(Note: This story appears in the March 2022 issue of ED Magazine)
Mark Bailey of The Library has seen a lot of change in his tenure owning and operating clubs in California but doesn’t seem to see the end in sight, even if his son is taking over the reins.
Mark Bailey left his manufacturing background in 1987 to open his first adult club, Captain Cream’s Tusslin’ Tootsie’s (later shortened to Captain Cream’s) in unincorporated El Toro in California’s Orange County.
When El Toro became the incorporated city of Lake Forest, Captain Cream’s was grandfathered, with its strip mall becoming the city’s entire adult entertainment zone. Since then, Bailey has owned, operated, and managed various clubs, including one at the invite of a sitting mayor, and now partners with his son David with The Library club chain.
ED Magazine’s Larry Kaplan conversation with the senior Bailey covers Mark’s career, including an ongoing project, and how he brought his son into the family business.
ED: What were the other clubs were like in the OC back then?
MARK: Everything was pretty much a level playing field. It was easier to do business back then. Drinks were relatively inexpensive, and everybody had fun. When I opened Captain Cream’s, there were a few clubs around, but we had most of Orange County and developed a national reputation because of the quality of the girls. It was an itty-bitty club, only 5,200 square feet, but we did huge numbers. We were Budweiser’s largest OC on-premise account.
It was your local strip joint, pretty basic with no LED lights, flat-screen TVs, or extensive DJ equipment. However, the staff and the girls stood out. Everybody had great personalities, and we made regulars out of most of southern Orange County.
ED: In 1990, you opened Bailey’s 20/20 in Century City, considered the first upscale club in southern California.
MARK: My ex-wife Connie and I spent two weeks visiting gentlemen’s clubs in Houston and Dallas, and I modeled 20/20 after them. They were all much nicer than anything in California back then. We were opening a 17,000 square-foot venue that had been a Playboy Club, so we had to do something extraordinary to satisfy people in that area. Century City is the financial district of west LA.
We had multiple stages, bars, and pool tables. We had a 150-person-capacity room where Rodney Dangerfield used to perform. I put in a male show, calling it Bad Boys of Bailey’s. We did well with that Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. My daughter had a blast managing the show.
This business is all about getting the right people. You need the right security people, the right bartenders. Our people each have a following. Guys come to see the bartenders or their favorite waitresses. And it’s all about attitude. Our security guys aren’t big, brutal guys who will beat you up after looking at them sideways. We train everybody on what they can and can’t do. There’s no gray area. It’s simply do this, don’t do that. — Mark Bailey
ED: Anybody I know that has male and female clubs tells me that the women are much rowdier customers than men. Was that your experience?
MARK: The women wouldn’t follow any rules. We wound up throwing women out every single night. It was chaos.
ED: What was your next club?
MARK: I next opened a club in Cabo San Lucas. After that, I was invited to open an adult club by Keith Hightower, then Shreveport, Louisiana’s mayor. Hightower was fishing in Cabo. He visited my club with friends and enjoyed himself. Shreveport was developing an entertainment district near their riverboat casinos. The mayor called and invited me to Shreveport. I was wary, but he was very nice. Shreveport had no adult ordinance, and he asked me to write one. That’s like putting the fox in the henhouse. I had a Shreveport attorney draft it, allowing nudity with alcohol, contact, and prohibiting other clubs within 2,000 feet, which kept future competitors completely outside the entertainment district! I had that club for about three years until Connie and I broke up.
ED: What are some of the changes you’ve seen in the years since you started in the business?
MARK: It’s gotten way more litigious and with tighter regulation. And more high-tech. But the shows are pretty much the same. It’s still good-looking women and alcohol.
ED: Have the customers, entertainers and workers changed much?
MARK: The customers have gotten younger. They’re still buying as many drinks, though bottle service has gotten much bigger. When I started, the ABC didn’t allow bottle service. You could only serve two drinks at a time. Over the years, they’ve eased up. I don’t think the laws have ever changed. They just don’t enforce it.
ED: You built Captain Cream’s and all your early clubs from scratch. Is that something you’d consider doing again today?
MARK: I’m actually in the process of building a club in west LA now. I always wanted to get back there, and it’s tough to find a place that meets all the city’s distance requirements and zoning. It’s right near the studios.
ED: Do you have any guiding principles that you consider instrumental to your success?
MARK: This business is all about getting the right people. You need the right security people, the right bartenders. Our people each have a following. Guys come to see the bartenders or their favorite waitresses. And it’s all about attitude. Our security guys aren’t big, brutal guys who will beat you up after looking at them sideways. We train everybody on what they can and can’t do. There’s no gray area. It’s simply do this, don’t do that.
ED: Can you talk about your community involvement?
MARK: I’m currently on the board of a 501(c)(3) pet rescue in San Pedro: Pedro Pet Pals. We donate a lot of money to them. Over the years, we’ve gotten involved with several community things. We raised money and organized volunteers to prevent a huge, unfinished house from being torn down by completing construction, the Irvine Castle.
ED: Is it harder today for adult clubs to support charities and community groups?
MARK: Yes. We raffled off two motorcycles a while ago. We raised about $25,000-$30,000 for Orange County Children’s Hospital. Unfortunately, before we could present the check, I got a letter from the hospital saying don’t use our name, we don’t accept strip club money. So I contacted Orange County Children’s Services. They were happy to take it.
ED: What have you learned working with your son David? What do you feel you’ve taught him?
MARK: David is very progressive. When he was 9, he handed out candy to the dancers in the dressing room. He grew up in the business, learning to appreciate women because that’s how we make our money. Neither of us drinks or plays in our own sandbox. David’s had the same girlfriend for 15 years.
While I believe if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, David’s thing is ambiance. He believes in changing it, keeping it fresh, and today that makes sense. We try to emulate the Vegas clubs. They’re much bigger, and they’ve sunk considerable money into those places. Everybody comments that our clubs are very Vegas-esque. We’ve done a lot with LEDs, TVs, and the sound, lighting, and furniture. And we keep remodeling.
ED: You work with the male review at your Anaheim The Library Club Saturday nights. Tell me about that.
MARK: The guys that own the male review worked for me in Century City. They’ve been performing their Men of Hollywood show for a long time. The male review generates a lot of traffic because there’s nothing like it between LA and San Diego.
ED: What are the advantages and disadvantages of working with family?
MARK: The disadvantage is sometimes you butt heads. We’ve got different opinions of how things should run. The advantage is that we watch out for each other. I’m at the point where I don’t mind taking the backseat, letting (David) drive.
Larry Kaplan has for 21 years been the Legal Correspondent for ED Publications. In addition, Mr. Kaplan is a business broker in the sale and purchase of adult nightclubs and adult retail stores and the Executive Director of the ACE of Michigan adult nightclub state trade association. Contact Larry Kaplan at 313-815-3311 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.