Lap(top) dancers: how a strip club is adapting to the coronavirus
Atlanta’s Magic City is one of the world’s most famous strip clubs. Now, prompted by the coronavirus lockdown, it’s launched a live streaming platform. But how do you replicate the IRL magic online?
In a recently resurfaced WestFestTV clip going viral on Instagram, Nuthin’ But a “G” Thang-rapper Snoop Dogg and Atlantan musician K Camp passionately discuss their favourite place in Atlanta.
“Magic City was the business,” says Dogg, stringing out each word for emphasis.
“Magic City is still the business,” interjects K Camp.
Founded in 1985, the prominent Atlanta strip club has become a fully-fledged cultural phenomenon. A big concrete box nestled between undesirable buildings downtown, Magic City is a monumental magnet for the hustlers, strippers, rappers and businessmen that congress on the club’s sweat-soaked, money-covered dance floor to “shake some ass”. Rihanna, Cardi B and Offset frequently show face, while four-time album chart topper Future penned a love letter to the ATL hotspot with his tune Magic.
However, like most businesses around the world, the legendary establishment was forced to close back in March.
“We look out for our girls,” says the club’s brand manager Katrina Fuqua over the phone from her apartment, “we’re one of the only strip clubs to formally hire our girls so they can get employment benefits.”
The coronavirus outbreak has disrupted many industries with millions losing jobs and income sources – including adult entertainers. While subscription-based social networking service Onlyfans has seen a 75% uptick of out-of-work porn stars and strippers charging monthly fees for NSFW content, Magic City has gone one step further by setting up a live streaming initiative, Magic City Live, for its dancers.
“We started out by uploading more risque dances onto our close friends’ Instagram story and charging people $20 to be added,” continues Furqua, “however the app got in touch saying this breached their policy.” Luckily the club’s head honcho was already working on the virtual platform – magiccitylive.lsl.com – which went live last week.
Upon entering the site you’ll find profiles for 102 women each offering a variety of services, from virtual “lap” dances from a safe, socially-acceptable distance, to private sessions where you can ask for role play, close ups or even just a good old fashioned chit chat.
“I’m a performer and I like to do interactive things that get people involved,” says Coy Malone, a dancer currently active on the site. “I might do something really goofy like throwing out some commands. I’ve never been much of a twerker – I can, but I’m not going to get on there and just shake some ass.”
Coy Malone has been working at Magic City for three years. Her most memorable night at the strip club was P.Diddy’s birthday bash in 2019 which saw TI, Lil Kim and Mary J Blige all in attendance. Either that, or the night her wig got caught in another dancer’s heel before hurtling through the air into the crowd.
Malone’s webcam show comes complete with elaborate Mardi Gras outfits and medal-worthy gymnastic dance routines that give pieces of living room furniture new life (think handstands on armchairs and all that jazz). As for the interactive part, viewers can chat to her via the sidebar and make it (virtually) rain with PayPal tips and when she performs their favourite moves.
Magic City has always been more than just a strip club: the venue has been largely credited for launching the careers of a number of now-global hip-hop stars thanks to the selections of its resident DJs and has long been something of an underground hub for the industry.
“A lot of artists get their start because we played their music so much,” says Fuqua, “Future, Lil Baby and Migos really got their break ‘cos we played their music so much.”
And so Atlanta’s finest dancers will resume their roles as hip-hop’s de facto A&Rs with the help of one of the club’s esteemed resident DJs, DJ Outta Space, who has curated a playlist of Magic City-approved tunes to soundtrack the live streams.
“I have been practising on my own Instagram live, just feeling out the vibe because it’s different to the strip club ‘cos you’re at home,” explains the club’s Monday and Saturday night disc jockey. “I wanna keep it like the strip club, though, but definitely more of a vibe.”
DJ Outta Space first started doing dayshifts in January 2010 after “basically growing up there”. By 2015 he had worked his way up to the coveted Magic Monday 3am slot. “In all my years I’ve been at Magic City, Dreams and Nightmares is still the number one song that gets everyone turnt up,” he confirms.
When it comes to Magic City live, he’s exploring a different sonic approach: “In the strip club it’s more heavy bass, because it’s all driven to getting you to pay attention to the dancers. At home you’re gonna be sitting down so I want it to be more atmospheric – I might even throw in some Michael Jackson.”
Right now the US state of Georgia is starting to slowly ease its lockdown restrictions, with certain businesses – like hairdressing salons and clothing shops – being allowed to open, but it seems like there’s still a long way to go before Magic City can light up downtown with its neon blue sign.
“I’m not sure if things will go back to normal after this,” says Fuqua, “I think people will be hesitant to go back to a club while there’s no vaccine for coronavirus.”
Malone thinks otherwise. “I think everything will go back to normal. Believe it or not, in Atlanta there’s already a law in the palace for strip clubs where we’re supposed to be dancing about four to five feet in front of the customer, anyway.”
True to her word, when asked what the first thing she’ll be doing when lockdown is properly lifted, Malone responds: “Oh, I’ll be at Magic City, for sure.”