Friday, 23 April 2010
There's no stage at this strip club. No pole. Not even a bar. And the music comes from a boom box.
Welcome to Club Thunderbolt, the strangest place in the city to get a lap dance. It's located in the back room of an old house in an east side neighborhood of working class bungalows.
"Everybody in the neighborhood knows what I do," says Jay Thunderbolt, the 45-year-old club owner, homeowner, house mom and house DJ. "In the summertime you got all these girls leaving wearing four ounces of clothing, so they kind of get what's going on."
Thunderbolt, who stopped using his real name years ago, is a striking sight. He's 6 foot 5, has longish hair combed back, and he wears a black suit with a bulletproof vest underneath and a gun on his waist. His face droops on one side, the aftereffects of getting shot in the head, in a Detroit alley, when he was 11 years old.
"Before they [strippers and patrons] come over I tell everyone I'm real scary looking, so don't freak out," he says. Get past his looks, though, and he's droll and laid-back, with an acute sense of the club's absurdity.
Other than the girls, he's the only one who works here.
“I play everything — daddy, uncle, banker, provider of tanning,” he says. His empire is called Thunderbolt Entertainment, the umbrella name of the in-house and mobile stripper service. Twenty-four hours a day, any day, you can come to a show or a show can be brought to you. He says he’s open for business 24 hours a day, and will wake up at any hour to get the club going.
“There’s no cover charge. Customers can order different strippers out of the company catalog — a photo album full of seedy-looking Polaroids. Each page features one of his strippers in three poses — bent over, spread eagle and come hither. There are dozens of girls to choose from.”
“The club’s main room, at the back of the house, looks like a Northern Michigan lodge decorated in the 1970s. The walls are fake wood paneling. The aged carpet is greenish-brown. The seating is an old, thick, sectional couch. A single bed rests suggestively in a corner. An ancient stereo receiver and 8-track tape player sit on a table. A few shotgun shells are lined up along its edge, incongruously. A patron’s first visit is an eye-opener. “Usually everybody is shocked,” Thunderbolt says, “but I’ve been in AmVet halls smaller than this.”