This was originally going to be a single article, but i realized that not everyone likes the same things that i might, so i tried to be a little more inclusive of different possibilities. Different, not better, although that is subjective. Anyway, this entire article series has turned into a bit of an ugly monster.
So moving on along.
Harvey, what happened to you?
Only about a couple years ago, if anyone traveling to Chicago had asked about where to visit for strip clubs, i would have told him (or her, yeah right) to try out the clubs in Harvey, IL, which was the closest thing to a Chicago Mecca for strip clubs.
Club O, where did you come from, where did you go? Club O, which was an excellent UHM club back in the day, used to have very good dancers and then for whatever reason the quality started slipping and turnover became ridiculous. Then one day, they just up and closed without much notice.
Edit: they have since reopened, but under new management/ownership and have basically turned into the same type of clubs as almost all the Harvey clubs, basically black, make it rain, party clubs, sigh...
Skybox which was at most a HM club, but generally medium contact with good to great grinding, but probably some of the greatest stage shows (and nude) anywhere in Illinois, although Club O occasionally had some really hot shows as well. Was the best of the three sister clubs (Skybox, Heavenly Bodies in Elk Grove and Cowboys in Markham), and the second to fold. Cowboys shuttered over 10 years ago, and Skybox was sold and completely revamped into a party club called the BOXXX, which is now also indefinitely closed after an in club shooting resulting in multi-casualties.
Edit: they have since reopened and changed their name yet again, Sky11 (so they haven't fully divorced themselves from the Skybox name), but about the same type of business as usual as the BOXXX.
Arnie's was the closest thing to a sure thing if black girls were your thing (see what i did there?). But an LE raid over a year ago changed all that. All three Harvey clubs have either suspended operations or closed or changed ownership or in Arnie's case turned into a shell of what it was. Speaking of which...
Arnie's Idle Hour, Harvey, IL
At least Arnie's is still around and running. I could go on about how it "used" to be, but that is all there and then. Infamous for their Arnie's "handshake", it still happens, but they no longer can deliver on that promise as the "private" area (booths) has been done away with and all dances are now done in a brightly lit open communal area. There's probably more privacy at the bar than at the chump station.
Previously was the only sure thing at an actual Chicago strip club, but VHM (and occasional UHM) nude dances are still available and at $15-$20 (so cheaper than they used to be or possibly open to negotiation) is about as good as you will get it if you're into black girls (although there might be an occasional Latina and reportedly maybe a lone white girl sighting). But it's still not the same, but probably the only club in that area still worth visiting which isn't saying much because it's the only club in Harvey left running unless the BOXXX is back online (since the original writing of this article, the BOXXX, now called Sky11, and Club O have reopened, but they're still worse options, IMO). No daytime cover, but night time cover is $10.
Edit: The infamous Arnie's is no longer and now called Boogie Nights. Probably an owner change, and for the most part, they're running things pretty much the same way as before, not the glory days mind you, but i think most of my details above still apply...
I almost forgot, there is still King of Diamonds in Harvey, which i have no idea or first hand intel of. I know i didn't offer much in terms of actual strip clubs to visit besides Arnie's (now Boogie Nights), in that entire spiel, but i just had to get this lamentation of the recent demise of a once relatively great strip club city (Harvey) off my chest.
P.S. If you are into "party" clubs, as some people apparently are (or have to be) for them to stay in business, just a town or two away from Harvey, is Markham, where Red Diamond and V-Live are located. The only Markham club i've ever been to was the previously mentioned and long closed Cowboys (odd name for an "urban" club). Now Red Diamond, V-Live and King of Diamonds (in Harvey) are all similar in that they require expensive parking fees, not even valet, ($10-15 for KoD, $20-40 at V-Live and Red Diamond) as well as extremely high cover fees ($20-30 for KoD and $30-50 at V-live and Red Diamond).
As a disclaimer, i've never been to and likely never will go to any of these party clubs even to TOFTT, so my details are sketchy and speculative at best. Supposedly these places get busy during weekend late nights as some of these places are only open during weekends as who in their right mind would pay to park in a nearly empty lot and pay high cover to enter a nearly dead club with all or mostly one flavor and then spend even more money making it rain. Never been my type of club, but to each their own.
There is more than corn in Indiana
Industrial Strip, Hammond, IN
I had mentioned in part I about a club in Elgin that went dry and now offered high mileage nude dances and VIPs. Well this club in Hammond (Northwest Indiana) went the other direction in the end of 2014. It previously had been the only club in i think the entire state of Indiana that offered nude lap dances (unless someone can tell me otherwise), and for less than $20 a song (although you had to buy 3). They still had those annoying pasties, but a girl here and then would forgo them for whatever reason. I'm not sure why they were the exceptions but it was very welcome.
Who knew what a difference a simple change like alcohol (and the lack of nudity) can make. And that is the only logical conclusion i can make from it as there really has been nothing else that really changed in those few years. The number of customers visiting dropped, the number of quality girls working (and making good money) dropped. Cover to get in is $6-$12 and required at all times. It was once as high as $16 on weekends, so maybe they're trying to get more people to come in. Lap dance prices didn't go down, however, actually they went up slightly from 3 for $55 to 3 for $65, although they now have $10 dances on Mondays. Mileage is similar, HM (VHM used to be available with occasional kitty play) with heavy grinding, famous for their friction dances/LDKs, requiring dancers to put towels/cloths over PL's laps during lap dances. VIP options are still available at $200 for a half hour and $400 for the hour; no extras as before with fairly heavy monitoring (cameras) despite "seeming" very private (both CRs and regular dances).
Back in the day, the club was vast majority white girls with a few blacks and Latinas dispersed in. Now, it still mostly the same, but just a noticeably smaller amount of girls and not as attractive. So basically, IS went from being a very unique club to just being like any other in the state, but without the value for the most part (compared to other Indiana clubs which are generally less expensive than Chicago clubs). There used to be a lot of people traveling from Chicago and Illinois to visit this club, but now there is less reason to. Still better than a lot of the other options though, particularly on Mondays.
Fantasy, Hammond, IN
Now i know i had just mentioned how Industrial Strip nearby was the only nude club (at the time) in Indiana. Fantasy basically did the same thing somehow, although they couldn't advertise or promote themselves as a nude club since they always sold alcohol. Somehow, they were able to sneak in $30 "nude" dances in a private section along with other "activities" in addition to another section for $20 topless ones.
Now that $30 dance section in the back is gone and they just try to sell overpriced VIPs (around $200 for 15 minutes, $300+ for half hour and around $500 per hour) now. I say overpriced because the quality of girls (majority black and a few older white girls with the occasional Latina) at Fantasy was never a selling point and it hasn't gotten better, but the VIP pricing has increased substantially along with the expected tip from the bouncers.
It seems the management at the failed Club O (apparently now a sister club or something as many of the girls from that club are now at Fantasy) is working their anti-magic at Fantasy and trying to turn gold into lead. Fun (like the "real fun" that dancers like to talk about to sell dances/VIPs) can still be had, but now you're paying Club O prices for less than Club O quality which had also been going downhill before their (initial) closing. At least Fantasy has no cover, so you can just walk in and out without paying anything if you don't see anything you like.
One more honorable mention: While we're talking about Fantasy and Club O, there's another club that was/is(?) run by the same owners/management in Bedford Park, IL called Ocean. A quite new and beautiful club with a water/pool/ocean theme that would have made the cut just a couple years ago, but have continued to lose talent and not draw new good talent and have gone more strict with their rules as well as mandatory valet and a marginally higher cover, expensive dances ($30 for topless OR nude depending on dancer) and other nickle and diming, which resulted in no reason for me to go there again. Those Club O people just ruin everything...
Edit: I have since upgraded Ocean from honorable mention to worth checking out, but just during their day shift (11-8pm). The club is a completely different club during the day with no cover, dances reduced in price, but longer dances with less monitoring at $20 for a full song played from some digital jukebox or something. The only problem with the day shift is a paltry dancer selection...
Where everybody knows your name...not!
Jimmy's Restaurant (that is literally what their sign says), Chicago Heights, IL
It's just seem to be an ever reoccurring theme around these parts. Increase prices, but keep quality and value the same or worse. What a great idea! I know the strip club business is "hard". Sometimes club owners just feel like they have to make these decisions to survive, but are these really the best decisions? I would venture a guess and say the dancers probably don't agree as well. So if you alienate the PLs and now the dancers, who do you have left to build the business? Just thinking aloud.
Anyway, Jimmy's is yet another VHM club in the south suburbs of Illinois. Chicago Heights, specifically. About 5 minutes away from Harvey. For a long time they had $15/$25 dances for topless/nude which made them in general a bit better value than most of the surrounding competition although the dances did seem just a bit shorter than the others at exactly 3 minutes or a little less. They also had no cover except for late weekend nights ($5). And there was considerable more ethnic variety in their rotation. All you have to do is look at their website www.jimmyschicago.com (which probably hasn't been updated in years) to see how laughably inaccurate it is. Just looking at the dancer gallery (which was probably taken sometime this decade; i haven't seen a single girl on the website at the club) and the choice of music the website plays and you would think it's some strip club in the heart of the Midwest. Almost bait and switch.
Edit: The website (above) was finally updated! Now what you see is much closer to what you get. Which still isn't a lot, lol...
Fast forward to a few years ago. Jimmy's just continued to get more "urban" both in clientele and entertainers and apparently even staff. There ended up being more customers that just came to "chill" and all other remaining parties seemed to be making less money. About a couple years ago, Jimmy's then decides to raise dance prices to $20/$30 as well as introduce a night time cover of $5 and $10 on weekends. They also added VIP rooms that never really did see a lot of action (the club is considered non extras). I don't know if this was meant to keep the "riffraff" out, but apparently it didn't work as in the present day, Jimmy's is even more of a "party" club. Very different from the relaxed dive bar (again this club was also once compared to Cheers with strippers) of years ago. Also, for being a "restaurant", i have never seen a food menu or any real food being prepared or served to speak of.
Lap dances are still VHM with full contact and some stick shifting with good grinding. Dancers are mostly black with a few Latinas/mixed girls and an older white girl or two dropping in occasionally. Not the most impressive group or the best time to be had for the dollar, but still better than a lot of the other options...
If you were to believe an infamous TUSCLer who was more active a few years ago, you would think that these clubs and urban areas were littered with dead bodies and killed policemen and Molotov cocktails and AK-47s(?). To be fair, these aren't the best areas in town and if you aren't there for the strip clubs, there is absolutely no reason to come to these areas. But i have never felt unsafe or in danger at any point in numerous visits. Yes, 2 AMers have happened (at the BOXXX most recently), but that is like one incident in years and not at all reflective of the common experience and there are risks involved with any excursions in unfamiliar or even familiar areas. Probably more risk in Tijuana, honestly. Just handle yourself reasonably and take the usual precautions and you should be more than fine.
Like Part I, any corrections or additional info is welcome.
I wish i could say that it only gets better from here, but who am i fooling? Stay tuned for the thrilling conclusion of "As The Chicago Turns". Don't hold your breath!
A Primer on Chicago Strip Clubs, Part II
January 12, 2019January 20, 2019 (sweetjamesjones)