View Full Version : Hustler Club

April 12th, 2004, 10:02 PM
The opening of this club was already mentioned in this thread: Grand Vision for Remaking the West Side (http://forums.wirednewyork.com/viewtopic.php?p=30982#30982)

Monday April 12, 2004 -- 6:54 pm

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. - During an interview held in his Beverly Hills office, Larry Flynt told the New York Post that even with the advent of the Internet and both the DVD and VHS formats, there will always be a market for live adult entertainment such as the soon-to-open Hustler Club on 51st Street.

"There's no substitute for the real thing," Flynt told the Post. "The more you get, the more you want. That basically applies to sex."

With the opening of the New York Hustler Club next week, the chains will have grown to nine locations. Flynt told the Post that he plans to increase the total number of Hustler Clubs to eleven by the end of the year – opening one in Detroit and one in Shreveport, Louisiana.

The Hustler Club chain is just part of Flynt’s relatively recent expansion of the Hustler brand, a move Flynt admits was overdue. Besides the Hustler Clubs, there is the Hustler Hollywood retail chain, Hustler apparel, a Hustler Casino, three adult studios that combine to produce around 40 titles a month, and a publishing empire of thirty magazines, including the flagship Hustler magazine.

“I think [Flynt's name] used to be something pornographic, but now it's the ultimate in hip, trendy and cool . . . kids want to wear T-shirts with Hustler on it," Tim Connelly, publisher of AVN, told the Post. "He's built this huge convergence where consumers have an insatiable appetite for [adult content] and his product.

by Trent Brown for AVN

Hustler Club on West 51st Street and the West Side Highway with the Helena (http://www.wirednewyork.com/real_estate/helena/default.htm) in the background. 10 April 2004.


May 12th, 2004, 06:53 AM
May 12, 2004

Dancing in the Lap of Luxury


Debbie C. recently worked high above patrons of the Penthouse Executive Club, at West 45th Street and 11th Avenue.

The chairs come in plush velvet or leather. There are main rooms, dining areas, private nooks and alcoves scented by candles. The multiple stages are bathed in high-tech lighting, Champagne flows, and the women, the main attraction, sparkle in glittery gowns - that is, until they strip down to their G-strings for a $20 lap dance.

But do not call them strippers. In this multimillion-dollar "gentlemen's club," they are "entertainers."

"The clients are classier and have more money, and the girls tend to be more educated and business-savvy," said Edniz Rivera, 23, an aspiring lawyer from Brooklyn who works as a dancer at the new Larry Flynt's Hustler Club in Manhattan. "There's a difference between saying, 'Hello, how are you?' and 'Yo. What's up?' "

Upscale strip clubs now call the West Side of Manhattan home, in neighborhoods not far from where seedier peep shows, topless bars and pornography stores once flourished in Times Square. In fact, with the opening of Penthouse Executive Club last June, Hustler and Scores WestSide in March and C.E.O. Club of New York last month, a cluster of half a dozen both new and old strip clubs now spreads from West Chelsea to upper Midtown in what a Scores telephone recording calls "Manhattan's new entertainment zone."

Dallas and Las Vegas are known for their luxurious strip clubs, which owners argue have helped make those cities big destinations for conventions and business travelers. But New York is just catching up with this type of entertainment; the political climate turned hostile to the industry in the 1990's when Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani vowed to stamp it out, or at least dilute it.

Mr. Giuliani ushered in zoning regulations that restricted where clubs, sex shops and bookstores and similar businesses could operate - at least 500 feet from schools, churches and each other, for example, and with only a portion of the premises' space devoted to sex-related activity - and succeeded in ridding the city of dozens of mostly small businesses. But the regulations had loopholes that have allowed most of the businesses to adjust and survive, and they also left areas zoned for manufacturing available for cabarets devoting 100 percent of their space to such activity as long as they do not exceed 10,000 square feet, city officials said.

Now, near the Hudson River, stripping is so unemcumbered that it comes with doormen, valet parking, renowned chefs and ads on billboards and television.

Some experts, like Dave Manack, associate publisher of Exotic Dancer Publications, argue that Mr. Guiliani's campaign may even have provided the impetus for the surge in fancy clubs, whose patrons increasingly include couples and women. "If you want to flourish, you have to present yourself as an upscale venue that would attract a large audience, not just men," he said.

But New York is also joining a nationwide trend, which involves not only more luxurious strip clubs but also more standardization, club owners said. Many of the newer clubs around the country use brand names like Penthouse under licensing deals. Angelina Spencer, national director of the Association of Club Executives, a trade association of strip clubs, said that chains have proliferated in the past five years, offering consistency in service and entertainment and going after volume.

"It's like the Wal-Mart stores eating up the mom-and-pop stores or going in competition with them," said Ms. Spencer, who owns a Penthouse club in Cleveland.

And an increase in upscale and bigger clubs is also creating more public acceptance, some club owners said.

"The market is increasing," said Brad Shafer, a lawyer for Hustler and other strip clubs. "The clubs are seeing more couples. There are women coming in together. It is becoming much more acceptable."

Women now hold bachelorette parties or birthday celebrations for husbands and boyfriends in such clubs, and even take striptease classes from the dancers.

Some nearby residents are trying to make the best of things, and forging relationships with their new neighbors. In the case of Scores WestSide, at 536 West 28th Street, members of Community Board 4 even asked the management to plant street trees and hire locally.

"They have an understanding of what our expectations are, and we have an understanding of who they are," said Anthony Borelli, the board's district manager.

But others say, high-end or not, the new clubs are attracting street prostitutes. Charles Spence, president of the West 44th Street Better Block Association, said residents were seeing a "reinfiltration" of smut.

"The community has worked so hard to clean up the neighborhood, and this is a setback," he said.

On a recent Thursday night, a few female customers at Penthouse Executive Club - a $10 million club at 603 West 45th Street at 11th Avenue, with a capacity of about 400 - were game for a lap dance.

"This is an opportunity to see up close, to see what it looks like," said Jesse Oliver, 23, who works in marketing for a technology company and got a lap dance from a blond dancer who tripped and fell at Ms. Oliver's feet. "I want to see what my boyfriend finds in them."

Another customer, Kevin Kelly, 41, said he was entertaining his out-of-town business partner.

"As long as they are legitimate, they are fun and the women are phenomenal," he said while watching from the bar. "One of them told me she makes $2,000 a night. It's all because of suckers like me."

For the dancers, upscale means not only bigger tips but also a safer environment, less lewd clientele and nicer co-workers. Sex is not allowed or expected, they said, and customers are not allowed to grope.

"It's not a brothel," said a 32-year-old from the Bronx who just started dancing at Hustler Club. "It's a fantasy that we're selling."

Club owners say their business suffers unfairly from an underworld image and the impression that it is associated with prostitution, drugs and the mob. In fact, the city's best known luxury club, Scores, which opened in 1991 at 333 East 60th Street and still operates at that location, once had owners who admitted helping the Gambino organized crime family extort payoffs from the club's employees. Ms. Spencer said that any criminal element was the exception.

"There's a thorn in every industry," she said. "You only have to look at Enron or WorldCom to see that."

Amid the neon of the West Side, Mark Yackow, the Penthouse club's chief executive officer, said he welcomed the other strip clubs. "We look at it as an expansion of the marketplace on the West Side," he said.

But Victor Roiter, who joined three friends to open the C.E.O. Club at 552 West 38th St., said he was not sure how many lap dances the market could bear. "It's going to be a wait-and-see game," he said, "Who's going to survive and who's going to end up closing its doors."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company