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Photograph: 26kot

The best strip clubs in L.A.

We didn’t stop at the best strip clubs in L.A.: We found the city’s best bikini and topless bars, plus exotic dancers

By Jakob N. Layman and Kate Wertheimer

The best strip clubs in L.A. take may forms, from tried and true joints in the Valley to Hollywood mainstays made famous by the likes of Mötley Crue. The city is a land of plenty when it comes to scantily clad ladies—but how to find the best ones? Heading to a strip club may seem straightforward, but there’s a lot going on under the surface and more than a few factors to consider when determining the best L.A. has to offer. We take our jobs very seriously, so we made sure to visit as many strip joints as possible—from full nude spots to topless and bikini clubs—to definitively decide on the cream of the crop. It wasn’t always easy, it wasn’t always fun (though mostly it was), and occasionally we had some awkward explaining to do, but we did it. We did it for you. You’re welcome.

Bikini bars

1. Cheetahs

Sex and dating Los Feliz

If you’re a sucker for pole tricks and tattoos then Cheetahs is your mecca, and well worth the pilgrimage from anywhere in the city. Sporting one skinny stage, a well-stocked bar and plenty of seating, this bikini bar has become a neighborhood favorite. You’re just as likely to be sitting next a middle-aged, aspiring writer talking about how meth really helped him get over his writer’s block as you are a young hipster couple drenched in irony. The music is a great mix and always fun—hip hop and classic rock come up often, with the occasional dubstep beat or even an indie rock jam by the Strokes. Ultimately, the real stars of Cheetahs are dancers like Breezy and Malice, who completely own the stage with their powerful presence (a foot-high mohawk doesn’t hurt) and skillful performances. Watching Malice on the pole is its own form of visual poetry. Sexy, sexy poetry.

2. Jumbo’s Clown Room

Sex and dating Thai Town

Hollywood’s notorious pole dancing club, this small laid-back dive is the hipster crown jewel of bikini bars host to some truly diverse and badass pole-spinners. From ink to piercings to crazy handmade outfits, Jumbo’s dancers are all rock and roll, and also very friendly (even when the bartenders are not). Weekdays host lesser talents, but the skilled ladies who dance on Friday and Saturday nights draw a fun assortment of customers, often lining up out the door. Everyone goes to Jumbo’s: single men and women, couples, groups of friends and of course the ever present golden-agers. There’s no cover, but tipping is strongly encouraged. And, psst, if you buy a Jumbo’s hat the bouncer sometimes lets you skip the line.


3. Crazy Girls

Sex and dating Hollywood

Maybe your plan was just to go to Mashti Malone’s, but eye-catching lights and an intriguing sign promising “Crazy Girls” made you forget all about that rosewater-saffron ice cream. Next thing you know you’re getting a lap dance from a dancer named Ryder and justifying $5 ATM fees. We’ve all been there. Crazy Girls has been infamously sketchy for years, but has shifted management in recent years and done a lot to make the whole experience much more pleasant (read: less stabby). Everyone from the security to the talent at Crazy Girls is notably friendly, and the dancers often sit down (sometimes on your lap) to chat and flirt at length before asking if you’d like a private (non-nude) dance. It’s a nice change of pace from clubs where dancers prowl the floor, tap you on the shoulder and immediately move on to your neighbor if you decline. Lap dances, though, are on the pricey side at $30 a pop and upwards—but who goes to this sort of club to save money?

See more of the best bikini bars in LA

Topless bars

1. Sam’s Hofbrau

Sex and dating Downtown

Nestled comfortably in one of Downtown L.A.’s yet-to-be-gentrified industrial neighborhoods, this well-known—oft loved, oft hated—topless bar aims to be your one stop shop for food, booze and booty shaking. Part restaurant (opt for the greasy, extra-cheesy pizza), part sports bar and all strip club, Sam’s attracts a diverse crowd and keeps them happy with a stacked lineup of dancers. On any given night there are 25 to 60 dancers with upwards of 13 gracing the stage at a time. However, make no mistake: The ladies of Sam’s Hofbrau aren’t the most… athletic, when it comes to the pole. Usually a dancer will take the stage and just saunter about, with an occasional boob squeeze or ass jiggle. Sam’s dancers are known in the L.A. strip club scene as having some of the “fattest asses” in town, a sentiment some of the more petite dancers at other clubs will be quick to share with you. Table and chair dances ($20 and $10, respectively) are the real draw for customers, so dancers use the poles less for acrobatics and more as a stabilizer/resting post for prolonged twerking between private dances.

2. Dames ’n’ Games

Sex and dating Downtown

Welcome to 22,000 square feet of HDTVs, flowing booze and less-than-dressed mademoiselles. You can barely get a beer in your hand here before a pretty girl in lingerie introduces herself and starts flirting like you’re the most interesting person in the world, which is a nice touch that you don’t find in a lot of LA strip clubs—especially because the dancers aren’t pushy about getting a lap dance right away. Though speaking of which, the private couches for the $20 lap dances aren’t so private. On a busy night you can expect to have a sexy grind taking place right next to yours, and even on either side of you if it’s really packed. It seems the common cure for this awkwardness is to have a few drinks in you and hope nobody starts moaning. Other than this odd quirk, Dames n’ Games is actually a really fun bar. There are two large rooms: The main area has a sizeable stage with three poles (busy nights will have three performers dancing at once) and plenty of seating. The second area is a side room that’s more of a traditional sports bar with tables and a solid but affordable menu. For most strip clubs and bars, Tuesday nights are painfully slow, but DnG offers $3 steak dinners along with well drinks and domestic drafts, which make it one of their busiest nights. We asked around and the consensus is that for two bucks, it’s a hell of a good steak.


3. Candy Cat Too

Sex and dating Hollywood

“No loitering or urinating in this private parking lot.” This amusing and depressingly necessary sign tells you everything you need to know about Winnetka’s Candy Cat Too. If nothing else, CCT nails what it means to be a neighborhood dive bar, with the added benefit of topless dancers. The beers are dirt cheap—a PBR will run you $3.50 and pitchers of various drafts range from $8.75 to $12.75—and just about everyone seems to be a regular. The dancers aren’t the fanciest, but are eclectic and range in age and body types; a voluptuous performer might use the stage for some R&B hip thrusting and ass jiggling, followed by some jaw-dropping pole twirling to Slipknot from a dancer with less bod, more ’tude. Overall the atmosphere is lighthearted and fun with everyone in the small bar applauding each other’s sets. The girls usually recognize faces in the crowd and will chat at length with patrons. On most nights the average customers skew toward middle-aged males, but you’ll also find young couples, after-work types and the occasional chatty biker.

4. Star Garden

Sex and dating North Hollywood

This North Hollywood bar is owned and operated by a husband and wife duo who take pride in the joint’s solid beer selection (57 total, with 28 on tap) and chummy environment. Star Garden could easily be your regular neighborhood watering hole as well as your favorite spot to make it rain. Often hailed as “the Jumbo’s hipsters haven’t ruined yet,” the joint skews more toward a punk and rock sensibility and features acrobatics by some of the most talented and diverse pole dancers in L.A. (Also, Jumbo’s isn’t topless—Star Garden sure is.) Saturday nights usually host eight or so dancers of varying shape, size and age. Your neighbors at the bar are a mixed bag, ranging from run-of-the-mill barflies, couples (straight and LGBT) and a growing number of hip twenty-somethings. A dance will run you $20 and there’s not much in the way of privacy, but sometimes the spirit takes you and, if that dancer is good enough, you’ll forget everyone else exists.

See more of the best topless bars in LA

Nude clubs

1. Deja Vu

Sex and dating South LA

Deja Vu is a strip club in the truest sense of the phrase. It’s massive, full of ladies hustling for private dances and open till 6am. A busy night (usually a Friday or Saturday after 1am) has the mesmerizing enchantment of a swiftly-moving assembly line: Dancers rotate between three stages and then head to the floor to wrangle a lap. At regular intervals, an announcement calls all dancers back to the stage for a $1 song special, then it’s back to the floor to collect those singles, which gives the gorgeous waitresses (dressed as sexy maids) a chance to the clean the poles seductively—just in time for the next dancer to hit the main stage. Wash, rinse, repeat and before you know it it’s closing time. One weird dance special of note: The $10 “balloon dance,” in which one of the waitresses (who are typically the most attractive workers at the club) places a balloon on your lap and bounces and grinds on top of it until it pops. It sounds fun, but as is so often the case in life—and strip clubs—reality never quite meets expectations. The reality of a balloon dance is that anyone, sexy maid or not, bouncing on your lap with all her weight not only doesn’t feel sexy, but also fills the air with latex odors and the awkward, intolerable squeak of a balloon rubbed raw. We recommend passing on the balloon dance and going for the higher mileage, more traditional $20 private dance.

2. La Vida

Sex and dating San Fernando Valley

While definitely not the fanciest or busiest of L.A.’s nude strip clubs, La Vida still maintains its charm and appeal with an assortment of friendly dancers. The stage doesn’t get a lot of action from tippers, but the girls—diverse in both ethnicity and body type—will seek out customers and strike up flirty conversations to loosen things up. There’s never any overt pressure to buy dances or drinks, which keeps the atmosphere relaxed and amicable. If you do opt for a private dance, the prices are pretty standard ($20–$60 for one to four songs) though $100 will get you a ten minute VIP session, which means a little more privacy and attention from your dancer—and the more you’re willing to spend the more mileage you’re likely to get. Songs at strip clubs tend be on the short side—around one to three minutes—so we say either go all out for the VIP or wait for the occasional three-for-$40 special. An alarm goes off and all the dancers parade across the stage—it’s impossible to miss.


3. Xposed

Sex and dating San Fernando Valley

Xposed is a haven for high mileage lap dances and the kind of guys that service attracts. The stage shows aren’t particularly spectacular, especially when compared to places like 4Play or Cheetahs, but that tends to be the norm for full nude strip clubs in L.A., where the main selling point is the lap dance. When asked how much a private session is, one dancer responded with, “$20 for topless, $40 for full nude, $80 and I’ll jerk you off.” So, you know, there’s that. That being said, what makes this club one of the best in L.A.? The simple fact Xposed offers patrons the opportunity to get very close with a seductive woman in the comfort of a relaxed (massage chairs, anyone?) and polished environment (read: not seedy). There’s also the easy access to alcohol at Xposed’s sister bar, Wet Spot, which is a cover-free bikini joint open till 2am (be sure to get your hand stamped after paying the $20 entrance fee so you can easily walk back and forth between the two bars). One more thing worth mentioning is the Thursday night special, which features no cover for couples and free, unlimited lap dances for your date. The deal is LGBT-friendly and applies to both male and female couples—the lovers will just have to decide who is the designated lap dance recipient for the night. A note of warning to all those clever bros out there: The club will require you to kiss if you claim to be a gay couple, and we have a feeling they’ll be looking for something a little more intimate than a peck.

4. 4Play

Sex and dating Westwood

Let’s cut to the chase: 4Play is the most exceptional and, almost assuredly, best strip club in Los Angeles. The dancers are stunningly gorgeous and the sumptuous interior evokes a New Orleans madame’s bewitching bordello. The ladies here are neither your girl-next-door type nor twerkers, they have modelesque physiques and the best way to describe them is simply hot. Unlike at most clubs, however, the dancers are a little less likely to approach you for a private dance here, especially if you’re with a group of people. They tend to line up near the bar and either wait for you to come to them or to see how much money you’re throwing around. Honestly though, it’s so easy to be mesmerized by the girls on stage that you may be perfectly content to sit, watch and keep the dollar bills flowing. And it should be noted, all this luxury and beauty doesn’t come for free—or even close to cheap. Private dances start at $25, and that’s in addition to the $20 cover and $7 drink minimum. Despite a few more downsides, like pushy waitresses and girls with a scent for trust funds and big spenders, 4Play still offers the classiest strip club environment—and the best looking dancers—in all of L.A.

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