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Going For The Gold 

I like to consider myself a patron of the arts. I am particularly interested in the specialized area of interpretive dance. My financial support to same tends to be rendered a dollar at a time, directly to the performers.

This being the case, I was somewhat disappointed when the Diamond Club closed in January. Not that I was a "Norm!" type regular there, but an hour of fine arts at lunchtime every few weeks can make the work day more tolerable.

Of course, in a world class city like Charlotte with its long tradition of support for the arts, the void caused by the loss of the Diamond Club could not remain unfilled for long. On March 7, The Gold Club (after a quick but considerable renovation) opened in the former Diamond Club location.

The name Gold Club might ring a bell with some of my fellow dance patrons. There are numerous Gold Clubs around the nation, but the club in Atlanta made headlines when its owner, Steve Kaplan, was fined $5 million and was sent to prison on racketeering charges in January. The big attention getter in the case was the list of professional athletes that supposedly got "special favors" at the club, including Patrick Ewing, Andruw Jones, and Terrell Davis. Mr. Kaplan was accused of (among other things) having dancers turn complimentary tricks for star athletes to help raise the profile of his club.

While the Gold Club in Charlotte is not associated with Mr. Kaplan, the natural correlation between strippers, athletes, and the things they like to do caught my attention. So, in this vein, this week's Beggar's Banquet will take a look at Wheaties Cereal, Trix Cereal, and The Gold Club of Charlotte.

Wheaties : Wheaties is advertised as "The Breakfast of Champions" and has long associated itself with athletes. Its boxes with famous athletes on the front have even become collectors' items. It is unclear, however, if Wheaties played a significant role in providing Ewing, Jones, Davis, et al the stamina required for their alleged Golden feats of derring-do.

Pros: Nutritious and the taste doesn't suck.

Cons: I have trouble bringing myself to eat anything that came out of Mary Lou Retton's box.

Price: $2.69 for 12 oz. at Harris-Teeter, $2.50 for 18 oz. at Super Wally World.

Fun Facts to Know and Tell: Wheaties were created inadvertently in 1921 by a health clinician in Minneapolis who was mixing a batch of bran gruel for his patients when he spilled some of the mix on a hot stove. Mmmm, bran gruel.

Trix : Trix are for kids. Pro athletes have been accused of being spoiled, overpaid children. Athletes like being provided Trix. It all follows logically.

Pros: Forbidden fruit, even when vaguely shaped and technicolored, just seems to taste sweeter; or maybe that's the sugar coating talking.

Cons: Spokes-rabbit is nearly as annoying as Vince McMahon, the Wile E. Coyote of "Sports Entertainment."

Price: At Harris-Teeter 12 oz. for $2.99, $2.50 at Super Wally World.

Fun Facts to Know and Tell: Trix cereal was introduced by General Mills in 1954 and originally contained more than 46 percent sugar. The Trix Rabbit first appeared in 1960, voiced by Delo States who was also the voice of Stanley Livingston in The Tennessee Tuxedo Show.

The Gold Club: Despite the fact that I know there is no connection with the former Atlanta Gold Club owners, I was still curious to see if athletes and celebrities would get special treatment. So on my first visit, I dropped word while filling out the membership card that I played freshman basketball in high school, and that I once hit against former NY Yankee Tommy John (during batting practice at Knightsfest 2001. He may have been 58 at the time but his pitching arm was only 26). I also mentioned my connection with this paper. The entire time I was in the Gold Club, beautiful women kept coming over to my table to talk with me and ask if I wanted a dance. Coincidence? You decide.

Pros: Naked breasts. Comfortable chairs. Bouncy naked breasts. Pleasant and accommodating staff. Bouncy naked breasts you are encouraged to stare at.

Cons: For a place that's pushing itself as upscale and choice, the free buffet was pretty cheesy (a crudites plate, some pepper cheese cubes, and an indiscernible warm Mexican-like finger food). Did I mention, however, the bouncy naked breasts?

Price: Membership (good through 12/31) is $3. Cover is $7 (check the newspaper that you buy to line the bottom of your bird cage, you can most likely find a coupon that waives that). A Heineken will set you back $5.50. Tableside dances are two for $20 (yep, you have to buy 'em two at a time, which if you think about it is sort of fitting) and a trip to the Penthouse will run $25.

Fun Facts to Know and Tell: Despite downgrading from a precious gem standard to a lower precious metal standard, the Gold Club is shooting for a more upscale clientele than the former Diamond Club. *

You can e-mail Gene Lazo at

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