Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
by Joan Jobe Smith

It’s hard to believe today how bellybuttons
once drove men crazy in 1965, bellybuttons
the raison d’être, Original Sin of go-go bars
when French bikinis were still banned on
California state beaches and American tv
and I wouldn’t wear a bikini at first, I just
wore leotards or costumes showing just a bit
of midriff, the go-go bar owners not caring,
a shy new go-go girl gave the place class, but it
drove the guys crazy, one guy one day offering me
$20 to show him my bellybutton and I told him
No, I don’t have one, but he didn’t believe me.
I’m a Martian, I told him, but he didn’t believe
that either, he just got drunker and drunker
and yelled at me all afternoon, Hey, Baby,
lemme see yer bellybutton Baby but I kept on saying
It’s all so silly nowadays.
I sure could’ve used that $20 back then in 1965.
I still could.

SOURCE: This poem appears in Charles Bukowski Epic Glottis: His Art, His Women (&me), by Joan Jobe Smith, available at

Photo: Joan Jobe Smith, 1969, The Playgirl Club, Garden Grove, California