Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D) recently exchanged some friendly Twitter messages with Lynsie Lee, a stripper who works at Casa Diablo, a vegan strip club in Portland, Oregon.
The only interesting part of this story (original story here, NSFW) is that Portland has a vegan strip club. How did that happen?
Oregon has a regulatory environment that made the emergence of a vegan strip club essentially inevitable. It’s unusually easy to open a strip club. But if you want a liquor licence, you have to serve food.
In 2008, what’s now Casa Diablo was a vegan restaurant called Pirate’s Tavern. Johnny Diablo, the proprietor, told me he was stunned how difficult it is to get people to eat tofu even in vegan-friendly Portland.
So he had an idea: “I built a stage, I brought in some dancers.” Pirate’s Tavern became Casa Diablo, combining vegan food with naked women.
Fortunately for Johnny, Oregon has some of the country’s loosest regulations on strip clubs. In most states, municipalities have the power to limit where strip clubs can operate and what kind of shows they can offer. But in Oregon, you can open a strip club in most any commercially zoned location, featuring most any kind of show. Or you can take your existing restaurant, install a stage, and start having women take their clothes off.
It seems to have worked. Diablo claims his club is Portland’s busiest strip joint. He says bachelor party groups come from as far away as Vancouver, British Columbia to visit.
Even better, though customers come to see the women, he’s been getting them to eat vegan food while they’re there. “I couldn’t get them to try it until I brought in the women.”
In most places, if you were a vegan and wanted to go into the strip club business, you could simply not serve food at all. That’s not an option in Oregon: Any establishment with a full liquor licence must serve food.
As a result, Portland likely has the country’s widest variety of strip club cuisine. Last month, Willamette Week ran a guide to the best steaks at Portland strip clubs. With a club for every 10,000 residents (apparently the highest concentration of strip clubs per capita among America’s 50 largest cities) and all of them having to serve food if they want to serve liquor, it’s no surprise that there’s enough demand to support at least one vegan strip club.
Or maybe two. Diablo says he’ll be opening another location, called Johnny Diablo’s Black Cauldron, in October.
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