Sunday, April 8, 2012

Larry Flynt's Hustler Club (New Orleans, LA)

Quality of dances (11/20) - Like all Hustler clubs, the quality will vary considerably by dancer, but the average dance is always going to be very solid. My dances involved full two-way contact (apparently I was being too gentlemanly for one dancer, because she brought my hands straight to her tits about a minute in) and a skilled grind. Based on my experience at this and other Hustlers, I'm thinking that the minimum you'll get is some aggressive contact from her and an ability to let your hands wander (though you may not make it all the way to the tits before getting shut down).

Quality of dancers (4.5/10) - Before I start this category, I've got something to say about New Orleans women generally: they are soooo much less attractive than I expected. This was my first time there, and I had high hopes of gorgeous Southern belles roaming every nook and cranny of the city.  But God, was I disappointed. Now, maybe it's my fault for thinking that a city known for fried food and alcohol would produce a bunch of hotties, but I don't know. I feel like television and film completely misled me.

Anyway, the dancers at the Hustler were certainly hotter than the women walking about Bourbon Street. The problem is, they suffered from the inverted bell curve phenomenon that's more common at smaller divey places. Several women were D-listers who had no business working in one of the biggest clubs in arguably the biggest party city in America. Those bush leaguers were counterbalanced by some high end talent (particularly the black and biracial girls), which was nice, but not sufficient enough to impress me.

Number of dancers (6/10) - About eight dancers were working during my late evening (9:30-midnight) Sunday visit, and more seemed to be filtering in as I took off for the night. The ratio of dancers to customers was fine, but I'd still expect a few more, given the size of the club and the potential for it to get packed at pretty much any time.

Variety/Diversity of dancers (4/5) - Hustler NOLA scores big points for diversity: two black girls, an Hispanic woman, an Asian, and a mix of white Americans and Eastern Europeans. As for body type variety, they're mediocre at best, with most of the curves having been born on the operating room table. But with a couple of nice lap dances asse in the group, I guess I can't complain too much.

Attitude of Dancers (4.5/10) - This is another category that will vary largely based on the dancer. The first three women on stage were ice cold. I would say they were just going through the motions, but that would be giving them way too much credit; they seemed completely disengaged as they simply walked around the pole and threw in some half-assed floor work. Watching those dancers led Pussy Control to formulate the only two rules that matter for strippers on stage, which I'm pretty sure she pulled from her dance troupe days. First:  Look up, not at the ground. And second: Smile. If you follow those rules, even if your pole work sucks, you're going to connect with people on some level and bring some life to the club. Luckily, a couple of dancers knew those rules and then some, which somewhat salvaged this score.

Value (6.5/10) - At $30, dances are probably overpriced. When they run 2-for-1's, which they do at various points throughout the night (at least on Sunday), they're a great value. My Miller Lites were $4 on a night where drinks were being billed as half price. Mixed drinks were $6. Because of the competition on Bourbon Street and the fact that this is the Hustler, I can't imagine a scenario where you'd ever pay a full $8 for a beer, but just make sure you check the website to confirm you're going on a drink special night (or, worst case scenario, you just run outside for a smoke break and knock back a cheap beer at one of the 25 bars/drink stands within 200 feet).

The cover charge system at Hustler, and on all of Bourbon Street, is really interesting. The cover is completely variable: it depends on the person, size of the group, time of night, and relative deadness of the club. Whoever is running the door makes all of the cover decisions, and their job is to gauge the market and adjust accordingly. Let me just say that I fucking love this. With all of the bars and clubs on Bourbon Street, the customer has a huge edge in cover negotiations, to the point where it's probably not a good idea to ever pay a cover at a strip club in New Orleans, unless you desperately want to go to a specific club. Also, this system is way better for the girls in the club. Instead of being hamstrung by some arbitrary management decision about the cover, the house mother can make on-the-fly adjustments that maximizes the number of customers in the club, which ultimately benefits the dancers. I wish everywhere worked like this.

Dance Setup (7/10) - Dances occur in a separate room in the back of the club. It's extremely dark, there's no bouncer and it's filled with large partitioned booths, most of which are blocked from viewing one another. The only possible issue is the fact that, to start a dance, girls literally have to take your money and feed it into a bill collecting machine. When $30 goes in, the light goes from green to red and the dance starts. At the end of your time (I'm 90% sure it's 180 seconds for a regular dance and 360 for a 2-for-1), the light goes back to red and the dance stops. Of course, because of the privacy, the dancers can keep going if they want to, so it's not hugely inconvenient for getting a little extra dance time.  Depending on your perspective, the whole thing is either an ingenious way of making sure that you aren't getting shorted on dances or a bit of a buzzkill. When you can see the clock counting down out of the corner of your eye, it's hard not to be distracted from the business at hand, but it is nice to know that no matter how drunk you get on Bourbon Street, you'll get the amount of dances you paid for.

Club Setup (8/10) - This is a very well-designed club. When you walk in, there's a long bar on your left hand side and large stage in the center outfitted with a 30 foot pole, which seems to be standard at the Hustler. The floor is littered with rolling chairs and small tables, and there are a couple of booths sitting against the walls. The second floor has additional seating and a great view overlooking the stage, and I'm pretty sure it's got a deck that overlooks Bourbon Street, although I didn't make it out there, so no guarantees. The best part of all is a large outdoor patio with a good-sized pole and a bunch of lounging chairs. Apparently, it's rarely used, and usually only for private events, but just the fact that it exists is pretty awesome. Also, you have to walk through that patio to get to the bathrooms, so it's not as if they close you off from it completely. You can still walk back there any time and hang out when you need a break or some fresh air.

Club Atmosphere (7/10) - I loved the lighting, nice and low, with a Vegas-like feel. This is the type of club where you feel completely immersed in the experience and lose track of the fact that there is a completely different world sitting just beyond the exit doors. Like I said above, it would have been nice to see some better pole action to amp up the crowd, but I'd be willing to bet that dancers step it up when it's not so dead, which it definitely was on this night.

Club Accessibility (5/5) - Perfect accessibility. Right on Bourbon Street, walking distance from everything, directly in the center of downtown New Orleans. It doesn't get better than this. 

Overall - Honestly, the overall score for Hustler NOLA feels too high to me. I triple-checked all of the categories and they're accurate, so the number will stand, but let me take this space to say that, usually when a club scores over a 60, I can basically guarantee you're going to have a great time there. Even though I liked many things about Hustler NOLA, I definitely can't make that guarantee, though you'll probably be happy with your experience. You certainly aren't going to have a bad time, I can tell you that. Just temper your expectations slightly and you should be good to go.



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