So my wife and baby Maxine went out of town to visit the in-laws over the weekend, leaving me little choice but to do some investigative reporting.
You see, I wanted to know if it is possible to spend $28 grand in one night at a strip club. Hey, it's a dirty job, but somebody's got to do it right?
I can't wait to submit this expense report.
If you haven't already heard, an insurance executive is suing a Manhattan strip club for allegedly overcharging his American Express card by $26,000. The exec, Mitchell Blaser, (search ) CFO of Swiss Re, says he recalls spending only $2,000 (gee, just two grand? I could take my family on a five-day Carnival cruise with that kind of cash — he must be in the Queen Mary II tax bracket). The club, Howard Stern's (search) favorite mammary mecca — Scores — says he "partied like a rock star" and ran up a tab on expensive champagne, lap dances and dinner.
Haven't these high-paid execs learned their lesson by now? I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with going to a strip club. For the most part they're harmless fun, whether you agree with the whole premise or not. I've been to plenty of them myself, including Scores — which I lived a block away from for several years — but in these corporate-accounting-scandal-ridden times, better judgment by no less than a chief financial officer should be in order.
I doubt very much Swiss Re is at all happy with this kind of publicity.
Look, anybody who has been to any "gentlemen's" club knows they're going to spend a lot of money, even before they step foot in the door.
There's a cover charge, usually $20 or more, just to get in. And then there's the coat check, which most of these clubs force patrons to use, at a cost of $5 per item, plus tip. Then there's the alcohol markup, usually 1,000 percent. A Bud will cost you about ten bucks and a mixed drink, like Jack Daniels and Coke, might run you $15 or more. Champagne is the most expensive, with bottles ranging from $250 to $6,500.
And then there's the "lap" dance. Depending on where you are, that can be anything from a bikini-clad dancer wiggling her assets two feet in front of you, or in places that don't serve alcohol, a naked one jiggling a little closer. That'll run you $20 bucks per song. Considering each song runs an average of three minutes, that means stripping could pay about $400 per hour, presuming the dancer gets to keep all of it.
Not bad work if you can get it.
I once did a "FOX Magazine" story on the whole strip club industry so I called Eric Langan, the owner of Houston-based Rick's Cabaret -- whom I interviewed for that piece -- and asked him if it's possible to drop 28K in one night.
"It can be done," Langan said, adding he once had a guy drop $100,000 in a month at one of his clubs.
"He was in every day, and he partied a lot," Langan said.
But he says his clubs use thumbprints and multiple receipts on big tabs. "On a $5,000 tab, he would have signed 15 different slips, because of this kind of stuff. They go in and they party and then say 'oh, I didn't do that,'" he said. "But in most cases, yes they did."
So, if you're thinking about entertaining some clients or having a bachelor party at the local strip club, think of them like casinos. Don't go, unless you can afford to lose, and leave the credit and ATM cards at home.
I don't know what Blaser is thinking by bringing Scores to court. The incident has already cost him and his employer a heck of a lot more than 28 grand in spin control and lawyers' fees. Even if he is right and the club padded his bill, he's not going to change anything by winning on principle. Strip clubs aren't going to change a thing. In fact, in their world, any publicity is good publicity.
What an idiot.
By the way, I'm just kidding about the assignment. First, Fox News would never cover my expenses for such a silly story, and second, I'm not as free-spending as some over-paid expense account-happy CFO either.
'Bares' Repeating ... Grrr!
Since we're on the subject of strippers, unless your young daughter is aspiring to be one, what are they doing wearing skimpy clothing in public? I've Grrr'd this before, but it bears repeating that words like "Juicy," "Sexy" and "Slut" have no place on clothes worn by any child under the age of 18, even if they do look like Lindsay Lohan. Ditto the "Daisy Duke" shorts and the braless tank top look that is sweeping the malls from coast to coast. I don't get it, really. Where are the parents of these kids?
But the dress-less code isn't limited to the kids who don't-know-but-should-know better, or are trying to look like their favorite MTV pop tart.
It's intern season and that means college coeds will be spending their summers as corporate gofers, receptionists and, in our business, production assistants. Someone should pass along to them the news that there's this invention called Air Conditioning. What it does is, it cools off the interior of the buildings where most corporations conduct business, and it's usually working overtime to keep the office quite chilly. Therefore, a sweater is probably more in order for the summer months, than say, the flip-flops, mini skirts and tank tops that have become standard intern issue. I know it's difficult for this generation to act and appear professional and businesslike, but this newfangled air conditioning thing just might do the trick.
'Shrek' Wrecks the Competition ... Grrr!
So "Shrek II" scared off the competition at the weekend box office and raked in over $100 million in its opening five days. Well, no duh. At most theaters, "Shrek II" was all you could see. The film monopolized more than half the screens at many big theaters.
I don't know about you, but I avoid the movies during most big-kid-film opening weekends. Too many screaming kids and deaf, blind and mute parents for my liking.
Why is it that every celebrity who has a child or a grandchild or a niece or a nephew all of a sudden has to use their celebrity to get a children's book published? I mean, come on! From Madonna (I'm still trying to figure that one out) to Billy Crystal, and now Billy Joel, these folks -- who wouldn't be able to get a book published except for the fact that they already have followings -- have to add the "author" title to their long lists of accomplishments. It's not enough to be a millionaire, or an award-winning comedian or musician or whatever. And all the sycophants will nod to them and yes them and tell them their fans couldn't live another day without this book.
You know, Grrr! on me. I'm sorry, it just occurred to me that I've been waiting for Billy Joel to write a book that I could read to baby Maxine. Duh! Of course I am.
Satellite Radio ... Grrr!
I'm big on satellite radio. I think consumers should have the option to pay for a service that delivers exactly what they want, commercial free. What I don't understand is that car manufacturers are now including satellite radio in new models. Do you know who the biggest advertisers on local radio tend to be? Yup, car dealers. So, essentially, by offering satellite radio to new car customers, they're guaranteeing that customer will never hear one of their radio ads ever again. I guess they assume everybody reads the newspaper or watches local TV news (yes, new cars still come with FM and AM radio too -- but Grrr! anyway).
Now For Your Grrrs
Loyd Dill of Nashville, Tenn., writes: Thank you, thank you, thank you for addressing the issue of pre-teens and teens wearing skimpy clothes with "juciy," "sexy" and other such slogans written across their butts and busts. I've pointed this out to my wife on several occasions and remarked how, if we had a daughter that age, that regardless of current youth-oriented fashion trends, I wouldn't allow our child to leave the house wearing such things. Children need to enjoy the too-short-lived innocence of youth, and not present themselves as "prosti-tots." These same "oblivion" (to borrow your word) parents who allow their kids to wear such clothes would probably plead total shock and ignorance should their baby came home pregnant or worse. Parents, it's your duty to guide and protect your children. Don't set them up for a bad situation.
Paul Stuevens in CyberSpace: The Oblivion tribe is well represented where I live, and one of their favorite rituals is the garage sale. When there is a garage sale going on, all traffic laws and common sense are suspended for the duration of the sale. I have personally observed the Oblivions' Saturday morning behavior. I have witnessed elderly oblivions of both genders stop their cars in the middle of the road to rubberneck the merchandise in the driveway, park in neighbors' driveways, block other's driveways, park along the curb on both sides of the road, barely leaving room to pass between them, fling open their doors and stride across the road without giving a thought to the potential for an automobile-pedestrian interface incident. At that point, nothing matters but the $10 exercycle, which they will sell next year in their sale after employing it as a clothes rack. A capital "G" followed by numerour "r's" to them all!
Amelia Ross in Mobile, Ala., writes: I am so sick and tired of everyone blaming the restaurant industry for America's obesity problem. In this day and age of vastly available information on health and nutrition, not to mention having plain old common sense, it should be fairly obvious to any moron that fast food is not healthy. No one is forcing us to stuff ourselves with hamburgers and French fries.
Tammy C. in Manteca, Calif., writes... My grrr is to the old lady at McDonald's last night who snapped at me because my 1 1/2 year-old got so excited to be getting French fries that she squeeled in her little girl way and yelled "Ky Ky's." I just wanted to kick her. Then later, when I was dumping the tray of garbage, she snapped at me because the baby was running towards me (while my 13 year old daughter was right behind her). She said "She is running away!" I told her in a stern voice "She is fine!"
Look people, if you do not want to be bothered by screaming children either excited about their Ky Ky's or upset because they can't have a McFlurry, don't go to McDonalds. Go to one of the smaller cafe type places, where it is less likely that kids will be running around. McDonald's whole purpose is to provide a fun place for KIDS to eat. Not that I condone temper tantrums in any public place (heck I don't condone them at home), but the fact of the matter is that kids are not quiet. Especially a 1 1/2 year-old little girl who loves her Ky Ky's.
Tracy in Mililani, Hawaii, writes: After reading the article about Madonna's "Re-invention Tour," I had to Grrr. She'll have "scantily clad pregnant women, plenty of lesbian love, and the sounds of bombs dropping and a video montage of troops battling in Iraq." I am so sick of celebrities who claim that they're expressing themselves when they do these sexually explicit shows. At the same time, I have to Grrr when they also say they are "speaking out" against the government and the war in Iraq. Where did Madonna get her political science degree?
-- Tracy, while I agree with the whole celeb-as-activist Grrr!, one doesn't need a political science degree to speak out. Heck, isn't poly-sci one of those degrees for scholarship athletes who never show up to class? Oh, sorry, that's communications.
Lauren R. in New York City writes: Hi Mike, I read your column religiously! I'd love to add a GRR of my own: A.M. New York, the free "news"paper that's handed out in New York City each day. My GRR is two fold. First, the people who hand them out and insist on standing in the middle of the busy sidewalk or in the entry to the subway at rush hour and thrust them at me each morning, usually hitting me with their arm in the process. Second, the people who read this paper and rely on it as a viable news source. People, you get what you pay for.
Kristy in Birmingham, Ala., writes: ...Last year I weighed over 300 lbs and with the help of gastric bypass, which you know cheapens your weight loss somehow, Grr, have lost over 168 pounds. I appreciate those people who compliment me but there are those few who feel the need to tell me NOT to lose anymore weight. I often times want to respond with, "well when I was putting weight on you didn’t say you need to stop getting fatter."
Brad P. in CyberSpace writes: The sign reads, "HANDICAPPED PARKING ONLY," NOT "HANDICAPPED and OBESE PARKING" or "HANDICAPPED and PEOPLE WEARING HIGH HEELS AND NICE CLOTHES PARKING," nor does it say, "LAZY PEOPLE IN A HURRY PARKING." We're all in a hurry now-a-days. You do not have special permission to park where you please. The "FIRE LANE" is there in case of an emergency, NOT in case you are running late or don't feel like walking an extra 30 feet. Please don't bother to look around to see if you're getting away with it. Whether you get a ticket or not, you are lazy and ignorant. No, I'm not handicapped, but I do park where I'm supposed too. Grrrrrr!
Shann K. in San Angelo, Texas, writes: Grrrr! for George W. getting blamed for EVERY horrendous thing that happens in the world today!
Allen B. in CyberSpace writes: I like reading your column, but I think the term "Oblivion" is too mild for its intended purpose. How about changing it to "Obliviot"?
-- Allen, while Obliviot is a good word, it's too mean. But I'll consider using it under special conditions. Madonna might be a good candidate. Or anyone who buys her silly children's books.
Stephanie Mouzon in CyberSpace writes: Hey, you know what my GRRRR is? It is that you never put my GRRRRR in your column you idiot!
-- Hey Allen ... there's one for you.
Rachel Stroman in Houston, Texas, writes: My Grrr! is with your column -- you don't show enough pictures of baby Maxine. What a cutie!
-- Rachel, since you insist, I put one up in the right console. I can't help but be the proud papa!
Wes in CyberSpace writes: I read your Grrr article about La Toya London who really shouldn't compete in American Idol because of her professional status or professional abilities. It seems Idol should be about people like Clay Aiken, who are not working as lounge singers already, but of course Simon points them out if they are anyway. This is the same problem that we have in the Olympics. We have these "amateurs" who are professionals in sheeps clothing. As good as Lance Armstrong and Marion Jones are, I would much rather see some unknown farm boy come out and ride his bike or some unknown intercity up-and-comer run the 200 meters. Even if that means the U.S. can't win every event. Oh well. I would rather match up a farm boy against Europe's best any day. Now that is an inspirational story for Bob Costas.
-- Bob Costas? Now there's a whole Grrr! column on its own. The best thing that happened to Bob Costas' career is NBC lost all the sports he likes to announce. Talk about a guy who loves the sound of his own voice. I dread the upcoming Olympics.
Stupid Lit'l Dreamers
Speaking of the Olympics, Kevin Padilla (search) gets this week's SLD mention. He's a former U.S. Olympic Tae Kwon Do team member and a martial arts instructor who is coaching the Tae Kwon Do team at next month's Titan Games (search) in Atlanta, Ga. The Titans is a primer event to the summer Olympics, sort of like the Golden Globes are to the Academy Awards. Padilla prides himself not only on his athletic prowess on the mat, but also his guidance and leadership skills. Several of his students have received full scholarships to college and have won national fighting championships of their own, and Padilla's more proud of that than of his own medals.
Cutting Room Floor
Check out my "FOX Magazine" piece on streaming media on the Internet. It features Bert Solivan, our boss here at Foxnews.com.
Until next week, Grrrrrrrrrr!
Mike Straka is the Director of Operations and Special Projects for FOXNews.com, and contributes as a features reporter and producer on "FOX Magazine" & "Sunday Best." As an actor, Straka appeared in the film "Analyze This," co-starred in the Off-Broadway hit "Tony n' Tina's Wedding," and has appeared in various TV commercials and programs.