JACKSONVILLE, Florida – It was supposed to be another night of sequins, pies, and biodegradable glitter – dancers care about the environment, too – but the coronavirus had other plans.
On Sunday, the location of Jacksonville’s Hamburger Mary on Beach Boulevard canceled its standing burlesque show “Mixin ‘with Vixens” for fear of the virus spreading. There weren’t enough seats.
“A lot of people are just scared of going out,” said Brittany Moore, the venue’s entertainment director. “There were a lot of rejections. But we are grateful to be open. “
The restaurant and venue will remain open for the time being, but with a limit of 50 people per show, a midnight curfew, and roadside pick-up options.
It is just one of many clubs and venues across the country whose artists have been hit by the virus – a trend that could be detrimental to the adult entertainment industry.
“When it comes to club dancers, tipping jobs are involved,” said Sunny Parker, founder of the Jacksonville punk rock burlesque troupe and former Jacksonville resident. “All of our events with burlesque performers are canceled. It really sucks. “
Parker’s observations are not isolated.
In Las Vegas, Crystal Martino, an exotic dancer, told Daily Mail that her income had dropped by $ 1,300 a night.
“I was raising about $ 2,000 a night from fear of the coronavirus,” Martino said. “Now I’m lucky if I make $ 300.”
In Jacksonville, restrictions have forced layoffs.
“It has seriously affected our business,” Tyler Douglas, the club manager at Wacko Gentlemen’s Club, told News4Jax. “It affects us, the dancers we have here. Nobody can make money “
It’s worth noting that exotic dancing – which inherently involves close contact and cash transactions – has been seen as one of the most dangerous tasks facing the service industry during the coronavirus era in publications like Texas Monthly.
“If I see that you are coughing or sneezing or it looks like you have breathing problems, there is no way I will come to you,” one dancer told the publication. “Some of the dancers may act it out and pretend they’re not worried about the coronavirus, but they’re all worried.”
Conversely, other strip clubs have tried to shed some light on the situation.
In Tampa, Déjà Vu Showgirls – with over 200 locations including one in Jacksonville – announced it would be giving away 10,000 face masks and 50,000 bottles of hand sanitizer to customers in March. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise people who are not sick not to use face masks.
Maybe these gimmicks work.
Before Mayor Lenny Curry and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis released tighter restrictions on bars and restaurants this week, Jacksonville’s strip clubs still seemed busy, with buzzing social media tags and pretty crowded parking lots.
Jacksonville Adult Club Gold Bar’s owner Michael Tomkovich was not immediately available for comment.
In New York, a strip club manager who passed away from Bob K. said the New York Post’s business was strong a little over a week ago.
“Our business has actually sped up as more locals and fewer tourists come out in the neighborhood,” said Bob, adding that there was plenty of hand sanitizer.
Since then, New York has seen an increase in COVID-19-related deaths – up to 22 and more than 3,000 cases. Bars were also completely closed.
″[In New York] All theaters and venues with a capacity over 500 have been closed, ”said Parker. “Most events across the country have been canceled or postponed. One of the cast of our troupe had a show tonight that was canceled and most of the burlesque cast calendars wiped out. “
But it’s not all bleak.
According to Parker, the shift in the service industry will force entertainers to put their platform online.
“I see a lot of artists doing online shows now and starting Patreons [a popular subscription service for artists] and OnlyFans accounts, ”said Parker. “This is also a great time for people to support artists by making commitments [subscription accounts] or buy their merch. “
Even Hamburger Mary’s in Jacksonville has introduced touchless tipping – using the Cash app – and live stream shows.
“We encourage tipping our entertainers and gift cards are available to support us,” said Moore.
“We need this support. We need people who are there for us, ”she added. “We’ve already survived two hurricanes – we’ve survived so much. We have been here for nine years and don’t want to close. “