Friday, October 2, 11 p.m.
When you want to know a city right down to its insides, you have to check out its local gentlemen’s clubs. Not the flashy ones that get the hordes of visiting bachelors with frat ideals hoping to re-create scenarios from The Hangover, but rather the, ahem, titty bars, where the girls definitely aren’t Sports Illustrated models, but, dammit, they’re nearly naked!
One such place used to be the Mile High club (“Where everyone is First Class”), located near the airport, natch. The locals’ locale was nearly lost amid the construction equipment and warehouses surrounding 6370 Windy Street, just off Sunset and Las Vegas Boulevard. Before that it was Pleasures. Or maybe after. Regardless, neither received mention in Arnold Snyder’s Topless Vegas, my new booby bible.
I’m not much for the gents clubs. Partly because I’m not a gentleman, though I’ve been told I have exceptional manners. But mostly because manners are not often observed in gents clubs, something I witnessed firsthand six years ago when I hosted bachelor parties as a side gig for bachelorblowout.com. Yes, it’s my supreme shame. As I looked on from the bar, men routinely touched dancers when they shouldn’t have, attempted more than a lapdance, and while they tipped my male counterparts heavily, I and the other female host left with a fistful of phone numbers rather than bills. So I left it all behind.
Then, a month ago, I received a text, my first alert that something was brewing on Windy Street: “Lollypop’s: Home of the FREE lapdance!” Consumed by curiosity, I stopped by the second weekend of the club’s soft opening.
Whereas couples are welcome at most gentlemen’s clubs, a single lady is a red flag. After all, my friend Bill points out later, I might be someone’s wife! At the doorman’s gentle questioning, I explained that the Wingcouple, Bill and Shalom, were meeting me, and was graciously admitted to the dark, one-story venue. Unlike other clubs, which routinely exhale belches of cigarette and cigar smoke, Lollypop’s somehow manages a relatively new-car scent. Even the VIP room, still marked “First Class” from its Mile High days, smells of clean carpet. “No pun intended!” I offer with a rim shot. “Nope, not a trace of Victoria’s Secret,” Shalom notes. Eau de Stripper is such a turnoff.
Unlike its flashier sister clubs like Rick’s Cabaret, Club Paradise and the gaudiest of them all, Treasures, Lollypop’s Adult Nightlife is small, squat, clean and unassuming. Just a sign and an inordinate number of cars for such an industrial area at this hour indicate the club’s presence. The square main room features at its center a wide catwalk complete with those low brass rails that keep the gals on the stage and the drinks off it. Quintessential strip-club chairs—the ones with the round backs and the wheels—dot the perimeter, which is lined with banquettes and more low cocktail tables. These are tended by pretty and polite cocktail servers. Bouquets of hookahs sit poised for use.
I am mostly taken by the sudden appearance of manners and courtesy in topless nightlife, which seem to have arrived with a newcomer to the flesh game, Alex Grosvenor (aka DJ Ala Mode). As manager, marketing, promotions and talent booker, Grosvenor has his hand in everything at Lollypop’s, from the bands that will play the main stage to the resident and guest DJs (himself from time to time) to the comportment of the staff. “What I’m trying to do is create a high-end lingerie bar where the women are looked up to, not down upon,” Grosvenor says. He has counseled the staff to treat all women with respect.
For all those niceties, Lollypop’s is still a titty bar by trade. Every second drink earns a free lapdance from the entertainers, whom Grosvenor calls models and who will appear regularly at events promoting for the Palms and other venues. A burlesque dance troupe will make routine appearances, and a pancake breakfast is planned for every Saturday and Sunday morning. And bachelor parties still get a great deal: $100 per person, round-trip limo, free admission, two-hour open bar, a lapdance per person and two for the groom.
But the perks aren’t all reserved for the guests. Entertainers pay no house fees ($75 minimum at most clubs; $100 at Sapphire), there are no tip-outs to staff, and toplessness is up to the girl. And whereas Sapphire employs from 400-500 girls in the course of a typical night, Grosvenor says, Lollypop’s will keep it to no more than 30 ladies at any given time.
Lollypop’s late-night activities convert the club over to covered nightlife with a lingerie afterhours Wednesday, Friday and Saturday; toplessness is relocated to the VIP room. Rick’s Cabaret’s predecessor Scores tried this for some time, as did Seamless, but the nipples always won out in the end, so we’ll see how long this covered afterhours lasts. Lollypop’s will celebrate its grand opening over Halloween weekend with daredevil freestyle motorcyclists Crusty Demons and the Metal Mulisha making an attempt at jumping over the building.
“We’re trying to tap into the afterhours [scene],” Grosvenor says. “Rather than just promote the DJs, I want to also promote the girls. What I would eventually like to see is some participation from the women who come to the party. Women are not always made to feel comfortable.”
It seems so odd; one would think a gentleman would want to make a lady feel comfortable, especially when she’s in his lap.