Strip clubs in Tampa are ready to cash in on the approaching G.O.P. convention. And these aren't your daddy's topless bars; these gentlemen's clubs are elite lounges with fully nude dancers offering contact lap dances with bottles of expensive champagne and limo service.
Republican conventioneers will have 60 strip bars to choose from. Thee Dollhouse is
bringing in Lisa Ann, the Sarah Palin impersonator who is also an adult film
Glenn Beck's website appears to be almost advertising these clubs with glee. They write, "Florida’s strip club owners are pretty convinced that the Republican National Convention attendees aren’t as concerned with family values as they may appear, and they expect that bringing in a stripper who dresses like Sarah Palin is the perfect way to entice them."
Congressional Republicans have reportedly held sessions warning that even "innocent" behavior in Tampa could be "distorted" with just a single cell phone shot.
Many strip club owners are well aware that some people will want to be discreet about going to one of the area's strip bars. Former RNC Chairman Michael Steele knows firsthand how a scandal can cause issues for a political brand. He ultimately lost his bid for another term as head of the party committee after news reports revealed that the RNC paid for donors at a strip club.
To protect the convention-goers privacy, Don Kleinhans, co-owner of 2001 Odyssey (a full nude club) says they will be putting up a drive-thru tent in the back, so someone wanting privacy while entering or leaving the club will not be seen by the public.
"They can actually come in and have direct access to the spaceship VIP room without having to go through any typical public areas," Kleinhans said. "We've been told to expect two to three times more people than what a Super Bowl would be."
One full-nude gentleman's club, Skin Tampa, is advertising its proximity to the Tampa Bay Times Forum, where the convention will be held. “Closest club to the R.N.C.!” exclaims a banner on the club’s Web site, which also promises “Free transportation and complimentary V.I.P. for R.N.C. Attendees and Press.”
The operations manager says he's not worried about Republicans staying away. "We're glad to have them here and we'll show them a good time," said Eric "Ice" Terrell. In fact, Terrell says they even plan on staying open longer if needed. "We normally close at 6 a.m., but if we have guests, we'll stay open 'til 8 a.m."
Kristen Hubbell, the manager, said, “We’ve had a couple of people stop by and take a look at the club. We had one guy who said he was bringing a group of about a hundred.”
The Penthouse Club, somewhat farther away, devotes a section of its website to the convention, offering “R.N.C. cabanas” for V.I.P. guests and claiming the only multimillion-dollar gentlemen’s club and five-star steakhouse in the area. All pre-order cabana or V.I.P. areas will receive a $1,000 bottle service credit
It's nice to know that all those contributions to the Republican campaign PACs by Christian evangelists are going to a worthy cause.
(Below) Previous attendees at the 2008 RNC.