Celebrate Super Bowl weekend with a tour of New York’s strip clubs
Whether you’re a seasoned New Yorker or in town for the weekend, the Super Bowl’s visit to the Big Apple is a great excuse to see the city with new eyes. Why not put those “Private Eyes” to good use at New York City’s best strip clubs? In the name of journalism, I hit up strip clubs in five boroughs to get you in the mood for the year’s most heteronormative weekend.
Sin City Cabaret
2520 Park Ave.
I kicked things off by heading straight to the top by taking the 4 Train up to the Bronx. I’d never been to a strip club, and braced myself after an imposing sign in the foyer gruffly reminded my boyfriend and myself that prostitution is illegal.
We turned the corner and saddled up to the bar, which faced an opposite stage that was abandoned on early weeknights. Not that that held back the dancers closer to the bar, or the lights beating down through the chandeliers over the seating area. A smiley dancer complimented my tights, and my boyfriend joked that my shy ‘thank you’ must have come off as pathologically rude.
50 W. 33rd St.
Did you know that there’s a context wherein saying “this strip club has the creamiest chocolate mousse I’ve ever had” is not a euphemism? For $10 and a drink, Rick’s clientele get a prix fixe lunch special and a view of the stage. When I showed up on a Wednesday afternoon with a girlfriend, the doorman diplomatically re-phrased “are you two sure you’re in the right place?” in three different ways.
His confusion made sense – the daytime crowd was mostly lone older men in suits. It could have been an audition for the lead role in Glengarry Glen Ross 2. Even at midday, the subterranean club was pitch-black and pounding with remixed pop. We had to lean in close to debate the authenticity of a particular butt, imbued with a geometric perfection no planet could ever approach.
We stumbled out into the Midtown afternoon with full stomachs. Between the wine, the cold, and the daylight, it was like entering a new world.
1089 Grand St.
Jammed somewhere between Williamsburg and Bushwick, Pumps was the strip joint that did the most convincing impression of an actual bar. The $5 ATM surcharge and $7 bottled beers were relative bargains, and for once I wasn’t the only non-dancer in the bathroom line. There are wall-to-wall mirrors on each side of the place. If you get drunk enough, you could even stare into them until you believe you are the center of endlessly repeating arrays of tinier and tinier strippers.
My male friends are so supportive of my writing career that a few of them decided to tag along. Conversations in strip clubs tend to be about strip clubs.
I take my role as an amateur anthropologist very seriously, so I gave a lap dance a shot. The dancer was lovely, friendly, and very good at her job. The same could not be said of me. I had to suppress a bizarre urge to chit-chat, as well as the thought that, damn, this girl is way thinner than I am.
2945 Arthur Kill Rd
The awning of Curves actually says ‘Curve’s.’ I hope this was not a typo. I prefer to believe in an entrepreneurial owner Mr. Curve, undaunted by anyone who ever said he’d never find a way to merge his love of breasts and puns.
The ceiling was lined with the same cosmic neon lights that tell middle schoolers to leave the roller rink before the bad teens show up. They weren’t so bright that they washed out the TV screens or prevented patrons from enjoying CNN, a basketball game and something starring Nicholas Cage.
But the dancers were not about to lose their customers’ attention to some movie that wasn’t even “Face-Off.” The girls cycled through more costume changes than I’d seen anywhere else. One donned a tiny American flag-printed bra and panty set, whose size only allowed it to represent the original five-and-a-half colonies.
The bartender noted that “we look like a couple,” which we took as code for “you are both wearing glasses.” We downed two test tube shots of Sex on the Beach, and steeled ourselves for the voyage back to Brooklyn.
4319 37th St., Long Island City
After a week’s worth of strip clubs, what does the doctor order? A strip club with a Sunday vibe, complete with a griddle of free, slowly revolving hot dogs.
We ate them below the VIP lounge, whose stairs were lined with glass panels featuring silhouettes of trees and sunsets that would not be out of place at a Chinese restaurant.
I thanked my boyfriend for coming to all of these, which he assured me was more fun than the time I dragged him to the opera.
As we finished our beers, we were ready to wrap up the week with some Netflix. Another customer came up to us.
“I tried to get my girlfriend to come to one of these with me, and she broke up with me,” he said. “You guys are cool!”
It was the ultimate deception. We are not cool. But a full week of these outings had perfected our poker faces.
We smiled, ran through the rest of our singles, and went home to watch a documentary about bees.
Follow Natalie Shure on Twitter: @nataliesurely