On his 1999 album, Bigger & Blacker, comedian Chris Rock immortalized strip club rules and regulations with “No Sex (In the Champagne Room)” which was a comedic – albeit true – confessional about how one should act inside a place where sexuality, booze and money all converge and the lines often become blurred between want and need.
While other sexually-charged brick and mortar locations like the peep show and pornograpic movie theater have gone the day of the dodo due in large part to the ease in which people can let their freak flag fly from the comforts of their own home, the strip club continues to flourish in today’s culture.
In the last year alone, three high-profile figures in the world of sport and music have stated or initiated their intentions to open up their own clubs. T.I. opened V Live in Atlanta in June of this year after a reported 1,600 would-be dancers showed up to work in the club – of which only 100 were hired. An extension of other V Live properties in Houston, New Orleans and Dallas, Drake immortalized the sin bin in “No Tellin,” rapping, “V-Live, I order that Alfredo pasta then eat in the kitchen like I’m in the mafia.”
Floyd Mayweather announced “Girl Collection” in July of this year which will be in Las Vegas. Many speculate that Mayweather is cutting out the middle man after reports of him spending hundreds of thousands of dollars at clubs throughout the United States in the last several years.
With the recent announcement that Drake is entering into the fray with a “new dance experience” in Houston tentatively called “The Ballet” which is scheduled to open sometime in 2017, we couldn’t help but wonder who currently sits atop the strip club hierarchy – in terms of ambiance, dancers, food and quirk-factor?
Penthouse Executive Club
Where: New York City
Why it’s notable: The food
Most people give little thought to the kitchen and menu when choosing a strip club. Not only are you possibly cheating yourself out of a killer buffet, but you might even be missing out on a dining experience that is Michelin-quality. Enter, The Penthouse Executive Club, whose restaurant, Robert’s Steakhouse, is serving up prime cuts of Gold label Kobe beef, New York strip steaks and sesame crusted Yellowfin Tuna with buckwheat soba and peanut dressing which ends up costing the average patron $516 USD for a meal, according to Bundle.com – ranking it as #12 on a “most expensive meal” list behind notable institutions like The French Laundry in Yountville, California and Alinea in Chicago.
Frank Bruni at The New York Times called his medium-rare porterhouse steak and onion rings a “possibly perfect meal.” While some may be off-put by the idea of combining a strip show with pricy cuts of meat, the ambiance is more indicative of a restaurant than anything else – boasting 10,000-square-feet with with high ceilings, two-story atrium and a South Beach vibe.
Wale and Jerry Seinfeld have even argued about this very topic. “I understand chicken and naked women, but I’d rather just have the chicken,” Seinfeld told the rapper during a hilarious exchange. “I can’t eat chicken and look at the strippers at the same time. How ’bout oatmeal and strippers?”
Why it’s notable: The music
GQ has called Magic City in Atlanta, “America’s most important club” because of its ability to make or break a star in the hip-hop world. Dancers and patrons alike ultimately serve as the perfect barometer for whether a particular song can cut through the chaotic environment and truly make people want to get up and move. “You get the finest females in the state of Georgia,” a patron told GQ. “You get the Who’s Who of the streets in here. You can have Young Thug, Future, 2 Chainz in here on the same night. And you get DJ Esco. If Esco play your record…? Everything Esco touch out here is off the charts.”
Lil Magic, the manager of the club paints a vivid picture of what it’s like to party at Magic City, saying, “gorgeous strippers, money everywhere [and] hot wings. It’s not a strip club if you don’t have money on the floor with hot wings in it. You’ve got to have an eaten bone from a hot wing on top of the money with a stripper heel that is off and right there. And bottles. Plenty of bottles. And empty cups. That’s the American dream.”
Recently, Jeezy, 2 Chainz and Future immortalized the club with the song, “Magic City Monday.” While other clubs may be considered luxurious for the decor and food, Magic City relies on simplicity which includes a small stage and bar and a kitchen at the front that turns out hot wings and chicken and rice in Styrofoam boxes. The real draw is who is attendance. “It’s gumbo in there,” Esco told GQ. “You can see actresses, musicians, a weed man, a killer, probably a police officer. You can find anybody in Magic City, anybody.”
King of Diamonds
Why it’s notable: The excess
In February 2011, Rick Ross celebrated his birthday at King of Diamonds in Miami where he reportedly dropped a cool million dollars on dances, alcohol and food. The club’s talent manager, “Disco” Rick Taylor, confirmed that the club’s corporate offices had to bring a Brinks truck in to supply more cash. “King of Diamonds is the biggest strip club in Florida,” Ross explained to Hot 97’s Angie Martinez. “It’s nothing to go in there and have 50 ballplayers and some street dudes. It ain’t nothing to spend some real change in King of Diamonds. Well that night, we broke the club. They did not have a dollar to give us as we requested more money…not one dollar.”
In terms of amenities, those that show up will encounter 200 dancers, 18 bartenders, 24 waitresses, and 25 security guards inside a 50,000-square-foot warehouse which also boasts a tattoo parlor, a barbershop, a sex toy store, and a basketball half-court. “It’s not your typical strip club,” says Lee “Q” O’Denat, founder of WorldStarHipHop.com. “It’s like going to a party at LIV [at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach resort], but only bigger and with a lot of beautiful naked girls.”
The club itself is the brainchild of Jack Galardi who Miami writers have called a, “low-budget Hugh Hefner,” and, “the Buddha of the strip club industry.” Galardi owns more than two dozen cabarets around the country, including Pink Pony South, Crazy Horse Saloon, and Jaguar.
Where: Negoa, Illinois
Why it’s notable: The “Weird” Factor
Admittedly, a town that only boasts a population of 1,600 people doesn’t exactly scream “strip club bucket list” like other burgs in Las Vegas, Atlanta and Miami. However, the School House actually exists inside a former elementary school – making it one of the stranger strip clubs in the United States.
Once home to the Pioneer School – which for more than 50 years served as both a place of learning and a community center where people gathered to sing hymns, attend 4-H meetings and sell homemade pies – the school was sold in 2002 for $36,800 USD. The former cafeteria now features a small stage with a mirrored backdrop set that includes two stripper poles under black lights and the teachers lounge has been converted into a VIP room. In keeping with the school theme, the “Golden Rules” include, “Keep hands off dancers” and “No Hard Liquor.”
Sapphire Gentlemen’s Club
Where: New York
Why it’s notable: The female to male ratio
Established in 2009, Sapphire Gentlemen’s Club resides in a 10,000-square-foot, multimillion-dollar space that once belonged to another Big Apple staple, Scores. What makes Sapphire particularly unique is that 40 percent of their Sunday night clientele is female – a stark contrast to a usual male-dominated demographic. This is due in large part to the growing reputation for the party on Sunday night, called “SINS,” that boasts regulars like Lil Jon, Questlove, Sting, Clive Owen, Mark Sanchez and Dennis Rodman who intermingle amidst scantily clad waitressed bearing flaming bottles of champagne.
“The naked girls create a free atmosphere, like it’s the 1970s. Everybody’s chill,” one patron told The New York Post. “You get a crowd that goes to the ‘in’ spots, girls start throwing $100 bills at the strippers and, suddenly, somehow, it doesn’t feel like a strip club.” Choice amenities include free limo service to the club from destinations in Manhattan, a weekday happy hour with no cover and $5 well drinks. In February 2014, Justin Bieber couldn’t even get into the club as a guest because “he wasn’t worth the trouble.”
Saint Venus Theater
Where: New York City
Why it’s notable: The women
Launched in 2009 by a man known to his employees as “Rob S.,” a mysterious character who in the past is known to sport a top hat and his distaste for fake boobs and professional stripping experience, the Saint Venus Theater holds the distinction of being a “roving” club that moves locations several times a week and makes members and guests alike provide passwords for entry. But for those looking for a classic strip club experience, Saint Venus is not the place. There are no stripper poles and nudity follows a “less is more” doctrine.
If there was one major complaint about most strip clubs, it’s that many of the dancers aesthetics fall more in line with tastes of yesteryear when Playboy was dictating what standard of beauty were like. The Saint Venus Theater is looking to change that with a mission statement saying there are trying to, “create something special, something positive and progressive in a world that is dominated by female exploitation and dissatisfaction. We seek to do the opposite. We celebrate the feminine in erotic themes.”
Thrillist solidified their intentions, remarking, “[their] roster of ‘normal’ girls look more like the hot chick you walked past in the laundromat and less like someone who has 13 pairs of clear heels.” Saint Venus also bucks the cardinal rule of strip club attendance; don’t touch the strippers. According to The New York Post, “While it’s forbidden for customers to publicly touch a stripper at a professional club, here clients can fondle or kiss a woman on her mouth, face, even her breasts in full view of other patrons.”
“It’s definitely not as black-and-white as it is at a strip club…girls won’t dance with guys that they’re not attracted to, which is kind of cool,” a dancer says. “You can kind of feel it out and find a guy that you’re interested in, and then approach them or wait for them to talk to you,”
- Featured/Main Image: Liton Ali / Flickr