Sunday, September 18, 2011

Harry O's (Stamford, CT)

Quality of Dances (19/20) – The dances at Harry O's are among the best that I've ever received.  I was careful to tell every approaching lady that I just wanted a regular dance because there's no surer way for a relatively young white guy to draw suspicion at an urban club than to wait for a girl to offer extra services before shooting her down, but I got the feeling that my sense of decency was the only thing holding the action in check.  I especially appreciate that most of these ladies have the skill and put in the effort to make things fun even if you're opting for less than the full range of services.  My favorite thing about these dances, though, is the way that the ladies deal with the partial song that's playing before your song starts.  You stand with your back to a wall outside of the lap dance area and the dancer backs up in front of you, then alternates between a standing grind and some over the pants hand action to get your full attention before the real dance starts

Quality of Dancers (3.5/10) – It's rare to find a club with more variable dancer quality than at Harry O's.  During my first visit (afternoon), most of the crew was made up of bronze skinned beauties.  During my second visit (night), it was mostly overweight streetwalker types.  During my third visit, it started with a decent mix, but the percentage of nasties went up as the night went on.  Most of the girls make their money then leave, so the earlier the better if you're hoping to find a girl that anyone else would want to spend money on.  

Number of Dancers (4/10) – They've averaged about a half dozen dancers during my visits, with a little more than that in the afternoon and a little less at night.  The ratio isn't always great because the place can get packed with customers, but most of them aren't spending money, so it can be easy to get a girl's attention by tipping a few bucks at the stage.  And when I say "a few," I mean a very few.  For five bucks, you can be a god.

Variety/Diversity of Dancers (1.5/5) – Despite the name and the clover on the wall, Harry O's is not an Irish establishment.  They've got Latinas and black girls and more than enough size variation for most men's tastes, but you're shit out of out of luck if you're looking for white meat.

Attitude of Dancers (6/10) – The pre-dance fluffing is enough to win me over, but even discounting that, these ladies are exceptionally friendly.  I don't know how they put up with guys randomly smacking their asses as they walk by without losing their cool, but somehow they do it.  My only real complaint is that the constant questions about whether I'm a cop can get old, but the fact that they're asking means that they're up for a party, so I won't complain to much.

Value (3.5/10) – $2.50 happy hour domestics are solid, but $6 beers the rest of the time and $25 dances are steep for a dive like this.  The stage value is solid, though, with girls putting on a nice show and being particularly appreciative if you don't think that your buck entitles you to slip in a finger.

Dance Setup (0.5/10) – This isn't the worst dance setup that I've seen, but it's by far the worst that I've seen in a place where the girls give "dances" like this.  There're just four shitty chairs facing each other in a small, brightly lit room where you can't help but see what everyone else is up to.  The people in the main room can't see you, but there's a mirror positioned so that the bouncer can keep an eye on things.  You'd have to be completely shameless to try to go beyond a regular dance, but from what I've caught in my peripheral vision, there's no shortage of shameless guys in this place.

Club Setup (1/10) – Harry O's is a shithole.  It smells bad, it's falling apart, and I'm dry heaving just thinking about the red mystery substance that was all over the toilet seat during one of my visits.  Why did I even go into the bathroom stall in a place like this you ask?  Well, I was going to the urinal, but there's no stall here - just a shitter and a urinal in a room that can't be locked.

As for the rest of the place, it's a small club with a long bar, a pool table in the back and a medium sized horseshoe shaped stage in the main area.  The bar fills up quickly and you'll probably think the stage seats are filled when you see guys standing three deep at the front of the stage, but they're just cheap bastards who avoid tipping by not going directly to the rail.  So, as long as you're willing to drop a buck or two per song, a seat should always be waiting for you.  

Club Atmosphere (0.5/10) – If you're ever found yourself sitting at King Arthur's in Chelsea thinking, this place is a little too upscale for my tastes," then Harry O's is the joint for you.  The crowd is rough and you'll draw lots of unwanted attention if English is your first language, but here's all that you really need to know: I was checked for a wire.  I'm not talking about a I-think-they-were-feeling-for-a-wire-during-that-pat-down situation either.  I'm talking about after the pat down when the bouncer made me lift my shirt and spin around.  So, yeah.  Shadiest. Club. Ever.

Club Accessibility (0/5) – It isn't far from downtown Stamford, but I have to give them a goose egg based on the parking situation.  You're going to want to park in their lot since this isn't a great neighborhood, but the lot is comically undersized, so cars park 3 or 4 deep.  That means that every five minutes or so, the bouncer announces something like, "black Nissan, ya gotta move.  Black Nissan, ya gotta move!"  So if you're in the back, you'll have to go out to the lot to let other people leave, and if you're in the front, you'll have to rely on other people to let you out.

Overall – If you're willing to risk the possibility that there won't be an attractive lady in the house and you value quality lap dances more than you value your safety, give it a chance for a daytime visit.  If not, Harry O's isn't the place for you.

RAW SCORE = 39.5

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Devil's Point (Portland, OR)

Quality of dances (6/20) – Proving that, contrary to my earlier beliefs, not all dances in Portland are created equal, Devil’s Point lags slightly behind its Rose City peers in this category. I got some one-way contact, but nothing particularly aggressive, and reciprocity was not in the cards. This was definitely the type of dance that focused on the emotional impact of sensual movement, not the physical stimulation produced by a good old-fashioned dirty grind.

Quality of dancers (9/10) – In association with my original review of this club (where I rated the dancers as a perfect 10), I wrote this:

Until March 20th, 2011, I didn’t know that God made women this hot. And keep in mind that I’ve been to every strip club in Montreal and Vegas, and have spent substantial time in New York City. Really, I thought girls like this were reserved for the imagination, sometimes captured in art, but never in reality. They’re aspirational; their images should be on posters, and in movies, and filling your daydreams and fantasies. But they’re not. Well, maybe they are, but they’re also here. In real life. In Portland. In all of their inked, pierced and dyed glory. To give you a visual, this dancer was the third hottest girl working that night (from my perspective, of course; several of my friends had her at #1 with a bullet). Even Pussy Control, notorious for her picky tastes, was sitting with her mouth agape and talking like a dog in heat: “I’ve never said this before, but I would definitely pay these girls to make out with me. I just wanna pay them.”

They are a type, for sure, so if you’re into fake tits, symmetrical haircuts or anyone with a skin tone darker than an undercooked sugar cookie, they may not blow your mind (although I hope you’d still appreciate them). For me, though, they’re as good as it gets. If aliens came to Earth today, and asked us to prove our worth as a society or face extinction, I’d show them two things: an iPad 2 and the Devil’s Point girls.

I’m afraid I have to take a small step back from that original evaluation. My decision is based on a combination of factors. First, I wrote that piece about 12 hours after my first visit to stripparaoke, and I’m sure my head was still spinning from the performance, which was something special, even for a grizzled strip club vet like myself. Second, I now have a larger sample size and the newest additions, while still hot, don’t scrape the stratosphere like their peers. And third, I’ve since been to Union Jack’s (also in Portland), which I think has hotter dancers, so I need to ensure that there’s some scoring separation between the women there and at Devil’s Point.

A couple of closing thoughts before I finish this ludicrously long category. In the end, it doesn’t really matter if these women are 9’s or 10’s, because they’re already so fucking hot that you’re not allowed to ask for anything more unless your name is Leo or Brad. I’m currently working on a theory to describe this concept. It will likely parallel the Chandrasekhar limit for white dwarf stars. More to come next time I knock back a few glasses of wine and can reason out the details.

Lastly, it’s still true that the standard Sunday night cast at Devil’s Point is the finest shift I’ve ever seen. Brody (whose omission from the last review was an oversight of near-unforgiveable breadth), Rocket, Berlin and Piper are the ’27 Yankees of strip club lineups. Management, don’t fuck that shit up.

Number of Dancers (3/10) – This is a very tricky category. Devil’s Point is very small, so it wouldn’t make sense for them to staff the place with a crew of 20+ dancers. However, the crowds they get (as many as 100 people, it seems) suggest that perhaps a larger dancing staff is justified. I don’t really know. On both of my Sunday night visits, the crowd was massive, but the dance crew was limited to the four above-mentioned stunners. It’s clear that working the crowd and giving private dances isn’t the thrust of the business model here, but the rating system is the rating system, so I have no choice but to sting them.

Variety/Diversity of dancers (2/5) – Plenty of variety in body type here, from Onyx, the rail-thin stunner who looks like Joan Jett wished she could, to Berlin, the fire-haired vixen with curves so perfectly rich that Paula Dean could cook with them. Sadly, as implied above, there is absolutely no ethnic diversity. The color wheel maxes out at tope and everyone is as American as apple pie, even if they don’t want to be.

Attitude of dancers (10/10) – These women enjoy their work so much that you’d think they had a profit-sharing interest in the club. Every single dancer was working her ass off on stage, flirting with the rail and entertaining the crowd to perfection. The customer-to-dancer ratio makes it almost impossible for the girls to personally interact with any meaningful percentage of the customers, but when they did, they were great. The aforementioned Berlin spent her smoke break in front of the club shooting the breeze with whoever was around, even going out of her way to thank a few departing couples for coming in.

Also, the way dancers interacted with staff and with each other really gave the sense that everyone was working together towards a shared goal. That’s so rare to see in a club. Usually, you’ve got a bunch of girls running individual game (or maybe paired hustles) as they fight for their piece of the financial pie. They view dancing as a zero-sum game (get ready for it, game theory nerds) with a fixed amount of money available: if Justice hooks that guy for three dances, that’s money out of Serenity’s pocket.

But that’s not the case at all. The money input is variable, meaning that most people don’t go to a club and say “I’m going to spend X dollars tonight, no matter what.” The more fun they’re having, the longer they’re going to stay, and the more money they will spend. A great club can change the size of the pie. Indeed, on my most recent trip, Devil’s Point did exactly that. I was there with a handful of women who have never spent more than a few bucks at any club, but that night, several of them spent three consecutive hours at the rack tipping dancers. The girls and management at Devil’s Point seem to understand this concept, so everyone goes out of their way to help each other if it means keeping the customers happy.

Value (10/10) – There’s never a cover (except when bands play on Saturday nights) and the pole action is at least equal to the best I’ve ever seen. PBR’s are $2 ($7 for a pitcher), microbrews are $4, and stiff mixed drinks are $5. Also, I swear I saw someone order two Red Bull and vodkas and only get charged $6 (disclaimer: I was very drunk at the time and may have been distracted by the super hot bartender, so no guarantees that this is accurate).

The only downside to the value is the dances, but I’m scoring Devil’s perfect anyway because with the amount of money that you save on booze and the cover, you aren’t gonna care that your $20 doesn’t get you the mileage it would elsewhere.

Dance Setup (6/10) – Dances occur on a partially padded bench in a tiny room that is curtained off from the rest of the club. Only one dance can happen at a time and the curtain is opaque, so nobody is going to see inside unless they really want to, but it’s so small, so close to the rest of the club, and so lacking in comfort, that it really can’t crush this score despite the significant privacy. For readers that frequent this club and have been to Lamplighter II in MA, which I imagine is nobody, consider this a poor man’s version of that setup.

Club Setup (5.5/10) – Devil’s Point is small. Very small. Despite being handcuffed by that limitation, they do well with what they’ve got. Upon walking in, you’re greeted by a 6-stool bar with a TV on one side and a row of video poker machines on the other. On the far side of the club is a small stage with an ~8-foot pole in the center and a chain on each of the two front vertices. The chains are a nice touch, giving the stage a sexy and rugged look while providing the dancers with two extra props on which to work. About ten seats line the stage and a small handful of low-tops and high-tops fill the floor.

[From my original review]
To the far right of the stage and the tables is an outcropping with a pool table and a padded bench along the wall. I’m still undecided about the value of the pool table. On the one hand, pool tables are fucking awesome and every dive bar should probably have one. On the other, this place is seriously lacking seating capacity, and that table is stealing some much needed space for a few more low-tops. I guess I’m currently indifferent. If you own or work at this club and read this review (an unlikely parlay indeed), chime in and sway my opinion.

[My thoughts now]
Since I first visited Devil’s Point, they’ve removed the pool table, and now that I’ve seen the space without it, I couldn’t agree more with the decision. The removal did wonders to open up the club, turning a near-functionless corner into the perfect spot for a large group and providing some refuge for the curious wallflowers amongst the crowd. And without customers milling about with pool cues, a rookie roller girl who drank and smoked too much can pass out in peace while her teammates create a ruckus on the other side of the club.

Club Atmosphere (8/10) – The club has a completely different atmosphere depending on the time. During the dayshift, it’s the definition of a dive bar, with the dim red lighting, cheap beer, and Erotic Photo Hunt machine. It reminds me of my favorite hangouts in Boston, where the sickos go to get rid of the shakes at noon. The only difference I noticed was the music, which was dancer’s choice, making it considerably better and more upbeat than you’d find in a typical dive.

At night, it’s still divey, of course, but gets packed with people of all shapes, sizes and ages. It was pretty great to see 60 year old couples sharing the floor with the local scenesters and other curious yuppies. For the most part, everyone was chill and the d-bag factor was minimal. Also, it was probably the best-looking crowd I’ve ever seen at a strip club, including a large number of hotties who would be the best-looking girl in the room at any number of bars across America (brutally, I managed to strike out with all of them). As I wrote before, the staff goes out of their way to make sure the crowd is having a good time, and there is definitely a drinking/partying feel at night.

I’ve only been there on Sundays for stripparaoke (an idea I was skeptical of, but now think is beyond genius), so I can’t guarantee that it’s the same every day. Nevertheless, I strongly suspect that the place stays hot during the week for two reasons. First, they have different themes for every night (fire-breathing, industry night, 80’s night, etc.), which keeps everything fresh and should draw different crowds. And second, people don’t appear to work in Portland, at least not that much, so they’re free to go out on whatever nights they want.

Club Accessibility (2.5/5) – Devil’s point is located in an off-the-beaten path neighborhood in the southeast quadrant of Portland, not accessible by the MAX, but only about a $20 cab ride from downtown. Normally, this would rate something like a 3.5, but my experiences with Portland cabs necessitate a lower mark. Twice, at completely different times of day, I waited 90 minutes for a cab to arrive. Thinking that I may have just been unlucky, I asked a friend who grew up in Portland about the taxi scene. Her answer: “Oh, they’re awful. There are like ten of them. For the whole city.” Next time, I’ll act like a true Portlander and ride a bike.

Overall – This summer, I learned two irrefutable truths. One, Fast and the Furious movies are always better with Vin Diesel. And two, Devil’s Point will never disappoint me.

If you like badass women and dive bars, then Devil’s Point just might be your nirvana. This place is chill, female-friendly (an underrated club quality), and awesomely entertaining. If I lived in Portland, I would probably hang out there two or three days a week. No joke. Just remember that you’re there for the dancing and dancers, not the dances, and adjust your expectations accordingly. If you do that, I cannot imagine a way to have a bad time.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Heartbreakers (Columbia, SC)

Quality of Dances (17/20) – Two way upper body contact is encouraged and the girls are very active over the pants with their hands and mouths.  A few of the ladies may even work their way up your thighs if you're wearing loose fitting shorts, but that's about as far as it's going to go due to the less than private setup unless you drop big money for the VIP dances (I haven't felt like dropping hundreds of dollars, so I can't say either way what happens there).  Still, you'd have to be pretty demanding to be disappointed by these dances.  Mine were all just a small notch below what I received at Platinum Plus, but it was close enough that it might have been the luck of the draw with the women that I chose.

Quality of Dancers (4/10) – Since this place is owned by the same people who own Platinum Plus, I got the feeling that they send their b-squad here.  The vast majority of these ladies were 5s or 6s, and only a few would rate above that.  One of the hottest ladies there looked exactly like the non-airbrushed version of Sarah Jessica Parker, and one of the lesser ladies looked like an 80's era stripper who hasn't changed her hair, her clothes or her job in the last 25 years.

Number of Dancers (3.5/10) – Even early in the evening, they don't have enough dancers to keep most of the customers occupied.  They only have one lady on stage at a time, which sucks since high number of low quality girls means that you might be stuck without anything worthwhile to look at for a few minutes.  Thankfully, the sets are short, but they rotate through the girls fairly quickly.  It seemed like the less attractive girls were on stage particularly often, but that might have just been my impression because they were more noticeable than the better girls.

Variety/Diversity of Dancers (2/5) – Almost all of these ladies are white, but they also have a few black dancers and there's some size variation.  The hot ladies were all thin white brunettes though, so you don't have a whole lot of options if you want to check out attractive girls.

Attitude of Dancers (1/10) – Variable dance prices kill the interaction between dancers and customers even in a club with otherwise friendly girls, because an extra step of asking how much a dance costs and, if necessary, negotiating, is thrown into the usual progression from good conversation to "let's go." They weren't too bad other than that, but the canned lines do get old pretty quickly.  I mean, I can only hear how big my dick is so many times in one night before I start to suspect that they say that to everyone.

Value (6/10) – It's a great deal if you show up before 8pm since there's only a $3 cover and drinks beers are $2.50.  Those prices basically double later in the evening (except on Tuesdays, when beers are $2 all night), but that's not bad at all either.  Once you're inside, the lack of a tip rail means that you can guiltlessly take it the sights without spending much cash, and the dances are a decent value if you're willing to bargain.  Some of the girls say that their dances are $30 for one or $50 for two, but most of them are happy to accept $25 for one or $40 for two.  The girls set their own prices, though, so never go for dances before agreeing to a price.  It sucks and makes you feel like a cheapskate to have to ask, but it's better than getting three dances and expecting to pay $60 but being told that you owe $90.

Dance Setup (2.5/10) –  Just like at the Platinum Plus, dances are given on bench/couch hybrids in a narrow area that isn't visible from the rest of the club but that provides no privacy from other people who are giving or receiving dances.  If you're the only one getting a dance, it's pretty solid, but that will rarely be the case.  The dances are at least good enough that most of the other customers will be too focused on their own dance to worry too much about what you're up to.

Club Setup (6.5/10) – Like most other things about Heatbreakers, the setup is nice but not quite as nice as at the Platinum Plus.  It's a fairly large club with a circular stage surrounded by poles to form a sort of a cage in the center of the room, and there's another smaller cage style stage toward the back of the club.  Even though it's really just one big room, the angled walls and the central location of the stage break it up to keep it from feeling oversized.  My favorite thing about the setup is that it's dark enough to allow girls to get fairly friendly at the tables toward the walls, but if you don't manage to get one of those seats, there are plenty of other tables throughout the room and a few seats at the bar.

Club Atmosphere (4/10) – The crowd seems to be a little younger and rougher than at the Platinum Plus, but it still isn't too bad if you're looking for a loud, smokey place to down a few beers.  It wouldn't be my choice for a night of partying, but it feels like a great place to grab a drink after a tough day of work.

Club Accessibility (3/5) – The club is right off of I-26 and is only a few miles from downtown Columbia, but you're going to have to drive to get there.  They do at least have plenty of parking, and it seems like the type of place where your vehicle should be perfectly safe.  I parked a motorcycle there with no second thoughts.

Overall – Heartbreakers is a solid blue collar club that would be worth a visit if it was located just about anywhere else, but since it's less than five minutes from the vastly superior Platinum Plus, it's really hard to justify spending your time or your money at this place most of the time.  The one exception is if you're in the area on a Tuesday and are looking to get drunk on the cheap, in which case you really can't beat Heartbreakers' $2 domestics. Just don't forget to line up a designated driver so that you can transfer the party to Platinum Plus once you're sufficiently loaded and are ready to have some real fun.

RAW SCORE = 49.5

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Oasis Good Time Emporium (Atlanta, GA)

Quality of Dances (6.5/20) – These aren't Follies-quality dances, but you could do a lot worse than Oasis for table dances in Atlanta.  Most of the girls alternate between moderate friction with some knee action and air, but these do at least feel like lap dances.  Nothing about the vibe lead me to believe that tit grabbing would be acceptable, so I didn't try it, but I was lucky enough to witness one guy making a horribly failed attempt to go for it.  Hands on the hips is generally fine though as long as you aren't too aggressive about it.

Quality of Dancers (8.5/10) – The Oasis ladies aren't quite as hot across the board as the ladies at The Cheetah or the Pink Pony, but they're almost all still very hot and fairly young. Considering the number of girls that they have working on weekend nights, it's impressive that they're still able to maintain such solid quality control.

Number of Dancers (8.5/10) – I couldn't even guess how many ladies were working on a Saturday night, but the club was packed with guys and pretty much every table had at least one girl and most had more than one.  Whether you're looking for dances or company, you shouldn't have to wait long at all to find a girl who's willing to provide it.

Variety/Diversity of Dancers (3/5) – This is where Oasis really set itself apart from the Pink Pony for me.  They still have lots of thin white blonds, but they also have a few slightly thicker girls, a few black girls and even several Asians.  With so many girls working the crowd, there's usually a different type in just about every direction.

Attitude of Dancers (6/10) – These girls are surprisingly friendly considering how hot they are and how busy the place gets.  Everyone was happy to sit and chat before asking about dances, and one girl was particularly impressive with her sports conversation.  I always enjoy when girls seem to know at least a little about sports, but this girl wasn't just talking generalities like, "how do you think the Falcons will do this year?"  It was more along the lines of, "what do you think about the rumor that the Eagles are looking to sign another left tackle?"  It was like getting a dance from an infinitely more attractive female John Clayton.

Value (6/10) – The $5.50 beers are 50 cents more than at most other places in Atlanta, but the $10 cover, $10 table dances and bathroom attendant looking for a tip are all standard.  The stage action is merely adequate, but since they don't have seats at the stages, it's hard to complain too much about a free show when the girls are this attractive.

Dance Setup (0/10) – Unless you're willing to drop the cash for a half hour of private dances, you'll be getting your dance at your seat right out in the middle of the open room.  That doesn't allow the girls to stretch the rules at all, and, unless you're shameless, it doesn't allow you to fully relax either.  I know a lot of people love the idea of $10 table dances in Atlanta, but I'd be more than happy to pay double that for even a modicum of privacy.  You know, like you do with lap dances almost everywhere else in the country.

Club Setup (8/10) – Oasis is a large square room with high ceilings that really should feel like a warehouse, but somehow they make it work.  There are well lit framed artsy lingerie posters around the room like you'd see at some of the big Vegas clubs and it just generally manages to be classy without being too stuffy.  There's a large bar at one side of the room, a small bar at the other side and three fairly small stages around the room.  My only complaint there is that there are no seats at the stage, so you have to stand and deliver if you want to give a tip, but it does mean that everyone has a decent view from all of the 3 or 4 person tables with moveable chairs that fill up the room.  The best thing about this place is that, unlike almost all of the other Atlanta clubs, there's plenty of seating, even when it's packed.

Club Atmosphere (8.5/10) – Oasis is a nice place to relax in the early evening and a nice place to party once the night really gets going.  It would probably be my choice for a bachelor party destination in Atlanta, and it's just generally a good time.

Club Accessibility (3/5) – This place is on the outskirts of Atlanta, but they do have plenty of parking and they're in the same general direction as Follies, so you can hit them both if you're looking to make the trip worthwhile.

Overall – Oasis is a very nice club that will be a regular stop for me any time that I'm in town.  It isn't the best at any individual aspect - their girls aren't quite the hottest, their dances aren't the most aggressive, and their location is pretty much the worst - but they're still in a two way race with Follies for the title of best all-around strip club in Atlanta.  I'm all about the dances, so you're more likely to find me at Follies, particularly before the clubs get too busy, but Oasis is the place to go if you're looking to have a night out on the town and the quality of ladies is more important to you than the quality of the table dances.