The 'Business of Beautiful People': Tampa Strip Clubs Expect Big Bucks from RNC Crowd
Warren Colazzo is in the business of beautiful people. As the co-owner of Thee Dollhouse gentlemen's club in Tampa, Colazzo is expecting some major business during the RNC.
"If they're going to compare this to three or four super bowls, I just think people better be ready. It'll be very very busy."
On a recent Thursday evening at Thee Dollhouse, the lights were dim and the music was cranked up. Waitresses walked around in impossibly high heels decked out in red, white and blue patriotic corsets.
Here, a waitress describes her special outfit for the RNC.
"We switched our uniforms to the American flag for the convention. We wanted to do something a little bit Republican to make them feel at home. We wear white fishnets. ... and a red white and blue corset with red bras showing."
Dancers at Thee Dollhouse are also prepping for the RNC.
"We've been working on our physiques, working out, our diet plans, we've been meeting with the management to teach us how to address the customers."
To bring more business to the club, Thee Dollhouse booked Lisa Ann for four shows the weekend before the convention. She's an adult film star who shot into the spotlight during the 2008 Presidential election for her Sarah Palin-esque resemblance.
During a recent press conference, a tanned Lisa Ann peered over her rimless glasses and discussed her show for Thee Dollhouse.
"I wear these outfits, the Palin suits with lingerie underneath and I dance to the Eminem song We Made You. I played Palin in that video and everyone loves it. I did my first show last night and it was really exciting."
The most exciting change for Thee Dollhouse has nothing to do with garters or fishnets, or the extra dancers the club hired. It has everything to do with design.
"Boy, everything you put your eyes on is brand new. Carpeting, tables, chairs, paneling, sound system, all the bars. ... Everywhere you can put your eyes has all been redone."
From the plush chairs, the million metal beads suspended as a curtain from the ceiling in the V-I-P area to the 225-inch screen illuminating the main stage, Colazzo and his staff have renovated their dollhouse to attract what they believe is an older, high-class crowd.
The total cost? $1.5 million dollars.
How much of this money will the club make back during the RNC? Are club owners betting too much on the convention and its crowds? Colazzo is hopeful.
"I believe it's going to be very very busy for us."
A few miles away, the owners of the 2001 Odyssey are also preparing for the RNC. Known for its large spaceship sitting on top of the building, the 2001 Odyssey has been around for 45 years.
As the music blasts and two afternoon patrons enjoy the show, Jim Kleinhans leads the way up the dimly-lit stairs to the spaceship, where visitors can enjoy extra privacy for a price.
Brothers and co-owners Jim and Don Kleinhans invested about $100,000 into pre-RNC renovations. One of the largest additions to the club was a private entrance. Just in case patrons want extra privacy getting into the club, the brothers installed a "V-I-P" entrance that will set visitors back $100. Here, Don explains why.
"We've had numerous contacts within the last 45 to 60 days anonymously stating, 'Hey can we get in there and go to a non-public area? Can we access the building without going through the front door?' "
The club also boasts a web presence as well--in case you can't get to the club, their website brings the club to you.
"We've already seen an increase in hits within the last two to three weeks ... I'd say double."
The Kleinhans brothers aren't exactly expecting delegates to walk through the door--it's more support staff, aides and journalists they think will bring business.
Not every club owner is expecting large profits from the RNC.
Joe Redner, owner of Mons Venus, explains:
"It's a wait and see. I don' t think the people that come to the RNC and the people that come to the super bowl are in the same frame of mind. I am just a little skeptical with how much business it will bring to the area."
If business doesn't take off as planned, Jim of 2001 Odyssey doesn't mind. His motto:
"We just keep plugging along."
The business of baring it all will continue, convention or no convention.