Exotic dancers sue strip club for worker exploitation

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Attorney Mari Newman acknowledges that "exploitation of dancers is not unique" to Fantasy Gentlemen's Club, which launched three years ago and is currently the only operation of its type in Grand Junction, "but they have a few particularly bad practices that make them stand out."

Hence, the lawsuit, on view below in its entirety, which was filed in U.S. District Court under the names of four women who've worked at Fantasy: Allison Stebbing, Jamie Tencza, Michelle Cross and Jessica Mason.

The women weren't classified as employees of Fantasy. Rather, they were listed — improperly, in Newman's view — as independent contractors. Eardley explained the process to Grand Junction's KREX-TV like so: "Well, you sign a lease contract saying you're a tenant — so you're leasing space from the club to work. You come in and pay your house fee — that varies on what night you come in — and then you get to keep your tips on anything above that."

Newman's response? "They say the relationship between the dancers and the club is like a hairdresser who leases space to work in a salon. But that's not what the relationship is, because of the degree of control the club asserts over them. If they were truly independent contractors, they could come and go as they please; they wouldn't be charged for switching their shifts — and they certainly wouldn't be be required to pay the other employees."

As Newman explains, "dancers have to pay fees to work, and those fees come in two forms: a stage fee, which is up to $80 for each shift, and then fees to dance in the private rooms. And they don't receive a salary. They are paid exclusively by patron tips, but they're not allowed to keep all of those tips. Instead, the club forces them to share a portion of the tips to the DJs and bouncers. So effectively, the club is using the dancer's tips to pay part of other workers' salaries."

Here's a photo from the suit showing posted house rates....

...and another image noting a required 7 percent cut for DJs and security, respectively. The note also includes behavioral do's and don'ts such as "NO CONTACT WITH PATRONS AT ANYTIME!!!," "NO touching your breasts, nipples, butt, or vagina," "NO simulating masturbation," "NO licking your nipples. NO touching or crotch diving of any patrons at any time," and more: Another photo shows the rates for the private "champagne" rooms, and the club's piece of the action: And then there are the fines, which strike Newman as unreasonable in the extreme. Continue for more about the exotic dancers' claims against Fantasy Gentlemen's Club, including more photos, a video and the complete lawsuit.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts