celebration and as any dutiful boyfriend would do, I decided that it was time to get her drunk. The night began at a fairly high-end bar/night club, but unfortunately the debauchery we had in mind was not rearing its rear. So, we moved onward. Fast forward to the strip club, you know the one where “strippers go to die”. We stumbled down the steps completely amped up to see flaming nipples and chug cheap ass beer, but to our dismay we arrived too late. A crisis had come upon us. The night could not end here! There was no way we were simply going to call it quits and trek back to the apartment to guzzle wine until day break. We wanted to do that sort of thing in public, surrounded by like-minded individuals. You can’t Google “what to do late night in Atlanta” and come up with anything that would of satiated our craving for down-right foul entertainment. Fortunately for us, the solution literally rolled up at our feet.
Enter the “Fantasy Ride”. From the outside it looks like someone stole a retro mini-greyhound out of a junkyard, slapped some tires on it and rode off into the night. It emerged behind us almost like a phoenix rising from the surrounding shards of broken glass, cigarette butts and car shrapnel. I thought nothing of it; perhaps it was a rehab-facility rounding up one of its rouge patients or a hood rat party bus. As we started the walk back out to our car, we heard a muffled shout come from behind us. Perhaps it was a hooker; we love to kick back with hookers. So, instinctively we turned around, and little did we know we were being beckoned by The Fantasy Ride’s owner and driver himself. My mind wants to make him out to be some sort of dirty-south train conductor hybrid with a top-hat, striped over-all’s and a grill, but in all actuality I think he wore the outfit of a valet. I knew that this guy had thrown this act together in almost a dog and pony show kind of fashion, and was pretty desperate for the cash sans the ring-leader –like gestures. We walked up the steps into a strip-joint on wheels. The mini-fridge was stocked with various half-bottles of liquor, and the girls were clad in bikinis and go-go boots that gleamed in the black light. Two rows of traditional bus seats sat in the front, only to lead down to the gutted middle of the bus where a pole had been placed and benches for the dancers to relax. Due to the fact that it was my girlfriend’s birthday, we felt the need to announce the occasion in case there were any Fantasy Ride birthday specials.
A particularly wily stripper wrapped her glowing three-inch nails around my lady’s wrist and lead her behind the curtain to peak at the VIP room (and her suggested birthday prize), which was a bed waiting for the next high-roller.
The normal chit-chat ensued between the conductor and us, colored by mentions of cocaine connections, the price of a lap dance, and free rides to the grocery store. Unfortunately my friends and I did not come fiscally prepared and had to decline the mobile muff diving magnificence. Stepping down from the Fantasy Ride we grabbed the ring-leader’s number and willed ourselves to return with convictions deeper than religion.
Since then, I have been unable to find that legendary bus, and it has harpooned a hole in my cavernous, black heart. One day I will, and I’ll return with a truck load of stories and cocoa butter slathered all over my lap and probably my face, too. It is a delightful thought, though, that somewhere probably during the evening, there’s this slew of characters carting their way around. There’s a certain charm that associates itself with attractions so boldly taboo, for me at least. Yes, I understand that the initial whimsy of something that’s probably really damn illegal is the first enticing factor, but once you really get in on the action, there’s an underlying amalgam of freedom, recklessness and desperation that is viciously intoxicating. Or maybe that was the dark liquor coursing through my veins. Either way, The Fantasy Ride cultivated a sense of gaudy mischief that I still think/talk about a year later. With my girlfriend’s birthday rounding the corner, so does the very first anniversary of our short trip on The Fantasy Ride. Perhaps the stars have willed another scantily clad voyage for us.