Jagger, He Comes and Goes

by BJ Janiec

All of a sudden, the girls on the stage in front of us have disappeared and we have no clue where the hell they went.

1991. A random Tuesday. Well past midnight, bleary-eyed and exhausted having consumed our share already, a few friends and I pull up to our final stop, the iconic Body Shop in West Hollywood on Sunset Strip, our limo stretching on the curb in front of the drab not-so-iconic-looking building. (“Drab” is a Lloyd Wright-sized compliment here. The exterior looks like the painter urfed dirty yellow stucco over it and, hell, just left it; roof rimmed in strip-club-obligatory red neon tubing; a few faux Grecian goddess sculptures [molded from that white plaster pigeons can never resist] ducking beneath scrawny palms lining the parking lot and one of my favorite forensic signs of all time towering above the building’s corner so commuters on the Strip can see, “Live Nude . . . Girls Girls Girls.” Each time I pass it, makes me chuckle. Live Nude.)

But we’re not here for the building’s exterior, or any deceased nudes. It’s the waning hours of a friend’s bachelor party and we’re here for what’s inside.

But, “Seriously. What the hell?”

I glance around. A throbbing disco subwoofer vibrates the room as if it’s a weekend night, but it’s midweek in the a.m. and the place is nearly empty. And it’s dark — so dark, as I scan the room, it feels like I’m filtering through infrared. But no girls.

I spot my friend, John, heading to a table two stages away. The target: a lone man seated there, drink in hand, flanked by two guys in suits, built like linebackers. They look like bodyguards.

And, oh shit, there’s the girls. All of them, gyrating on stage in front of this dude, more spilling out from backstage. Maybe John’s going for the girls. But no, the suits cut him off as he approaches the table; John lingers. Then the man beckons him closer. They exchange words, a handshake.

A moment later.

“Frickin’ Mick Jagger! I can’t believe it! I just went over there to tell him what a huge fan I am, and he’s like, ‘Thanks, mahn.’” John’s still staring at his trembling hand in disbelief.

I’m squinting. The strippers in true stripper fashion are still trying hard to out-stripper one another on the stage in front of him, bees to honey. And here’s Mick. He’s like in his late forties, rail thin, his eyes not wavering from them. It looks more like an examination than audition — and what I’m really wondering is: What is Mick Jagger doing alone in a strip joint on a random Tuesday night? Hasn’t this guy had enough, uh, companionship in his life? How much is too much? Don’t you just reach a point?

I start running titles from the entire Stones’ catalogue through my mind — ”She’s Like a Rainbow,” “Satisfaction,” “Honky Tonk Woman,” Sympathy for the Devil,” “Brown Sugar,” — trying to match the song with the moment, but nothing’s sticking.

We hang out at our table awhile longer, manage to hustle a lap dance for the groom-to-be, finish our spiked colas, then walk to cars parked on the hilly, apartment-crammed sidestreets off the Strip. I feel like I always do heading back in the early morning from any venue in LA, heels announcing themselves on the pavement in the darkness — I feel alone. Engine idling, I sit for a moment, feeling the warm SoCal air, smelling the jasmine, absorbing the night, the twinkling power grid of LA’s Westside cascading before me.

And then it dawns on me: “Ruby Tuesday.”

Lose your dreams and you will lose your mind.”

Even Mick.