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Mar. 27, 2006
Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal


STRIP CLUB DJ: Land of a Thousand Dances

Reporter gets lost directing traffic at gentlemen's club




The music is put on by Corey Levitan; the clothes are taken off by the ladies of Treasures gentlemen's club.
Photos by Ronda Churchill.



Part of the DJ's responsibilities involve announcing and directing dancers to the various stages at Treasures.



A sign in the DJ booth instructs strippers to leave tips. Most of what a strip-club DJ earns comes in bills originally deposited in garter belts.



Levitan points to overhead video monitors showing problems on several stages. Treasures head DJ Dane Hansen, right, has been instructed to watch from the sidelines as Levitan manages traffic himself.

Fra-da-ba!" screams a voice from the overmodulating walkie-talkie to the left of my sound board. "Da-ba-ba!"

It's the big boss, I'm told, 6-foot-5 Treasures General Manager Nick Foskaris. And his words do not need to be understood to register. I'm broadcasting dead air between songs. A strip club DJ can do nothing worse.

 

The whip-cracking beats of Nine Inch Nails' "Closer" have segued into stunning silence, because of my failure to adequately track the remaining time on a computer window. All gyrating has ceased -- onstage and in laps. And the small talk between customers and the balloon-breasted women pretending to like them for tips is now awkwardly audible.

As dozens peer up from plush chairs toward the DJ booth, it feels as though I've taken the stage naked myself.

Maybe I should do just that. At least my main stage would be occupied. (It's also the DJ's job to direct stripper traffic. And despite my repeated paging of the next fictitious name on the rotation list, the pole in front of me remains untwirled upon.)

Letting the main stage go vacant on a busy night, by the way, is the second-worst thing a strip club DJ can do.

"Da-ba-ba!" the walkie-talkie screams.

Welcome to the secret dream job of nearly every man alive.

There's money -- most of it cash.

Jamie Vallee, the Treasures DJ who trained me, pulls $1,000 a week for two nights' work.

"That's five times what I made in radio," says the 40-year-old former air personality at KXTE-FM 107.5.

The bulk of Vallee's pay comes not from his hourly $10, but from 20s handed him by many of the approximately 90 dancers who work each night.

You read right: In strip clubland, the DJ gets tipped by the dancers. (Sweet lost Hamiltons, come back to papa!)

There's titillation.

"You can't beat the view," Vallee says. Treasures' DJ booth overlooks the main stage. (Well, for most people it does; I need to stand on a milk crate. And the booth sits under a set of stairs, to complete the troll image.)

And there's opportunity.

The DJ enjoys more stripper interaction than any guy in the building (who doesn't pay for it). Girls visit to check in and out, to request tunes, and to vie for a more desirable rotation slot.

But the pressure is intense -- at least for this DJ. After I replace my 12-second moment of silence with Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit," I repeat my desperate page: "Lena, main stage!"

What I should have done was add "up next" when I called Lena during "Closer." Then Naudia wouldn't have thought she was relieved midway through her first song. (Unbeknownst to me then, rotation announcements automatically cue girls offstage.) Even if Lena hears me now, she's waiting for "Teen Spirit" to end, since dancers don't begin midsong.

But she doesn't hear me, I learn later, because I'm overmodulating worse than the walkie-talkie (which also explains why I call Malena to my second stage and get Davena).

"You've entered the belly of the beast now," Vallee says, laughing.

At least I mastered looking like a DJ, in my shiny disco shirt purchased during some long-forgotten '80s mall spree.

"Nice outfit, Tin Man," barked a 30-ish male in a trucker hat when I entered the club. "Did you lose a bet?"

Strip-club DJ's don't get to play whatever they want. And finding a tune can prove just as difficult as finding a stripper. A rail-thin dancer named Dior requests a song by the singer Sierra, and it takes two minutes I don't have to figure out that the spelling is Ciara.

"What's this?" Larissa asks, poking her beautiful but grimacing face through the DJ window in between thigh splays. She's questioning my selection of Fatboy Slim's "Gangsta Trippin'."

"Did you just throw this on?" she demands to know.

I nod yes and she vanishes quicker than my hope of seeing one of her Hamiltons. Fusing with the pole into a human corkscrew, she slows her rotation to give the front tables a good, long look. Then she pivots around to give me a short, bad one.

Larissa's computer file -- half the girls have one -- clearly lists the songs she likes, and they're all R&B. (Fatboy Slim is techno.)

"Sometimes it doesn't even matter if the song's in their file," says Dane Hansen, Treasures' 36-year-old head DJ. "If another girl danced to it, they don't like it anymore and God help the DJ who plays it."

Not all strip-club DJ's consider stripper interaction a benefit, which is why the booth's thermostat is set to chill when Hansen works.

"Turn it to 68 and girls won't stay back here," he says. "It works. Girls hate being cold."

As a happily married man, Hansen doesn't want the flirtation, so why does he need the aggravation?

Vallee could stand a lesson from Hansen. He met his future ex-wife while she stripped, and he DJ'ed, at a Salt Lake City gentlemen's club in the early '90s.

"Biggest (expletive) mistake I ever made," he says, explaining that she cheated with his friends.

Yet it's a mistake he hasn't learned from. When he scored Stones tickets last month, who did Vallee take? You guessed it. A Treasures dancer.

"She went off with some other guy," he says, adding that the night's price also included his cell phone.

"I left it in her car by accident," he says. "Now I call it and some guy answers."

At midnight, I discover that the portion of my shift I've just completed is the easiest one.

"There are now four stages, my friend," Hansen says, laughing and patting the back of my shiny shirt as we scan the video monitors overhead.

"April to the main stage, Lena to the top, Inga to the front and Ann to the champagne room," I announce after Hansen helps me decipher the rotation. Once again, I forget my "up next's."

There's isn't enough space to go into everything that goes awry at this point. Suffice it to say that a bald guy grows so tired of waiting for a stripper in the champagne room, he mounts the stage and flings off a clothing layer before security ushers him away.

"A lot of people say, 'You don't do anything but push buttons,' " Hansen says. "I find that offensive. This isn't as easy as it looks."

News of a bachelor party hits the booth, and it's my job to give a play-by-play of the faux-seduction on the main stage, while simultaneously picking and playing music and directing traffic on the other three stages.

Yeah, right.

Fortunately -- at least for the customer spending one of his last nights as a single man -- Foskaris does to me what his dancers do to their clothes. I'm taken off. Stripped of my duties, you could say.

"You want honesty?" Foskaris asks. "You were horrible."

He's right. And I'm relieved to be relieved. But I'm also concerned. My latest job is over only 40 minutes after it started.

What reason can I possibly give my girlfriend for spending three more hours here?

 

Click here to read more of Corey's adventures at his home page, FearandLoafing.com.

 

 

 


COREY LEVITAN
FEAR AND LOAFING




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