In a mood that resonates with club owners and business owners across the country, Darius Belcher is anxious.
Belcher is the owner & general manager of Red Parrot, a staple El Paso gentlemen’s club and former ED Award winner, and he has seen his business and staff suffer because of forced closures. Red Parrot was originally closed for 73 days after the first COVID cases were discovered in El Paso.
“We were shut down for 73 days — 73 days no income, no work for my employees, no work for the entertainers, as well,” Belcher told KTSM El Paso. “Once we opened up, after that we were forced to shut down for another 70 days.”
And while the club’s website promotes it being open with adjusted hours, Belcher says in the two-plus decades the club has been in his family, COVID has delivered the hardest financial punch.
“The COVID factor has really changed our business 100-percent, from top to bottom,” Belcher told KTSM.
It’s not so much jumping up and down anymore. We do have a girl every once in a while, she might walk around on the stage, but we don’t have the total full contact we used to have, unfortunately. — Darius Belcher, Red Parrot
One of the changes has been the addition of a food truck, in part necessitated by Gov. Greg Abbott’s orders to close bars in June. To skirt this and stay open, a lot of bars applied for licenses to act as restaurants.
Belcher also said his club employs social distancing, hand sanitizing stations and mask-wearing to meet COVID guidelines.
As for the backbone of clubs? There are still dancers, though onstage entertainment is limited and tips are collected in a socially distanced bucket.
“It’s not so much jumping up and down anymore. We do have a girl every once in a while, she might walk around on the stage, but we don’t have the total full contact we used to have, unfortunately,” Belcher said, per KTSM.
Belcher may be thrilled to be open for the time being, but the sting of closures coupled with neglect lingers. “I pay a beverage tax, mixed beverage tax, federal tax, state tax and we lost about, in essence, $200,000 to $300,000 worth of revenue,” Belcher said.