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Strip and Tip 

The appeal of nudie establishments

The strip club scene in Charlotte has always had a kind of mysterious aura. For those who've never been, whether you're male or female, these places are actually quite festive. They play great music, have a hip atmosphere, and some even double as fine dining establishments. Where else can you get a full filet mignon dinner with shrimp for under $7? Then again, where else can you get a run-of-the-mill domestic beer for $6.50?

I distinctly remember the first time that I was dragged, practically kicking and screaming, to one of the more refined Charlotte "nudie" establishments. I was very insistent that I wasn't "the type" that would find such a scene enjoyable. I mean, how can a heterosexual woman possibly find a club where women take off their clothes entertaining, let alone fun? I was in the minority that night with my friends, I wasn't driving, and I'm not enough of a bitch to just stomp my feet and flatly refuse to go. I almost felt like a criminal as the doorkeeper waived my cover charge (ladies typically get in free, but not everywhere) and I entered. I was so determined that I was not going to have a good time. Wow, was I proven wrong!

I not only had a blast then, but now I make an additional trip every now and then with one of my best friends, "Justin," who happens to be gay. He goes for the same reason I do -- something different, a little naughty, very sexy, and captivating. He certainly doesn't go with me to stare at women's boobs all night. He couldn't care less.

If you're going, and it's your first time, I suggest you go all out. If you want first class, upscale "adult entertainment," there's no way you can beat the ambience of The Men's Club, located behind Chili's on Tyvola. Skip the uptown restaurants and just have dinner there -- make an evening of it. If you aren't "the type" either, get ready to have one hell of a night.

The first thing you'll notice, after the valet parks you, and the maitre d' takes your coat and pulls out your chair, is that the women who work there are drop dead gorgeous. They are obviously experienced professionals and there's a good reason for it -- a reliable rumor mill spills that they don't hire amateurs. No worries of some silly-acting girl hopping up on stage, getting the giggles, and running back off. The Men's Club is there to provide quality entertainment -- and quality entertainment you shall have. They make sure of it.

OK, I have to confess one of the biggest reasons I like to go: I occasionally frequent strip clubs, not to see the women, but because the mostly male crowd is a never-ending sea of mystery and bewilderment. I have never understood what possesses a well-dressed, educated businessman to fork over his credit card, and repeatedly pay for $20 lap dances from a woman who will leave him once he stops paying. I mean, what exactly makes a man want to go out and pay extra to get sexually frustrated, only to go home alone? Even worse, to engage in this ritual with a group of his male friends?

Hey, I'm not knocking the women who do this for a living -- I sometimes wish I had a sculpted hardbody and 36 DD's, coupled with enough nerve to get up and do what those girls do -- even if it's just to see what it would be like. They're definitely in the driver's seat.

These types of clubs are unmistakably geared toward men; strip clubs that feature male burlesque shows are few and far between in Charlotte. Unless it's a birthday or a bachelorette party, women as a rule go for the novelty rather than to make it an every weekend habit. Maybe it's just me, but some males' egos are over-inflated enough without my having to hand over $5 to inflate them even more. I just can't stand the thought of tipping a guy who walks around for hours in public advertising a permanent erection.

The days of the bimbo-strippers are pretty much over. In the finer clubs, most girls look at it as a serious business -- you come to work, you do your job, you go home and forget about it. I even met a waitress once who held a Masters degree and worked at the club because she made more money. She said the majority of the girls were either college students or already held degrees, and were working there to subsidize fresh-out-of-college incomes that rarely break $30K per year.

I met another who worked only one day a week to fulfill a lifelong fantasy -- she had been morbidly obese her whole life. She finally lost all the weight, found a boyfriend who invested in some plastic surgery and boobs, and up on stage she went. She couldn't be happier, and I respect anyone for fulfilling a personal wish. She was quite beautiful.

So the next time you and your group of friends are deciding the toss-up between which dance club to shake your booty in on a Saturday night, try a little something new and check out The Men's Club and watch someone else shake theirs. And ladies, don't be shy, just suck it up and play along with the boys. You never know, you just might find yourself having a good time.

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