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WMR
09-22-2005, 12:45 AM
Strippers help tease back New Orleans nightlife By Matt Daily
Wed Sep 21, 3:11 PM ET



NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - In a sign that things may be returning to normal in New Orleans, strip shows are back in the city's famous French Quarter.

Erotic dancers and strippers are entertaining crowds of police, firefighters and military personnel instead of the usual audiences of drunken conventioneers and tourists in Bourbon Street's Deja Vu club, which reopened this week.

It's the first strip joint to resume business, three weeks after Hurricane Katrina struck in the worst natural disaster ever to hit the United States.

"It's nice to get back to work, and all these men need some entertainment," Dawn Beasley, 27, a dancer at the club, said on Tuesday night. "They haven't seen anybody but their buddies for two weeks."

The crowd hooted and hollered as women peeled off their tops and gyrated, as customers tucked tips into their G-strings.

"This is our first time off the ship and it's great," said one young sailor as he left the club. He declined to give his name or say where he was stationed.

"It's good to see the businesses getting back up and bringing the city back," another sailor said.

New Orleans' strip clubs have long been a fixture of Bourbon Street, where marquees promise everything from "barely legal" dancers to transvestite divas. Photos of the seedy shows inside the clubs line the windows, next to scores of bars in the district that draws tourists from around the globe.

The city's dusk-to-dawn curfew failed to prevent the Deja Vu from staying open to the early hours, with blaring music and neon lights spilling out into the Quarter, most of which remained bathed in darkness in the aftermath of the storm.

"We were open till two last night, just long enough to get the testosterone flowing," Beasley said.

Only a handful of restaurants and bars in the Quarter have reopened in recent days, serving food and drinks -- usually without charge -- to rescue workers and military who stream through the mostly empty streets. The Deja Vu waived its cover charge, drinks were selling for $3 and a private dance was available for just $1.

For Deja Vu manager Brent Ardeneaux, reopening was a public service.

"It's a disaster zone. You got a lot of people in from out of town that need entertaining," he said as he unloaded supplies from the back of a pick-up truck.

The club even drew several women looking for a respite from their duties patrolling the city, but they resisted entreaties to join the others on stage and left after a few minutes.

One of them, a soldier, said: "We were just looking for any place open. We've been working hard."