Yes, it’s true, I have never actually stepped foot inside a Gentlemen’s Club. However, I do vaguely remember attending a bachelorette event at a Chippendales once. To my dismay, it was nothing like the scene from “Mr. Mom” in where men emerge in space suits on stage and put on a steamy show with the most supreme smiles for the dames. No… it was a bit of a disappointment.. much like the feeling portrayed by this guest blog post from Alex McPeak in which he fantastically tunes us in to give a little glimpse of what the strip club scene in Memphis was like in his eyes.
“Memphis strip clubs have a storied and lurid history. One of the most memorable signs from my childhood was the huge, neon dancing girls sign at what is now the Gold Club at Summer and White Station by the I-40/240 split. My father worked at the Bell South off Summer and Mendenhall and later at a station on Highland south of Park. My grandmother lived in Highland Heights, next door to Sam “The Sham” Samudio, so we routinely drove west on Sam Cooper to her house. I always gaped at the huge neon dancers, shaking it for the passing cars, while my mother admonished me for the questions I asked about it.
The first and only time I visited Downtown Dolls was during a phase in which Memphis had begun to think differently about their strip clubs. Suzi Parker’s “Sex in the South” had been published with its vivid description of Platinum Plus, which had been raided and closed. I had not visited the building housing Downtown Dolls since the late 1990s when it was still 616.
The club was so dead, the girl at the front waived the cover fee. A lone woman danced on stage to a room full of empty tables while the bartender restocked the bar coolers with bottles of Budweiser. I worked in Hickory Hill for over 10 years and, in that time, regularly experienced the madness of Platinum Plus, the Pony (and all its previous incarnations) and Christie’s with my co-workers.
I drank a beer, tipped the girl and chatted with her a while, but I left soon after.
Understand this: Memphis has always been a bit of a hell raiser town. Word is the first city plans made no room for a church. Businessmen from out town as far as Budapest, Hungary, asked me how to record directions to all of the best shake joints. Club owners in New Orleans apologized for the relative tameness of their venues. ‘I know about Memphis clubs,’ one owner told me. ‘We don’t get that wild.’ But as I exited Downtown Dolls to an empty Marshall Avenue, I knew the infamous scene in Memphis had been changed, and possibly ended, forever.”
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