It's about 7:30 p.m., and the lipsticked, perfumed girls on the third floor of The Cashew are getting drunk -- drunk enough to pay hundreds of dollars for men some of them are way too sexy to date.
Some of the bachelors are as old as 60, some as young as 20. Some are homely, while some look downright tasty. Armed with this cast of man-candy, the American Cancer Society is hoping to raise serious money to help fight cancer through the charm of these 18 Kansas City bachelors. But the show is starting soon, and I only count 17 men. It looks like Airick West, president of the Kansas City school board, has chickened out.
Pretty blond girls from the American Cancer Society corral the men into a line-up. The show is about to start, but the men continue to verbally lube up the ladies to bid on them. One bachelor, a union organizer named Aaron Jones, slips a hand around my waist. "You got the Pitch credit card," he whispers in my ear. "Put it on the card baby, put it on the card." Another bachelor offers to pull out his cock for a photograph.
And then West walks in, his hands in his pockets. He cuts through the throngs of twittering women straight to his place in line and doesn't speak to anybody.
The show begins.
Man after man mounts the catwalk, poses, and descends knowing the monetary value assigned to him by the other sex. "Ladies, LOOK at the UNIFORM!" the emcee implores when there's a lull in the bidding for a Navy man. A placard goes up.
While shrill voices scream to "take it off" and the bachelors compare their personal price tags, West sits alone on a chair in a dark corner, behind a makeshift curtain next to the men's bathroom. He tells me he's trying not to think about going on stage. "I've always been frustrated with the misogyny inherent in American culture," he says. "I think part of why I'm so uneasy here -- I've never had this blatant objectification. When you're constantly trying to comply with standards of femininity ... I've never had that kind of pressure and I gotta say, it really sucks."
Though he's glad it's for a good cause, West would rather not be here. "I owed a friend a favor. I'm paying my debts -- but in the future I'll find other ways." West's date includes dinner, salsa dance lessons, limo service, and personal paparazzi for the evening. He didn't have a choice in the activities. But the organizers did grant one request of his: for it to be a double date with a Congressman friend and his wife.
It's almost time for West to be sold, and an American Cancer Society girl ushers him to the foot of the catwalk. "You ok?" she asks. "You're up next."
West climbs up the stairs and takes the stage. The girls nearly explode from shrieking. "Airick is a very unique sexy gentleman. He LOVES to LEARN!!" coos the emcee.
West paces the catwalk, eyes down, smileless. A blond American Cancer Society rep jumps onstage and underlines West's butt with her hand. This makes the girls go crazy, and two women engage in a placard-raising showdown for an evening with him. "Look at this FACE!!" says the emcee. West raises a skeptical eyebrow and looks uncomfortable.
One woman finally reaches a breaking point, and #428 wins an evening with West for $1,000. The emcee is thrilled. "One of our most humble, quiet bachelors -- bringing in the MOST MONEY!" she cries as West hugs his new sugar mama. He walks off as a new guy hops onstage, visions of shirt-removal already dancing in his head.