GMG - Las Vegas Weekly

September 4, 2014

Las Vegas Weekly

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24 LasVegasWeekLy.com September 4–10, 2014 mong soft red lights and mirrored walls, one dancer is giving a steamy, wordless lap dance while a plucky redhead in cat-eye glasses is sitting on a guy's lap chattering away. The main attraction is a central stage with a pole anchored in the vaulted ceiling, and a thin Latina is muscling all the way up. She spins and whirls, gripping only with her thighs. She free-falls, grips, drops hard into splits, then whips into a forward bend and shakes every- thing. Two patrons make it rain, flipping bills from stacks like decks of cards. This girl could be in a Cirque show, but I'm guessing she makes more at Crazy Horse III. Today, it's a party spot for celebrities, Fortune 500 CEOs and Jiffy Lube techs alike, with cash cannons, sick DJs and the occasional night where bodies are painted neon against black lights and lasers. "I'm not in competi- tion with Sapphire and Rhino; I'm in competition with Las Vegas Boulevard," VP of Operations/GM Keith Ragano says. When he took over the space it was called the Penthouse, and it was "the abso- lute worst club in the city," he says. "You can get as many people there as you want—if you don't have a great staff, if you don't have good girls, they're not coming back," says Ragano, who's been in the industry for 20 years, here and in the Midwest at places like Club Paradise and Scores. "There are a lot of clubs in town and GMs that tell 'em, 'You work somewhere else, you can't work here.' I'm not like that. … Without the girls there is zero business, so I make sure I always take care of my girls." Ragano conducts 90 percent of the auditions and says they take about three seconds. You can walk in off the street and land the best shift if you're hot enough. But if you don't know how to make an impression, have a conversation and sell bottles—which run $400 to $6,000—you'll weed yourself out pretty fast. Ragano says he has no tolerance for anything illegal. "You don't have to be dirty. ... A lot of guys that are gonna spend the most money, they're not looking for anything like that." They might be looking for Felix Roxx, a pole specialist with a rockabilly pinup look, Bettie Page incarnate. She bends her torso at extreme angles, inked limbs float- ing and smile infectious. I ask how her spine does what it does. She laughs, says she was born that way. Felix looks like one of those girls who goes onstage because she loves it. Ragano wishes all of them had that attitude, because it shows you off to a thousand potential clients. But "everyone's got their own thing," and the business sup- ports that diversity. If there is a Queen, Ragano says there are two likelihoods: 1. She's in a VIP room all night. 2. She's a talker. "I mean, • summer is a slower season for strippers in Las Vegas. January and march are two of the best months, thanks to convention prime time. • Just because someone looks like he has money doesn't mean he'll spend it. and just because a guy is rocking flip-flops doesn't mean he's cheap. • Like migratory birds, some performers chase the busy seasons and big events at clubs across the country. others build a rep at just one venue. • How do strippers tone that impossible upper- thigh region right under the butt? Deadlifts. > who rules the club? Fire (foreground) and sydney agree that there's no type that dominates. "There's certain people you connect with and certain people you don't," Fire says.

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