(Note: This story appears in the July 2022 issue of ED Magazine)
Tootsie’s Cabaret in South Florida is 90,000 square feet of sprawling adult entertainment and impeccable hospitality that hums seamlessly, thanks to its accomplished and diligent management team.
You can’t quite see Tootsie’s Cabaret from space, but as far as adult nightclub venues go, it’s an anomaly. Located in Miami Gardens at a mind-boggling 90,000 square feet — and soon to feature its own helipad — Tootsie’s is our industry’s national landmark.
Of course, operating a venue of this size and magnitude comes with its own set of unique challenges. Thankfully, they have the management team to handle the myriad of operational intricacies that arise on a daily basis.
Oh, and did we mention they run 200-plus entertainers on the weekends?
ED Magazine spoke with RCI President Ed Anakar, Tootsie’s Miceal (who eschews an “official” title), Tootsie’s head DJ Michael “DJ Platypus” DeSuno, and RCI Marketing Director Macy John about operating the world’s largest and adult nightclub.
ED: What makes Tootsie’s so incredibly successful, and what significant changes over the past years have contributed to that success?
ANAKAR: Tootsie’s has always been one-of-a-kind. You must stay current in the market; with that much space, you can always bring more to the table. In 2020, right before the pandemic and Super Bowl LIV in Miami, I did considerable upgrades to the lighting and sound. During the pandemic shutdown, I did more upgrades to make the club look newer. When you walk into Tootsie’s, the size of the stage alone is a wow factor. It’s such a massive part of that club. I wanted to enhance the live show and make it more of a show club, so we started bringing in aerialists and large stage shows. That’s been a considerable part of Tootsie’s success.
ED: How challenging is it to operate such a massive club with so many entertainers, customers, and VIPs on any given night?
ANAKAR: It’s all about the team. I’ve been so fortunate to be surrounded by a solid team that thrives on going above and beyond to make this club the best. They make it look easy, but it’s such a large operation that everybody — from the front to the back of the house — plays a significant role, and they all do it well. That’s what makes this club such an amazing powerhouse.
ED: I understand you recently added to the Tootsie’s management team?
ANAKAR: We spent the entire downtime during the pandemic looking at how we could improve our venues. Since I’m based in Miami, I’ve kept an eye on Tootsie’s. But with all my time on the road, I’m not around that much anymore and felt it was essential to bring someone who would take care of the club and the team the way I do. Also, I felt I needed to bring somebody in who could help me with the Florida market because I want to do more down there. So right after the post-pandemic reopening, I brought in Miceal, who was running our Vivid Cabaret in New York. He was the perfect guy. When I brought Miceal on board, I knew I could trust him to follow my vision. And, hands down, he’s made the club better. He’s a great guy and a leader, between his personality and a little bit of that Irish luck. Tootsie’s has been outstanding since he came on board.
Tootsie’s Miceal started in hospitality at his uncle’s bar in New York, where he was taught the importance of genuine hospitality. RCI CEO Eric Langan and President Ed Anakar were customers of Miceal’s, who regularly asked him to come aboard RCI before he finally accepted.
ED: Miceal, what does your day-to-day routine consist of?
MICEAL: I don’t have a specific title with RCI or Tootsie’s, which doesn’t have a GM. I oversee Tootsie’s’ operations, helping the management team run the club. I also help oversee RCI’s three Florida locations, its North Carolina operations, and the national accounts division with Neil Wolf and James Watkins. We work together in partnership with liquor companies as well.
I don’t have a Tootsie’s GM because I feel that with our fantastic team, we don’t need one individual to feel they’re making the decisions Instead, we make decisions as a group. So suppose I have an idea; as the boss, then everyone will agree with me because I’m the boss. But when you put an idea out there, I think it’s better to have everybody working together.
I also work with James Watkins and Neil Wolf to develop partnerships with liquor, beer, and wine companies, with brands such as Constellation, Fiji, Sun Coral, and LVMH (Louis Vuitton, Moët, and Hennessy). They’re a big company that’s never done a partnership with gentlemen’s clubs before; I got that deal done with them.
“There’s nothing I’ve ever witnessed like the energy in this location. Tootsie’s is basically Disney for adults. Everybody gets to enjoy the show, no matter how much or how little money you have in your pocket.” — Miceal
ED: That must feel like a real feather in your cap.
MICEAL: I find it hard to get compliments. I try to push it on someone else. Everybody has a role. That’s how you have to look at it. If you’re the quarterback, people see you. But if you’re on the offensive line, and there’s no water, how important is the water guy? Everything adds up.
I wake up daily at 10 am and go through all my emails for all four locations. I review all reports in case of any incidents and touch base with Ed Anakar, who is over operations. I
fill him in on what happened last night and the plan for the ongoing day to ensure success. Then, I head to Tootsie’s around 5:30 pm and sit down with my day manager, Jopher Rusinque. I discuss any daytime issues, and at 7 pm, I hit the floor like a regular manager for the night.
And there are no airs or graces with me. I clean, I sit down and touch base with customers, I move through the club, ensuring I say hello to everybody. Then I make my way up to next level and make sure everybody’s set for the night, review reservations, and just work my way around the club.
ED: Does that keep it fresher for you, that you wear so many hats, and yet you’re just a manager at night?
MICEAL: It’s humbling for everyone to see that if I’m picking up paper and cleaning tables, they should be picking up paper and cleaning tables — “If he’s doing it, we’re all doing it.” So instead of saying “you pick that up,” I pick it up. And that’s why we’re always very successful. We work together as a team and do whatever it takes.
Sometimes people say to me, if there’s an incident, don’t get involved. I respond I’m not going to hide in the back. So it’s communication too, as you said, and if that puzzle piece were taken away, I’d feel like I’m failing everybody.
ED: You’re much more effective as a role model with what they can see.
MICEAL: That stems from the blueprint Ed’s given me. I feel like we make this industry that has a bit of a dark cloud over it sometimes better.
ED: So what’s it like to have such an essential role with the world’s most prominent gentlemen’s club?
MICEAL: I’m truly blessed to have a fantastic team; they make it seamless and easy for me. Ed Anakar and RCI have given me all the tools. So it’s about me opening up my toolbox, taking them out, and making something amazing out of it every day. Ed helps me grow tremendously. I’m fortunate to work with him daily because he’s based in Florida. The club is divided into four different sections with four different managers that are responsible for their area.
There’s nothing I’ve ever witnessed like the energy in this location. Tootsie’s is basically Disney for adults. Everybody gets to enjoy the show, no matter how much or how little money you have in your pocket.
ED: Do you expect the helipad to bring more of a celebrity clientele? And what challenges come with a celebrity clientele?
MICEAL: The helipad was requested by a lot of celebrities. Celebrities visit Tootsie’s, and nobody ever knows they’re here. They want privacy and to be treated like they’re normal. And that’s what they love about coming here: the privacy. They needn’t worry about people seeing them doing anything or taking pictures. They feel like they’re at home; they mention that all the time. And they have all been fantastic.
ED: What are the keys to the continued success of Tootsie’s? Specifically, what changes have you implemented since you got there?
MICEAL: Number one is a happy, motivated team that sees that they can grow with this fantastic company. We always show them that they’re very relevant and vital to us. When I took over in January 2021, we were doing good numbers; now, we’re doing amazing numbers. The club itself didn’t need much, just some tweaks. And as Ed told me, from the beginning, just stick to the blueprint, as he had taught me.
We’ve started accepting Bitcoin, which was a huge hit, and crypto continues to be a great add-on. We also added five more large private rooms for our big clients, like the celebrities, who enter through a private entrance in the back, which is also a huge hit; nobody ever sees them come or go.
We’ve also added bi-monthly performances by Latin artists. It’s something we never did before that’s been a big hit. And we’re hosting aerialists and other out-of-the-mainstream events.
ED: You cannot rest on your laurels; you’ve got to be constantly on your game.
MICEAL: Promo, promo, promo. That’s the blueprint. Macy John, our marketing director, does tremendous and our employees are amazing, too. No matter where you go, free passes are at the gas station, the gym, or the movie theater.
Michael “DJ Platypus” DeSuno is the Head DJ at Tootsie’s Cabaret, the head of corporate DJs for RCI, and the heart and soul of Tootsie’s.
ED: You’re involved with marketing/promotions among other things that go above and beyond DJing, at what point did you know you wanted to bring more to Tootsie’s than being the DJ?
DESUNO: The day I was transferred from T’s Lounge to Tootsie’s, I immediately knew. Back then, you had to prove yourself every day. We still do. I knew there were amazing opportunities if I just gave my very best to the club. The day RCI took over operations was the best day of my career. I realized the company had lofty goals of growing to what it’s become today. Ed Anakar never misses a thing. He challenged me very early in our professional relationship. Once I proved myself, increasing opportunities came my way. I take great pride in who we are as a company and where we’re heading.
ED: How has your role with Tootsie’s evolved over the years?
DESUNO: My role has evolved from the feeling of being an employee to being part of something special. Working for RCI is not a job, it’s a career. Ed (Anakar) and Eric (Langan) genuinely care about each of us. It’s impossible not to give your all to our growth and corporate evolution. When Ed sees you put in the extra effort, it never goes unnoticed. Ed, and especially Miceal, challenge me every day to be the best leader I can be. With that expectation of leadership, I have evolved into a leadership role encompassing everything under the entertainment umbrella. The natural evolution from the environment created by RCI has made me a better person, employee, leader, and man.
ED: If someone has never visited Tootsie’s, how would you describe the club? What are the club’s defining characteristics?
DESUNO: Tootsie’s is the world’s biggest party. It’s an adult theme park — 90,000 square feet of fun. We run a minimum of 100 entertainers nightly, almost double that on weekends. Our entertainment value is second to none. The best part about Tootsie’s is that we cater to every walk of life. Our demographic is wide open to everyone, from guests from our surrounding communities to visitors from a national audience. We’ve carved a place in pop culture. Our club has been mentioned in everything from songs on the pop charts to TV series to the big screen. Our popularity directly reflects our attention to detail for each guest. It’s the most incredible venue in the country.
ED: Tootsie’s is getting a helipad: What were your thoughts when you heard about that? What clientele do you think this helipad will attract?
DESUNO: I think it indicates what we have built through the years. We listen to the wants and needs of our guests. We live and die by our call to service. So the helipad not only helps our status as a brand, but, just as important, will also be a helpful tool for our community. We’ve had helicopters land in our parking lot before, so the idea of a guest arriving in that fashion is not altogether new.
ED: You are also the “corporate head of DJs” for RCI. What type of training do you do with other DJs at RCI clubs?
DESUNO: RCI VP of Operations Dean Reardon and I are currently in the process of organizing our DJs and providing them with education and tips. We’re planning on adding
a new form of entertainment moving forward. So besides training, it’s about creating a platform using our abilities and resources to cross over into the mainstream positively and effectively.
Even for established clubs like Tootsies and Scarlett’s, ongoing marketing and social media posts are key. RCI Marketing Director Macy John offers input on the challenges social media marketing presents today.
ED: You have quite a challenge, helping to run the social media for so many very successful clubs.
JOHN: All the clubs are run individually, and I work with the club managers to see what types of marketing each needs. With clubs like Scarlett’s and Tootsie’s that have excellent brand recognition, they don’t need much. I confirm that they have a photographer/ videographer and ensure they regularly post content online. Some clubs require more assistance, so I help out more with creating paper, quick advertising, radio advertising, email blasts, websites, and SEO, pretty much anything they need to customize it for each club and their targeted clientele.
ED: How difficult is it to utilize social media to promote adult entertainment at a time when social media, especially Facebook and Instagram, is not adult-friendly, specifically as it relates to FOSTA and SESTA?
JOHN: FOSTA and SESTA are about websites promoting human trafficking. The websites want to avoid these lawsuits and just allow nothing sexual. You can still promote clubs as long as you don’t sexualize them. You can promote pictures of bartenders, waitresses making drinks, and the nightlife; we’re open till two o’clock; come see sports with us. You can categorize your page as adult entertainment if you don’t add sexual elements to it; they just don’t want you to throw sexuality out there. And the girls are more receptive to allowing pictures, fully dressed, looking lovely. If guys want to see more, you can just say, come see this lovely lady performing tonight. A beautiful girl does great shows, so you leave it up to the imagination. You’ve given them a teaser of what they’ll see at the club – which social media allows, as long as they’re not fully nude or sexualizing the text in the photo. Just follow their terms and conditions, and you’re good.