It's Thursday night at the dimly lit Financial District club Quest in New York City, and a 29-year-old male investment banker and a 22-year-old gallery girl in a short, tight sweater dress exchange flirtatious banter.
Her favorite artist is Picasso. He’s always had a fondness for the Midwest, where she grew up.
“You’re a good egg,” the banker says.
“You’re a good egg, too,” she responds with a coy smile.
They get another round, while dudes in crew-neck sweaters awkwardly linger by the bar, shelling out $18 a drink, and a group of girls dance by themselves in a circle to Rihanna’s “S&M,” some with plates of baked ziti in hand.
Fifteen minutes later, the young man finally musters the courage to ask her for a dance.
“Sure,” she says. “It’s $20 a song.”
He nods assent, and she grabs his hand and leads him to a back room. There, dozens of guys are seated thigh-to-thigh on three long rows of red banquettes, while nearly nude girls in their early 20s gyrate atop them, the men groping with wild abandon.
Welcome to Saint Venus Theater — a roving amateur strip club that caters mainly to young finance guys looking for a less tacky, more girl-next-door stripping experience.
Most of the girls — all between the ages of 18 and 26 — have “normal” jobs. Among the dozens who work at Saint Venus, one is a baby sitter, another is an intern at a fashion start-up and a third is an assistant at a Chelsea gallery.
Why do they do it?
They make $400-$1,000 a night.