Abstract: Cultivating Classiness: Trade Journal Instructions on Strip Club Upscaling

Stephanie Kolberg


In the late 1980s-1990s, the United States witnessed the rise of the "gentlemen's club"&#151;a self-described upscaled version of the "classic" strip club. This paper examines the ways in which the largest gentlemen's club trade journal&#151;<em>Exotic Dancer Club Bulletin</em>&#151;instructed club owners and managers in the business of aesthetic overhaul, a process referred to as "upscaling." How have gentlemen's clubs been re-imagined and promoted by owners, managers, and other executives within the gentlemen's club industry in an effort to transform and re-craft strip clubs into more mainstream, socially sanctioned, and female-friendly entities? To get at these issues, this paper explores the various markers of middle-class respectability that have been suggested by trade journals, with an eye on the way such narratives reveal a longing for power, status, and recognition within the industry itself. In interrogating such tactics, this paper looks at the way a marginalized industry has attempted to re-craft itself and gain greater public acceptance and visibility.