Economy puts pinch on Las Vegas strip clubs

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Las Vegas strip clubs are feeling the pinch of the economy and are offering discounts and freebies to keep customers coming through the doors.

Cheetah's offers two-for-one lap dances every afternoon, while Treasures provides a free buffet in the early evening, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

The Can Can Room and Crazy Horse III have both halved the price of a lap dance, which usually costs $20 for three to four minutes at an all-nude club or two minutes at a topless joint.

And Sherri's Cabaret, which recently opened a tattoo parlor, has a deal, too: Get a $200 tattoo between 7 p.m. and 5 a.m. and you get a free lap dance.

Strip club managers say the freebies and discounts are big draws, particularly during off-peak hours.

"They want a deal. They want something for free," Jacko Smiley, a VIP host at Treasures, told the Review-Journal.

Smiley has been working his client list, calling out-of-state, repeat customers and promising them deals and free luxuries.

He gave members of a bachelor party from Los Angeles a free bottle of top-shelf vodka for every bottle they purchased while they celebrated at Treasures.

"I'll say and do whatever I can to get them back here," Smiley said.

Wayne Bridge is CEO of the Sin City Chamber of Commerce, an alliance of adult-oriented businesses. He said strip clubs around Las Vegas generate an estimated $8 billion per year, second only to gambling as a component of the local economy.

"For years, Las Vegas has pretended like the adult community doesn't exist," Bridge said. "It's a huge part of the economy and it's really helping to carry a lot of people."

At last count, there were 32 active strip clubs and between 30,000 and 40,000 registered exotic dancers around Las Vegas. On weekday nights, some 1,500 women bump and grind at local clubs; on weekends that number doubles or triples.

Shannon Colcord, a dancer at Spearmint Rhino, said strip clubs are slower during the summer, when fewer conventions are in town.

"It's more a party crowd now. And they're just not spending as much," Colcord said, adding her income has dropped by two-thirds since May because of both the seasonal difference and the continuing sluggish economy.

Strippers in Las Vegas work as independent contractors, not club employees, and tips are 100 percent of their take-home pay.

Competition is tough, and a lot of strip clubs have closed, said Nicholas Foskaris, assistant general manager at Treasures. Publicly held Rick's Cabaret International Inc., for instance, closed its huge Las Vegas location in April.


Information from: Las Vegas Review-Journal, http://www.lvrj.com

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