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[whitespace] Lingerie shop rolls out dressing room with a view

By Traci Hukill

NEWSPAPER WRITERS are generally discouraged from revealing too much of themselves. But some subjects call for a personal touch, and I believe this is one of them. In fact, loyal readers should know that this could be my last Metro story, because I think I've found my true calling.

The realization was swift and deadly. I'd been dispatched to Pierre Silber Boots and Shoes on Park Avenue to report on the lingerie store's unusual dressing room, specifically its mirrored stage and brass rail. I knew some things going in--that LeatherMasters was next door and that women who dance for a living sometimes shopped here--but otherwise the store was an unknown quantity. As I was perusing the store's selection of corsets, fishnet dresses and Rubba-Wear crotchless panties, I was greeted by Silber himself, a trim, tanned man dressed nattily in Hawaiian shirt and cotton slacks.

"Normally, people come into a shop and they're in a fog," Silber explained, leading the way past boxes of patent leather jackboots and through a curtain in the back. "What we do"--he stopped before the small stage and switched on the stereo with the toe of his tennis shoe--"is let them see how they really look with the merchandise on."

Immediately the funky disco tune The Storie's "Brother Louie" started playing, the lights dimmed and a fog machine poofed white mist from the corner. The brass rail gleamed in the glow of the black lights.

"It's amazing how well this works," Silber went on modestly. "We have girls come in with guys who don't want any part of shopping, but then they see the stage and they want her to try on everything in the store."

He said a lot of transvestites come here, too. The key to his success, he said, is maintaining an open but respectful environment. Sex is strictly forbidden and privacy is respected.

"We don't just sell shoes or clothing," he finished. "We sell fantasy."

"Everybody gets to be a star here," added manager Angel Hall, who had come in even though it was her day off. She and Silber hustled off to put together an outfit for me so I could experience stardom Pierre Silber-style for myself.

Some debate ensued over what color bustier would be best, with red and black finally trumping pink and white. Thigh-high stockings followed, along with black gloves and a red boa. What size heel did I prefer?

The biggest one, of course.

"Put her in Sultry," Silber commanded, and Hall produced a pair of black patent-leather 4-inch-platform monsters with 7 1/2-inch spike heels. I was left alone to figure out what to cinch and how to walk in my new getup--a complex task.

At last I clomped onto the stage in the gargantuan Sultries, seized the brass rail for support, and tried some tentative moves to the music. The black lights came on, the fog machine hissed once or twice, and before I knew it "Afternoon Delight" was playing and I had mastered strutting across the stage. (There is no mere "walking" in a pair of Sultries. One totters, wobbles, struts or straddles, or just stands in place.)

Then came the showgirl-style feather headdress and masks, and I was a goner. How could I resist myself as Ice Capades dancer? Including the plumage, I was over 7 feet tall! It was then that the charms of journalism--the deadline pressure, the carpal tunnel pain--began to pale, and I thought, From now on my life is about feather headdresses, thigh-high stockings and satin bustiers!

I had stepped into the towering patent-leather shoes of Snoopy Rinehart, and they had changed me.

I think the hardest part will be adjusting to my new name. I took it from the dependable porn-star formula of combining my first pet's name with my grandmother's maiden name. When the joke went around the office a couple of years ago, other people gleefully flaunted monikers like Fluffy LaRoux and Snowball Hart. I felt like a hungry kid opening a sack lunch and finding, well, dog food.

Snoopy Rinehart isn't so bad, though. As part of my new exotic dancer persona, I'm developing a fledgling spirituality, a trusting naiveté strangely at odds with my worldly appearance. Whenever I start to worry that my acting career will never take off, I just remember, "Everything happens for a reason. I'm in God's hands." So Snoopy it is, at least until I make it big.

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From the July 22-28, 1999 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 1999 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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