Howard Stern brought stripping out of the shadows and into the main stream, featuring strippers of all types, shapes and sizes on his radio show from the earliest days. In the beginning mainstream media dismissed this as crass and inappropriate. Now there are stripper aerobics in your neighborhood mall, and my daughter listens to Top Ten songs on AM radio about strippers. Next I predict the Coca Cola Stripping Finals in Daytona Beach. Howard’s great good sense was to pull our American appetites out of the shadows and shine the light of humor and satire on them.
Howard was also poking fun at these beauty pageants and the essential hypocrisy of them long before they started self-destructing. On his show he had lesbian beauty contests, retarded beauty contests, tranny beauty contests (that one was just last week—so weird I couldn’t even listen). For years Miss Howard Stern has been a pill-addled booze-addicted unemployed blond who couldn’t string four words together. And don’t forget the title of Howard’ second book, on whose cover he posed as a beauty queen: “MIss America.” Howard long sensed that the beauty contests embodies so much that is hypocritical and ripe for satire in our culture: the myth of purity and chastity, the pressure of ideal beauty, the implicit cruelty of somebody sitting in judgment on someone else.
Finally, Howard long understood the insatiable, secretive, repressed level of horniness lurking like a locked-up dog in the American closet. He was getting “average” girls naked on his show long before reality TV made fortunes doing the same. He knew that the hunger was so great, that a woman could get headlines just for peeling off her shirt.
Now all these two trends collide: with pictures of Rima Fakih on the pole, the stripper beauty pageant is now entirely mainstream—the world has caught up to Howard Stern.
And if Howard would draw a lesson from the Rima Fakih scandal, it’s likely this: it’s a better world for us all when half-naked Arab-Americans are on stripper poles in Michigan rather than in jail cells in Guantanamo.