Tampa's famous strip clubs brace for pandemic Super Bowl
FOX Bet launches in Michigan as more states legalize sports betting
FOX Bet CEO Kip Levin on growth in the sports betting industry ahead of the Super Bowl.
Elizabeth Reed dances at Scores Gentleman's Club, a strip club near the stadium hosting the Super Bowl, and says wearing masks while working is like “doing cardio” with her nose and mouth covered.
Continue Reading Below
It’s uncomfortable and sweaty, and her makeup is often ruined. She’s also wary of dancing close to patrons wearing thinner face coverings.
GET FOX BUSINESS ON THE GO BY CLICKING HERE
“It’s not the same,” she said, adding that she doesn't want to complain because front-line health care workers have to wear masks for hours on end. “It’s been an adjustment. Now I face away from the customer a majority of the time.”
Still, she’s hopeful she’ll make $1,000 a night during Super Bowl week, and she’ll wear sequined masks that match her outfits.
When Tampa was chosen host of this year’s Super Bowl, strip club owners anticipated a windfall week. Now, though, making it rain is less of a guarantee. There’s a global pandemic, citywide mask mandates and an attendance cap of one-third of the stadium’s capacity, so only 22,000 fans can go. Plus, the hometown Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in the game, which means fewer people will be traveling and spending money. That leaves the owners and dancers of Tampa’s numerous strip clubs worried about how this year will shake out.
“I’m thinking we’ll get an increase in business but it’s not going to be like anything it was,” said Joe Redner, the owner of Mons Venus, an all-nude strip club within walking distance of Raymond James Stadium. “This COVID makes it a whole different world.”
The last time the Super Bowl was in Tampa — in 2009 — Redner’s landmark nightspot raised its cover charge from $20 to $50 the week of the big game.
“People were lined up outside, handing us $50 bills,” he recalled.
SUPER BOWL EXPECTED TO BREAK ONLINE GAMBLING RECORDS
Strip clubs, like bars and restaurants, have struggled in the COVID-19 era. Early in the pandemic in 2020, the clubs were shuttered. When Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis allowed bars and nightclubs to reopen, some strip clubs began offering food. Others got even more creative: They promoted online access to dancers for a fee.
Eventually, the clubs reopened. In Tampa, that meant performers and patrons had to wear masks in an attempt to reduce the spread of the coronavirus — even during lap dances — putting a damper on some of the wild fun.
“It’s slow. People aren’t going out. We are still doing business and we’re still surviving,” Redner said, but acknowledged that business is nothing like it was pre-pandemic.