Adult industry convention for strip club and topless club owners
by Jack Corbett

Feature entertainerTori Blake performing on Las Vegas stage

performing at Pure Talent's Feature Showcase at Club Sapphires in Las Vegas


 
 

It’s expo time again and Exotic Dancer is hosting its 11th annual adult industry convention at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, which I’ve heralded in past years as a “Do not miss, put this one on your calendar early” event for all adult industry professionals from feature entertainers and ambitious house dancers to top night club managers and owners, professional photographers, and adult magazine owners.

Last year I had a fabulous time, but this year although I’ve taken an ad out in Exotic Dancer’s Bulletin inviting adult web sites to link with mine (you are an idiot if you don’t) and have a trade show booth with S.P.E.W. Wrestling and the Mantour, I already have some very serious negative feelings about this year’s Expo.

Now, don’t get me wrong, if you are a club owner and you haven’t been to at least one of these conventions, you are a chump and a dinosaur, who should be a prime candidate for the glue factory, so I’m going to give you the bottom line first–go to the next Exotic Dancer Expo at least once before either the Mothers for a More Boring Nation close your club down or your competitors put you out to pasture. Obviously I am a firm supporter of Exotic Dancer–of its basic program, of its conventions, its publications, but most of all its attempts to organize the entire adult industry. After all, if there wasn’t an Exotic Dancer, who would there be? But this year, the expo is at Mandalay Bay, for the third year out of four and it’s once again at Lost Wages–so what else is new besides this thing getting to be another walk down Boring Avenue? Serious flaws are developing out of what is a very good thing, flaws serious enough that can transform what can be a rock bed of support for the entire adult industry into a termite ridden remnant of what it had once been. And now, I’m going to really go off, and tell both the good points and the bad. Thankfully the bad can be easily remedied. It can be a lot of fun eliminating them, for both Exotic Dancer and the rest of us. Exotic Dancer—are you listening? I am no longer a little voice on the telephone. And two more things, for a more in depth review of Exotic Dancer’s annual expos check out my article in the Looking Glass back Issues for September 03 and October 2002.   and at   Second, please e-mail me your comments about what you are about to read at e-mail address because I really do want to know if I’m spot on or just one voice crying out into the wilderness.

I didn’t see any other magazine writers that Wednesday morning at the club owner seminars at Mandalay Bay so I’m going to be selfish, keeping what I have learned only
trade show

 between myself and the readers of the “Looking Glass”. Other adult magazines were either too cheap to send its writers out to cover the seminars, its writers were out too late getting drunk and partying, or they simply didn’t give a shit about offering good quality content. With several hundred club owners and top adult night club managers in attendance along with a number of other adult professionals, we all got into high gear during the first legal seminar, “The Big Cases, the Big Decisions”. For the first time I saw Indiana Club owner, Sam Stimmel arrive late for one of the seminars. Now Sam’s a very meticulous, very hard working, and very professional club owner. Each year he takes in all the club owner seminars, listening attentively to what the panelists have to say, often taking down notes. There is a crying need for more club owners like him.

Two club owners are on the panel with the attorneys, John Gray, owner of Spearmint Rhino and Eric Langan of Rick’s Cabaret. The owners are here to make sure the first amendment attorneys keep the discussion relevant and easily understandable to the club owners in the audience.

First amendment Michael Murray from Ohio cut right to the core of what all club owners need to be thinking about when he  stated eloquently and forcibly:  "the forces of censorship have been relentlessly seeking the annihilation of the entire adult industry by silencing all voices of sexual expression. Freedom hangs by a thread,” he concluded.

“There will be four critical judicial appointments coming up during the next presidential term,” Mr. Murray warned the club owners. “And while this convention is going on celebrating freedom, the other convention (Republican convention) is celebrating the Patriot Act.”

You can read about how the entire nation is about to step out onto a watershed that that will end in unrelenting  persecution of all those who hold freedom dear, but nothing can quite prepare you for the impact when it’s delivered in such clear and ominous tones. For a club owner, hearing these attorneys speak out about the huge threats arrayed against them by the Mothers for a More Boring Nation, has to have an unforgettable effect upon him.

I thought about some of the club owners back home who are too arrogant to show their sorry faces at this convention. And I thought about how pig headed some of them are as they aid and abet government officials who try to close their competition down.

During the legal seminar it immediately becomes clear that the formidable forces dedicating themselves to trampling our 1st amendment rights while closing clubs down has “divide and conquer” as their chief strategy towards achieving its “control freak” goals. And yet, so many club owners are falling right into their hands.

And Exotic Dancer is certainly on the right track, in its attempts to get all these club owners together, at hosting its annual conventions, at getting all these lawyers together for this seminar in the first place while gathering so many club owners at one place at one time so that they can all learn from each other and hopefully unify towards the common good, which is to preserve at least those elements of the adult industry that are professionally run.

Mr. Club owner, who is too conceited or too cheap to ever set foot at one of these conventions, I despise you. You are probably one of these guys who’s giving this industry a bad name, who’s fueling the fires of those who want to destroy both you and the club owners who are dedicating themselves to doing a responsible and professional job.

This seminar alone is probably worth the price of admission to the convention, now at $319.00. Attorney Roger Diamond of California gets down more to the real specifics of what might or might not constitute a legal lap dance, instead being construed by a judge as an act of prostitution. Which is food for thought for all those trying to make a living by selling lap dances.

The next seminar’s speaker is Bob Johnson, executive director of the Beverage Management Institute. Just a few days before the convention I had been talking to a club owner about how so many bartenders he had known in the business had stolen from the bar, and about what a huge problem this posed for owners of all bars and night clubs, not just adult club owners. Now I’m a writer and photographer, not a night club or bar owner, but it seemed to me that Mr. Johnson made some priceless points about how to hire the most honest bartenders and on how to best keep bartenders honest whether or not they had a tendency to rip off the bar. I am never going to own a bar, have never had a desire to own a bar, and therefore have no use for Mr. Johnson’s nuggets of wisdom. Nevertheless I found his points to be intensely interesting. Once again I felt that those club owners who were missing this seminar were losing out, but I suppose they know everything there is about running a successful club, never mind the fact that most successful businessmen in I don’t care what industry they are operating in, belong to professional organizations, do lots of outside reading, etc in order to improve on what they are already doing.

Our booth is strategically placed just behind most of the Pure Talent Agency booths, each one of which is occupied by two feature entertainers. Our next door neighbor is Kelly Taylor and a couple of booths down from hers is Aspen Reign’s. I’ve already written published magazine articles on Kelly, Aspen and many of the Pure talent girls whose booths are in the first row just inside the convention hall doors, including K.C. Cannons, Carrie Bare, and Darien Ross. There’s several new features among those I already know, and there are several others I’ve shot on numerous occasions but who I’ve not put in any hard copy adult magazines for one reason or another.

Darien Ross
In the opposite direction in the third row of booths is the Universal Talent booth. There’s a couple features there as well as Eleanor, the agency’s owner. I had already shot pictures of Dolly Mae Madison and Summer Haze. Summer Haze is busy selling “Summer Haze glass dildos” and other sex toys. I nearly bought one of her gleaming dildos which I’d probably have wound up using as a drink stirrer and conversation piece. Since our booth is within fifty feet of the Universal booth, I often find myself stopping over there on my way back from whatever other exhibits I’m visiting.

Since I write a lot of articles about feature entertainers and also shoot thousands of pictures of them, being close to the Pure Talent girls and close to the Universal Talent congregation is for me, the premiere place to be in the entire trade show. Sure–I keep making runs to the Red Bull booth, and once or twice hit the Anheiser Busch watering corner, and that large spot with the stage and dancing pole inhabited by the Spearmint Rhino dancers all have their place in the sun, but it’s the feature entertainers who I have the biggest dealings with. Truth is, they can help me by providing an endless supply of good models and articles while I can return the favor by giving them all the publicity I can, which most of them seem to really appreciate. Two of them will become my salvation later on that night in my time of need.

Tonight is the Pure Talent feature showcase at Club Sapphires. I am to shoot sixteen Carrie Bare
feature entertainers although Carrie Bare, one of my all time favorites will not perform due to temporary injury. But I do manage to get a series of shots of Carrie on one of the two large three wheeler motorcycles in front of the Pure Talent arena. Another girl I shoot on one of the motorcycles, this one a new feature with Pure Talent I’ve never met before, is Bailey Rae, who for some reason I take an instant liking to. As for Carrie Bare, what more is there to say about her other than she’s getting better looking each time I see her while progressing into an even better feature performer.

Carrie Bare
Not having Carrie perform at the feature showcase borders on tragedy. At Club Sapphires Pure Talent’s given me a written order of appearance for the sixteen features scheduled to perform. My second piece of bad news is Bailey, who’s on this schedule but has become too sick to perform.

The club is huge. Nevertheless, the room in which the showcase is being held is overstuffed with people, with all the feature entertainers from our crowd being there, most of whom are not doing the showcase along with all the club owners and miscellaneous other adult professionals who swell the room’s audience to more than several hundred. I manage to get great position right on top of the stage over towards the left side. At first glance this is a bad location to take pictures from since it’s off center, thus not offering a direct centerline front side shooting angle. Most photographers are kneeling or sitting here, in the center where they will be getting in each other’s way or directly in front of a good portion of the audience. They will be self conscious of standing or sitting high in front of people, which is not conducive to good shooting I decide.

My choice of a shooting position turn out to be a great decision since much of the time the features will be turning in my direction. I have lots of room to spare, and can even rest my elbows on the stage to steady my camera. It doesn’t get any better than this. But it’s Tori Blake, a feature now living in Las Vegas, who is the first to molest me. As I stand in front of her concentrating on taking pictures, she, uh, well, you know, she molests me as she would a customer sitting at her stage. Later on in the showcase, Lovette will also try me out as a human prop.

Bailley Rae
With Bailey Rae not performing there’s still fifteen feature entertainers to shoot, with each feature doing three different sets. It’s nearly 2 a.m. before the showcase is over, and I haven’t had a single beer all night. I’ll have to give credit where it’s due. I didn’t see Club Sapphires shut a single photographer down or ask for his credentials whereas last year Club Jaguars only let several of us shoot pictures. Jaguars had told one of my best friends, even though he was shooting with an expensive state of the art digital SLR and paid over $300 to attend the convention, to park his camera. And here at Club Sapphires, most of the audience had a clear unrestricted view of the feature performances on stage, unlike what they had to put up with last year at Jaguar’s which had a huge staircase going up to the club’s second floor, which although way cool, obscured the stage from most of the audience, a stupid and expensive architectural miscalculation. Moreover, the dressing room for the features was spacious and comfortable which would have meant lots of room for my laptop and extension cords had I decided to set up my digital darkroom here in this club. Whether or not Club Sapphires can make good on its boast of being the largest club in Las Vegas remains to be proven, but I will give it high commendation for making us feel welcome and providing comfortable surroundings.

So far I had been a Saint, so now that is was 2 a.m. and I had taken my last picture, it was time to drink. Which meant–let’s all go back to the Orchid Bar at Mandalay Bay. This was our unofficial meeting area since sooner or later practically everyone was bound to show up there if only for a few minutes. Thailand stripper


Carrie Bare was one of the first conventioneers I saw as soon as we got to the bar. Carrie is a woman for all seasons and all reasons for not only is she a great entertainer and a terrific model and got the cutest little figure, she’s also so likeable you’d want her for a drinking companion even if she was a guy. Outspoken and honest, Carrie’s the supreme cutup who will remind you of the practical joker back in High School. For a few minutes some of the guys are here in the bar from “Xtreme Magazine” in which I averaged two articles a month for something like four years. Our crowd is soon joined by Tori Blake and, Vivian West, a new Pure Talent feature who will remind you of the girl next door.

With us is a guy from the St Louis area who lives not far from me who I had never met before this convention. I am like a man dying of thirst out on the Sahara Desert being offered water for the first time in days. The beer goes down fast and smoothly. Like a bad dream our bar closes down, but like nearly everything in Las Vegas, there’s another one to replace it. Our new drinking establishment is within a couple hundred yards of the Orchid Bar. What time we left the Orchid Bar and what time we arrived at the new place is anyone’s guess, but by this time everyone’s deserted us except for Vivian and Tori.

I suppose we could have gone club crawling after the showcase. Instead we wound up cutting up and drinking with a couple feature entertainers until 6:30 a.m. Tori and I had a lot to talk about since she had been at a number of Pure Talent showcases I had shot all over the United States. Down in Mobile, Alabama my roommate and I had driven Tori and her sister to the owner of the Candy Store’s place where I took pictures of three features including Tori for the Xtreme Weapons calendar. But I didn’t care for Tori’s outfit she wore for that shoot, and we had decided together that we’d re-shoot the pictures, and nearly did months later at Big Al’s in Peoria.

Universal Talent Feature
Tori had been one of several new Pure Talent girls the year even before that at Big Als. Big Al had wound up having two Pure Talent feature showcases. Both Tori and the other girl were then from Reno, and both of them showed a lot of dancing potential, especially for newcomers. They had been equally friendly and each of them had a certain wholesomeness about her that is very rare for a profession in which women typically take off their clothes.

For almost a year after meeting Tori and the other new girl I never saw the other girl again, whereas I did see a fair amount of Tori, who had became one of my favorite features on the circuit. And then, last year, at the Exotic Dancer Expo over at Caesar’s I ran into the other new girl.

She was first and foremost an avid snow-boarder, who was now living in Lake Tahoe. I suppose you might call her a ski bum since she practically lived to enjoy the snow clad slopes. She stripped to pay her bills and had decided to try her hand at feature entertaining for which she seemed to be well qualified for being as good a dancer and as great looking as she was. But the mountains won out in the end. Her snow-boarding commitments won out over the feature showcases Pure Talent was having and the various pageants and contests in which features keep winning the all important titles that help them advance their careers.

Pure Talent Features
She had come to Las Vegas to see her friend Tori, who got caught up with all her talent agency commitments with her booth, feature showcase over at Jaguars, and the necessity to network among the movers and shakers at the convention. Dressed in blue jeans and wearing a Greek fisherman’s hat, Adina Winters looked part waif and part hippy. Certainly not a feature entertainer or even a house dancer. We wound up having dinner together that night and then Adina went out drinking with me. Which meant her sitting patiently next to me as I drank round after round with the others sitting around us.

Adina didn’t drink. In fact, she didn’t even eat meat. She’s a health fanatic who keeps herself in magnificent shape, who eats Veggie sandwiches, oatmeal and other things that are good for you while sipping green herbal tea.

Two months later she would fly out to the St. Louis Metro East to do photo shoots with me. We wound up rooming together at the next feature showcase at Big Als. She’s the most unlikely stripper you’d ever meet, a complete maverick, who’s managed to keep the same phone number for over four years now, and who hasn’t changed her e-mail address in years. But all of this is meant for another story at another time.

But tonight, I’d wind up turning an eager ear to Tori Blake, Adina’s friend while Tori would prove to be a rapt listener. Tori would wind up taking me back to the Luxor at 6:30 a.m. After all, she lives in Vegas unlike the other features, and being as nice as she is, she was eager to save me the walk.

And that’s just it, you wind up meeting so many nice people at these conventions, although some of them dance without clothing on whereas others such as myself are beadee eyed photographers who in the public eye are no doubt having orgies all the time. Then there’s those devil incarnate club owners out spreading the perversion it’s my job to write about.

Let’s see....if it wasn’t for Exotic Dancer’s annual expos, Jim Hayak would probably never have met his wife, Anne Marie, and Pure Talent wouldn’t be what it is today. And I would never have become friends with the owners of this agency, and because of that I probably wouldn’t be shooting pictures of and writing articles about top stars such as Aspen Reign and K.C. Cannons. I wouldn’t have met Vic Robinson then G.M. over at Maximus who hired me to shoot three of its pageants or Big Daddy, owner of Big Daddys Jeremy McTeague and Aspen Reign
Cabaret who first hired me to shoot his club at this convention a couple of years ago. I wouldn’t have met the people who run “Xtreme Magazine” for which I wrote over fifty magazine articles. And I never would have met Sam Stimmel, owner of Stimmelators up in Indiana, whose guest I’ve been on numerous occasions. And it was just outside the seminar room doors that I introduced Big Daddy to Big Mike, the general manager of the Lumberyard up in Des Moines. And just several weeks later Big Daddy and Big Mike were running their first S.P.E.W. wrestling match pitting a group of Iowa dancers against Big Daddy’s Missouri girls. Until then the Big Daddy’s girls had been wrestling servicemen from the nearby base at Fort Leonard Wood each weekend. Now S.P.E.W. boasts having its own video for sale along with two other clubs in the S.P.E.W. network with surely others to follow.

Let us never forget about all those we have met at these expos and how much our opinions have been formulated by the things we have learned there. Nevertheless....I see sprouting what could very well be the seeds of the destruction of everything that Exotic Dancer has so carefully built up.

Take the price of the rooms themselves. To stay at Mandalay Bay at this convention costs something like 128 bucks. Yet at the exact same time the convention was going on, I received a special price offer from Orbitz Travel of $121.00. Which is still way too much since a number of us stayed next door for $79.00 at the Luxor, a luxury hotel and casino, which although Mandalay Bay Corporation claims is not as high end as Mandalay Bay, which I feel offers accommodations equal to or superior to what we would have had at Mandalay Bay.

Now there’s three kinds of club owners who are being offered that $128.00 price. The first is the kind for whom cost is no object. The second is the kind who can easily afford it, but who hates getting ripped off, and who appreciates a good bargain when he gets one. The third is the kind who either feels he cannot afford it or who feels he has a lot of better things to spend his money on.

Putting on a show
Consider also that a club owner is often paying for several rooms each night since he might easily have his entourage along, starting with his wife or girlfriend, then a manager or two, possibly one or more of his club dancers and so on. It was just a handful of years back that I was footing the bill for two dancers representing my booth in addition to my web site designer and a club manager friend of mine all of which left me liable to paying for three rooms. And what about the feature entertainers? Does one really think they relish paying $128.00 a night for their hotel rooms?

And as if isn’t bad enough, what about the Awards ceremony. Last year it cost $89 to attend but at least you were fed at the ceremony even though one feature entertainer friend of mine commented: “It wasn’t even worth one dollar, let alone $89.00 for that terrible food.” And this year when I called to tell her that food wasn’t even included but that everyone was still being charged $89.00 she was really horrified.

I didn’t go. Instead, my roommate and I had the buffet at Mandalay Bay for something like 23 bucks where we ate all the crab we could eat along with our choice from among over 100 other selections.

I believe that Exotic Dancer is currently sending out signals that it is no longer on theAt Sapphires
 side of the club owner, or of the feature entertainer, or of most other adult industry professionals for that matter. It is essential that Exotic Dancer be viewed as by most club owners and other industry professionals including feature entertainers as being on their side and going to bat for them. Certainly endorsing a hotel that charges $128 a night for a room will not be construed by most as acting in their best interests. Admittedly the Luxor at $79 a room does not offer convention facilities. But the Luxor and Mandalay Bay are both Mandalay Bay properties and lie next door to each other. I would think an accommodation could be made in which the conventioneers are offered rooms at the Luxor while still being able to enjoy the convention facilities over at its sister hotel, Mandalay Bay.

And if Mandalay Bay Corporation is not willing to make this type of arrangement with Exotic Dancer, so what? There’s plenty of other places to go besides here. For instance, rooms go for around 75 bucks at the Flamingo across the street from Caesar’s Palace. Etc.

feature on stage
Tuesday night I went to dinner with a club owner friend of mine. We discussed the high price of Mandalay Bay’s rooms. The club owner suggested: “Why doesn’t Exotic Dancer host its convention again at Palace Station? Everything is perfectly adequate there.”

“I’m bored,” I told my club owner friend. Every year it’s the same old thing. They always have this thing in Vegas. I don’t gamble. You don’t gamble and most club owners I know don’t gamble. And the past three out of four years they’ve had this thing at Mandalay Bay. I don’t care how good a thing is, if you do it often enough it gets boring. People are going to lose interest in these conventions. Why not go back to Reno? Have the convention there for a year, then somewhere else, say San Francisco?”

“I agree with you, Jack, my club owner friend said. “Or why not have it at Lake Tahoe?”

“Bingo. Lake Tahoe. Some people think it’s the ski paradise of the world. Others say it’s Sun Valley, or Vail, or Aspen, but it’s right up there. And there’s that awfully blue lake and Casinos. Beautiful natural surroundings.”

“They need to bring back the excitement,” I continued. And make you club owners think they are getting the best deals for you. Make you think they are operating in your best interest.”Feature performing


So I called Adina Winters the other night. She lives in Tahoe. “I work in Reno,” she told me. “And they have some incredible hotel deals there. I once stayed in a suite for something really dirt cheap like 18 dollars a night. And Tahoe would be a great place to host a convention. There’s all kinds of great natural scenery where you can shoot totally nude in my area.”

I checked room rates for the Palace Station Hotel in Las Vegas. On Wednesday, September 15th, I was quoted $39.95 and $59.95 depending on if one wanted to stay in the Tower or the Courtyard. I also checked the web site for Harrah’s in Lake Tahoe which offers 20,000 square feet of convention facilities with rooms going for $81.75. I would think Exotic Dancer could better this price by getting blocks of 200 or more rooms.

So here’s my panaceas for revitalizing Exotic Dancer’s series of annual expos. 1. Restore the confidence of club owners and other adult industry professionals that Exotic Dancer is operating in their best interests and that they are being listened to. This means stop booking its conventions at the highest priced hotels. And put the awards show into an all inclusive package at $319 or whatever so that all key events are offered to everyone paying the entry fee to the convention. Failure to do so sends a clear message–“We are raping you.” 2. Put a spirit of adventure back into your Expos by offering it in different hotels in as many different exciting cities as possible so that each year people are going to wonder: “Where are we going next year?” Failure to do this is like offering canned tuna for lunch 365 days out of the year. 3. Make every effort to gain and to continue to maintain the respect of the industry by listening to your constituents as possible. Lastly.....and most important...DO NOT THINK I’m not a friend of Exotic Dancer, what it has been trying to achieve, and what it has already done to bring this industry together. Without it, there would be a huge vacuum and really not nearly as much to look forward to each year. For it to cease to exist or even to go into a long downward spiral would be an event of great sadness for us all. What I am urging is a reestablishment of what can be accomplished and the inner dynamics of something that is fundamentally good, that is constantly striving for new methods to improve itself.
 
 
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