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  HEAVY PETTING, ER, PANTING.  
   
   
 

It's early evening on a Monday night, and the line to get into the Penthouse Executive Club stretches to the end of the block. Tonight is the coronation (passing of the thong?) for the 2005 Penthouse Pet of the Year, Martina Warren.

Taking a look at the crowd, it's not surprising that it is comprised

 

 

mostly of men who are impatient after waiting in line for almost an hour. The crowd is testosterone-heavy, with ages ranging from 20-something wannabes to 50+ regulars with slicked-back hair and baptized in heavy cologne. These men are wearing suits or their coolest black club clothes on a cold evening in November.

A group of young guys eagerly waiting to get in say, "We came because it's Penthouse. It's a goof!"

Obviously Penthouse doesn't have the same cachet among gentlemen's magazines that

 
 

Playboy enjoys. If this event were at Hef's mansion, there would likely be lots of famous people. Instead, the only celebrities spotted are comedians Gilbert Gottfried, Jeffrey Ross and that guy Ralph who got the "Queer Eye" makeover last year. Which I guess counts. Of

 
 

course, porn star Tera Patrick made the cut, not to be confused with "Desperate Housewives" star Teri Hatcher.

Hanging out at a strip club means that a man can leave his politically correct vocabulary at home. The guys here were the sleaziest, rudest, most licentious men ever gathered in one place. Except, of course, for the ones who are at the Penthouse Executive Club every other night.

The way some of the guys leer when one of the Penthouse Pets walked by is like something out of a cartoon -- eyes bugging out of their heads, rolling around on the floor; jaw dropping and dangling

 

 

just above the ground. One middle-aged man, asked why he made the trip said, "Because of the naked girls, and it's wild."

The first runner-up of the 2005 Penthouse Pet of the Year was available for photographs in the ladies room. Her name, inexplicably,

 
 

was not released. But perhaps not so surprising considering she was being photographed in a bathroom. A blond woman boldly took a picture of Miss First Runner-Up and said, "My husband is gonna love this!" The girls, whoever they are, are giving lap dances everywhere. And it's not even 8 p.m. That's when the real trouble starts.

When 8 p.m. arrives, the ceremonies are over, and since the club gets down to regular business after eight, the photo ops are over and the press is gone. The club transforms from being just a big dance club near the West Side Highway to being a real live strip club. There are ladies on stage wearing diaphanous lingerie and partnered with poles. The Penthouse Pet of the Year is nowhere to be seen.

 
 

The men were like kids in a porn-candy store, not knowing what piece of sweetness to choose. A man near me received concurrent lap dances from two abundantly-breasted women. He laughed to his friends: "I don't know where to look."

What is particularly touching is that a lap dance costs only $20, but a bottle of Belvedere vodka costs $300. Is that really what the market will bear? Or bare? Maybe the girls should be compensated more, but it seems that everyone working in New York is a whore.

Of course, I got into this thing free.

 

Nichelle is a Southern belle who loves New York and produces a monthly comedy show called "Chicks and Giggles." Visit her site here: http://nichellenewsletter.typepad.com.