Swinging Richards reopened with a limited schedule while it continues its “All Male, All Nude” ways with a caveat fit for these pandemic times.
“People onstage naked have a mask on,” owner C.B. Jones told Project Q Atlanta. “It makes some people look better.”
The gay Atlanta strip club closed in March after a customer, bartender and two dancers tested positive for coronavirus. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms ordered all bars, nightclubs, gyms, movie theaters and other venues to close later that month.
The club reopened for several weeks over the summer, but Jones shut it down again after coronavirus infection rates spiked in Georgia.
“We did not have any positive tests in the club,” he said. “I just felt it was too much in the news.”
Easing back in
Swinging Richards reopened again this month with a limited schedule – Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. He reduced customer capacity, and the staff deep cleans the club every night after closing. The club also checks customer temperatures and requires masks except when seated.
Business is steady enough to remain open, though times are definitely tough, Jones said.
“We’re sort of busy, but we need that extra capacity,” he added.
Jones laid off two of the club’s six bartenders during coronavirus closures. He did not apply for a Small Business Administration loan.
“They said the adult clubs weren’t eligible,” he said. “There was some sort of litigation about it that I didn’t want to have to join and sue. We’re the only gay male strip club in America, so I want to keep my head low.”
Jones is considering bringing back a daytime lineup with female dancers. That practice started in 2019 and ended with the March closure.
“We’d like to do that with perhaps a buffet for the male customers during the day, but that’s a lot of work to switch over at night,” he said.
The club filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2019, allowing it to remain open while addressing $1.65 million in debt.
“We’re still negotiating a plan, and hopefully we will be out of it this time next year,” Jones said.
This story is made possible through a grant from Facebook Journalism Project’s COVID-19 Local News Relief Fund.
Photo by Patrick Saunders