It was a normal Tuesday night. I put on my fishnets, short black skirt and trench coat and called a cab. Wait a minute. I'm not a prostitute and this is definitely not a normal night. But on this wonderful evening, a friend and I decided to venture to the Cardinal Bar for its once-a-month Fetish Night. Or maybe I dragged her with me by her hooker boots, but either way, we checked it out.
I have to admit, we were a bit nervous (mainly that the cab driver would actually think we were selling ourselves), but once we arrived at the East Wilson Street bar, we realized we were dressed tamely … and we weren't in Kansas — or at least not on campus — anymore.
At first glance, there was a schoolgirl, some leather get-ups, a kilt and full-body camouflage … we took a few more slow steps in and WHOA! Two men in one-foot-tall bee-hive wigs, huge bug-eye sparkly sunglasses, fluffy dresses, bling and long gloves chatted happily on bar stools like little girls. They were straight out of the movie Hairspray, but it was like Hairspray on crack.
"Dot" and "Goldie" had a little fetish — and it was dressing drag. The two men — err … "Big-haired sisters!" — made their costumes themselves and found some goods at a second-hand store.
Dot was covered in black and white polka dots all the way down to her polka-dotted high-heeled shoes and socks. Goldie went for the glamorous look with a metallic gold dress with a butterfly on the back and lipstick, which she reapplied multiple times with a little black compact mirror. It took them about an hour and a half to get ready. "We had to shave first!" Goldie said.
My friend and I decided we needed a drink. Now. We walked our conservative fish-netted legs up to the bar and BAM! There was a naked ass on a school night right in front of me! Shocking moment two: the male bartenders wear black thongs and tennis shoes — and that's all. Cory, the bartender, said he didn't mind the thong. He's been doing it for ten years — and he had a very nice butt. He got into the Fetish Night and had some black cat-eye eyeliner on too.
I asked Cory what were some of the craziest things he had seen over the past ten years of bartending. He laughed in my face and kept serving drinks. Apparently, over ten years, he has seen a lot of things he didn't want to talk about — like the guy who supposedly follows you into the bathroom and asks if he can drink your pee for $500. Lovely. But he did tell me the weirdest costume to walk in the doors of the Cardinal Bar was a guy wearing only a werewolf mask and a two-foot-long dildo. Hey, I think it's past my bedtime!
Dot and Goldie walked past the bar and moved to the dance floor in their tall wigs and high heels. A couple people gathered around to watch them shake their stuff. The $5 cover, we soon learned, was to prevent too many lame tourists from checking out the Fetish Night action without participating. There were a handful of businessmen still in their suits who walked up the aisle and checked out all the scantily clad people.
"Can I buy you girls a drink?" one of the super-classy men asked as he eyed our fishnets. "How about two? HA!" No thanks dude. "We're together," my friend said as she grabbed my hand. There's a fetish for you, sir.
After getting our drinks, we moseyed our way to the other end of the bar, right between a couple more interesting characters. Meet Marsha. But this wasn't Marsha Brady — Marsha was a man. A tall, skinny, older man with a fabulous wide-brim black hat, a tight black dress and long, high-heeled legs. I asked Marsha what her fetish was. "Leather. High heels. Corsets. Leather gloves," she repeated as if it was a grocery list. Can I remind you that Marsha is a man?
I asked her where she found her fashionable ensemble. "The dress is from E-bay! And the hat — Target! Everyone wants to talk about the hat." Marsha wasn't just about the looks. She was definitely in touch with her feminine side. I think Marsha, Dot and Goldie reaffirmed my belief that men secretly want to be women — or at least dress like them. I saw too many cross-dressers on Halloween (Dorothy, Mac?) for it to be a coincidence.
Marsha (I really want her hat!) was standing next to an older man in leather pants, a leather vest and a leather hat. Leather Man said the Inferno is where the really crazy Fetish Nights are. As we walked away, he told me to let him know if I see any schoolgirls. "Naughty schoolgirls are a big fetish of mine. I came equipped!" he said while tapping a whip on his hand.
Again with the schoolgirl fetish! It was one of the most conservative outfits at the bar, yet so many guys, old and young, seemed to love it. An older, overweight woman with sagging boobs was wearing a too-short plaid skirt with granny panties and knee-highs and the guys still loved it.
I judged a male beauty pageant on campus Thursday — well, a "male pageant of talent and wit" — and the final question we asked them during their preliminary interviews was "What is your wildest sexual fantasy?" (My favorite answer was the dairy science major whose sexual fantasy involved makin' some love in the pasture, under the stars.) The schoolgirl fantasy definitely ranked high and was basically considered a given.
On a side note, the rest of the sexual fantasies had to do with more than one girl … all in Catholic school girl uniforms, of course. Getting with more than one girl at a time is like the guy's Olympic gold medal of sex or something. Doing it with your professor in a lecture hall right before class starts was a fun fantasy, and there was some discussion about having sex on Abraham Lincoln's lap on Bascom Hill. Has anyone done it before? Supposedly. I'm from The Land of Lincoln, though, so I feel like that would be sacrilegious.
Regardless of the fetish or sexual fantasy, I give the leather-clad and cross-dressing customers credit for displaying their deep desires under the neon lights of the Cardinal Bar. If you want to spice up your Tuesday night next month, check out December's Fetish Night. And don't be afraid to dress up … Dot and Goldie won't judge you.
Aubre Andrus is a senior double majoring in journalism and communication arts. She wants to give a shout-out to the one girl who didn't mind having her name and picture published on the front page of 16,000 copies of Wednesday's Badger Herald for the Playboy auditions. Aubre can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.