Far from feeling like neighborhood bars, the gay clubs are explicitly sexual
That’s not always the case in Prince George’s County, where clubs are located in industrial areas and a few residential neighborhoods. Patrons say there’s an anything-goes atmosphere in some of the clubs, and the scene can be more rough-and-tumble than in downtown DC and Virginia.
DC’s strip clubs attract their share of out-of-towners, but most patrons are local, club owners say. “Conventioneers are a bonus,” says one, “but the locals keep us in business. I’d say conventioneers maybe make up 25 percent of our customers.”
“We get a healthy number of people who get sent to us by their hotel concierge and cab drivers,” says another club owner. “That’s the way most visitors find us.”
Club owners also say business is pretty much the same no matter which political party is in power. “Republicans, Democrats, they all come,” laughs one owner. Says another: “I’m sure President Bush hates us, but having a conservative in power hasn’t affected our business.”
Ziegfeld’s and Secrets is a combination showroom and strip club. Ziegfeld’s is the showroom, a large hall where drag performances are held on a wooden stage surrounded by cocktail tables and chairs. There’s a bar in the back. Through a glass door to the right of the bar is Secrets, the strip club, where muscular men dance naked on stages and on the bar. Dancers allow patrons to stroke their genitals–a practice almost never seen in the heterosexual clubs.
Allen Carroll and Chris Jansen have owned Ziegfeld’s for almost 30 years. They opened the first gay club in the warehouse district south of the Capitol. Now there are some half dozen gay strip clubs, theaters, and bathhouses in the area. But not https://hookupdate.net/sexy-usernames/ for long. The new baseball stadium will carve up the area and force at least six clubs, including Ziegfeld’s, Heat, and the Follies Theatre, to vacate.
“They’re destroying a community,” Carroll says. “[Gays] have been coming down here for 30 years, and they’re all worried to death. Customers in here are always saying to me, ‘You’ve gotta open another place. What are we going to do?’ “
Councilman Jack Evans acknowledges that the gay clubs in the area face a difficult situation. “No one has come up with a credible solution to the problem,” he says. “The dynamic there is it’s close to downtown, it’s isolated, and there’s a concentration, so it works. There’s nowhere else in the city where we can re-create that. The land doesn’t exist.”
“I want to open another place,” Carroll says, “but where can I take my license? I don’t want them to just stick us in some neighborhood and have to work on gaining acceptance again. . . . I’m hoping they’ll be lenient with license and relocating laws with us and take into consideration how long we’ve been here.”
About a dozen televisions show hard-core gay pornography
At the Bada Bing strip club featured on HBO’s The Sopranos, sexual favors are traded, drugs are readily available, and gangsters gather to plot their moves.
One DC manager says the only relationship his club has to The Sopranos is that “they showed people drinking Grey Goose vodka at the Bada Bing, and immediately Grey Goose sales went up more than 100 percent. . . . In any business you have some bad apples, but the club owners here make real good money, and there’s no reason to do anything extracurricular.”
In the old days, the “extracurricular” was standard. “The country was looser,” an owner says. “There were fewer laws and less enforcement. You even had [then-mayor] Marion Barry accused of doing cocaine at the This Is It club in the mid-1980s. Washington has changed. The most important thing I tell my managers is that we have to keep our license, so we can’t do anything that would cause us to lose it.”