You have to go up two flights of stairs and into a mostly dark room where hip-hop plays loudly to see where suspended senator Patrick Brazeau works now.
There is a stage and mirrors and, of course, a brass pole at the Ottawa strip club.
It’s busier at the BareFax Gentleman's Club than you might imagine for a Wednesday afternoon. There are about two dozen men sitting drinking beer, some eating the roast beef lunch.
Many of them are watching the Olympic men's hockey game, Canada vs. Latvia. Others are sitting quietly chatting with some of the dancers, most of them dressed in neon bikinis and small dresses.
Most of the dancers perform for just one song, undressing slowly, then leaving the stage to a smattering of applause.
I don’t see Brazeau immediately, so I sit down to order a drink. I’m the only woman here who isn’t dancing or serving drinks.
A woman named Foxy approaches and compliments me on my bag. She’s wearing a neon pink bikini and the tallest high heels I’ve ever seen. She just started work today and hasn’t had a chance to meet the new day manager yet. She heads off to get ready for her performance.
Brazeau comes down from the upstairs with what looks like the remains of his own roast beef lunch.
Mouths to feed
I jump up and say, "Hello."
He seems surprised to see me. We are both a little out of context.
His hair is still short, slicked back, and he’s wearing a velvet black blazer — he’s dressed for work.
Brazeau says he’s doing OK, his health is better, he’s learning the ropes on his second day. He doesn’t seem thrilled with his new job, but neither is he embarrassed.
“It is what it is," Brazeau says, “I’ve got four mouths to feed,” referring to his children.
I ask how people are treating him so far. “Better than at my old job,“ he quips.
Isabelle, another dancer, comes along to chat and offer me some “company." When I tell her I’m a reporter, the conversation turns to Brazeau. She has only met him briefly and has no idea who he is or who he was. She doesn’t follow mainstream news, she tells me. She doesn’t really care who he is anyway.
She is a little miffed, however, with how the day has unfolded. Earlier she got a text from one of her best customers who told her he wouldn’t be at the club today — too many cameras. She smiles and tells me she knows he’ll be back.
The cameras are gone now.
The club and the dancers are hoping they can just get back to their regular, rather discreet work.
I ask Brazeau whether he expects to see other people he knows at the club.
“It might attract some other clientele now, “ he says with a smile. It is true it's just a five-minute walk from his former place of employment.
He disappears through a back door marked Employees Only. The hockey game is over and Canada managed to win. Most of the gentlemen cheer and get up to leave.