Please note that I’m writing about if I ran a strip club, not if I worked in a strip club. After all, I’d want people to come to the damn place, wouldn’t I?

CAVEAT EMPTOR: This essay was written strictly in fun. It is not meant to bash strip club enthusiasts or strippers themselves. It is, however, meant to bash the strip club environment as a whole, where it’s always 1985 and everything is centered around perceptions and stereotypes. I should clarify that I do not have a problem with strip clubs. However, if you are using strip clubs as a substitute for normal social interaction with women, that’s a problem. If you think that your favorite stripper is thinking about you when she does her set, that’s a problem. If you go home and look at your wife/girlfriend and think to yourself “Gosh, why can’t she look like Destiny?” that’s a problem. As for strippers, if you think that you’re performing some selfless act of service for the public, that’s a problem. If you believe that there is some sort of feminist empowerment involved in your job, that’s a problem. But if everyone remembers that a strip club is just another place where someone has a job with about as much relevance to the world at large as being a waitress or a taxi driver (or, yes, even a glorified bill collector, in my case), hey, no problem! Do a little dance, make a little love, get down tonight.

Also, once you are done reading this essay and my suggestions for what a perfect strip club should look like, please don’t tell me “Well, the X Club in ABC City already does this.” My research extends to exactly one visit to a real strip club in my lifetime (on cheesy ‘Male Revue Night’), watching HBO’s 'Real Sex', poking around a few websites as research for a short story I started then later scrapped, and discussing the matter with a number of male friends/club patrons. If someone out there has already taken my ideas, more power to them, it doesn’t seem to have happened so far.


In Wildwood, New Jersey, where I spent many an idyllic summer as a youth, there was a strip bar called C.R. Fannie’s, and the less said about that, the better. My club would project an air of panache and originality starting right with the name. Whatever name I choose would not have the words “pink”, “champagne”, or “pussycat” in it. No Mr. G’s, nothing associated with sports (i.e. Champs, Home Plate), and no cutesy names like the Playground, Scamps, Tramps, Scoundrels, Rumors, etc. Basically, nothing juvenile or cheesy that just screams “titty bar”. If I had to choose, it’d probably be something that would connote heaven or enlightenment. Valhalla, perhaps. Nirvana, if I didn’t think Courtney Love would sue me. Or Satori, now that one I like. I realize that it’s a bit sacrilegious to attach such holy words to a place where women get nude for money, but let’s face it, for most of the customers that is their idea of Heaven.


As mentioned earlier, most strip clubs seem to work under the assumption that it’s eternally 1985. Lots of pleather, lots of mirrors, interior decorating done by the House of Stallone, with consulting by Liberace and Brothers, Inc. My club would be low-key, much like any other “regular” nightclub, low lights, tables and chairs, perhaps a bar (although alcohol + naked women usually = trouble), and an elevated stage. No animal prints, the name of the club will not be spelled out in neon tubing anywhere. I’m debating on whether or not I’d have a pole on stage. I realize that a pole is an integral part of most exotic dancers’ routines, but it’s just so played out at this point. Perhaps a collapsible pole…? Nah, the insurance on something like that would be astronomical.


At Satori (let’s call it that hypothetically), we intend on destroying the stripper stereotype. Most strip clubs “cast” their dancers on the assumption that all men prefer bleached blonde, honey-colored Amazons with breasts like ripe cantaloupes. Granted, some men do like that archetype, but most are probably a little more selective than for which we give them credit. If you are attractive and can dance well, you will be considered for a slot on stage, regardless if you’re blonde, brunette, red-haired, black-haired, fake-breasted, real-breasted, short, tall, flat-bootied, round-bootied, whatever. We are an equal opportunity employer! Also, a word on stage names—most exotic dancers seem to choose their stage names either from the porn section of their local video store or old soap operas. I will not hire anyone who considers naming herself “Destiny”, “Sabrina”, “Cristal”, “Shayna”, “Ashlyn”, or “Devon”, and don’t even come for an audition if you think about calling yourself “Lexxus”. There are far more attractive stage names to use, like…Victoria. Yeah, Victoria, that’s a good name.


Here we come to the most important part of what will make my strip club stand out from the pack. I don’t know who is responsible for it, how, or why certain songs are chosen as strippin’ music, but you know what? AC/DC? Not sexy. Def Leppard? Not sexy. ZZ Top? Big time not sexy. If I was a guy, I would not want to see somebody shaking their cans to that ridiculous ‘Strokin’ song (you know the one, “I’ll stroke it to the east and I’ll stroke it to the west, and I’ll stroke it to the one that I love the best…”). Then again, if I was a guy, I’d be the most flamingly gay guy the world has ever known, and probably wouldn’t be in a strip club, but that’s neither here nor there. Anyway, let me at that turntable. Selections played in my club would include U2’s ‘Numb’, Moodswings’ ‘Throw Off the Shackles’, Depeche Mode’s ‘I Feel You’, Fiona Apple’s ‘Sleep to Dream’, Duran Duran’s cover of ‘The Crystal Ship’, White Zombie’s ‘Grease Paint and Monkey Brains’, Garbage’s ‘#1 Crush’, pretty much anything from Portishead, oh, the list could go on and on. See, when you’re done reading this, you’re all going to download some of these songs and say to yourselves, “Damn, Gena’s right again, it’d be much sexier seeing a beautiful woman gyrate to this song rather than ‘One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer’!” And you’re right, it would be.


    A few “house rules"…
  • I will immediately establish a bulk discount with whatever company distributes Nair and/or Epilady. Now that’s business savvy!
  • I will not employ any dancer whose most notable talent is inserting objects in her vagina and shooting them back out towards the audience at high velocity. That’s just gross.
  • Breast implants are acceptable as long as you don’t actually expect anyone to believe that they’re real. Also, don’t try to get away with writing them off as a “business expense” during tax time.
  • If you want to eat hot wings while watching naked girls, you can do it at home. No food served, it’s just tacky.
  • If you insist on a private lap dance, please be advised that hidden cameras will be placed in the rooms, so that the entire club can see the silly Homer Simpson booooobiiieeees face you make.
  • Furthermore, if you insist on offering money to a dancer to get her to make out with another dancer, the performers reserve the right to offer money to you to do the same with one of your buddies.
  • Any customers who get a little too enthusiastic about putting tips into the g-strings of the dancers will get the same treatment in return from a bouncer. Perhaps the feeling of Big Tony vise-gripping your chalupas will help you to remember that just because she’s in her panties doesn’t mean she wants a pelvic exam, Dr. Love.
  • Every once in a while we will have ‘Amateur Night’. Not for the women, for the men. Aw, yeah. Get your ass in that pudding.
  • Everyone is cordially invited ahead of time to the gala opening. No cover, two drink minimum, and remember, no hot wings.
I must object to some of the previous premises expressed on this topic. A strip club is an establishment which purveys a service, a very specific service, that being to build a fantasy for those who are sexually attracted to the sexual human form -- most often the female form (and we all ought to be attracted to the human form, in its wondrous variability and giftedness of sensation) -- and so, well, everything is centered around perceptions and stereotypes. I have been in my time a patron of several of them here and there, enough to know the excellent from the execrable, I have dated more strippers than can easily be counted, and most important of all I have for a brief portion of my life been employed in such an establishment and seen the business end of the business.

Now, if I ran a strip club.... (and I begin from the presumption that if I am running a strip club, it is because I am the owner of the establishment and can run it in every particular as I wish).... if I ran a strip club.... you know, The cadence of the phrase brings to my mind a song, 'If I Were A Rich Man' from 'Fiddler on the Roof':
If I ran a strip club.... [clap]
Yubba dibby-dibby dibby-dibby dibby-dibby dummmm.
All day long I'd biddy in their bums.
If I ran a strip-pers' club!!
I wouldn't have to work hard. [stomp]
Yubba dibby-dibby dibby-dibby dibby-dibby dummmm.
If I were a biddy biddy rich,
Idle-diddle-didle strip club owner.

I'd build a big ballsy club, champagne rooms by the dozen,
Right in the middle of the town.
A fine mirror ball with real wooden floors below.
There would be one cute stripper just going up,
And one even cuter going down,
And one more going nowhere, just for show.
And that actually about sums it up. Now, I will make the further presumption that if I owned a strip club, it would be located somewhere with an extremely nonintrusive legal and law enforcement regime (or simply a lax lack of enforcement at all). Because, by 'strip club' what I would really mean is a cathouse, a brothel where (as in the Old West) the girls dance on stage as well as, ahem, entertain in the back rooms (naturally, those whose preference is to not provide that next level of intimate contact may keep their business in the front end of the club).

The Dancers:

Now I understand that such a conception will raise immediate protests of the exploitation of women, but I've known some women who worked in the field of sexual services and rightly took themselves to be much less exploited by that endeavour than they would have been waiting tables at minimum wage, or running a cash register at some big box store, or sealing lids on cans in a factory. And, let's face facts here, it is men who come to strip clubs and drop hundreds, even thousands of dollars because they get to see a little skin and perhaps get a little touch, and that experience utterly clouds their minds and makes them impervious to common sense. So, is it really the women who are being exploited in this scenario?

Now it has been put to me that I ought to have both male and female dancers. I think such an endeavour would fail, and I would put that down to economic realities -- I've been to strip clubs where women dance while (mostly) men watch, and to those where men dance while women watch, and once to one where men danced mostly for other men, and a few gay women were there to poke fun at the spectacle -- but clubs where both sexes perform (unless in a sex show) tend to flop. Why? Possibly because men and women who are in a place to ogle members of the opposite sex don't wish to be seen doing it by non-performer members of the opposite sex. But there's an easy solution to this, which is to have two 'wings' to the club -- one where the ladies dance for whoever wishes to watch that sort of thing, and the other where the men dance, for whoever wishes to watch that sort of thing.

As to the dancers, my preference is that they will be dancers first and foremost -- simply wandering about on the stage looking sexy will not do. Show some talent, some energy, some spunk up there!! And as for the performances, well anything goes. Live lesbian lickfests will be roundly applauded. Cute costumes and silly themes -- the naughty nurse, the frisky French maid, the hot to trot lady cop, the nun looking for fun -- will be encouraged. This is de rigour for male strippers anyway. And as to the ladies, will I do like variety, and bleached blonde, honey-colored Amazons with breasts like ripe cantaloupes will indeed share time and space with women of all ethnicities and breastices, so long as they earn their keep. Japanese, Swedish, Thai, Latina, Filipina, Hungarian, all will find a welcome home here if they're willing to work for, and within, The System.

The System:

Ah, the system. Now here's the real thing, here's what will distinguish my house from the rest. Since I'm already delving into a fantasy wherein I am able to own a strip club, I will go further and presume that I am so unconcerned with personal wealth as to own it as a bauble, a plaything into which I can invest as much as I desire and from which I need not be concerned with making a personal income. Because at my strip club, every dancer gets a cut of the house!! Yes, you heard that right, it's communal (though not communistic) in terms of pay.

It works like this: it's a funny money club, but without the funny money itself. Your Uncle Sam printed cash is no good inside these doors. In order to get in the door, you must buy 'club' cash up front, say, a hundred dollars worth paid for with cash or credit -- but you don't get fake bills, oh no, we're way beyond that. You get a card -- like a debit card, black and gold, embossed with your name (or a suitable pseudonym of your choice) and having a point value corresponding to how much you paid to put on it, with something like a three-points-per dollar ratio for minimum buyers, and volume discounts for those who buy thousands of points. Want to buy a drink? Swipe the card and pay for it with your points. Because they are there and presumably continuing to enjoy the show (or at least the ambiance of the place), costumers will automatically be charged one point for every dancer's show (figuring the typical show will run three songs of 4-5 minutes a piece). And instead of putting cash in the dancer's g-string, you'll show your extra appreciation by swiping your card on one of many ports at the stage's edge, and putting in the number of club bucks you wish to pass on (minimum of five points for a stage tip, the value of those points to the tipper depending on the volume of his earlier point purchase). And there goes the problem of groping hands on those g-strings!!

Taking just the girl's side as an example (as the men's will work the same), when a girl is on the stage, whatever is paid at the stage is counted towards her contribution to the evening's take. If two girls are sharing the stage, they split it, or it will be split by some formula taking into account whether one of them started on a later song. Same goes for the girls who do dances for gentlemen at their tables, and get the guys to put in a number of points at her portable card reader. And the same again to the girls who lure men to the more secluded couches along the side wall, or to one of the back rooms. There's a minimum house fee charged for using a couch or a room at all, plus whatever the dancer wants to charge for whatever she does there. The cameras liberally distributed throughout the establishment will do more than provide security, they will capture digital images and vids of the stage performances themselves (though not what goes on in the private areas), and unless a performer opts out of her vids being made available, those pics and vids will be available to be purchased in the club itself or at a members-only website made accessible to points buyers. And again, purchase of pics and vids will be with the points on the card, and will be counted towards the take of the girl starring in them.

So at the end of the night, when closing time comes around, all the points will be counted up, and each girl will get a share of the total profits of the establishment, with that share being calculated by the relative number of points attributable to that girl through all of her point-earning activities -- simply being on stage at all while customers are being charged to be in the club at all; tips taken at the stage; tips from dancing at tables, on couches, or doing other things in the back; tips from the sale of her pics and vids; tips from the price of drinks that customers bought her. The dancer gets her proportion calculated, and the house keeps twenty percent. The more she hustles, the more the house makes (not necessarily the case in strip clubs where cash is king, and the club makes the same money off one dancer who does a handful of table dances, and another who is giving hundred-dollar handjobs in the back. But because all of the dancers will be getting a cut of the whole, all will be encouraged to bring money into the whole club, and to keep their coworkers making money as well.

And just to spice it up further, I'll add a little competition -- the dancer who brings in the most points in a month gets a thousand-dollar cash bonus for that month. The number two points-earner gets eight-hundred for the month, and so on down the top five. You may have seen that model at work on live webcam sites; no reason it can't work at a live live location as well.

The setup: As to the decor, yes, there will be mirrors with frosted engravings of nude woman arching their backs ecstatically (on the girl's side -- I'll have to consult with the experts to figure out what the male analogue is, though I suppose it's easy to imagine), pleather couches, and a purple-and-gold color scheme theme. And oh yes, there will be a pole. Three of them, really, one for each stage, for there will be a main stage running along the back wall and spilling out like a teardrop into the center of the room; a modestly jungle-themed side stage off to one side; and a 'birdcage' suspended over the other side. What there won't be (as there was at the club where I once worked the door) is a setup where dancers walk around on the bar; I simply find that to be unacceptably unhygienic.

Now, as for the music. Indeed there will be no Clarence Carter or BTO, but not because it is to be replaced by sexy mood music. The club will still rock, but only with chick pop, and chick rock. You will never hear a song sung by a man. You will hear only upbeat selections from the collections of such varied luminaries as Madonna, Shakira, Lady Gaga, even Joan Jett, the Pretenders, Heart, the Bangles, No Doubt, and Veruca Salt. That's so far as recorded music goes, but we will have a house band one or two regular nights a week as well; and this band will be all chicks, and they will rock out as well.

And yes, there will be food. Not chicken wings, naturally, but not a salad bar either. Instead, simple snackings like tortilla chips with salsa or spinach or avocado dip; fried mushroom caps; and potato skins with chives. But as any owner of such a location knows, the real profit center for the club, so far as comestibles go, is at the bar. And here we are talking fully stocked, finest of everything. I'll perhaps not go so far as to declare out loud that long-time customers who know the right person to ask will get access to a fine selection of fine, American-grown marijuana, but let us just put it down as a dispensary, if that status may be obtained.

And, like all the best attractions, customers will exit through the gift shop -- a little adult convenience store all our own where they may stop and buy naughty vids or pornographic magazines, or perhaps some sort of vibrating electronic device to take home and do who knows what with.



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