Leila Navidi / las vegas sun file
Saturday, Dec. 19, 2009 | 2 a.m.
The strippermobile is no longer trolling the Strip for customers, but in a few weeks it will be going up and down Main Street, USA.
In early January, it will become a Vegas-born — and banned — business that took its show on the road.
“We’re going to have them swinging from coast to coast,” says Larry Beard, marketing guru for Déjà Vu.
The last and only time the vehicle rolled was November in Las Vegas, when bikini-clad strippers inside the truck’s Plexiglas-enclosed cargo area swung around a brass pole affixed to the middle of the truck bed.
Strippermobile Winter Tour 2010 will be filmed, and Beard hopes to have it broadcast on cable television. It might need to be on adult on-demand channels though, because the itinerary includes Portland, Ore. Beard says the decency laws there are lax, so the dancers will be nude during that stretch of the trip.
Asked if this might cause some upset, perhaps legal problems, Beard says: “We fully expect it will. Sure, we’ll get stopped — and that’s part of the show.”
Déjà Vu’s visually arresting advertising vehicle made international news when the club hauled high-heeled strippers up and down the Strip.
Outrage ensued. Saying they had no objection to the constitutionally protected rights of the club to advertise, Clark County commissioners nonetheless vowed to fight the strippermobile on the grounds it was unsafe for both the strippers and gawking drivers.
Wanting to be “a good corporate citizen” (and not wanting to jeopardize its application to get a liquor license), Déjà Vu parked the strippermobile after less than two weeks of late-night runs.
The club did not, however, let go of the idea. How could it? Beard said that in the 10 days that the strippermobile plied the Strip, business doubled at Déjà Vu and its other club, Little Darlings. Jay Leno cracked wise about the strippermobile during a monologue. The story had gone around the world. It might just be one of the greatest marketing ploys ever hatched.
So when plans for a different strip club to rent the strippermobile did not materialize, Beard had a brainstorm.
A national tour.
According to its Web site, Déjà Vu operates roughly 60 clubs in 15 states, including those under the Hustler brand, plus adult-oriented boutiques.
Beard came up with the idea of rolling strippers through all those states and getting it all on film via a documentary crew and a Webcam in the truck enabling the curious to pay to not only watch what goes on in the vehicle, but to communicate with the women inside.
“And on our travels, of course, we’ll get pictures of the girls alongside Mount Rushmore and other famous sites,” Beard says.
With three select strippers, Beard expects the truck to roll out of Las Vegas on Jan. 10, making its first stops in Southern California. That state has almost 20 Déjà Vu-operated strip clubs. The strippermobile will then go up the coast, lingering in Portland for some extra exposure.
“You can be naked up there on the street so long as you’re not aroused and not arousing anyone,” Beard contends.
A call to Portland’s government for its take on the legality of Beard’s idea went unanswered by late Friday.
In the 1980s, Oregon’s Court of Appeals ruled that being nude in public is a protected form of speech that can be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
After Portland, the strippermobile’s combination of free expression and business promotion is to roll on to Seattle, then to the Midwest — Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Michigan all have Déjà Vu clubs — on to New York City and Times Square, down to Maryland, over to Kentucky and Tennessee, down to Florida for spring break and over to Louisiana — for Mardi Gras, of course. Then the itinerary takes the crew to Colorado before the prodigal truck comes home to Las Vegas in the spring.
Told of Beard’s plans, County Commissioner Steve Sisolak, who last month vowed to keep the strippermobile off Las Vegas streets for safety reasons, couldn’t help but laugh.
“What can I say? Wow. I’m sure it’s going to draw a lot of attention. Amazing, just amazing.”
A UNLV sociologist who studies the sex industry doesn’t see the movement of the strippermobile outside of Las Vegas as a sign that other locales are more accepting. After all, they haven’t experienced it, yet.
Sociologist Barb Brents expects the vehicle will get the same reaction in Los Angeles or Michigan as it did here.
“There will be people who say it’s the greatest thing they’ve ever seen in their life, and I believe standards and mores are changing so some will be genuinely excited and pleasantly amused,” she says. “Then there will be the churchgoing set who don’t want to see semi-clothed women going up and down the street.”