Dino Palmiotto understands the business he’s in.
As the president and CEO of Exposé, a San Diego-based gentlemen’s club that took home “Feature Club of the Year” honors at the 2019 Gentlemen’s Club EXPO at Planet Hollywood, Palmiotto called the crowning achievement a “dream.”
“I believe in the feature performers, more than most owners in our industry,” says Palmiotto. “I remember a time when our industry was based on a show, not a couch dance. I have, with my team at Exposé, strived to bring the feature performers back to our industry and have successfully been booking 52 weeks a year. Our patrons at Exposé enjoy the shows, as well as the entertainers, who look at the feature performers as something to aspire to. A special thank you to Annie Lane and Natasha Nova for their support.”
In addition to operating a very successful gentlemen’s club, Palmiotto also owns and operates an innovative ATM product dubbed “Vault Logic,” a legacy ATM and a crypto ATM with the ability to both buy and sell Bitcoin and more. It’s also a point of sale (POS) system that ties into inventory management on the back end and takes cards, cash and crypto on the customer-facing front end, and it’s a product he’s proudly exhibited at the Annual Gentlemen’s Club Expo.
ED spoke with Palmiotto to gain more insight into his strategy of booking feature entertainers 52 weeks per year, and what separates his club—and his business, Vault Logic—from his competitors.
ED: Talk about the reasons why you consistently book feature entertainers at your club. What does it do for the club, for your customers, for your promotions, etc.?
PALMIOTTO: Again, the show is everything for our industry. Our patrons appreciate the change-up on the weekend. Many of them are returning Customers now. We are seeing more sophisticated clients because we offer a different type of experience at our venue than other clubs.
ED: For those club owners who don’t book features, what would you tell them that might convince them to reconsider that decision?
PALMIOTTO: Change it up! Bring in the excitement for not just you and your entertainers, but most importantly, the clients! People love the show and get tired of the same thing every day and night. Create the excitement and bring in the shows! Features bring in a very easy way for you to enhance your club. Dave Michaels from A-List Features has been instrumental in helping me achieve my goals and helping my business. I believe a working relationship with your agent is key.
ED: With the Dynamex and AB5 decisions in California, it is changing the way clubs there operate (converting dancers to employees). What are your thoughts on what’s happening there, in relation to these new laws and how they relate to the dancers at your club?
PALMIOTTO: California’s new law Assembly Bill 5 (AB 5) reclassifies independent contractors as employees. It will cause a downward spiraling cycle resulting in negative impacts to workers and employers. It does nothing to improve the state’s economic activity, and instead adds costly government regulations that will cause non-service employers to flee the state, and negatively harm the remaining employers and workers with burdensome governmental regulations.
California is a very expensive state to begin with, even as city and state regulations and permit fees increase, city and state revenues are decreasing, and illegal activity is increasing. California is a tough market as it is, San Diego, even more with its stricter laws. My belief is that the Dynamex and AB5 decision will push more entertainers into illicit activities and make them more susceptible to the black market and human trafficking. The clubs are a safe place for the entertainers to work and allows the city of San Diego to have some oversight. The state is working to take this away and this saddens me. The flexibility for the entertainers is key for their lifestyles, whether they are students, single parents or just looking for ways to supplement their incomes.
“I believe in the feature performers, more than most owners in our industry. I remember a time when our industry was based on a show, not a couch dance. I have, with my team at Exposé, strived to bring the feature performers back to our industry and have successfully been booking 52 weeks a year. – Palmiotto
In San Diego, city regulations treat entertainers like criminals by forcing them to get background checks, costly entertainer permits, and work for less money under draconian regulations that criminalize practices which, prior to 2001, were lawful and continue to be lawful in other cities nationwide. Add on the new “employee” regulations that will restrict work hours, tips, and schedules, and more entertainers will go it alone.
Tijuana’s red-light zone has large clubs with hundreds of entertainers and hundred-room hotels dedicated to prostitution. These businesses actively advertise on banners, billboards, and radio throughout San Diego in an attempt to legitimize and lure tourists from San Diego to Tijuana to engage in otherwise illegal activity. Some criminal elements operate human trafficking and sex slavery using Tijuana clubs, street vendors or e-commerce.
Almost 80% of residents believe nude or topless dance clubs should be the lowest priority for police, while 67% of residents and 87% of nearby businesses have little to no concern about adult entertainment businesses. Few think adult entertainment clubs contribute to crime, and actual statistics show crime is even lower than perceived. Compared to bars and dance clubs, adult entertainment clubs have fewer than 1/10th the average number of police calls. San Diego Hospitality and Entertainment Coalition members take pride in providing a safe haven for entertainers free from illegal activities, like prostitution, drugs, and human trafficking/sex slavery. Without question, the adult entertainment clubs in San Diego are a safe haven for entertainers and customers, but these new laws discourage entertainers from working at our clubs by constraining their ability to make money and control their own bodies.
ED: Aside your club, you also own/operate Vault Logic (ATMs). For those who may not have had the chance to visit your Expo 2019 Tradeshow booth, please explain why Vault Logic ATMs are different from the ATMs they are used to? Why should a club owner/operator consider making the switch to Vault Logic?
PALMIOTTO: Multiple revenue streams! Instead of an ATM that just does one thing, ours is able to do many things. It’s already a legacy ATM and a crypto ATM with the ability to both buy and sell Bitcoin and more. It already has a dedicated advertising screen. A point of sale (POS) system that ties into inventory management on the back end and takes cards, cash and crypto on the customer-facing front end? How about “check cashing” in your club? Apps can be created to help with entertainer payouts, ordering a hookah, paying their phone bill and more!
We will all be pleasantly surprised by the creativity of app developers (perhaps hired by club owners!) to use the F400s NFC reader, fingerprint scanner, front-facing camera, document scanner, ad screen, speakers, not to mention the two way Fujitsu cash recycler and massive 6,000-note dispenser in ways that will increase revenue, convenience, or safety of a club owners’ managers, employees, entertainers and customers.
ED: You frequently attend the Annual Gentlemen’s Club Expo, as a club owner and business owner (exhibitor/sponsor). What are your favorite aspects of Expo? For someone who hasn’t been in a while, why should they consider Expo a must-attend event?
PALMIOTTO: The Expo has always been an experience to share thoughts, ideas and most importantly a place for club owners to co-exist. The industry is only getting tougher for all of us. I look at the Expo as a “front-line approach” to a changing industry with changing times. You can see the new products, you can attend the panels, but most importantly you are in a place where owners all over the country will meet once a year to share thoughts and ideas.
ED: These profile stories are written in conjunction with StripJointsMusic.com (our newsletter and website supporter). In relation to the music played in your club, what’s your overall approach? Which styles of music best serve everyone in your club: You, customers, entertainers, and staff?
PALMIOTTO: Exposé has always had a wide variety of music that is played. We base our music on the age of the customer and what he’d prefer. Our Entertainers are very good at this and often ask to play a customer’s favorite song for them.
ED: If you had a chance to see any musician in concert (whether they’re alive today or not), which would you pick and why?
PALMIOTTO: It’s a tossup between Metallica and Snoop Dogg.
ED: What are some of your favorite bands, and what music do you listen to personally when you aren’t in your club?
PALMIOTTO: Metallica, Snoop Dogg, Ty Dolla $ign, Deftones, Tory Lane, Trey Songs, Usher, Incubus, Marilyn Manson, Kehlani, Billie Eilish, The Weeknd, Daft Punk, Fallout Boy
Here’s more about Dino!
Where were you born/raised? I originally from Buffalo, New York and moved to San Diego, California at a young age. Our family is first-generation immigrants from Italy.
Current Company/Club: Exposé “A True Gentleman’s Club”
Years with the company: 9 years at this location, I’ve been in the industry for over 20 years in total.
Favorite recording artist: I would have to say I don’t have one. I listen to music in my club for about 20 hours a day. Each artist brings something out in each one of our entertainers and patrons. This is what makes every artist special in their own regard. Favorite industry pro: Mr. Harry Mohney, an inspirational role model to me. The man that has fought for our industry and the people in our industry for many years. I’m simply blessed to have Mr. Mohney in my life and thank him dearly for words of wisdom.
Favorite part of EXPO: Meeting many fellow owners of the same consciousness.
Favorite part of your job: Meeting many different types of people daily and having a positive effect on their lives.
Work pet peeve: Customer service! The people make a conscious decision to come into our club; let’s appreciate this and make sure that we provide that service! We are all just a logistical support element for our entertainers.
Advice for fellow industry pros: This is such an amazing industry… Just have fun! As owners, we must lead from the front. Let’s stay positive and lead the next generation in our industry.