There was a time, when I was about 15, that my uncle thought it would be funny to get me inside a strip club by using a marker to paint on a goatee. For a moment I was game. I grew up in an area with lots and lots of strip clubs and was always wondering about the sexual excess that was possible behind the bouncer and the darkened glass doors.
One night I considered going through with the ruse outside of Cinderella’s, but somehow talked my uncle out of it. Yes, it was scary. Years later, I would reconcile that timid attempt and become something of a regular at spots that featured dancing ladies in various states of undress. Never a lap dance for free, unfortunately. It becomes harder to explain to yourself emptying your wallet on lap dances and buying drinks for ladies in G-strings the older you get.
But getting dudes to part with their cash and pay for dry-humping are just minor parts of why strip clubs are so important. Of course, hitting an adult entertainment establishment is pointless if you’re broke. And Jay-Z gives those retired from the strip-club scene something to ponder when he says, “You wanna know what's more important than throwin' away money at a strip club? Credit,” on the 4:44 cut “Story of O.J.”
Still, strip clubs are important on so many levels to entertainment culture at large when you take a deeper peek. They remain a place for aspiring performers and sometimes journalists to earn a living and support themselves.
A more important aspect of strip clubs, especially in Houston, where they are sometimes embattled icons, is that they are a place for people to connect with music.
“Two decades ago, strip clubs were among the few places that would play the nastiest Southern rap records. As Southern rap went mainstream, the connection between club deejays and musicians has only grown stronger,” wrote the L.A. Times in 2009 about Atlanta’s hip-hop/strip-club connection. Houston, along with the ATL and Las Vegas and Portland, is one of the few national capitals of nude stage dancing and rainmaking, and that anecdote above is hardly any different.
Just ask Mr. Wired Up. He’s a well-known H-town rap artist and resident DJ at Club Onyx, which if you didn’t know by now is one of the Top 5 places in the city to get your strip-club rocks off.
“Strip clubs have become a major role in the music scene," he says. "A lot more music has a chance to be heard compared to hearing just the hook of the song in the regular club."
He’s considered one of the go-to guys to help spread a new song to the masses.
“I broke a lot of artists in the strip club, which made them gravitate more toward bringing new music out to be heard more.”
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As a rapper, Mr. Wired Up has also benefited from how strip clubs have been simpatico with underground rap. What’s more, he actually makes music that’s almost exclusive to the vibe of strip clubs. Take for example his recent cut “Walked In,” which he says is supposed to describe the feeling of walking into a venue feeling “like 100.” It’s a record about having cash and looking good, and talks about “being in the strip club feeling like the man.”
“Having my music played in the strip club has been a very important part of my career as an artist,” Mr. Wired Up says. “I started out first focused on the music clubs and was rarely in the strip club.”
However, being in control of what plays as dancers take the stage is likely the most important part of his career money-wise, Mr. Wired Up admits. “I like being a [rap] artist a little more, but I cash out more as a DJ.”