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Gentlemen’s clubs – ‘an ugly impoliteness’

Strip clubs are all about people expressing needs – to earn money and to see a woman’s skin – in the most depressing way possible.

Strip clubs are all about people expressing needs – to earn money and to see a woman’s skin – in the most depressing way possible.

Who came up with the name ‘Gentlemen’s clubs’, I wonder? There is nothing remotely gentlemanly about them, and it’s high time they go by their real name: strip clubs.

I’m fine with people who want to pay either for sex or for a simulated version of it, but the rest of us don’t need to be exposed to it
- Kristina Chetcuti

If you’ve never been inside one, let me tell you what they look like. Some are dingy, with black wallpaper and black, low tables and black plastic ashtrays on top; others are faux-chic, full of shiny mock-chandeliers à la Phantom of the Opera.

All of them have the same smell: the stink of sweat beads forming on the brows of men in suits, in a state of excitement, as the woman in skimpy lingerie gyrates on the pole in front of them. There is no joy inside, and more importantly, no sense of fun.

These clubs are all about people expressing needs – to earn money and to see a woman’s skin – in the most depressing way possible.

Last year my colleague Patrick Cooke and I toured the majority of these clubs when researching an investigative piece for this paper. For all those out there who believe the hook that these are merely adults’ clubs, and, why, even couples can hang out there, let me tell you: it’s utter tosh.

In all the strip clubs, I spent most of my time studying my drink; checking out the loos; trimming my nails; and making complex origami out of my napkins; and all the while ‘dancers’ butterflied around my male colleague. A couple’s night out it certainly is not.

In a matter of one evening, in more than six clubs, we found dancers offering fully naked private dances for €70. It is therefore very ironic that in all these years, police have only caught dancers performing topless twice. Twice!

I’d like to know what methods the police use to monitor the clubs – we certainly never got an answer on that one.

The thing is that for a long time I was quite indifferent to these clubs. Live and let live, I thought. No one forces anyone to go to a strip club against their will.

True, I was not keen on girls opting for stripping as their career, but I always thought, it’s their choice, and they get paid for it. Also if adult men are sad enough to frequent these places then, so be it.

But I was wrong. I reckoned without the effect these places are having on the younger generation. For let us not kid ourselves, most clubs admit even 16-year- olds.

So what do we have now? Teens – male and female – growing up with the idea that it’s fine to pay a woman to satisfy your needs. Their view of gender interaction is being thwarted horribly.

The rotting effect of these clubs is not limited to teens: their presence is seeping everywhere. Last week, a parliamentary committee tasked with looking into problems afflicting Paceville suggested that strip clubs be regulated and banned from using photos to advertise their ‘wares’.

But Paceville is the least of ourproblems – what about strip clubs inresidential areas?

Club Paradiso, charged last week with having a topless dancer performing on its premises, is one such strip club, right in the heart of Sliema. It is at the bottom of a residential street, underneath a coffee shop, and further up the street from it there is a health shop and a supermarket. Because of these amenities, I would often walk up this street. Not anymore.

This strip club has a huge notice board outside with very graphic and explicit photos – right at my daughter’s eye-level.

“What are these ladies doing?” she asked, the first and last time we passed by the board. What was I meant to tell her? Oh, they’re taking their clothes off for money – that’s one of the careers you can opt for when you grow up?

Friends of mine, who live up the road, have the same problem, but they can’t really avoid the place. Their sons, aged six and eight, are made to cross the road, but they constantly crane their heads to check out the bras, whips and thongs.

These clubs are degrading for everybody and certainly no permit mustever be issued for them to open up inresidential areas.

Moreover, the proper enforcement of age restriction is imperative. I’m fine with people who want to pay either for sex or for a simulated version of it, but the rest of us don’t need to be exposed to it.

British journalist Caitlin Moran summed up these clubs prettywell: “Every dance, every privatebooth is a small unhappiness, an ugly impoliteness.”

These are soulless places and by closing an eye to them we’re not being terribly modern, we’re just doing a disservice to the future generation and creating an even more dysfunctional society.

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