Heading north on I65, not far after you cross the Tennessee state line, sits a tiny town called Elkton. Driving the short stretch of highway from Athens, AL to Elkton, you will see a barrage of signs for showgirls and exotic dancers. They promise that exotic entertainment awaits, just take exit 6, past the large chicken with the missing fork.
The club is aptly named, The Boobie Bungalow Gentlemen’s club. No joke. Although, I fear that visitors of the establishment probably see very few boobies, and even less gentlemen.
I often wonder as I cross the Alabama state line into Tennessee, to purchase my lottery tickets, what kind of exotic dancer you can expect to find in Elkton, TN. Let’s face it, Elkton isn’t exactly Las Vegas. It’s not even Atlantic City. Elkton, with a population just over five-hundred, is a city for weary truck drivers, looking for grub, a tub, and a rub.
Mainly, the use of the word ‘showgirls’ in the advertisements is what puzzles me. When I see ‘showgirls’ I think of tall, statuesque, model types, wearing big feather headdresses and sequined costumes. I envision feather boas, and stilettos, on stage behind an act like Wayne Newton. Why would women like that travel south to a truck-stop town to perform? Let’s face it, they wouldn’t. This can only mean one thing. The advertisements are wrong. These aren’t showgirls. They’re young, or probably not so young, women, with few to no choices. Oh, I’m not trying to pity them, or turn them into some sort of commentary on how women in disadvantaged socio-economic situations can become exploited or used, although I do believe they can, I’m just trying to point out that perhaps the word ‘showgirls’ doesn’t apply.
I don’t suppose an advertisement with the phrase “Girls with no other opportunities get necked for a few bucks” would have the same appeal. In fact, it might even make the “gentlemen” stop and think for a moment, “Do I really want to see this? Yes, I do.” But at least they would have thought about it.
Elkton does have a couple of gas stations, and a fast food joint or two, and Shady Lawns, a truck stop with the aforementioned giant chicken in front. The chicken, who has seen better days, at one point had a giant fork and a knife tucked under each wing, but the fork is now missing – stolen is the official story (probably hanging in someone’s dormroom as a memento of a wild night spent at the Boobie Bungalow). The chicken’s paint is chipping, and he’s faded, much like the town of Elkton.
I must admit here and now that I have never been inside the Boobie Bungalow Club, so I can’t with any expert knowledge say what the ‘showgirls’ really look like, or what they do, for that matter. I’m just making a broad assumption based on observations of the kinds of women small, depressed southern towns have to offer, and a worn out chicken.
So, the next time you’re taking I65 North towards Nashville, or South towards Athens, turn off on exit 6. Have a look around. Then let me know if you ventured into the strip club. I’d like to know of the exotic offering of Elkton, Tennessee. Drop a line. And don’t forget to snap a picture of the big chicken, sans the fork.