A perfectly executed example of the classic clip joint, located about half a mile from the Las Vegas strip on Sahara.

Clip joints are businesses set up with the sole purpose of screwing as much money out of as many people as possible. The ones that are "done right" (in the owner's mind, anyway) are those that stay on the "legal" side of the law (I didn't say "ethical", just "legal").

Still, I've probably described most businesses, even the legitimate ones, so I'll provide more detail.

The Red Rooster is a legitimate swingers' club in Las Vegas that, regretably, my wife and I have not had the pleasure (or funding) to visit since we moved here. It is very well regarded among the swinging community (what little of it I can actually find here), both for its spacious accomodations, and its willingness to welcome single men while still providing a couples only area.

The Red Rooster Too is a completely separate business, with nothing in common with the actual Red Rooster except for the name similarity. It shares one other thing in common with the Red Rooster -- it claims to be a swingers' club.

Here, the similarities end. Unfortunately, my wife and I were forced to learn about this place the hard way on one of the first vacations we took out here, and we had little information to go on. I've marked the items below as I narrate with "clue #x" markers as I berate myself for not recognizing the "scam" signs glowing in my face.

When you call the Red Rooster Too, they are quick to point out they are not the famed "Red Rooster" club. They point out their name is "Red Rooster Too" (clue #1). They welcome you to come visit for a tour.

On arrival, the warning signs continue. It's located in a strip mall (clue #2). Every legitimate club we've ever seen has been in a private residence (or at least a standalone building). When you walk into the entryway, you find a small bar, with a cash register (clue #3). It's empty, except for the staffer running the register (clue #4).

Those four hints there, if everything else was okay, wouldn't be a big deal. But it got worse. Unfortunately, our minds, blinded by excitement with being on vacation, ignored the other signs.

We were carded (no big deal; swingers' clubs do that too these days), then the staffer told us that to even see a tour of the place would cost $12.50 (clue #5). Legitimate clubs offer a free tour, and let you interact with the other patrons. This one didn't.

We stupidly paid the fee anyway, and took the tour. The place "looked" like a swingers' club, almost, in that it had rooms for groups of up to four to fool around in, and it had a hot tub. The similarities ended there, though; there wasn't another soul in the place (clue #6).

After the tour, we noticed there weren't any condoms around for use (clue #7 -- modern swingers' clubs provide these free of charge to encourage its members to practice safe sex). We saw some up front, for $1 a piece (clue #8). Finally, the staffer told us if we wanted to wait to see if anyone else would show up, it'd be another $12.50 to stay (clue #9).

Stupidly, we paid. We already knew we were beaten, but we were curious just how long they'd keep it up acting like a real swingers' club. Amazingly, the act never stopped. We waited half an hour, but nobody else showed up.

It's a perfect-executed clip joint because of how it's executed and because of how people think. The joint takes advantage of over-eager vacationers looking for some excitement. It tries, fairly successfully, to convey the image that paying just a little bit more will get you the action you want (sound a bit like the strip club clip joints, that let you in for a modest fee, keep teasing you with the promise of more flesh, and eventually a good lay, if you'll just pay another, steeper fee to get through the next door/curtain).

The place succeeds because people tend to believe several things; first, that nobody could be as cruel as to operate a business like this; second, that since you've already paid $12.50 to get in, another $12.50 to stay isn't that bad; third, that somebody just has to show up to make this place work. It succeeds because people want desperately to prove they're not being scammed when they know they are -- that's why very few people say "I don't think so; tours aren't supposed to cost anything," and instead figure "in for a penny, in for a pound" and try to make the best of a bad situation.

The place also flourishes because, from what I can tell, this is the first account, offline or online anywhere, of what this business does to people. People get embarrassed to talk about it when they get fleeced, so businesses like this never get exposed. I've verified that it's still doing business, still probably pulling the same old scam. Why wouldn't it be? With tourists just taking one shot then never coming back, and locals knowing to avoid to the place, who's left to shut it down? Who's to say it should be shut down?

We got sucked in by it just like lots of other folks do. Of course all the warning signs were there, and we, as young and foolish kids completely ignored them. The fairly inexpensive lesson (better $25 than a few thousand getting fleeced at a used car lot) did teach us to be more wary, and this club represents the last time either of us have blown any money at all on a scam.

It taught us some very specific things, and reminded us of things we didn't realize we knew.

A fortunate side effect of this experience is that we are now (probably overly) cautious about any business whose name includes "Too". It's helped us avoid Crazy Horse Too like the plague; it's just a strip club, but in the past six months it's been raided by the FBI and at least one patron has been shot and killed in its front parking lot, right in front of the staff. Combine that with rumoured mafia connections and you've got a business I'm all too happy to stay away from.

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