I went to the Wild Orchid Gentlemen’s Club once. I wouldn’t say I got the full strip club experience, considering I was there with some friends at around 5 p.m. on a weekday, and there were no dancers other than my psychotic friend who thought it would be a good idea to fill in for the entertainers who hadn’t started their shifts yet. She jumped on the empty stage and took a few spins on a pole before the bouncer/bartender told her sternly to get down.
We didn’t even see any naked women other than the off-duty dancer who was liberal with her upper body coverage despite the lack of motivation for tips. What we definitely didn’t see was any crime, drug use, prostitution or declining property value. These were the reasons the City Council gave when voting 5-2 in favor of kicking strip clubs out of downtown Reno in September of last year. And when the local government hired a private investigator (at a substantial hourly rate) to dig up some crime, prostitution and drug use, he didn’t find much either.
Last week, the controversy was heightened when the owner of the Wild Orchid Kamy Keshmiri, who also owns the adjoined Ponderosa Hotel, wrote in a letter to his tenants that their rent would nearly double if the city successfully forced the strip clubs out of downtown.
In my experience, the Wild Orchid’s drinks were a bit expensive, but the employees were nice enough to serve us, and they allowed us to stay when my friend took a stripper pole for a ride without permission. I guess the only reason left to kick them out would be declining property value, and probably some basic moral concerns about an unsavory business in the heart of the city.
As a sort of primer, so you can know what sort of things I’m about, here are businesses in Downtown/Midtown that I find unsavory: yoga studios, juice bars, high-end gymnasiums, tourist shops that sell Reno t-shirts with trailers on them, the Rack and that warehouse-sized liquor store across from the Wild Orchid that advertises whip-its all over the place (and sells a 100-pack of whip-its for $50, I recently discovered). Is it within my power or is it my responsibility to tell these businesses that I find them unsavory and demand that they leave? Definitely not. While I’d like a seat on the City Council, so I can tell the Rack they belong in an industrial area, I don’t think it should be within the city’s powers to do so.
This isn’t an argument for strip clubs. As I stated earlier, I’ve never been to a strip club with actual strippers (sorry, men in my life who think I missed some sort of rite of passage). And, this isn’t an argument for the Wild Orchid in particular.
I think it was a shady move for Keshmiri to force his residents to get involved in this political debate if they want to keep their apartments, which are barely up to code and full of bugs, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal, and a few brutally honest Google reviewers. I agree with Councilwoman Neoma Jardon, who said in a meeting last week, “While I was one of the two ‘no’ votes to move forward with the ordinances, this is a tactic that does nothing but strike fear in the tenants and uses them as political pawns.” I find Keshmiri’s tactics as unsavory as I find expensive juice smoothies, but it’s his right to charge what he has to, and I think that sort of rent increase would be necessary to supplement the lost revenue from the strip clubs.
My argument is for free enterprise, freedom for businesses to sell whatever they want, as long as it’s not against the law. Last time I checked, strip clubs are legal in this state, and it’s my understanding that lots of people here like strip clubs, especially tourists. And, last time I checked, tourism is where we make all our money!
This attempt by the city to make downtown seem prettier by kicking out the strip clubs is hypocrisy. It’s probably meant to attract Amazon or Apple or some other gigantic tech company for their new headquarters. That would be great for our economy, I guess, but we should be taking care of our local businesses first and foremost, including the ones that might not meet your ethical standards.
Our residents frequent these businesses, they are owned and operated by locals and I’m sure the tourists who stay downtown prefer the convenience of the location near their hotels. People come to Nevada to do things they can’t do at home like drink in public, gamble, pay to see naked women and occasionally attend a gay rodeo.
Opinions expressed in The Nevada Sagebrush are solely those of the author and do not necessarily express the views of The Sagebrush or of its staff. Ryan Suppe studies journalism and philosophy. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @salsuppe