Thunder La Boom (1974)

Anne Steinhardt
Viking Adult

Despite a cover that suggests lady warriors about to do battle aboard mastodons in middle earth, this is in fact a novel about a strip club in San Jose.  The blurb describes it as a "California style" novel, which I think is 70's code for a relatively plotless series of episodes adding up to a larger sociocultural revelation.

Twenty-something Peter is hitching up the coast from Mexico after a failed reconciliation with his alcoholic lounge-singer Mom in Acapulco.  The thumb lottery lands him in a cheap motel in San Jose that comes with the job of doorman at Obie's, a scuzzy strip joint where the girls appear "topless and bottomless" rather than just simply "nude."  Once atop his stool outside the door, Peter tells us pretty much everything you would want to know about the strip club business in San Jose in the 1970s: how to spot cops; how the dancers hold beer trays to force tips; division of labor in the bar; strategies for musical accompaniment; the circuit of amateurs and agency talent, etc.  Eventually we focus on the life of Callie ("Thunder La Boom"), a 34-year-old mother of two who drives in from San Fransisco each day for her 6pm-2am shift.  Then it just gets sad. 

Steinhardt followed this book a couple years later with How to Get Balled in Berkeley, also under the "Viking Adult" imprint.

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