Heard Penthouse Media Group planned to open some kind of high-end “gentlemen’s club” near the Nishi Hongwangji Buddhist Temple in L.A.’s Little Tokyo last fall. Predictably, Japanese American community groups rose as one to express their outrage. I, Yellowkid, relaxed a bit.
After all, Japanese Americans are the group that fought for and won redress and reparations from the federal government, right? They’d surely be able to keep a sleazy “gentlemen’s club” from defiling our sacred J-Town. No problem.
Not set for a protracted battle, Penthouse Corp. suddenly pulled a cut and run maneuver out of the deal last year and took its high-falutin’ Penthouse brand and “VIP clientèle” to another ‘hood, but what came in Penthouse’s place may prove 1000% worse.
Instead of a non-obtrusive, Penthouse Gentlemen’s Club with its subtle signage and below-the-radar persona what has come to L.A.’s cultural Nihonmachi instead is the Mohammad Ahmadi/SP Star Enterprises-owned Little Tokyo Showgirls, a full-blown nude strip club with sticky poles, topless lap dances, sofa dances, nude lap dances.
I, Yellowkid, broke out my reporter’s notepad and headed for Little Tokyo Showgirls to investigate. Parked the company M3 in the club’s covered parking lot and went inside around 11 p.m. on a Thursday night.
Dead on arrival.
Inside, Showgirls doesn’t seem as sleazy as it does from outside. It’s about the same as any strip club in the Valley, fancy computerized lights, thumping sound system. Think Spearmint Rhino. Think a lot of Prince.
Two or three bored looking, not too attractive dancers—not an Asian girl to be seen—were going through the motions to canned rock. “Jay” was behind the counter, multitasking as ticket taker, non-alcoholic beverage dispenser, DJ. “Once we win our lawsuit against Little Tokyo, we’ll get our liquor license back.”
Dancer “Britny” tried to sell me a lap dance. As if reading from a script she ran down the price points—topless $20, nude $40 and three-song “VIP” $120. BTW, songs run about 3 minutes each. That’s right. Yellowkid always carries a stopwatch for this kind of investigative reporting.
I, Yellowkid, declined the private dance, finished my over-priced Coca-Cola and left.
Blasting back to Epicanthus Studios afterward, I, Yellowkid, concluded that Little Tokyo Showgirls/”Geisha Girls of Little Tokyo” is a joint that could be out of business by the end of the year.
But how, I, Yellowkid, wondered: Couldn’t the good folks of Little Tokyo have blocked any kind of nude- or semi-nude club altogether based on its proximity to a Buddhist temple? Nobody asked me, but I’d keep an eye on the campaign contributions going to local officials from anyone affiliated with SP Star Enterprises.
All of this is not to say that Little Tokyo’s history is so pious pure. Part of J-Town’s secret past is that it was the pre-WWII home to the notorious Tokyo Club gambling hall and dozens of shady B-girl bars which served more than drinks. What I, Yellowkid, won’t tolerate is a J-Town strip club with no Asian girls dancing.
- Our Topless Story, Viewfromaloft
- Little Tokyo Strip Club Opens Its Doors, Rafu Shimpo
- J-Town Revs Up to Fight Strip Club, Rafu Shimpo
- Showdown Over Showgirls, L.A. Downtown News
- Do Asian American Men Prefer Blonde Strippers? Rice&Times
- Little Tokyo Showgirls advertising