DENVER— A strip club owner says business is booming after he got creative to skirt around a 25-foot requirement between dancers and customers, but as Denver7 witnessed, keeping a distance requires vigilance.
Players Club received a letter from the Tri-County Health Department on June 6, requiring the strip club to implement a 25-foot distance between performers and customers following a COVID-19 outbreak.
Chris Fuselier, the owner of Players Club, says five staff members tested positive for coronavirus. To keep everyone safe, he claims to have voluntarily shut down the club for 12 days.
Fuselier added that he implemented the 25-foot distance between customers and dancers for a week and that sales fell 50%.
"It just didn't make sense at all, you needed your binoculars to see the women and how could you give a gratuity to them?" he said. "Our liquor sales were down; our entertainers were really suffering. We had no choice but to file a lawsuit."
The Tri-County Health Department (TCHD) and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) agreed to grant the gentlemen's club a variance after Fuselier presented a plan to keep dancers and customers safe.
"I got a little creative, I copied an idea from a strip club in Vancouver, Canada," Fuselier said.
Fuselier had plexiglass installed around all three stages and left a two-inch slot at the bottom to drop tips. The bar and the cashier at the entrance are also protected by plexiglass. Masks and hand sanitizers are available throughout the club.
Fuselier also said disease prevention measures require temperature checks for staff and customers, and dancers must wear masks and remain at least six feet apart from customers.
Denver7'ss Adi Guajardo witnessed on a security camera what appeared to be a dancer giving a customer a lap dance and questioned Fuselier.
"If you turn your back then, you see, you know, but our official response is no there is no private lap dances," he said. "The way I look at it is that if you have two consenting parties and they are both wearing masks, why not?"
Offering a lap dance violates the Tri-County Health Department's public health order and guidance. If a complaint is filed, the health department tells Denver7 they take an educational approach.
So far, Fuselier said business is 30% higher than last year, but he's expecting a plunge in the coming days. On Thursday, the governor's executive order for a 10 p.m. last call at restaurants and bars goes into effect. Fuselier also owns Blake Street Tavern and is part of the Tavern League of Colorado. The organization filed a motion for a temporary restraining order on the early last call.
In the meantime, Fuselier said he plans to continue serving his clients.
"We are just going to encourage everybody to binge; like, okay buckets of beer, buckets of seltzers, a bottle of wine, a bottle of vodka," he said.