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ED PUBLICATIONS

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The 25th Annual Gentlemen’s Club EXPO will be held from August 27–30 at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

Presented by ED Publications, the tradeshow previously known as the Gentlemen’s Club Owners EXPO, showcases companies that offer products and services to club owners and operators. The three-day event also features: a full slate of workshops and panel sessions, nightly parties, feature entertainer showcases, a national board meeting for ACE (the Association of Club Executives); and the Annual Adult Nightclub & Exotic Dancer Awards Show better known as (The ED’s Awards), which is the only national awards show for this industry.

The very first convention was held at the old Stardust Hotel and Casino in 1993, and today the EXPO remains the only national conference and awards show for the multi-billion-dollar adult nightclub industry.

Keeping one’s finger on the pulse of an industry as exciting and diverse as this one is no easy task. But somebody’s got to do it, and for a quarter of a century, nobody has done it better than the ED Publications team.

STRIPLV recently spoke with Dave Manack, the associate publisher and editor of ED Publications and the organizer of the Annual Gentlemen’s Club EXPO, about how ED got started, how the club industry has changed over the years, how the convention has evolved since its first year and what he thinks might be in store for adult night clubs in the near future.

STRIPLV: How many people work on the magazine each month?

MANACK: We’re a small company. There are only eight people in the office here at ED Publications. Regarding the people that work on the magazines, we have two in editorial (myself and my assistant editor, Eugenio Torrens), one in graphics (Sara Carter), and two in marketing/sales (Lacy Empkey and Kristofer Kay).

STRIPLV: So, what were you and publisher Don Waitt doing before you got into the publishing business?

MANACK: Don has a long history as a journalist. He was a staff reporter for The Times, a daily newspaper in Shreveport, Louisiana. He then became the publisher of Performance magazine, a national business-to-business trade magazine for the concert touring industry. Don started ED – Exotic Dancer – Publications in 1991, while he still worked for Performance. I began my career as a journalist when I was 18. While I was getting my bachelor’s degree in journalism from Southern Connecticut State University, I worked as a sports writer for the Register-Citizen, a daily newspaper in Northwest Connecticut. I also worked as a freelance music journalist and wrote for national and local music magazines across the country. I was hired at ED Publications in 1998.

STRIPLV: Just how did the idea of the magazine come about?

MANACK: Don was always on the road for work, and when he went into new cities he had no idea how to find strip clubs. Keep in mind, this was the 1980s. The proverbial light bulb went off. There is a need for a “yellow pages” for strip clubs. He started the exhaustive work of finding every adult nightclub in the U.S. as he prepared the first-ever Exotic Dancer Directory, which attempted to list every adult club in the U.S. That publication came out in 1991. Our bi-monthly business magazine – which only goes to the owners and operators of adult nightclubs and industry pros, and does not go to consumers – wasn’t established until 1996. At that time, it was quarterly; it became bi-monthly in 2000. It was called the Club Bulletin but is now called ED Magazine. We just made that name change in our May 2017 issue. Our magazine is designed to give club owners and operators the information and tips they need to operate their establishments more efficiently, more safely and more profitably.

STRIPLV: Was the magazine well received in the beginning or was there push back?

MANACK: It was just a directory of clubs at the time, so there really was no push back. But it was extremely well received, and thousands of copies were purchased 

by fans each year for the first several years of publication. That is until the internet took over when it came to customers finding their favorite strip clubs.

STRIPLV: When did the idea of the convention come about?

MANACK: The directory caught the attention of Michael J. Peter, who was then the most well-known owner/operator of adult clubs in the U.S. For those not familiar with Michael, he is the forefather of the modern gentlemen’s club; the guy who started Thee Dollhouse, Solid Gold, etc., and of course, our publisher, Don, got to know Michael in the process. Michael was having a national dance contest in Las Vegas at the now-defunct Stardust in 1993. Don told Michael he wanted to produce a small tradeshow and some panel sessions during the day, while his contest took place at night. Michael had no issue with that, so Don did exactly that. That’s how the first Gentlemen’s Club EXPO – then called the Gentlemen’s Club Owners EXPO – was born.

STRIPLV: How hard was it to put that first convention together and were people willing to participate?

MANACK: Well, adult nightclub owners are a skeptical bunch, so it took a while before they: A) heard about this national convention, and B) trusted that it was run by people who understood the industry. Once they saw that it was a professionally produced event and that it featured the key players in the industry – along with a score of attractive, nationally touring showgirls, or as we call them, “feature” entertainers – they started attending. Every year, the number grew, right up through the turn of the century.

STRIPLV: How many people came to the first convention and how many attend now? 

MANACK: Only a few hundred people came to the first convention in 1993 at the Stardust. We’ve had over 2,000 attendees consistently since the late 1990s.

STRIPLV: How has the adult nightclub industry changed over the years?

MANACK: The adult nightclub industry changed dramatically in the early to mid-1990s, as the old-school strip clubs were replaced by the high-end gentlemen’s clubs, with girls in gowns and guys in tuxedos; a movement launched mainly by Michael J. Peter. As for how it’s changed recently, some change has been for the better; some has been for the worse. In some ways, adult nightclubs are more mainstream than they’ve ever been, attracting scores of female customers. We have a publicly traded club chain in Rick’s Cabaret/RCI Hospitality. In 1999, we helped to start ACE, the Association of Club Executives, the national lobbying and organizational entity for this industry. ACE has proven to be a powerful organization for defending the adult nightclub industry against harmful legislation against it. So those are the positives. Unfortunately, there are too many bad operators in this industry that hurt the perception of the industry at large. Too many guys buy a club because they want to make it their personal playground; they don’t run it properly as a business. That hurts everyone. Of course, the legal challenges are always changing.

STRIPLV: What about the future of adult nightclubs? Are you seeing any trends that indicate changes are coming?

MANACK: I think the biggest change for the clubs right now, or rather the biggest challenge, is how are they going to market their club to millennials and centennials? The clubs have to make sure new customers are constantly coming in through the front door. They can no longer rely solely on the 40-year-old male because eventually the numbers dry up and fall off. In several cities, some adult nightclubs are targeting couples as opposed to just men, and some clubs are targeting younger patrons by mixing in dance and live music. But we’re not the only industry to face this challenge. Some very well-known restaurant chains are trying to figure out how best to market to millennials and centennials too. And they’re doing things like adjusting their menus and modernizing their dining rooms.

STRIPLV: As the adult nightclub industry has evolved over the years and continues to do so, has the convention changed as well?

MANACK: Well, it’s gotten bigger, of course. And we’ve gotten more corporate involvement over the years with sponsors like Anheuser-Busch, Diageo, Red Bull, Belvedere Vodka, major champagne companies, etc. We also introduced the industry’s only national awards show, the Annual Adult Nightclub & Exotic Dancer Awards Show (the ED’s), back in 1998. So this year marks 20 years of the industry’s only national awards show honoring clubs, touring feature entertainers and club staff. We try to change the show to adapt to the needs of the industry. A few years ago, we changed the name of the convention from the Gentlemen’s Club Owners EXPO to the Gentlemen’s Club EXPO, because we were attracting more than just owners. Now, we get a good amount of general managers, DJs, floor hosts, entertainers, even house moms, who come to the EXPO. It’s the industry’s convention; it’s not just for club owners.

STRIPLV: What’s the outlook for future conventions?

MANACK: The convention will continue to adapt to the needs of the industry. I see more and more club staff coming to the EXPO; I also see more clubs coming from places like Australia, England, etc. We already have that happening now; I just see more of it happening.

Expo
2017
Agenda

Sunday,
August
27

11 a.m. to 5 p.m.: EXPO Hospitality Lounge at Goose Island Pub

1 p.m. to 6 p.m.: EXPO Registration Desk Open

Noon to 8 p.m.: Exhibitor Setup

4 p.m. to 6 p.m.: ACE National Board Meeting

9 p.m. to Midnight: Pre-show Parties

Monday,
August
28

9 a.m. to 6 p.m.: Registration Desk Open

7 a.m. to Noon: Exhibitor Setup

11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.: Panel on smart Phones — The Future of Five-Inch Marketing

1 p.m. to 2 p.m.: Panel on Developing your Exit Strategy — NOW!

1 p.m. to 2 p.m.: Breakout Seminar — The Future of Your DJ Software

2 p.m. to 6 p.m.: Tradeshow Open

9 p.m. to Midnight: Opening Night Party, Early ED Awards at Hard Rock’s Vanity Nightclub

Tuesday,
August
29

9 a.m. to 6 p.m.: Registration Desk Open

10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.: Continental Breakfast

11 a.m. to Noon: Panel on Crisis Control — Remedies NOW for Future Events

Noon to 1 p.m.: Keynote Address by Professional Speaker Dan Lier Club: Owners are from Mars, Staffers are from Venus

1 p.m. to 5 p.m.: Tradeshow Open

8 p.m. to 9 p.m.: The ED Awards Reception at The Joint at the Hard Rock

9 p.m. to 11 p.m.: The ED Awards Show at The Joint at the Hard Rock

11 p.m. to 2 a.m.: Awards Show After-Party

Wednesday,
August
30

10 a.m. to 2 p.m.: Registration Desk Open

10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.: Continental Breakfast

11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.: Panel on Government Relationships You Need for Your Club’s Future

1 p.m. to 2 p.m.: Legal Panel on: The What, Why & How of Converting Dancers to Employees

1 p.m. to 2 p.m.: Breakout Seminar on How to Get The Most Out of Your Audio, Video and Stage Lighting

2 p.m. to 5 p.m.: Pool Party & Bikini Contest at the Hard Rock’s Breathe Pool

9 p.m. to Midnight: Closing Night Party & International Features Smackdown Showcase

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