WHY DO MEN REALLY GO TO STRIP BARS? by Art Smukler, author & psychiatrist

I’m talking about the regulars, the guys who get hooked and blow hundreds and hundreds and maybe thousands of dollars.

It might start off innocently enough. A group of guys go out for a night of bonding and laughs and wind up at a strip club. For most, it’s a few drinks, a bit of ogling, spending more money than predicted, and there it ends.

For some, it’s the beginning of an addiction.

In Skin Dance, a mystery, the main character Jake Robb, a psychiatrist, winds up talking to Candy, one of the dancers.

“Hi Honey,” an attractive young woman said, standing just inches from Jake, her breasts right in his face. She was dressed in black-silk shorts and a skimpy black-silk bra. Her hair was a mass of dark tangles and curls hanging halfway down her back. “I’m Candy. What can I get you to drink?” The researchers catalogued this type of behavior as counterfeiting intimacy, Jake remembered with a sigh. When it was actually happening it didn’t feel at all like it was counterfeit. Candy’s perfume floated around him, an aromatic web that under most circumstances would be difficult to resist.

Strip bars offer visual candy, rocking sound systems, a full bar, and pseudo-sex (lap dances). Any of these might be attractive, but are they worth investing hundreds of hours and lots of money?

When you’re in love, anything is possible. The addict watches the love of his life up on stage, bumping and grinding and playing up to anyone silly enough to drape money over the brass rail, but still believes, with all his heart, that what she really wants is him.

The addict is empty and hungry for love. Candy capitalizes on that need and instinctively knows just how to work her way into the heart and wallet of this desperate, lonely character.

One day when this fantasy ends, it will be with a dose of emptiness, recrimination, and possibly the knowledge that searching for love in a strip bar is doomed.

Art Smukler MD is the author of Skin Dance, a mystery, Chasing Backwards, a psychological murder mystery, The Man with a Microphone in his Ear, and the blog, Inside the Mind of a Psychiatrist.

5 thoughts on “WHY DO MEN REALLY GO TO STRIP BARS? by Art Smukler, author & psychiatrist

  1. I had the experience of working in a strip club for about two years as the DJ/Announcer and part-time bouncer and it was quite the lesson. First, not all the women who worked there were victims – many of them were tired of working as waitresses or other minimum (or sub-minimum) jobs and decided to take advantage of the men in the bar. There were a few who were addicted to drugs who “dated” customers, but they usually moved down the line to a lower-class club as their looks left them because of the drugs. As for the men, we had many regulars who frequented the bar and some were quite enamored by the dancers. At one point, I had a customer write me a check for $5,000 to introduce him to a dancer and verify his character so he could go on a legitimate date with her. They ended up married about six months later and I never saw her in the bar again. Then there were other customers who were more dangerous, like one who brandished a knife at the end of the evening as I was escorting one of the women to her car. She ran back into the bar and called the police while I fought with the man and ended up breaking his wrist to get the knife away from him. For the most part, though, the dancers were there to do a job and the customers were a means to an end. The customers were there to watch – and sometimes touch – the dancers and fulfill whatever fantasy they had and spend their money, which is why strip clubs exist – to create the fantasy that these women are attainable and available to the customers for social time outside the bar. It is a sexual and social fantasy perpetuated by television, movies and the stories told in the bars through dance, stripping and the haze of alcohol.


  2. Interesting post, even if, as I suspect, a tad simplistic. Certainly don’t want to come across as a raging feminist, because that’s not me, but I wonder if many habitual ‘oglers’ are also needing the sense of supremacy that surely must come with watching women offer themselves as vulnerable and available. This not as a judgement, given the number of men who have been devastated by cruel, domineering mothers, sisters, teachers, girlfriends, wives . . . I think a survey of typical strip-club clients would reveal some interesting trends. I expect the quest for the illusive machisimo would be one of them.


  3. Art, a German client of mine wanted to go to a titty bar in San Francisco. He was a top engineering exec from a global brake business. We were working on OEM Ford contracts together. I had my head of HR for my business with me (we were recruiting young engineers at the SAE convention) and we caved in to take him. He got his fantasy fulfilled. A few months later I learned after he would not return my calls he committed suicide in his backyard in Michigan. Such a brilliant man trapped in a mental prison. Counting that experience, I have been in 2 such “gentlemen’s clubs” in my life.


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