Laureen Vonnegut

The Crotch Pit


Out of the Crotch Pit


Black and white photos
with glowing dates shown. They appear to be 35-40 years old, but from the
dates we know they were taken in 1996.

Petrol lines.

Two old men playing
accordian and drum underneath underpass near Pizza Hut.

Gypsy cardboard

Reused X-rated
plastic bags being carried by old ladies.

Mafia guys with
mobile phones and shiny Mercedes.

Newspaper sellers
in middle of streets.

Potatoe people.

Guinea pig man
selling fortunes.

of people waiting for trams, dressed in thin shoes and worn frayed coats.

Druzba apartments
with cooling towers in background.


Five men and two women,
of mixed nationalities, sway into a topless go-go bar called Klub Amerikan. The
girlie clock behind the bar reads
; the half hour hand slicing
between two shimmering legs.

Strobe lights slash
through smoke. The room is full of older men, and younger, much younger
dancers. Centered in the room is a raised stage on which a G-stringed, ostrich
plumed woman dances to the Village People. She pantomimes words while eyeing
her body in the mirror. Four metal poles run from ceiling to stage. The dancer
sashays up to a pole, wraps her legs around it and swings around in circles
until she reaches the floor. A full-length mirror backs the stage and beyond
the mirror is a raised semi-circle walkway.

Nested within the
semi-circle is the crotch‑pit. Six or seven women recline on a low bench,
their legs stretched upward, high heels resting on a metal bar. The inner
sections of their hot pants and G-strings are white, so all you see in the
black light is glowing crotches. They smoke cigarettes out of red and white
Lucky Strike boxes.

Behind the walkway are
several tables, on one of them are two men lying on their backs flicking their
tongues at taut buttocks being swung in front of their faces, and laughing like
children in a playground. The women, one by one, emerge from the crotch‑pit
half-heartedly strutting by the newcomers.

WOMAN tosses her jacket
over the bar and checks her lipstick in a mirror behind the bar. She watches
the women from the crotch pit walk by in the reflection of the mirror. Second
woman in group, tall blond, orders seven tequila shots. Someone taps woman on
the shoulder. She turns slowly, reluctant to move her gaze from the mirror and
watch the scene before her without the aid of the reflection. She is handed a
shot of tequila, which she drinks with her eyes closed.

MAN from the group pulls
first woman toward the stage and she resists at first, but gives in
momentarily. They move onto the center stage where the ostrich plumed dancer
twirls. They dance, groin to groin and she stares into the mirror behind the
stage, watching the dancer spin around them, the dancer never breaking the gaze
with her own reflection.


Woman sits down at the
bar. Man sits on stool next to her.

MAN: (holds his head in his hands) What
am I doing here? (American accent)

WOMAN: You brought
us here. (English accent)

MAN: No, not

WOMAN: Oh. You
mean…what are you doing in

In front of them there
is an orgy on the circular stage that they are ignoring. One of their group,
Bulgarian man, in a rumpled business suit is surrounded by five nude women. One
sits astride him, one swirls her breasts in front of his face while flicking
her nipples, one behind him grinds her hips against his back and the other two
flit about like exotic hummingbirds.

Isn’t that a bit philosophical to be asked in a

� strip joint during the early hours of the morning?

MAN: (cocks his
head and squints at her)

WOMAN: Anyway,
tell me.

MAN: Business. At least I thought I was
doing business. But that was an illusion.

WOMAN: I’ve heard
it can be difficult.

MAN: Can be.
Fucking is.

(bangs her glass on the bar) We should have another


MAN: Business in
Bulgaria is an illusion, a delusion, a fantasy.

the orgy)


Another drink appears in
front of them.

Business and
Bulgaria. It’s like a guy

� dating a girl at boarding school. He’s got to meet

� her best friend and
make her think he’s cool and

� � won’t interfere with their
friendship and she resents

him anyway. Then he faces her
teachers, who think

he’ll take her away from her studies and
won’t ever

amount to anything. Last he confronts the headmaster

who simply hates him. Then once they’re on their

own, he’s
got to pay for a steak and margaritas and

at the end
of the night not only will she not kiss

him, but
she slams the door in his face.

WOMAN: You’re

MAN: This
fucking country.

WOMAN: (sipping
her drink) So, why did you bring us here?

One of the dinner group
sends over a lap DANCER to man. She emerges from the crotch pit and strips off
a bikini, leaving on a leopard print G-string. On her left cheek is a small,
black tattoo.

MAN: This is the
Bulgaria. (he smiles at the dancer)

dancing and drinking to shake off centuries of


WOMAN: Certainly
I’ve never seen shorter skirts.

MAN: They never
had short skirts. Or makeup. Or high heeled shoes.

� Their legs were stamped with black ink

if their
skirts were too short. (raises his eyebrows

and leans
toward woman) Tell me, why are you here?

WOMAN: It was the
best invitation I had after a tedious

dinner party. (poking him
in the arm with her finger)

You brought
me here. Remember?

MAN: No, in Bulgaria. You are new here, why did you come to Sofia?

WOMAN: Oh, that.

Dancer’s body curves to
the beat. She doesn’t look at man, but smiles at woman. Man looks around dancer
and continues the conversation while clutching her around the waist.

MAN: Journalist.


MAN: No?


MAN: Well.

Dancer unbuttons her
push‑up bra and twirls it above her head while straddling man’s legs. Her
hips move in wide circles.

WOMAN : Poetry.

MAN: You’ve come
Bulgaria to write…poetry?


MAN: Jesus
Chirst. Why?

WOMAN: I wanted to
be somewhere forgotten.

Dancer lifts a leg onto
the bar, holds her hands above her head and shakes her breasts. Her eyes keep
contact with woman.

MAN: Here you
are. What do you think?


MAN: (he stares toward the door as if
imagining what lies outside)

WOMAN: You like it

MAN: Why
wouldn’t I?

WOMAN: Not here.
Of course you like a strip club—

MAN: (interrupts
woman) Listen, these girls make good

They’ve got beautiful bodies, why shouldn’t

dance around and make more money in one night than most people make in month?

WOMAN: I don’t
want to argue about the ethics of stripping

and survivial, I simply asked you if you liked


MAN: Sure I do.
You know what they call it?

WOMAN: Tell me.

MAN: The Wild

WOMAN: Perfect.
The Wild East.

Man points to the
rumple-suited Bulgarian man being entertained by the five dancers.

MAN: See that
man? That man has the power to make or break

� my business here.

WOMAN: Mafia?

MAN: (shrugging) Mafia is a general
term. He is an official. I have to keep him happy.

A waiter places two more
drinks in front of them. Dancer pushes her hands under her breasts until they
are two round globes popping out in front of man’s face. She swivels her head
as if in ecstasy still while keeping gaze locked with woman.

WOMAN: Is she
angry with me? The dancer, why does she look

at me like
that? She’s angry.

MAN: No. Bulgarians don’t get angry.
This is the problem. Unless they get angry there will be no change.

WOMAN: Why the
look then?

MAN: She’s doing
her job. The girls don’t want to upset

any women. They gauge your reaction and keep in

touch with you.

WOMAN: She’s good
at it.

MAN: Yes.

Dancer finishes and man
shoves a handful of leva into the front of her G-string. She leaves, decorated
in leva.

Excuse me. (she walks toward the toilet)


The WC is decorated to
resemble an old bordello with marbled mirrors and a gilded ceiling. The back of
the stall door is red with an elaborately framed mirror hanging from it, and
the toilet seat is dull gold. Woman sits on the toilet, looking at her
reflection. The outside door opens and music pounds momentarily into the
bathroom. Heels click on tile.

not angry with you. (strong Bulgarian accent)

Woman peers through a
crack in the stall. It is the lap dancer.

WOMAN: You speak

DANCER: (adjusting
her G-string) Da, of course.

WOMAN: The others?

DANCER: Da. All the
girls. I am an uchitelka, an English

� � teacher.

WOMAN: My friend
explained you were not angry.

Woman flushes toilet and
emerges from stall.

difficult to make people angry here.

Dancer leans into the
mirror, dabs on red lipstick with abrupt movements.

WOMAN: But you are

DANCER: (snapping
lid onto lipstick) Yes.

WOMAN: You just
said you were not angry.

DANCER: I told you
I was not angry with you.

WOMAN: Then why?
Because you work here, in Klub Amerikan?

DANCER: Working
here, this is no problem. I am a dancer, I

� am lucky to dance. But I have three jobs. It is too

� much.

WOMAN: Three jobs.
Three jobs is a lot.

DANCER: You are a
poet. We do not have time to be poets.

WOMAN: (handing
the dancer her whiskey) What’s your name?

DANCER: (finishing
the whiskey) I shouldn’t drink.


DANCER: (sticks her
stomach out and slouches until there is

the slight
resemblance of a belly)

WOMAN: You’re

DANCER: (dancer
laughs a harsh laugh) We cannot afford babies

in Bulgaria. (she straightens and pinches her

stomach.) Too
many kilograms.

WOMAN: You must be
joking. You have the flatest stomach in

Bulgaria. Probably Eastern Europe. Maybe the world.

Woman opens a silver
cigarette case and offers dancer thin foreign cigarillos. Her lighter flashes
twice, reflecting a blaze in the mirrors around them.

DANCER: We are
weighed when we are hired. If we gain so

much as two
kilograms, we are fired. Or…( she

frowns) if
we converse with the clientele. There are

many things
we cannot do. (draws on her cigarette)

You are
writing about


DANCER: What I want
to know is…do the Americans even know

we are

WOMAN: (she does
not look at dancer directly, but looks at

her in the mirror)
Honestly…no. Not many.

DANCER: (inhales
cigarette and stares fiercely in mirror) Ah.

� � I know. We are not
forgotten, we are not even known.

WOMAN: You are
angry. My friend said there must be anger.

DANCER: Da. He is correct. But I am angry
with those in power. That’s who.


DANCER: The government is not in power. It’s

what they want. While the rest of
the country goes

there. (indicating the toilet)

Dancer grinds out
cigarette on floor and stares at her own reflection.

DANCER: (cont.) I
am tired of being silent.


DANCER: I have


DANCER: There are

WOMAN: Who will
know? No one will know.



The bouncer who throws
out dancer and woman has a neck thicker than dancer’s waist. He holds dancer’s
arm and escorts them through the club. The tall, blond woman is on stage
dancing with one of the girls from crotch pit and girl is showing her how to
swing on the bar with her legs splayed open. One of the men from the group is
sliding a ten thousand leva note in the bra of another dancer using only his
tongue and teeth. The dancer smiles too brightly, but moves closer, undulating
her stomach. The Bulgarian man in the rumpled suit is asleep in a chair.

At the door, the bouncer
shoves dancer, knocking her into American man who exits with them.

DANCER: Bastard.
My clothes.

MAN: (takes off
his jacket and holds it out) Here.

WOMAN: I don’t

DANCER: I know.
You are from the West.

MAN: And this is
the Wild East.

DANCER: (turns and
looks directly at man for the first time)

Why are you

MAN: I feel

DANCER: For Bulgaria?

MAN: For what
just happened.

are you in

MAN: Business.

DANCER: Then you

MAN: Yes.

DANCER: (she spits on one of the gleaming
Mercedes parked outside the club) It’s THEM. THEY listen.

They walk down the
street. To the left is Dimitrov’s empty mausoleum and coming up on the right,
the Socialist Party headquarters. The streets are quiet. Toward the east,
sunlight brightens the velvet blue sky.

WOMAN: I still don’t understand. Surely no
one watches you. Communism fell, they’re gone.

DANCER: (dancer
shakes her head)

MAN: It didn’t
fall, it changed names.

WOMAN: This is a
free place now.

DANCER: Free? You
call this free? What is freedom?

WOMAN: Tell me,

DANCER: I will tell
you. Freedom is enough money to have

time to live. I only

Dancer strides with her
shoulders thrust back, oblivious to the cold. Her high-heeled shoes slip on the
cobblestones. She curses, leans over and resting a hand on woman’s arm, pulls
her shoes off. She looks into woman’s eyes for several moments: turns and
throws them high, high into the air. They land on the top step of the socialist
party building stairs, bouncing until one of the heels snaps off, tumbles down
the steps and lands at the base.

Dancer turns back to
woman and is breathing hard. She gasps as if something has stung her and the
gasp turns into a low moan and then a scream. She screams and it bounces off
cobblestones, brick steps, stone walls until there is an echo sounding as if a
hundred and then thousands of Bulgarians are all joining in to her scream.