It’s about time we dive into the titillating world of strip clubs and discover what qualities separates the great from the gross.
By: Laura C. Anderson
It’s roughly 12:43 AM on a Saturday night in North Charleston, SC, and an older gentleman, maybe in his late fifties, puffs out a thick cloud of smoke from tattered edges of his grayish white beard. He’s wearing a black leather jacket, black jeans, and black boots. On the cover of his jacket is the word, “Devil” in some sort of cryptic typeface. Within walking distance of where he’s sitting is his matching crotch rocket. If I knew anything about motorcycles I could probably tell you what make or model it was. But I don’t, so let’s just say it was a Harley. Hell, for the sake of this story, let’s just call our intimidating chain smoker Harley.
Beside Harley is a young girl, maybe in her early twenties, dressed in scantily clad lingerie. I know what you’re thinking – all lingerie is teeny tiny, and for good reason. But this lingerie, well, this is the stuff you see walking down Hollywood Boulevard way past bar hopping hours.
Red fishnets trace along her calves and thighs. Underneath them is a tiny G-string covering her hoo-ha. Her boobs are just about bursting out of her bra while she sways from heel to heel in the highest plastic pumps I’ve ever seen. She’s dangling a long strand of gum around her pointer finger as the wad in her mouth bobs up and down when she clacks her jaw open. The chewing is incessant and it’s obvious Harley is growing annoyed. He flicks the butt of his cigarette to the littered pavement, pushes off the lounge chair he’s sitting on, and walks toward two black doors under a flashing neon sign.
“Stilettos,” the sign reads. In seconds he’s gone, disappearing inside the dark strip club. One of my guy friends beside me, Craig, grabs the door before it shuts. He waves me inside and immediately I’m flushed with the queasy scent of cigarettes, rubber, stale cologne, and cheap liquor. Think Hot Topic or Spencer’s. There was an older woman with big round glasses and bright pink lipstick collecting money inside what appeared to be a ticket booth. A raspy voice yelled, “$15 a pop” and it took me a second to realize the voice belonged to her.
Once the fee was paid we were ushered inside where the real magic was happening, if you can even call it that. Half naked women lined the interior of the rooms. The music was loud and distasteful. The patrons inside varied from young men in bachelor parties to older men, like Harley, who you could tell weren’t visiting for their first time. The rooms were dark but the stages and bars were brightly lit, drawing your eyes toward two main objects, and I use this term purposely: the liquor and the women. The entire spectacle earned a solid .5 stars out of five.
Down a few steps from the bar area were black and red lounge chairs, designed and positioned for spectators to either watch whatever performance was taking place on stage or receive his or her own performance in the form of a lap dance. Men and women sat silently in the chairs, their eyes feasting on a girl dancing on stage, only looking down every so often to take another swig of whatever they were drinking.
A very fit young black girl twirled at rapid speed around the pole placed directly in the middle of the stage. She’d do her mesmerizing routine on the pole, slide down, shake her tits and her ass, do something sexually taunting to one of the men standing feet away with their bellies pressed against the stage, and then she’d do it all over again. All the while dollar bills are flying wildly toward her. When she was finished she stopped and let a much larger, clearly intoxicated woman stuff her thong with cash while the woman’s face was pressed against the dancer’s tits.
Looking around the room I could see the men I arrived with all make the same disturbed facial expression. It was clear that after only five or so minutes inside the club, we had made a mistake. The club was what you’d expect if a dirty hostel married a ghetto neighborhood, had an affair with the Red Light District in Amsterdam, and the resulting love child was this hell-hole of a strip club. Stilettos. The name itself now stained with uncomfortable images of young women objectifying their bodies to drunken spectators.
Don’t get me wrong; I know what the purpose of a strip club is. I understand and can respect the work the women in this industry do. It’s a tough job and not everyone is cut out for it. But at the same time I know for fact that not every strip club is as slimy, gross, and toxic as this one was. Unwavering feelings of pity and shame clouded the club. You wanted to swat it away like a pestering mosquito in your ear yet no matter how many times you tried it just wasn’t going away. Buzz, buzz, buzz.
The boys I arrived with were in a hurry to leave the second they saw a young guy in the audience get pulled onto the stage and groped by flesh in every direction. Bare boobs pressed into the side of his head, ass grinded into his lap, thighs collided with his, and hands clawed at his shirt – four not-so-attractive women paraded around him with lifeless expressions on their faces while Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines blasted from the speakers. I was waiting for Miley to come out at any second with her giant foam finger. That was our cue to get the hell out of there before one of us was next.
I heard bits and pieces of comments and conversation as we all walked out. The boy’s disappointed voices saying things like, “That sucked,” “So gross,” “Worst strip club ever,” and finally, “That was so bad it sobered me up.” While pouring into my car, excited to finally go home, I was forced to wonder why that club was so awful and what differentiated it from the strip clubs that were considered downright awesome.
With a little help from Google and a whole lot of help from friends, I knew I’d get my answer. I spoke with twenty gentlemen and twenty women of varying ages and after very insightful deliberation, we’ve narrowed it down to the basic qualities separating the good strip clubs from the bad.
“Yeah, I know it sounds bad but some women just have no business being strippers. I can go to the beach if I want to see overweight or unattractive women wearing less clothing than they ought to. No one wants to see fat jiggling. I want a girl who can double as a playboy bunny or trick me into believing she’s on the cover of a magazine.” – Mike, 27
“This is huge. If you feel like you’re in some creepy guy’s grimy basement, you’ll hijack out of there so fast you won’t know what hit you. A classier environment mirroring a fancy restaurant or highbrow club is a much better backdrop if you’re going to have naked women shaking their lady bits. I even prefer the clubs nowadays that don’t allow smoking.” Mary, 24
“If the girls look bored or unhappy, I’ll feel bored and unhappy. It’s exciting when the girls look genuinely excited to dance or work the pole. It’s so much sexier to see a striper who enjoys her job rather than one who you can tell is just getting through the night to pay her bills. Some girls sit off to the side and neglect to interact with the patrons unless cash is being waved in their face. Sometimes you just want to feel like she’s enjoying your company so you can enjoy hers.” – Kyle, 40
“The best strippers are the ones that either do it because they really need the money (ie. they have kids so they're not playing around here) or the ones that really don't need the money, but do just it for the thrills so they tend to give a really good performance because they're not distracted by the money.
If you run into a couple of those, you're pretty much in for an epic night.
All the strippers in between that spectrum usually fall into the "meh" category. You get a dance for them, they do their little unimpressive dance, they want money, you pay them, they go away.” – Louis, 26.
“I went to a major club the other day in San Francisco, very well known, yet the main stage was dead at least five minutes between three-song sets. There was no music and no entertainment. It almost felt awkward to still be sitting there.” – Kathleen, 39.
“The strip clubs in Vegas want to encourage their patrons to spend the money on the women working their assets off, instead of worrying about getting buzzed or drunk. The good ones have hot cocktail waitresses walking around with trays of shots or mixed drinks. It’s so much better than the places that severely overcharge.” – Jake, 34
“I really admire a woman who can bend and twist her body into shapes I didn’t know were possible. Pole dancing is a legit dance and one I truly envy. If a girl or guy can get up on stage and truly wow her or his audience, I will feel like I really got my money’s worth. We want a show at the end of the day, not just tits and ass flying around a rod of metal.” – Casey, 31
“There’s nothing worst than shitty strip club music. Don’t try and mix the oldies in with current house music. Know your demographic, know your voice, and know what effect you’re trying to have on your customers. There’s nothing more unnerving than having a completely naked woman grind into your lap to the tune of Benny and the Jets. And yes, sadly that did happen.” – Mark, 50.
8. ANNOUNCE THE TALENT'S NAME TO HELP CONNECT THE PATRONS
“It’s like a concert or an award show. You wouldn’t have the talent walk on stage without being announced by the host, would you? Why should that be any different for the women performing at the club? I feel more connected with the performers when I know their names. It’s a simple courtesy and it makes a big difference. Not every stripper is the same and it’s annoying when the clubs treat each girl like she’s just some no-name with big tits.” – Ben, 22.
“No one wants to be sitting in a pitch black room, nor do they want to be under fluorescent lighting. This is one of the most crucial elements because it can cast the vibe for the entire night. Soft hues and warm colors are more relaxing and inviting and makes you actually enjoy where you’re at. If I can’t see any of the girl’s faces, I just feel weird and shady.” – Lance, 37.
“THIS. IS. SO. IMPORTANT. I want to feel like I’m at a nightclub, a really exclusive, awesome, raved about nightclub. If you can get guests to arrive because they’re excited for the talent but also because they want to see who else they might meet, like at any normal bar, then it’s a great strip club. I want to see smiling faces and people laughing or having fun. Not some weird room with zombie-like dudes drooling over a pair of jugs.” – Jack, 26.
“It’s like a Broadway show! Sort of. I love going to the really fancy, more expensive clubs where the women perform numbers like in Magic Mike. It’s so exciting and fun to see girls come out in crazy costumes and perform a choreographed dance. Any woman can put on a bra and thong, I’d much rather see sparkles and jewels and some sort of theme.” Sara, 24.
“I’m just going to say it. It’s not a good strip club if the women don’t actually strip down. I want to see nipples and I want to see ass. It’s hot and it’s even hotter that they’re confident enough to shake it and show it off. End of story.” –Daniel, 25.
Laura C. Anderson | @s0mebl0nde
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