In my last article, I may have suggested the sky was falling. Gentlemen’s clubs no longer come with a license to print money, and at every subsequent EXPO, there is a greater contingent of operators bemoaning the fact that the gods of stripping refuse to make it rain. The issue is not that our market is shrinking; it’s that we’ve failed to grow it, to be relevant to today’s and tomorrow’s guest.
At Platinum 84, we do our best to stay ahead of the changes happening around us. We ask ourselves, “What does the adult club of the future look like?” Here’s our best guess:
In the future, no one cares about your travertine, or the ceiling tiles you imported from Italy. What they care about is the light show—lasers, LED panels, even cryo effects—so if you have money burning a hole in your pocket from all the mass media you’re (hopefully!) not buying, spend it there. Don’t worry if you don’t have soaring ceilings for an Omni-inspired light show or a fat budget to throw at AV. Your entertainers should still be the focus. Besides, the most basic intelligent lighting installations today have more capabilities than most clubs ever utilize, and with skillful presets you don’t need a lighting tech. Use LED panels instead of walls to create a current nightlife atmosphere.
In the future, there is no fourth wall; your audience is part of the show. That means your stage is at the center of the action; not behind the bar, go-go style, but not smashed up against the back wall either. If you have outdoor space—rooftop, terrace, deck—use it to create a separate environment with the potential for a DJ, dance floor, hookah, and points of sale. Tomorrow’s easily bored guest wants multiple vibes to choose from.
An old expression, “Champagne tastes and beer budgets,” applies perfectly to the guest of the future. Consider offering a small selection of craft beer or small batch whiskey, because clientele is more knowledgeable than ever about malts and hops and mash bills. Keep plenty of vintage Champagne on hand, because the great whales are not extinct. But your beverage program is driven by value—happy hours, shot specials. …Your ultimate goal is to make the VIP nightclub experience available to everyone, because the distance between your shot guest and your bottle guest has lessened.
At the club of the future, formal dining is done. Which is fine, since both the floor space and margins gobbled up by those beloved steak houses can no longer be sacrificed. What works? Small plates and sharing portions that can be served anywhere, anytime, and don’t steal your guests’ focus from the main attraction. (At Platinum 84, we took it one step further by eliminating the kitchen—and its associated labor costs—altogether. We offer a diverse menu which can be produced by a bartender or bar back utilizing a standalone fryer.)
In the future, it’s still our job to offer fantasy, but the fantasy has to feel real. So let your staff be themselves and use their personalities to make money. That doesn’t let you off the hook with training, however; millennials may be less formal, but they have higher expectations. The emphasis is back on entertainment, which is good news. You should be as selective as you can afford to be with the entertainers you choose to contract, but the definition of sexy has expanded and evolved, and your audition standards should too. Barbie is out; your more diverse guests want a variety of options. (We even include fetish performers and little people, which others consider “novelty acts,” as part of our regular lineup, because we saw that they resonated with the audience.)
If nearly anyone who’s willing to promote herself on Instagram and Snapchat can be a porn star, then anyone can be an entertainer if she’s committed to building her following. For those of you who, rightly, mourn the dearth of professional entertainers in our industry; it may be up to us, going forward, to create them.
We have a lot of work to do, because the future is now.
For more information on Platinum 84 in Denver, visit Platinum84.com.