It is 9 p.m. and I'm sitting on the concrete basement floor underneath Chicago's legendary Schubas Tavern, being interviewed about my upcoming album, Felony Flats.
The journalist is bubbly and well-prepared: She knows I produced the record myself and she knows the names of the guys who played on it. She asks thoughtful but perfunctory questions -- why did I move to Portland from California, how daunting was it to produce my own album and do I ever get tired of playing my cover of T.I.'s "Whatever You Like"?
As showtime nears and I try to wrap things up, I notice she is anxious to ask one last burning question.
"I'm sorry, but what I really want to talk about is your Huffington Post article. Has it changed everything? I mean, have you just been inundated with guys asking you out now??"
It's not the first time I've been asked this question. Since the last column posted, every radio DJ, blogger and music writer I've talked with has asked the same thing.
The answer, of course, is no. Nothing has changed. But the story did fill my inbox with commiserating remarks from my fellow female performers, amateur gender-theory hypotheses from dude friends and thought-provoking questions from HuffPost commenters.
My first column dispelled the myth that female performers get tons of action on the road, and wondered why. Some commenters had it all figured out.
@Pole Dancing for Jesus: "The answer is easy, and the author must know it. Women don't get any action because they don't want any."
When I posed this theory to my rock-lady circle, their answers proved Pole Dancing only partially right.
"[Connecting with men] isn't really a priority for me when I'm on the road," said my friend Tristan Prettyman, a songwriter based in San Diego. "For me, tour consists of trying to get as much rest as I can, playing rad shows, eating good food, and hitting up local boutiques."
And in a recent interview, comedian Jen Kirkman said, of touring: "For a chick it's not that great. There aren't, like, male groupies necessarily. It's not that exciting. It's not like I want to meet strangers and take them to my room or hang out with them."
"I don't necessarily want to take some guy home after a show," countered one successful lady-in-rock friend who (interestingly?) asked to remain anonymous. "But I'd love to have a drink, a conversation, have some connection with someone that -- who knows? -- might lead to something." (OK, so maybe @Slowtrain9 wasn't so far off the mark in commenting, "I'm confused. On one hand you are bemoaning the lack of SexyFunTimes™, and on the other you propose that most women don't go into this game looking for male groupie types. Maybe it's the mixed signals you're sending out.")
A lot of male commenters, as well as my male friends, proffered theories about the emasculating power of a woman on stage. One, a movie producer, claimed to have read a study that proved that while women become sexually aroused when watching a man perform (think: The Beatles' 1964 tour), the opposite doesn't happen. "I think most men secretly or not-so-secretly wish to care for their partner and be looked up to and admired, so the reversal interferes with some classic gender roles."
As commenter @jbrandimore put it, "Whether we care to admit it or not, men at some primordial level do like to be a knight in shining armor. When confronted with a talented, powerful, successful and beautiful woman, most of us probably think we don't have a ton to offer her, so we don't consider ourselves to be that appealing to such a woman."
The situation can be even more fraught when the guy in question is a fellow musician.
"Dudes want to be the center of attention," says Austin singer-songwriter Bob Schneider. "We want to be the death dealer. The biggest dick in the room, so to speak, and if everyone is paying attention to someone else, it makes me edgy to say the least. I have to get the f**k out of that environment. But I've got serious problems."
Though he admits he's attracted by watching talented women perform, Schneider says he's also majorly intimidated. "I usually think there must be something wrong with them. Why are they trying so hard? You don't have to try when you are an attractive woman. Feels like a bit of a red flag."
Back at Schubas, the set is over and I've signed every CD and taken every last fan picture at the merch booth. I see one tall guy in the corner, eyeing me, head turned down. He is waiting for the last straggler to walk away from the booth, leaving me there alone.
I wonder if he's shy and I plan on saying hello, but before I even get the chance, he leans past the booth right into my immediate space. I can feel his breath on my forehead, a passing whiff of whiskey on his lips. "Alright," he says, sounding and looking more like Don Draper by the passing second, "I say you and me go get a bourbon in the next room and call it a day."
I am momentarily thrilled. It can't be! A real guy who knows what he wants, and what he wants is to take me in the other room for a drink? Sign me up!
I take half a moment to try to temper my excitement only to blurt out, "Finally! Let's get outta here!!"
The man looked up at me, shocked for a second as if I was kidding and said, "Hey, it's me, Steve, from your management office. I was kidding!"