ED Publications decided to make use of its extensive database of adult nightclubs for a new series of independent club interviews. A nostalgic delight! This constellation of histories behind ED’s votes for the “most interesting club names” across the country includes The Sandy Jug, Play It Again Sam’s, Prairie Chicken and Book ‘Em Dan’O.
(NOTE: This story appears in the July 2023 issue of ED Magazine.)
The Sandy Jug serves up memories
The Sandy Jug has been a Portland, Oregon staple since at least the 70s, according to Tricia McMullin, the now-President. McMullin came on as manager in 2003 when the previous owner had renamed the peculiarly-shaped establishment “Pirate’s Cove.” After she acquired the club in 2009, McMullin says that the sighs of local patrons were breaking her down for the old name.
“Portland residents are very attached to the names and places of anything remaining that they grew up with,” explains McMullin. “And this is a little neighborhood club that so many people had emotional feelings about, growing up with the name, The Sandy Jug.”
Ultimately, McMullin was able to give the people what they wanted. During the closure of the pandemic, in 2021, she brought back the nostalgic name and changed the signage, as requested by longtime Portland residents.
When asked about where the name originates from, McMullin replies: “Well, have you seen a picture of the building?”
It’s pretty self-explanatory: The structure known as “The Sandy Jug” is shaped like a moonshine jug, and it’s located on Sandy Boulevard. The bottle is probably a reference to Prohibition, though McMullin has never spoken to the building designers who are long since out of the picture. And so, The Sandy Jug lives on, an anchor in a time it hardly remembers.
For more information about The Sandy Jug, call (503) 287-8900 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Play It Again Sam is for the film buffs
Bob Davis is one of two owners of Play It Again Sam’s, a 24/7 casino gentlemen’s club with video poker machines off the strip in Vegas. Davis has been on the crew since the club was established by founders Pete Petrie and Randy Kiefer, who were high school best friends and successful businessmen thereafter, according to Davis. They themed Play It Again Sam’s after Rick’s cafe in the romantic drama, Casablanca. The establishment started as a Moroccan-American nightclub, like in the movie.
“We called it a ‘jazz supper club’, and it had live music,” Davis shares.
Naturally, the late-night jazz spot evolved into a cabaret gentleman’s club in 1997, but it kept its old school film-buff theme.
“There’s a certain demographic that’s not going to have a clue — they don’t even know what the movie Casablanca is,” admits Davis. “But for those who know the iconic film or have at least seen images of the movie, of Humphrey Bogart and the club, they love it, and they catch onto the concept as soon as they walk in. We have Casablanca murals throughout the club, including behind the stage where there’s a huge mural of Sam playing the piano.”
For more information about Play It Again Sam’s, call (702) 876-1550 or visit playitagainsams.com.
Far from Hawaii, Iowa’s Book ‘Em Dan’O is a legacy name that’s lasted 50 years
Book ‘Em Dan’O has changed many hands already. According to the current owner, who claims he’s the seventh, Jeff Whitmore, the club is celebrating 50 years this year — each of its handlers having silently agreed to keep the original name.
“The club started in 1973,” Whitmore explains. “The first owner had it 15 or 20 years. And then the second owner — he had it 15 years, I think also, but his name was Dan. So they come up with the name ‘Book ‘Em Dan-O’, because Dan was booking the dancers — so ‘Book ‘Em Dan’O’. All of us owners kept the same name, including the two gals that owned it. After the first two, the ownerships have all been brief. One for five years. One for three. Another for five, I believe. One for two. One for three or four. I’ve had it for six and a half years now.”
The name origin also includes an obvious reference to Hawaii Five-0, for those of us who remember the original ‘60s show, or even its 2000’s reincarnation.
“A lot of people who have never been here ask how they come up with that name, and I tell them the same story,” says Whitmore. “If they know the show Hawaii Five-0, I remind them that: there was a guy named Dan in that show who McGarrett would always say, ‘Book ‘em Dan’O’ to, referring to criminals, so that’s probably where the original owners got it from.”
Something unusual about the club is that it’s located in a (windowless) basement.
“It’s 17 steps you go down to the bottom floor of the building,” describes Whitmore.
A pretty good place to book ‘em.
For more information about Book ‘Em Dan’O, call (712) 263-9818 or visit facebook.com/Bookems2017/.
The Prairie Chicken dances like a woman
Stan Wellner, the entrepreneurial cowboy behind Prairie Chicken, tells maybe the best name origin story so far — or the least foreseeable.
ED: Please tell us, what’s the story behind your club name?
Wellner: I built it 20 years ago, and I was going to name it “No one’s allowed,” because all we have here is $2 bills — we don’t allow $1 bills here.
ED: In South Dakota?
Wellner: No, in the club. So I was going to name it “No one’s allowed,” and it used to be an old grocery store. The night I bought the place, I celebrated, and the next morning, I was sitting on the porch looking out at a whole mountain. I’m on the Missouri River, 20 miles from Chamberlain, and six miles from the Big Bend Dam. And I had prairie chickens in the yard. They started doing a dance. I thought, “Oh, prairie chickens dance. We’re in the prairie. Girls are dancing, so maybe we’ll just call it the ‘Prairie Chicken.’ And that’s how it got its name.
ED: What do customers say about your club name?
Wellner: Because we’re right in the middle of the desert in South Dakota, off the Highway 34, we cater mostly to traveling fishermen and hunters here, and they all relate to the name. They love it.
ED: And I saw that you’re listed as a resort, as well. Could you say a little about that?
Wellner: Well, it’s a resort — I’ve just got a campground here that’s hooked to it, and we used to have trailer houses we rented out, but I got rid of them, so the resort part is the campground, I guess.
ED: And how does that work? Do the people staying get unlimited strip club time?
Wellner: No, they just get a camper hookup — a lot of people come out here with campers. It’s really a huge fishing deal.
ED: Well, that’s convenient. And you don’t have to worry about anyone drunk driving.
Wellner: No, no. Well, we’re a juice bar right now. We’re on and off. Sometimes we have liquor. Sometimes we don’t. It’s kind of a political thing. I think we’ll be back to — we’re trying to get another liquor license actually, today, but I don’t mind no alcohol either.
ED: Do your customers mind it?
Wellner: No, they just go outside and have one.
ED: Well thanks so much for sharing. Is there anything else you want to add?
Wellner: Yea, girls are hard to get, and I’m real tough on girls, too, as far as quality. I’m real picky about who I hire. And we’re out here in the country. Some girls go to town, but most people stay right here. We get a lot of traveling dancers, and we have lodging for 10 of them. All are welcome to apply. People from all over the world come to Prairie Chicken, and the girls say they make more money than any other club in the state.
For more information about Prairie Chicken Gentlemen’s Club, call (605) 680-2528 or visit facebook.com/prairiechicken.southdakota/.