Strip Club Rescue (SCR) is a consulting company for the gentlemen’s club industry, helping to turn failing clubs profitable and successful by providing club owners and managers with strategic improvements in areas such as expense analysis, marketing strategies, improving revenue streams and building positive relationships within the communities they serve. Jeff Levy, founder of Strip Club Rescue, has over two decades of experience in the gentlemen’s club industry and has worked with many of the most successful gentlemen’s club chains in the country.
C.J. Asher – Thank you for taking the time to speak with me about your career and Strip Club Rescue, Jeff. First, tell me a little about yourself.
Jeff Levy – I grew up in Spring Valley, New York, which is a half hour north of Manhattan. I attended the University of Nebraska on a full wrestling scholarship. My degrees are in education, psychology and business. I taught at the prestigious Catholic high school Saint Joseph Regional in Montvale, New Jersey, where I was head wrestling coach and assistant varsity football coach. After teaching, I partnered with my best friend and then-New York Giant great Beasley Reece in a Professional Sports Management company. Thereafter, I started my own company working with the US Military overseas mainly in Japan and Germany. My uncle was a very successful and popular New York State Senator for over 30 years, and I learned much from him and my father who was a businessman and in politics. I am married to MaDonna Grimes, who is the world’s most accomplished Hip Hop Dancer. She is one of the original Fly Girls from the Hit TV Show In Living Color, and Ms. Fitness America winner, Nike and Reebok World Champion and helps me choreograph dance acts in the clubs SCR operates.
C.J. Asher – Tell me a little bit about Strip Club Rescue.
Jeff Levy – Strip Club Rescue is a consulting and management company for the adult nightclub industry, which provides various services in management, operations, advertising, accounting, staff training, interior and exterior design, lobbying, web and ad design, Social Media Marketing, SEO and programming.
C.J. Asher – What is your title and duties with Strip Club Rescue?
Jeff Levy – I’m owner of World Consulting and Lobbying and Strip Club Rescue. My responsibilities include overseeing the day to day activities of the clubs World Consulting and SCR manages, purchasing new locations, running the trade associations and lobbying for the adult nightclub industry in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.
C.J. Asher – What first attracted you to the gentlemen’s club industry?
Jeff Levy – It was exciting, fun, challenging and profitable. I first started working with Slim of MAL and spearheaded the first Secondary Effects Study, while with MAL.
C.J. Asher – Tell me about your first time at a gentlemen’s club… what was it like?
Jeff Levy – I was eighteen years old. Back then, it was legal to drink in New York State at eighteen. The club was called T&A’s. It was a very low-end club, dark and seedy. It was more of a bikers club. It was not anything like the gentlemen’s clubs of today which offer so many high-end amenities. However, like most very young men, seeing the beautiful women semi-nude dancing, with a cold beer, was like being in the Playboy Mansion. I’d say it was a good experience. That’s why I always tell club owners, who we consult for, let’s get qualitative and quantitative dancers in the club and the rest will work itself out.
C.J. Asher – Gentlemen’s clubs have been around for decades and will certainly be around for years to come. What do you think is the long-term appeal of the industry?
Jeff Levy – As long as there are men and women, gentlemen’s clubs will have its successful place in society. It’s part of the mosaic tapestry and culture that our country was built on. The appeal certainly is the ability of our customers to converse and enjoy the company of beautiful women that normally they may not have that opportunity outside of the club to enjoy. Everything is much more competitive today, and so is the gentlemen’s club industry.
C.J. Asher – What are the top things a club can do to maximize profit while providing a quality experience for its customers?
Jeff Levy – There is far more competition, not only within our industry but outside as well. We must compete with the internet, casinos, cruises, nightclubs, and other forms of entertainment. To maximize gross sales and net profits, owners must understand their business model. You must have a well thought out strategy and understand what your short and long-term goals are. You must hire people who can implement your vision, and bring new ideas, products, service, shows, and enthusiasm, to the club, with a positive attitude. Training, teaching customer hospitality and service and using new technology geared towards our industry will greatly increase club profits and performance. However, for me, it’s all about hardworking, dedicated people who have integrity and vision. Hire problem solvers and independent thinkers, who are leaders.
C.J. Asher – What is your stance on efforts currently underway by many gentlemen’s club dancers to become employees of the clubs they work at, not independent contractors (who have to pay their club fees to perform) as they are now?
Jeff Levy – I think the dancers have been bamboozled by lawyers who lack integrity. The dancers had a perfect system. Dancers could come and go as they pleased. If they were single mothers or college students, they could perform around their schedules. Now, dancers will make less money, have more stringent rules and schedules, cannot come and go as they liked in the past. Additionally, dancers may not have the flexibility to move freely from club to club. All the money they earn in the club many not now be theirs, especially in the VIP rooms where very big money is made. Many dancers felt that they would get wealthy with these class action suits. That was far from the case. The only ones who made money were the lawyers.
C.J. Asher – How is the reality of gentlemen’s club management and the industry different than the misconceptions about them, such as that they are connected to the crime, fronts for prostitution and sex trafficking?
Jeff Levy – Nothing could be further from the truth. These are preconceived notions created by fear, prejudice and religion. I worked as a high school teacher for the Catholic Church for many years and I understand the power religion can have on the way we think. Before I was involved in the gentlemen’s club industry, I am sure I felt the same way as many of our opponents. However, I was involved in many secondary effects studies, which were written and researched by the nation’s top Ph.D.’s and Universities. These studies were peer reviewed and published. These studies used empirical data and scientific methodology. The studies unequivocally showed that crime was lower and property values higher around adult nightclubs, when compared to similar control sites, and other surrounding mainstream businesses that were in close proximity to adult nightclubs. The Fulton County Police Department in Georgia conducted their own secondary effects study and here was their conclusion:
“Based on the statistical study of calls for service and reported crime at adult entertainment establishments, there is no statistical correlation that shows that there is an increase in crime at adult entertainment establishments that serve alcoholic beverages. However, there is a statistical correlation that would indicate that there is greater instances for calls for police service and reported crime at non-adult entertainment establishments that serve alcoholic beverages.”
– Captain Ron Fuller and Lt. Sue Miller.
C.J. Asher – Recently, you were instrumental in tabling Pennsylvania House Bill 262, an attempt to place severe restrictions on gentlemen’s clubs, such as removing alcohol, forcing the dancers to register and setting a physical space limit between dancers and customers. Tell me about how you first found out about HB 262 and your efforts to table the bill.
Jeff Levy – I use a sophisticated Bill Tracking software system in PA. I load the program with every word that would be used in a bill against adult entertainment. Words such as: adult, strip club, breast, buttocks, areola, lewd, lascivious, sex, topless, pole, trafficking, etc. Once a bill has any of the key search words in it, the entire bill is sent to my email. I am alerted by a text that a possible bill is being introduced against our industry. This is how I was able to identify HB 262. The press can be helpful as well. If you make friends with the press, they will call you about a bill against our industry. When a bill against our industry is identified, it is urgent to take immediate action. I have a saying: “speed kills”. If you can identify a bill as fast as possible, you can prepare to stop the bill by utilizing all your contacts, resources and conducting effective lobbying. If the bill gets out of committee, and you did nothing to stop the bill, it has a good chance of moving through the process to become a law. Every step the bill proceeds forward, the more difficult it is to stop, its movement and the more strength the bill gains. Or, it can be extremely costly to fight a bad bill, which becomes a bad law in court, with no assurances you will win. I was able to table the bill by showing that the bill was illegal and constitutionally flawed. I then was able to demonstrate how the bill does more harm than good, and is directed at an industry which Human and Sex Trafficking hardly ever occurs. We proved through a paper written by Dr. Ken Land, one of the world’s leading criminologist from Duke University, Titled “Adult Dance Entertainment Clubs and Sex Trafficking: Is There a Strong Relationship?” Of all the categories where Human and Sex Trafficking occurred, gentlemen’s clubs accounted for 0.2 percentage occurrence when examining all state and federal court cases from 1980 to present. Human Trafficking Law Project (HTLP) database on human trafficking court case at the University of Michigan Law School, confirms these finding. Additionally, our industry is one of the most proactive in preventing human and sex trafficking.
C.J. Asher – What “sin taxes” and other efforts by lawmakers to target the adult entertainment industry is underway and what are you doing to help clubs fight these efforts?
Jeff Levy – I have been able to prevent the passage of over 30 pieces of legislation on the state and local levels over the last ten years, in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. Regarding sin taxes, I have been able to table pole taxes six times in NY, NJ and PA. Recently, Philadelphia implemented an additional Amusement Tax on all adult nightclubs, which was a double taxation and we were able to prevent this additional tax as well. I have prevented negative legislation by keeping a pulse on our industry and legislation. You must be extremely cognizant in order to prevent the passage of bills and legislation that will harm adult entertainment. You must be well informed and prepared to act. You must have compelling arguments and be able to back them up. Politicians need a good reason to agree with your position. You must lobby and be proactive well before any of these types of legislation are introduced into committee. You must have a good relationship with politicians, and keep the channels of communication open. It is vital to keep updated on all literature, papers, journals and court cases which show that the adult nightclub industry is not responsible for deleterious effects. You must be able to prove to state legislators through peer reviewed, published studies that supports our industry, and challenges the negative information which is, in many cases, disseminated by the religious right, and in most cases the information and data is incorrect. You must maintain a good working relationship with a FALA attorney who can help you navigate through the difficult maze of legalities and explain the best options to explore. I have an extremely close working relationship with FALA attorney Danny Aaronson, who educates and prepares me before I meet with any legislator(s), or committee. Danny gives me the ammunition to win my arguments, and make the most compelling rebuttals. Plus, I have yet to lose, thanks to Danny’s ability to prep me. You can never allow bad legislation to work its way through the political process. You must identify the problem before a bill against our industry ever makes it out of committee. This is the most effective way, to prevent sin taxes. Nevertheless, without the cooperation of adult nightclub owners in each state, and proper funding, the chances of defeating sin taxes and other bills are vastly diminished.
C.J. Asher – What mistakes do you find owners and managers constantly making that are hurting their profits and increasing their liability and risk?
Jeff Levy – First, know who your customers are and cater to them. You must hire people who know how to run and operate your club and are professional, effective, creative, but most of all trustworthy. Integrity is the most vital factor for your success and profits. No one wants a silent partner. Owners must work with their general manager, managers and staff on a consistent basis and know your personnel as well. One-on-one and group meetings are essential. Create a bonus structure for management based on performance. You have to keep your employees loyal and money motivated. Keeping up with new technology. Watching your numbers closely. Know your labor, liquor and marketing costs. Review your P&L with your CPA each month. Track your numbers and progress from week to week and year to year. Know what your net percentage is on gross sales. Keep up with current laws, and court rulings which effects SOB’s and follow them. Join the local Chamber of Commerce to gain support for your business. Read the newspaper every day to see if there is a hearing against your club which you may not know about. Use social media marketing effectively. Understand and implement Guerrilla Marketing. Train staff to understand how to provide for the best hospitality and service possible. Make sure your environment is always upbeat, and changing. Management and staff must have an excellent attitude and keep a fun environment. I use a “door to the floor” policy. Make sure from the time the customer walks through the door, to the time they sit down, and leave, that the customer has had the best time of their life and a positive experience. Word of mouth is the best form of advertising. The biggest mistake is not watching your managers, staff and your complete environment. Using Cloud Technology, accessing into your clubs, cameras via the clubs IP, onto your iPhone, Laptop, and home computer and watching and recording what is going on in your club will ensure that the club operates effectively. This gives you the ability to watch your club anywhere and anytime. Using apps to watch your sales in real time is vital. Have a company that will send a trained person undercover (Silent Customer Program) into your club and report back is helpful. Get to know and meet with the Chief of Police and officers who patrol your club area. Be active in your community.
C.J. Asher – What are the greatest threats and challenges, legal and otherwise, facing the gentlemen’s club industry today?
Jeff Levy – The biggest threat is ourselves. Owners who never become active in their state association or ACE, or allow a few club owners to take care of political issues or bills that impede our industry is self-destructive. The Religious Right is our biggest adversary. They vote, they contribute financially, and they are highly visible. There is power in numbers and our industry has large numbers. The adult night club industry will always face problems. Whether it’s secondary effects, poll taxes, distance requirements, extent of nudity, hours of operation or over restrictive legislation. There will always be a fight and a challenge. However, I believe there is always a challenge to be won which can build strength and unity.
C.J. Asher – How can gentlemen’s club owners and managers foster better relations with the local community, law enforcement and government?
Jeff Levy – I touched on some of these issues prior. Get involved in your local Chamber of Commerce. I cannot express how helpful the Chamber of Commerce has been. Get to know your local police department. Let them see you as a concern citizen and a real person. There are negative stereotypes of who adult nightclub owners are. You will need to change this type cast. Ensure that the façade of your club is clean, attractive, well maintained and conforms to good community standards. This is true for your marquee and front sign. Get away from all the neon lighting and XXX. Find a name that promotes a gentleman’s club, but does not offend the community. You don’t want angry mothers calling City Hall. Get involved in your community. Sponsor programs in your town. Give to local charities. I established the only program in the country called “Operation Education.” We tutor, and educate people in our clubs and community, helping them get their GED or learn to read and write better, and assist in creating resumes and how to make the best impression during a job interview. These programs have changed people’s lives.
C.J. Asher – Have you ever thought about turning StripClubRescue.com into a reality TV show or a web series on YouTube?
Jeff Levy – We are already there. Go to StripClubRescue.com and look at the bottom of the homepage which says: See the sizzle reel for Strip Club Rescue. You can also go to YouTube and type in Jeff Levy Strip Clubs and you can view the sizzle reel there. I have been approached by many producers, agents, networks and cable stations to do the show. Keep watching. I will post on StripClubRescue.com when the show airs.
C.J. Asher – What marketing program have you devised, been successful at and most proud of? In other words, what’s your favorite “success story”?
Jeff Levy – I believe in Guerrilla and Street Team Marketing programs along with the correct utilization of Social Media. These are the most cost effective and productive ways of marketing. The same marketing applications which have worked for Fortune 100 companies, work well in gentlemen’s clubs. It’s simple: Have a great product which people enjoy, with outstanding customer services and amenities. Word of Mouth will be your best form of advertising. People in our industry tend to over think advertising, marketing and promotions. Beautiful women nude and/or seminude, liquor, in a fun, friendly, safe environment, with outstanding hospitality is all you need. In our South Florida establishment, we are up over 100% in gross sales from two years ago.
C.J. Asher – Any crazy stories from your time working with the gentlemen’s club industry?
Jeff Levy – There are so many crazy, unbelievable and amazing stories in my twenty five years of being in this industry. I documented every story, every interesting event which I felt was astonishing, wild, interesting, and amazing. I knew all those years ago that our industry is a fascinating drama reality show. This was one of my primary reasons for being so active in the adult night club industry. However, if I started to discuss these stories I would be giving someone the storylines for an incredible show. You will just have to wait for my show to air.