A type of on-the-fringes business that operates primarily to run a con job against one (or many) patrons, who are lured in by clever advertising or lots of hinting around, or even some well-placed, paid word of mouth.

A clip joint generally refers to places like strip clubs and sex clubs, but can generally include just about any place that "mimics" a legitimate business in its chosen industry but fails to deliver any actual (valuable) goods.

For example, a genuine strip club offers women (and sometimes men) who remove some (or all) of their clothing, exposing their breasts and sometimes genitals and waving them in the faces of anyone with a tip in hand. For an additional fee, patrons can purchase more private and intimate dances, which can sometimes go as far as dry humping and simusex. Most of them also sell drinks, some alcoholic in nature. A legitimate strip club does not, however, hint at, imply, suggest, or outright promise that you can have sex with the dancers. Many go to great lengths to make it clear that prostitution is illegal, and that they don't condone it (at least on the surface; I'm not nearly naive enough to believe that no dancers work "on the side" with their more affluent clients or that some clubs don't try to skim off the top of that action a bit).

A clip joint, on the other hand, skirts just as closely as it can on the legal line between entertainment and fraud by presenting a series of rooms, each offering (at least, suggesting or implying) a bit more skin, action, sex, etc., and each getting progressively more expensive. In some jurisdictions where false advertising claims can actually be won in court, such businesses do actually, eventually, produce the "goods". You may actually see a naked woman. She might even touch you. Thing is, at a clip joint, it's going to cost you hundreds of dollars, whereas at a regular strip club you can at least get a bit of attention (and some light petting) from a real dancer for a few bucks.

Clip joints often make wild claims (but only verbally, and only by implication, never directly) of fantastic sex or amazing girls awaiting those with enough money to run the gauntlet, and it's these claims that should be the first clue that you might be dealing with a scam instead of a legitimate offer.

Spotting a Clip Joint
In some cases clip joints are obvious, at least to someone who's been burned by one in the past (my wife and I were once scammed by the Red Rooster Too, which pretended to be a legitimate swingers' club). Still, there's always plenty of signs that you're stepping into a money pit.

  • You have to pay, even to get a glimpse of what kinds of services the company can (or can't) offer. -- Yes, a strip club charges cover before you can step inside, but you can generally ask just a few questions to get a fairly accurate picture of what the club is like. A clip joint won't tell you a damned thing; you have to pay if you want your questions answered. That's a bad sign.
  • You have little or no recourse for poor service. -- If the company makes it a point to explain that "all sales are final," or that "no refunds" can be given, it's a bad sign. I'm not saying it's common to get a refund of your cover charge if you don't have a good stay at a strip club, but it's not impossible. If there's some specific reasons you've had a bad time (a dancer insulted you or was rude, or you were treated poorly by staff), you may well get a refund if you explain yourself reasonably and calmly to the manager. At a clip joint, forget it. You're money's gone the minute you hand it over.
  • You can't accurately determine what the company sells or offers. -- Even after you've put up some money to get in the front door, if you can't get a straight answer out of anybody about what you can realistically expect, something's wrong. You're paying for something; you should know what that is before you pay for it.
  • The company behaves very differently than others in the same industry. -- In every region, certain types of businesses do certain things the same way, no matter who runs them or owns them. Most of this comes from an effort to stay legal; strip clubs for instance have to squirm through all sorts of laws to stay out of trouble. In many places, for instance, a club must be built such that you cannot see any nudity whatsoever just by peeking in the door; you have to walk inside, around a corner or two, etc., to get to the bared skin. They card people before they can even get to the door, much less through it. Swingers' clubs like to screen their members before granting admission. If you're not carded or otherwise scrutinized when you enter what you think is a regular strip club, watch out -- there may not be any actual nudity inside. If a swingers' club doesn't ask any questions when you want to join its membership, think twice before you pony up any money.
  • Prices are too high for the products and services offered. -- Just like most businesses in an industry behave in similar ways, so to do they keep their prices competitive with each other's. In a town where lap dances go for between $20 and $40 per song, a business suddenly expecting you to pony up $50 to $100 for a single dance (where a "big tip" may buy you "extras") is a sure sign of a clip joint.

These sound easy to avoid, but it's easy to get caught up in the moment and forget your common sense (or to override it) when you've got your hopes up. Being a cheap bastard helps avoid these traps anyway, but even if you've got money to burn, take the time to study the industry you're going to solicit before you jump head first into the first offer you get. You may find your wallet lighter but still be longing for something.

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