Some Strip Clubs Starting To Reopen From Coronavirus Shutdowns

LOS ANGELES—As states across the country begin the process of reopening businesses from shutdowns caused by the coronavirus pandemic, strip clubs that were largely shut out of government relief programs are taking steps to allow customers back inside. Though in some cases, the strip clubs will be forced to reopen without strippers.

The Lucky Devil Lounge, a strip club in Portland, Oregon, has been operating since April as a drive-through restaurant with dancers — wearing facial masks and gloves — performing for customers who remain in cars, under a tent in the club’s parking lot.

But elsewhere, clubs are gearing up to resume more traditional operations. The Den, a strip club in Cheyenne, Wyoming, opened its doors on May 15 with a “masks on, clothes off” party-style event. Wyoming has one of the lowest incidences of coronavirus in the United States, but the club’s owner says she knows reopening is “a risk we’re taking.”

Kim Chavez told USA Today that if her business had been eligible for a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan, “I might not have opened today.”

In Superior, Wisconsin — a city about two hours north of Minneapolis, Minnesota — the Centerfolds Cabaret strip club also opened its doors on Friday. 

“I didn’t think it would be that soon but I was excited. I knew I had a lot of work to do,” manager Emily Ziegler told a local TV station. On May 13, the Wisconsin Supreme Court invalidated Governor Tony Evers' stay-at-home and business closure orders as unconstitutional.

Chavez said that the club’s staff will be working after hours to clean the facility each day, and hand sanitizer will be provided for all employees. 

In addition, the club is hiring additional bouncers to enforce limits on the number of patrons who may enter the club at any one time, in an attempt to maintain social distancing standards.

Wyoming has recorded only 766 total coronavirus cases as of Tuesday, with 10 deaths. Wisconsin, on the other hand, has seen 12,885 cases, and 467 fatalities.

In Rhode Island, according to a report by The Providence Journal, restaurants will soon reopen for sit-down dining, but with only outdoor seating. That means strip clubs may also open — but with no performances by strippers.

“They’ll likely look a lot like outdoor Hooters, just with fewer tables and more hand sanitizer,” wrote Journal reporter Brian Amaral, of the strip clubs.

Andy Noyes, owner of the Woonsocket club Rhode Island Dolls, also said that the PPP loan shutout of adult entertainment venues has forced him to bring in revenue any way he can, even if it means limiting dancers to waitressing duty.

“I just wanted to get the girls back to work,” he told The Journal. 

Noyes had planned to set up an outdoor stage for dancer performances, but Woonsocket’s city solicitor nixed the plan.

Photo By Gogirl18 / Wikimedia Commons