Talk-show host Tyra Banks went undercover as a stripper to find out why men, even married men, go to strip clubs. Men spend $15 billion at strip clubs every year.
Banks said that many of her viewers wrote to her asking about why some men feel the need to frequent strip clubs. To unlock the mystery, Banks wore a wig, colored contacts, fake nose and teeth, and worked at a club for one night. She interviewed patrons, saying that she worked for a cable show. Banks also had a personal reason to check out the strip clubs. She once dated a man who frequented the venues and said she never trusted what happened there. The full investigation will air on her show today.
"I said my name was Chanel and that I was a new girl trying to get a regular job performing," she said. "The male club manager assured me that the other girls would direct me toward the type of men who like to spend a lot of money on my type."
Banks, a former Victoria's Secret model, said she found that men were in a pretend world at the clubs.
"They like to think it's their place, their power. They are in control and the girls enjoy being in their company," Banks said.
Banks said she met one man who had spent about $15,000 every few weeks. His habit broke up his relationship.
"When the girls were dancing for him and talking to him, he admitted he wasn't thinking about the fact that he'd just handed them over wads of cash," she said. "He was only thinking that these women made him feel attractive and sexy."
Strippers usually do quite well financially. Banks said the dancers in the club made between $500 and $1,000 a night. Although Banks has long used her looks to elicit emotions and sell products, she said she felt that stripping was all too real and personal for her comfort level.
"There is a fantasy in modeling. My Sports Illustrated Swimsuit cover and my Victoria's Secret modeling is so much more about fantasy and illusion," she said. "But when I walked into that private room where the men get dances from the girls, it doesn't feel like a fantasy to me. It was all too real for my comfort level. But after being in the club for a while, there was a sort of numbness that came over me, almost like I was desensitized."
In the end, she found that men did not go to clubs because of something they were missing from the women in their lives. Instead, they went to escape.
"Inside the clubs, it's just feeling powerful and feeling wanted by attractive women," she said.