A woman sits on the edge of the dance floor at the Chapter III nightclub in Southeast Washington wearing a summery white pantsuit when the male stripper notices her. Slowly, he eases to his elbows and knees and slithers hypnotically to her feet.

As her eyes sparkle, the dancer suddenly whips her thighs across his shoulders and rises to his feet, his head in her lap. The crowd goes wild. It's "Ladies Only" night.

A hefty woman ambles onto the dance floor waving a fistful of dollars. As the woman in the white pantsuit, now dangling upside down, frees herself and scampers back to her seat, the big lady moves in for a bear hug, tugs at the dancer's G-string and tucks in a wad of money.

It would seem that some guys have all the fun, but what could possibly be the appeal for women? What is the pleasure of having a man in a G-string perform such awkward gymnastics? Or of having, say, Larry the Giant, the 285-pounder who wears what can only be described as a G-rope, spray sweat while shaking fat all over the place.

"It's clean fun, just an outlet for the working girl," says Jeff Hardy, one of the club managers. "When there are nothing but ladies in the audience, they get real loose."

Says James Glymph, another manager, "We also get a lot of people with no social obligations, no goals, no career interest -- I'm talking between 750 and 1,000 girls a night."

The managers add that the club caters to women who long for an opportunity to go out and have fun without being hassled. It is an unusual atmosphere where women can get together, talk and drink without feeling competitive or jealous.

To satisfy such a crowd, about six to eight dancers -- some of the best in the business, like Robbie (Prince Machivelli) Merrick, Eugene (The Star) Hayes and Mack (The Heat) Baugh -- are brought in to perform on Thursdays and Sundays.

In an upstairs dressing room, out of the view of the customers, the dancers get themselves revved up for performances designed to elicit as many monetary tips as possible.

"Some of them read 'girlie' magazines," says Kim Harrington, a regular customer who has access to the dressing area. "Then they do pull-ups and sit-ups and then rub themselves down with a mixture of baby oil, mineral oil and cologne."

With the accompaniment of a disc jockey and master of ceremonies, the dancers hit the floor with a series of bumps and grinds. The women swoon and moan and beckon the men with money.

"I got up this morning {Sunday} and went to church and afterwards a friend asked if I wanted to go to a show," says Chanel Jones, 23, a Washington law firm employe. "What better way to spend an otherwise boring afternoon."

"It's just a form of entertainment," says a demure Sheri King, a 21-year-old bus repair office manager. "It relieves a lot of the pressure that young women are under these days. I mean, with all these diseases out here the only thing you can do is look."

"I keep telling them I'm not going to tip," said Camilla Fowler, as a dancer climbed over her seat. "I don't like getting all that oil on my clothes. But I do love the attention."

Tontalya Terceiro, a 26-year-old dancer, says the shows have less to do with sex than art. "You have to give a lot of these guys credit for keeping themselves in shape -- and having the nerve to take their clothes off," she said.

Says Harrington, "The real reason women come here is to see firsthand the kind of moves they would like their own men to make. You learn lot about what you want just by watching."

As the men wind down and disappear into their dressing rooms, the crowd of women roars with delight. It's just a joke, many women say, partly erotic, partly gross. But one theme comes through in interviews: It is no longer enough for a man just to go to bed with them. Nowadays, he's got to perform.