Strip clubs may not be the most politically correct venue for those attending the Republican National Convention, but that doesn’t mean Tampa’s well-known adult hot spots won’t be ready for the influx of visitors.
One place is bringing in a stripper who looks like former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. There are major renovations taking place. And some nude clubs have already been giving potential customers a taste of the talent online.
“Not only can you see the dancers on the stage and in the dressing room, you can also talk to them in an online chat room,” said Don Kleinhans, owner of the 2001 Odyssey on North Dale Mabry Highway.
By the time the RNC begins in late August, Kleinhans hopes out-of-towners will have already formed attachments to his dancers from watching them online through the Club Cam System, which the 2001 Odyssey developed.
Customers pay $4 a minute to chat on top of the monthly $19.95 membership.
“Basically, what you see in a bricks-and-mortar strip club you can now see live on the Internet,” Kleinhans said.
One of the dancers, known as Go Go, hopes the software will lead to a profitable August. She chats a few times a week.
“Guys I meet online feel like we have a relationship,” she said. “If someone came to town, you only had them the short amount of time … and had to part ways. Now you can still make money off them.”
Thee Doll House, on North West Shore Boulevard, doesn’t have webcams but its dancers are also planning to cash in during the convention.
Thee Doll House recently underwent a $1 million renovation and plans to bring in a Palin impersonator to entertain customers.
Neither club would predict how much money they would make during the convention but both expect business to more than quadruple.
Even with all the cameras turned on the area. In 2010, when the convention was awarded to Tampa, club owner Joe Redner said never mind that the GOP pitches itself as a party of family values.
“Washington, D.C., per capita, sells more bondage leather than any place else in the world,” Redner, who owns the Mons Venus, told the Tribune in 2010. “Those people are kinky.”
The Bay area has more than 40 strip clubs, and their already infamous reputation increased during the 2009 Super Bowl, when some clubs stayed open 24 hours and doubled or tripled the number of dancers.
The entertainers hope politics brings a bigger payday than football, assuming visitors don’t mind being recognized.
“I’m really excited. I know there’s going to be a ton of people here and its going to be a really fun time to work,” Thee Doll House dancer Nikki Maylander said.