By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Living in Dallas and not checking out the strip clubs is like living in Telluride and never skiing: a waste of natural (and augmented) resources. On the other hand, the Dallas "adult entertainment" industry, besides La Bare, doesn't particularly cater to women. And La Bare is, how-you-say, gross, in a way reminiscent of Ann Jillian groping moon men in Mr. Mom. So, where do you go if you're female but curious what goes on behind the closed doors of Dallas' "gentlemen's clubs"? Risking life, limb and reputation, undercover female Dallas Observer staffers Bella, Kitty and their cohorts boldly go where they've never gone before, even though their paychecks depend on these establishments: your local strip club.
--Bella and Kitty
The Lodge (Saturday)
Looked exactly like it sounds--a preponderance of dark woods, leather and taxidermy. We felt like we should be having brandy and cigars, but settled for cocktails. Since it was Couples' Night, our presence didn't draw too many stares. Though we were impressed by a variety of body types among the dancers--not that it really swung toward full-figured, but a few dancers were definitely voluptuous in areas other than the bosom--we were less impressed by the actual dancing. It was a lot of rhythmic swaying and walking; we also wondered if dancers purposely chose to perform to Kool & the Gang's "Ladies' Night," or if that was a gross error by the DJ. The Lodge and its patrons were clean and polite, and the service was attentive; the women's rest room left something to be desired...the 10 lap dances bought by the birthday boy in front of us, however, did not. The DL: Cover, $8, except Saturday nights, when couples (one male, one female) get in free.
Cabaret Royale (Saturday)
Struck us as a country club or a California hotel with more black lights and a DJ. (One thing about strip clubs, the better ones at least, the chairs are fantastic--high-back armchairs meant for hours-long sitting, designed to support the gyrations of a lap dance in pretend privacy.) CR offered more exhibitions of gymnastic floor work and dancers who look like they've had at least some dance training. Our table was near the front, and the dancers seemed comfortable waving to and chatting with us. Kitty received, as an unexpected and not totally welcome gift from one of our male escorts, a gross satire of a sensual lap dance from a stripper named Elise. Two words: nipples, ice. 'Nuff said. Overall, a fun, upscale atmosphere with decent music. Female patrons share the staff's well-stocked rest room, and both lunchtime and Legs 'n' Eggs buffets are sumptuous with options for whatever diet we're on this week. The DL: Cover, $10.
The Clubhouse (Thursday)
The only all-nude club we visited, and surprisingly the only club we checked out with an actual "Ladies' Night." As counterintuitive as it sounds, we had the best time and felt most comfortable here in the land of thong-free ladies. The lap dances were not as aggressive as some we had received, and the dancers were quite friendly, sitting down with us for a chat. (Because of the all-nude factor, the club imposes strict guidelines on customer contact, and table entertainment was subsequently more tasteful.) Favorites were Sativa, a sultry brunette, and Jillian, a hot blonde with glasses (purr). There were also opportunities to receive half-price "girl-on-girl" lap dances. Our token lesbian associate left happy, as did a friend who received three lap dances (including a "double") and is now reconsidering her heterosexuality. The DL: BYOB. Cover, $20. Free on Thursday nights for escorted or unescorted ladies, with $10 lap dances until 7 p.m.
Million Dollar Saloon (Friday)
A nice place, though not quite as large as the other clubs we visited. Once the smell of one dancer's burning hair wafted away (long story), the atmosphere was quite enjoyable. The wait service was deft at anticipating our food and drink needs, even in the crowded club. (We spotted two Seeing Eye dogs in the crowd. Hmm.) The food was fine, the drinks strong and the dancers liberal with their affection. The dancers here seemed to fall in a wider age range, but that wasn't really an issue. Be sure to check out Mona, a Brit with ballet training that gave her amazing gymnastic undulating ability. You get a lot for your dollar here...and so did Mona when she helped herself to two handfuls of Kitty when complimented on her dance technique. The DL: Cover, $7.
Silver City (Saturday)
Though the wait service was vigilant, the entertainers were less so. Maybe they were understaffed, but even after our waitress moved us to a "better" location, our table (including four men) seemed invisible to dancers. Maybe we were--the place was exceptionally dark, even for a strip club (the small stage near our table didn't even have a spotlight, and the main stages used blinding rotating lights). Even when one occupant finally received a lap dance, the dancer moved him into a corner, thereby quashing all our voyeuristic hopes. The DL: Cover, $10; buffet, $7. Strip Tips
Bella, Kitty and the other anonymous female staffers who took on this daunting task would like to offer some additional advice.