Ray K and I are members of the International Entertainment Adult Union - a federally recognized labor union representing workers in industries where one must be over 18 to participate. This means we get to hang out with an awesome assortment of adult film stars, cam models and exotic dancers (sometimes referred to as strippers by those who don't appreciate the art in their moves).
So, one Saturday evening Ray K and I met up and made a plan to visit a couple strip joints. Totally for research purposes. Umm, totally. We ended up at a Deja Vu club. Some Deja Vu clubs had recently made major changes in their relationships with their workers while slashing their pay.
Were these workers ready to unionize?
We entered the club, approached the cashier and readied our wallets for cover-charge-shock. She was friendly and she and Ray K chatted while he handed her a union business card. Ray K is like a wild-west gunslinger - quick with a handshake and even faster with a business card.
We'd been to another club a few moments before and there were so many customers it was hard to find a decent table. But inside Deja Vu, workers outnumbered customers. Actually, there was only one other customer - which seemed odd for a Saturday evening. The guy appeared to be ignoring everything and everyone, including the only dancer in the place. Working the stage, she was beautiful, talented, and probably dizzy as all hell from spinning on the stage's O ring.
We sat at the bar where I ordered a beer and Ray K ordered some manly mixed drink that apparently needed a whole lot of ice to be tasty. We chatted with the bartender for a bit but before I'd finished half my Modelo she vanished. The dancer also disappeared. Crickets chirped and a lone wolf howled in the background as the manager stalked toward us.
He was polite, professional and a little nervous. I'm not sure why. If Ray K had hopped onto my shoulders the guy still would have towered a few inches over us.
"If you guys are in the union, you'll have to leave." He said, tossing our cover charge onto the bar.
"Wow!" I thought. In over 60 years, I'd never been kicked out of anyplace before. Unless you count my parents' home.
The last few minutes had probably been a flurry of phone calls between the manager, the owner and maybe an attorney or three. I'm not sure what scared them so much. This particular pair of union thugs weren't really planning on picketing the stage while singing Pete Seeger's version of 'Solidarity Forever.'
Not that night anyway.
Ray K stalled him with polite banter, giving me some time to finish my beer (which had been a good price, but flat). The manager then followed us toward the door where we passed the tattletale cashier and the bartender who lent us a $10 smile, which was almost how much we'd tipped her for the two drinks.
And that's how, on a Saturday evening, Deja Vu kicked out 2/3 of their customers. Obviously, there's a problem with this club. And that problem isn't with the bartenders, the dancers, the cashiers, our union or even with the polite, professional and slightly nervous manager.
Like most everywhere else, the problem is with the owners. And while Deja Vu employees seem to be dealing well with their work, that certainly won't last too long. Eventually, probably soon, Deja Vu will get tired of gouging their customers and turn their attentions toward wringing every bit of profit they can out of their workers by cutting pay and benefits and adding more to their workload.
We'll be waiting.