In this week's Mercury, we zeroed in on the Silverado—Portland's only gay strip club—and its unbalanced pay rate. While guys only play $3 to get in the club, women end up paying $5. Sure, it seems logical in some ways, but the bottom line is that it's illegal. Unfortunately, we weren't able to catch any of Silverado's management for an interview (after leaving several messages) prior to press day.
But! Don Sexton, secretary of the Silverado corporation, gave me a call back yesterday afternoon. Sexton gave me his take on the pay difference and the overall purpose of the club.
So why do women have to pay more to get into Silverado on certain days?
SEXTON: Each week, Fridays and Saturdays are "Men's Night Out"—just like a ladies' night. Every other day of the week, the entry price is the same for everyone. We require a nominal fee because we don't want people just coming in to oogle and leave. We need to make a profit!
Have you got many complaints from female customers?
(Laughs) Of course! But the same amount of complaints that we get from male customers who don't like groups of screaming and giggling women. Like Bachelorette parties.
Right, and you have a sign on the front of the club says "No Bachelorette Parties" specifically.
Yep, I respect that it's a special night for these women, but it's not for everyone to have to put up with. They're very disruptive to our male guests.
Have you ever had to deal with predatory straight men coming in to creep on straight women who feel like it's a safe place to be?
We have a sign right when you enter the club "If you're here, you're queer." We try to let straight men know right of the bat they they aren't welcome.
This isn't a discrimination issue, it's different. We're just trying to create a comfortable environment for our customers.