(L-R): Bob Chiappardi, CEO of StripJointsMusic.com, Dave Manack, 2014 ED’s Overall Entertainer of the Year Lacey Rain, DJ Platypus of Rick’s Cabaret and Jimmy Boucher, DJ of Monroe’s of Palm Beach
Despite what you (as my friends did when I first told them I was attending) might think, the annual Gentlemen’s Club Expo, held in New Orleans this year, isn’t all ‘strippers and parties.’ It’s an opportunity for everyone in the adult nightclub industry, from owners and managers to feature dancers to vendors, to network, attend important educational seminars and workshops and to celebrate the success and accomplishments of their peers at The ED’s, the Adult Nightclub & Exotic Dancer Awards Show. None of this would be possible without Dave Manack, producer of the Gentlemen’s Club Expo and the Exotic Dancer Invitationals as well as Associate Publisher of ED Publications.
C.J. Asher – First of all, tell me a little about yourself.
Dave Manack – Well, C.J., I’m forty four and from Connecticut. I’ve lived in Florida for the past twenty years. Went to college and graduated from Southern Connecticut State University with a BA in Journalism.
C.J. Asher – How did you first get involved in the adult entertainment industry?
Dave Manack – I answered an ad in the newspaper for an editorial assistant for a “men’s trade magazine.” I had no idea what that was or what to expect. This was 1998, pre-internet (or at least, I didn’t have the internet at home yet), so I couldn’t look the company up. So I didn’t know what company it was (ED Publications) before I got to the office for my interview.
C.J. Asher – Tell me about your first trip to a gentlemen’s club… what was it like?
Dave Manack – It was on my 21st birthday, at a hole-in-the-wall club called Mr. Happy’s in Waterbury, CT. The club wasn’t much to speak of, and definitely not anything resembling a ‘gentlemen’s club.’
C.J. Asher – How has the adult nightclub industry changed since you first started working in the industry?
Dave Manack – Well, I could say a lot about this subject. Let’s just say this: In 1998, the club industry was thriving. I think in the past five to ten years, we’ve seen a decline in the industry as a whole. The formula for making money as a club has been tilted in way that is not beneficial to the club, and that has happened largely due to the declining quality of the ‘house’ dancers. Dancers don’t know how to ‘talk’ to customers anymore, and clubs, in some cases, have forgotten about hospitality and how to throw a party. I could say more, but I’ll leave it there.
C.J. Asher – Tell me about ED Club Bulletin. Who are your readers and what can they expect from your magazine?
Dave Manack – We are a ‘trade’ (business-to-business) magazine, so the Club Bulletin is dedicated exclusively to adult nightclub owners and operators, club staff, feature entertainers, industry vendors and other people who make their living in the adult club industry. It is not a consumer magazine. The magazine has always strived to provide information that is vital to club owners and operators, including legal news, industry trends, information about key vendors and other points of interest specific to adult clubs. There is also a healthy dose of information and promotion regarding our Annual Gentlemen’s Club EXPO, including post-EXPO coverage.
C.J. Asher – What is your title and job duties with the Gentlemen’s Club Expo and ED Publications?
Dave Manack – I am the Associate Publisher/Editor-In-Chief. I am responsible for getting our magazines produced. I write articles, I edit, and I manage the staff that helps put together our magazines. I also produce the panel sessions, seminars and workshops at the EXPO, and I help to coordinate our evening EXPO events. I am also the Founder and Producer of the EXOTIC DANCER Invitational (EDI) dance contests (www.theEDIs.com).
C.J. Asher – Tell me a little bit about the founding and history of the Gentlemen’s Club Expo.
Dave Manack – ED Publications’ Publisher Don Waitt established this company in 1991 when he published the very first EXOTIC DANCER Directory, which was a ‘yellow pages’ if you will of all adult nightclubs nationwide (or at least, as many as he could find). That type of guide had never been published before. Two years later, he introduced the very first Annual Gentlemen’s Club EXPO in Las Vegas. The EXPO continued to grow and grow over the years, finding its home mainly in Las Vegas, though the EXPO has been held in a few others cities (Miami in 1994, Reno in 1995, New Orleans in 2015 and 2016).
C.J. Asher – The Gentlemen’s Club Expo will be in its 24th year in 2016; what made you decide to have New Orleans be the host city this year?
Dave Manack – People, specifically, EXPO attendees, simply got tired of Las Vegas every year. Don’t get me wrong, Vegas is a great city and a perfect host city for the EXPO. But when you say the EXPO is going to be in Las Vegas every year, year after year, it doesn’t matter how many bells and whistles you add to the convention, the changes you make to it to make it different every year, people just assume it’s going to be the same old event because it’s in the same place again. New Orleans is one of the only other cities in the U.S. that is a similar ‘draw’ to Vegas. NOLA has Bourbon Street of course, tons of history and it’s probably one of the most unique cities in America. And it has a reputation to rival Vegas’s “Sin City” moniker.
C.J. Asher – What types of exhibitors and attendees are at the event?
Dave Manack – For exhibitors, any company that provides a product or service that can be utilized by an adult nightclub is a potential EXPO exhibitor. Attendees include club owners, general managers, club staff (DJs, doormen, security, waitresses, house moms, etc.), as well as national touring feature entertainers, booking agencies and other industry professionals.
C.J. Asher – What can a first-time attendee expect at the Gentlemen’s Club Expo?
Dave Manack – They may be surprised at how many clubs from across the country and around the world come to EXPO. We had clubs from Australia, Norway, England, etc., as well as clubs from just about every state in the U.S. Attendees enjoy coming together in an environment where everyone who’s there is a part of the industry where they make a living, and industry that is often misunderstand and has a stigma attached to it. At the EXPO, you’ll feel like you are among friends, because you are. Attendees will be entertained, they will be educated, they will make important business connections and will bring information back to their clubs that will make them more successful club owners, operators, entertainers, and so on.
C.J. Asher – What have been the most popular panels for attendees to view?
Dave Manack – Hard to say. Right now, social media is a hot topic that everyone seems to want to hear more about. Of course, club marketing is key, as well as how to attract and keep quality entertainers. And the legal panels are always a draw for club owners, since we have the industry’s brightest legal minds on hand and it’s the club owners’ opportunity to pick their brains without it costing them $400 an hour! The DJ panels have been very well attended over the past couple of years as well.
C.J. Asher – How has the need for social media marketing impacted the adult nightclub industry over the past several years?
Dave Manack – Every club seemingly wants to have a social media presence, but they don’t really know how to maximize these ‘free’ marketing tools. That’s why we’ve done social media seminars at the EXPO for the past few years, because social media is a key marketing tool for clubs. But now, Facebook won’t allow ‘boosted’ posts from ‘adult’ businesses, so who knows how things will develop from this point forward.
C.J. Asher – How are clubs fighting “sex trafficking” issues and the attacks that are coming by those who, incorrectly as statistics show, link adult nightclubs and sex trafficking together?
Dave Manack – This question is better left to ACE, since they established the program COAST (Club Operators Against Sex Trafficking). They have done a great job of addressing this issue and have gotten ahead of it, as they work directly with DHS/ICE (Department of Homeland Security/Immigrations and Customs Enforcement).
C.J. Asher – What can attendees expect from the 2016 Gentlemen’s Club Expo?
Dave Manack – They can expect three days packed with entertainment and education. Three days of seminars and workshops, a lively Tradeshow, killer evening events including the 19th Annual Adult Nightclub & Exotic Dancer Awards Show (the ED’s Awards), and new surroundings in the newly renovated convention area at the Hilton Riverside. And it’s the earliest we’ve ever had the show in August (Aug 7-10), so everyone mark your calendars!