Until a couple weeks ago, if you were a woman looking to watch naked men dance on stage and/or pay them to writhe on your lap, the only option in downtown Toronto would be to go to Remington's on Sunday night.
If you tried to show up any other night of the week, you'd be refused entry, a tradition carried over from the days when most gay bars were segregated by gender. However, the strip bar has decided to shake things up a bit, and now women are allowed any night of the week after 10 pm (the early hours are still men-only, in an effort to appease the segment of their client base who still don't want to mix with the fairer sex).
Talking to co-owner and manager Eric Rose as he shows of the recently renovated second floor, he explains that this change was long overdue.
"A lot of gay men have female friends, and I couldn't tell you how many times customers have been very distressed because they brought a girl and were refused entry. Now more than ever, I think it makes sense that women should not only be permitted, but catered to."
The queer scene is definitely much less segregated than ever before, especially when we look at the explosion of the west-end community. Sure, if you go to a boys bar in the village, it's still going to be mostly men, but head to the Beaver or a gay night at Wrongbar and you'll see dykes, twinks, transgendered folks, bears, bisexuals and breeders happily dancing alongside each other.
Of course there's also the other factor of women being increasingly comfortable on the customer side of the sex industry. It's no longer taboo for girls to enjoy porn, and stripping is so mainstream right now that no one bats an eye at the bizarre popularity of pole-dance classes as aerobics.
"I think there was always a market, and probably always will be, but for different reasons than why men come. Women in their day to day lives are constantly confronted with harassment and are sexually objectified, but here they can relax and objectify a guy if they want to, or just enjoy the male form unabashedly without any of the constrictions of society. The girls that come here really cut loose and are super excited to be here."
"In my experience, most of the women that come here just want to hang out with their friends, see some hot guys and be able to express their attraction to these dudes without the guys being all over them and gross about it. They can set their own limits and boundaries here."
Since they began this experiment, the response has been mainly favourable, although he admits many clients are bitter that it's taken this long, and there is still a small percentage who aren't comfortable with it. However, those opposed to hanging out with women at the peelers still have the early evening option, and on Friday and Saturday nights only the second floor is mixed.
"There's still that older clientele who might not want to be caught checking out dudes, and we still have to cater to them."
The club is also excited about some other changes, starting with a new scheme of running a legal after-hours party there on weekends, which will see them operating as a dance club for those that still have some energy left after last call. They'll be starting that up officially Halloween weekend, and promise that the music will be more along the lines of hipster Queen West vibes than the top-40 and circuit house that tends to dominate the village.
Coinciding with all of these changes is the announcement that they're joining the Adult Entertainment Association of Canada, and will be the first gay strip bar to do so.
"It's quite a step for us, because it's a boys club, and for them to welcome the southern dandy with open arms is something substantial." [rssbreak]