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15 Business Tips

from the Topless Prophet


Alan Markovitz

1. Choose your business partners wisely. Everyone is looking to take more than
their fair share. One of my partners was my dad, who provided good business
sense from his ownership of a TV repair shop, extra capital, and a trust that
couldn’t be breached. Another partner of mine was arrested by the FBI for hiring
two hit men for $12,000 to kill me. You’ve gotta find a partner with good
judgment and good-sized cojones.

2. Never stand still, especially when you’re leading the competition. Whatever
strategic advantage you have is short lived and can be copied. Keep looking to
reinvent, expand, upgrade or overhaul. When you’re on a roll, look for the next
and best opportunity to extend your winning streak or more accurately, project
your formula, and capture as much market share as you can afford to.

3. Don’t be intimidated. I was once threatened by a competing South Florida club


when we opened up for business and some “Wise Guys” told us to get out of
town. I ended up testifying against the Mob for the Feds.

4. If you sleep with the help, you might need help. In my single days, young and
feeling wealthy and powerful, I would sample my talent. However, it’s easy to
get distracted and lose control over someone who not only works for you but you
sleep with. Avoid the conflicts and headaches and keep away from the staff.

5. Stand up for your rights or you’ll never be taken seriously. This was true
when I had to resort to litigation, on numerous occasions, even in a losing battle.
But you must also know what’s worth fighting for and when to throw in the
towel.

6. The rules can change on you overnight. My South Florida business went into
the toilet when laws were changed to prevent nudity in a place where alcohol was
served. You never can see it coming and when it hits, you need to determine
when to walk away.

7. Have a vision and follow it. I knew early on, when I first set foot in a topless
club as a teenaged patron that I wanted to own a strip club. I got a job there,
learned the business, and then became a co-owner. I wanted to create a first-class
adult entertainment center that would be visited upon by celebrities and athletes.
I wanted to take a blue-collar industry and give it a white collar. It’s worked out
well.

8. You can manage through any crisis. I did. I survived two different life-
threatening shootings. I survived my club being raided and smeared. I survived
some bad business deals. I worked with a partner for a period of time while he
was on trial for arranging my murder. I dealt with corrupt politicians, dirty cops,
and out-of-control patrons. The key is to stay focused on the prize and know that
much of your success is related to how you manage problems.

9. Come back from a setback, wiser and more determined. I learned a costly
lesson when a business deal went sour and cost me a million bucks. I was
swindled by sleaze but if I wasn’t aggressive and gutsy in business I wouldn’t
have all the hits and successes that I have had. I’ll take a loss that’s short term
and temporary if in the end I’m on top.

10. Experiment and take a chance. I tried a few new things that in the end didn’t
pay off but unless you try new ideas, you won’t get to succeed. I tried the idea of
arranging for strippers on a golf course. I also chartered flights to Las Vegas that
featured performing strippers.

11. Believe it or not, the way to make money is not always through your core
talent. Sure, the 300+ dancers that work at one of my clubs bring in money, but
we make our real money off of alcohol, cigars, food, and merchandise. Always
look at the extra ways you can turn a buck.

12. Link with a brand name. In Detroit, our Penthouse Gentlemen’s Club is
striking gold and the Philadelphia branch of the Penthouse Club just opened this
summer to great fanfare. There are only a handful of Penthouse clubs in the U.S.
The name represents quality, security, and the assumption you’ll be treated well
as a patron.

13. In business, you can afford to be a little bit early in striking a deal, but you
can’t be a second too late. Better to leave something on the table than to lose
the whole tamale through greed.

14. Every problem has a solution – but sometimes the price can be steep. For
me, early on my biggest problem was a local, hell-raising motorcycle gang called
The Renegades that thought they could party in an establishment that didn’t want
that kind of clientele. After a few visits by the police, the only way to settle the
manner was for my dad to volunteer to meet with them and make peace. I
thought he was nuts, but as a Holocaust survivor, who saw ghastly things happen,
he won the respect of these bikers and a truce was forged. They became some of
my best customers.

15. Look to revolutionize your business. In the 1980’s I pioneered how to run a
modern-day gentlemen’s club. Not only did we change the look and feel of the
experience – big space, quantity of quality dancers, top-shelf alcohol and
expense-account meals – we changed how we pay the dancers after we changed
how they perform. No longer did we have dancers relegated to a single stage
filled with several poles. We created stages everywhere in the club -- on your
table, next to your table, and eventually on your lap. The girls had charged for
private dances and they earned that money plus we paid them an hourly wage.
We did away with the hourly wage and charged the girls a small daily fee as
private contractors who were given an opportunity to dance at the club. The girls
initially revolted and went on strike but they eventually caved in when they saw
how much money everyone could make.  

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