The gentlemen’s club: A rebranding of go-go bars in New Jersey

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Strip clubs are, for better or for worse, a common sight along many New Jersey highways.

But News 12 New Jersey’s Brian Donohue noticed that many are trying to rebrand themselves in an effort to be more respectable. Many are now calling themselves “gentlemen’s clubs.” So Donohue set out to see if he could find any gentlemen at the clubs.

Donohue said that he started noticing the trend after watching the Jennifer Lopez movie “Hustlers,” and after the Sayreville Club 35 Gentlemen’s Club burned down last month.

Gentlemen’s clubs first emerged as a popular British institution in 19th century London. Membership would require land ownership or a certain economic or social status. Men would go to the club to relax, socialize with other men, study or even sleep.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines gentleman as "a man whose conduct conforms to a high standard of propriety or correct behavior" or "a man who combines gentle birth or rank with chivalrous qualities"

RELATED: Sayreville strip club vows to reopen following massive fire 

“In other words, the exact opposite of a strip-joint barfly,” Donohue said. “Or perhaps I’m mistaken about all of this.”

So Donohue set out to some of New Jersey’s clubs to see what they were all about. But none of them offered a place for Donohue to engage in “high-minded conversation,” or even a gin fizz. And there were no libraries or parlor rooms to speak of.

Brian Cook is the manager of Blush Gentlemen’s Club in South Hackensack. He says that he is noticing the trend of trying to rebrand strip clubs.

“A gentleman's club makes it more like a distinguished place. Better establishment, not just like a go-go bar like most people think,” Cook says. “We like it to be more of a different atmosphere. We keep things real clean around here…We have a dress code. We don’t want people just dressing however they want.”

Donohue asked if patrons wore top hats. Cook said that it would be nice, but that he doesn’t require his customers to go that far in dressing up.

And for those who are wondering, the gin fizz that Donohue kept trying to order was a popular cocktail in the 1800s.

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