Emerald strip club owner bites back
THE titillating truth is business has never been better for an Emerald strip club thanks to State MP Vaughan Johnson's claim it degraded women.
The Fur Trappers Saloon Bar opened its doors two weeks ago and Star Hotel owner Andrew Ludlow said it was ironic that 60% of the first-nighters were women.
Both sexes have taken to social media to shoot down Mr Johnson's claims the venue was unwelcome in a "small, conservative, Christian country town" and exemplified "the degradation of the female body at its worst".
"Why is it okay to have touring male strippers, but when women want to work in the same fashion, it's not okay?" Mr Ludlow posed.
"These women work in an environment where they have security and constant camera surveillance as opposed to prior to regulation where under most circumstances they were alone and potentially working for an organised crime figure.
"These are very strong women who are unfazed by Mr Johnson's comments.
"They are performers, they are professionals and they are not prostitutes."
After his electorate office was inundated with calls this week, Mr Johnson yesterday stood his ground, saying "there's more people supporting me than there is supporting the bar".
"I'll let it travel and see how it goes for a month or so," he added.
Mr Ludlow said his patrons had pushed for a strip club ever since he introduced topless waitresses to the Clermont St venue.
He said it was nothing more than a business venture.
"And so far I'm overwhelmed by the reaction of patrons - it has far exceeded expectations," Mr Ludlow said.
"I have never shaken as many hands in my life and it is overwhelming," he said of the fallout.
"Maybe that taps into what people are feeling.
"Women of previous generations should be proud of these women and what they contributed to allow these women to pursue the careers they want to."
Mr Ludlow revealed his plans to turn the Star Hotel into Emerald's "centre of entertainment'' and further his investment in the town which has already passed $12 million.
He said he would submit an application to the Central Highlands council for a 700-person capacity nightclub in the Star's upper level, as well as a gym above the bottle shop.
"I also have had preliminary discussions with the council which were very well received for a seven-storey development of 144 studio apartments within the site," Mr Ludlow said.
"At the end of the day I am happy to sit down to debate Mr Johnson - my door is always open."
There were 16 single objections to the Fur Trappers Saloon Bar.
In the first eight nights of trading, more than 2100 patrons paid to enter the saloon bar.
In 2013, Mr Johnson voted with his LNP colleagues to extend adult entertainment permits from one year to three.
The nearest adult entertainment venue is Rockhampton's Zodiac club.