Las Vegas "Clip Joints"

An anonymous Usenet Newsgroup post:

"Coming from a strip joint in Las Vegas, I asked a cab driver for a place where some contact occurs between the patrons and the dancers. He took us to Thee Place, off Sahara, near Commercial Drive... in a shopping center about 1/2 mile from the Hilton. The cover to get in was $25. There 2 attractive female entertainers told us about how we would enjoy the spa, massage and hot tub, and afterwards, we would adjourn to private quarters. They couldnt tell us what happens in the private quarters, but gave the impression that some sexual contact/nudity was offered.

They directed us to a male bartender who told us about $150 and $200 packages. They said that they couldnt describe what happened in the "private areas" but that we would not be disappointed. The female attendants kept on telling us that they couldnt let us touch them or they couldnt get in the hot tub with us, that was reserved for the private areas. Well when we got to the private areas, they demanded additional tips ($500 or more, recommended!). We were broke but coughed up another $200... as they built us up with anticipation... and of course... all we got is a little singing and dancing to the songs on the radio. These girls were good. They really had us believing.
Please spread the word to boycott this place!!!! - a pathetic loser, down about $400" Las Vegas Shop banner

Men traveling by taxicab in Las Vegas might be hustled into visiting a "clip joint" like the clueless victim above. I have never been to a "clip joint" or heard a firsthand account of a visit to one; but I have come across enough Internet posts about them, and spent enough time in Las Vegas, to know they exist.

Like any other city; there are mostly honest, friendly, helpful people in Las Vegas, and some not so honest, not so friendly, not so helpful people who like to take advantage of tourists who don't know any better. While casinos mainly exist to separate tourists from their money; they do so in a friendly way that offers you some fun and entertainment, and they operate within the law. Other entertainment options like shows, strip clubs, and restaurants also offer you value for your dollar. Unfortunately, there are also illegitimate "businesses" which will separate you from your money while causing you distress. They may operate barely within the law but in any case, individuals who are victims of these establishments are usually too embarrassed to report anything to the police. More importantly, if the individual intended to "solicit prostitution" at a clip joint, ignorance of the law is not a defense; even if the clip joint led them to believe prostitution is legal; and reporting the incident to the police could result in the scam victim's arrest. One type of business that exists to take your money and give you an unpleasant experience is the "clip joint." They operate under the assumption that many tourists believe that prostitution is legal in Las Vegas. This assumption is correct. It is an "urban legend." Many people do think prostitution is legal in Las Vegas. The truth is that prostitution IS legal in most Nevada counties, but it is NOT legal in Clark County, which contains Las Vegas. The closest legal prostitutes to Las Vegas are about 60 miles away.

First, it's important not to confuse legitimate strip clubs with "clip joints." The Las Vegas area has about 40 legitimate strip clubs. Any of these legitimate strip clubs may have a cover charge (usually $10 to $20, and some clubs don't charge an entry fee before 6 PM), and they won't imply that anything other than what the law allows is available. Standard strip club options include tipping dancers $1 or more on stage; paying $10 to $20 (almost always $20) for "lap dances"; and paying $100 or more to sit in a "VIP room" or "champagne room" which is more private and upscale. Within Las Vegas city limits (north of Sahara Ave.) nonsexual physical contact between dancers and customers is lawful and permitted. The law is different outside Las Vegas city limits, however: customers cannot touch dancers but dancers can touch customers nonsexually. In either case, sexual contact is NOT LEGAL. Additionally, strip clubs often have their own rules, and individual dancers may also have their own limits; so you should ask if you're unsure.

The above paragraph seems a little confusing so I'll restate it: PROSTITUTION is LEGAL in most of Nevada, but NOWHERE within Clark County, which contains the entire Las Vegas area. STRIP CLUBS are more liberal INSIDE Las Vegas city limits, but this has nothing to do with prostitution laws and nothing to do with county lines. A new law intended to "crack down" on strip clubs was introduced in 2002, but it doesn't apply within the City of Las Vegas. The Las Vegas strip is NOT inside city limits. You have to go north of Sahara Ave. to enter the city.

The clip joint, on the other hand, uses the "wink wink, nudge nudge" technique to lead you to believe that sexual favors are available for a price. They know that prostitution is illegal but they assume that you, the newbie tourist, believes that prostitution is legal and that you think you've found a legal brothel in Las Vegas. Additionally, instead of the standard $20 lap dance, cash amounts of several hundred dollars or more may be discussed; which reinforces the belief that more than just a lap dance is available.

Here is how the clip joint scam typically works: A lone male, group of men, or a couple gets into a taxi and asks to go to some strip club, nightclub, massage parlor, swingers club, or may ask the driver to recommend a "fun place for single guys" or a "fun place for swingers like us." Almost always, the victims are men; the scenario of a man and woman looking for a swingers club and being taken to a clip joint is much less common.

The cab driver MIGHT give you good advice and take you to their favorite place. Or, (s)he may decide to take you to a place that pays a commission for every "customer" delivered. The cab driver doesn't care if you have a good time or not, they just want the cash bonus.

The greedy cabbie might tell you about some fantastic place full of beautiful women and imply that sexual activities are available. When the cab driver delivers you to the clip joint, (s)he'll be paid the commission for bringing them a customer. (You may not see this happen; the cab driver will wait until you enter the building, then perhaps go around to the back door to collect.) You'll be asked to pay about a $50 cover charge (which more than likely goes straight to the cab driver) to get into the place. It may look very nice and luxurious inside and there may be many beautiful women lounging around in bikinis or lingerie. You'll sit down and order an expensive drink; one of the ladies will join you and may ask you to buy her an expensive drink. She might rub your leg or nibble on your neck and encourage you to pay her any amount of cash from $100 or $200 or more, promising you your wildest fantasy. What usually happens is either you cross the line of appropriate behavior at some point (since prostitution is ILLEGAL in Las Vegas) or you get nearly nothing for your money, so you start complaining and a big mean bouncer will fly out of the shadows and swiftly kick you out. Ask for a refund? Ha ha! Sucker!

Taxi drivers might also try to refer you to escort agencies. Some carry magazine-style advertisements and small business card ads (with enticing photos printed on them) which promise "girls to your hotel room for $99" or something similar. Most of these ads are similar to clip joints in that they operate under the assumption that you're a dumb tourist who thinks prostitution is legal in Las Vegas. Like the lines of people along the strip who pass out these ads to passers-by 24 hours a day, I'm sure some cab drivers get paid to hand out these ads to their fares. What normally happens, if you call the number on one of these ads, is that they will send a girl to your hotel room for around $99. (Prices vary from perhaps $59 to $199.) And... that's it. A girl (almost always NOT the one in the picture) shows up, collects the money (or you prepaid by credit card over the phone), and, that's it. If you want her to stay, that costs extra. She might ask $500 for a 10-minute strip show. Or, after 5 minutes, her driver might start pounding on the door, yelling that he's going to call the police. Or, shortly after you hand over some money, her cell phone rings and she suddenly has some major emergency and has to leave. Or she wants to go to the vending machine for a soda. Right. You'll never see her again.

The best advice: research your trip thoroughly online before you go, so you won't have to ask taxi drivers for advice.

Here's some more info about clip joints, from a reliable source, the Las Vegas Strip Club Review.

Travel tips & how to avoid taxi long hauling

Information about those sidewalk ads for escorts