There are 2,762 strip clubs in the US (my informal tally from TUSCL.com). Enough money flows through these clubs that the Federal Reserve has taken notice. Not because of anything illegal, but because strip clubs nationwide have started using $2 bills. According to this article on CNN Money, depository institutions ordered $122 million in $2 bills in 2005 alone. That’s more than double the average yearly amount ordered from 1991-2000.
Strip clubs aren’t responsible for all the $2 bill usage, but they’re responsible for a large portion of it. Anyone who’s visited the Baby Dolls clubs in the DFW metroplex knows that giving change in $2 bills is a tradition. It’s fairly well-known in Dallas that if you have a pocketful of $2 bills, then you were in Baby Dolls. Of course, this reputation impels men to rid themselves of the pesky bills before they leave the club, which makes life a little better for the workers in the club.
When I was growing up, a $2 bill was a rarity and I collected any I came across. They were always crisp and looked so old-fashioned. When I started dancing at Baby Dolls, I discovered the true value of the $2 bill: it’s a strip club/Jedi mind-trick.
Guys hate the things, don’t like their association with strip clubs and the denomination make it hard for drunk guys to do math. So they get rid of them. Waitresses and strippers get tipped double what they normally would. Guys who would never dream of tipping a stage dancer two $1 bills will quickly hand over one or two $2 bills. He doesn’t see $2 bills as “real” money because they look different and aren’t in normal circulation. The waitresses and door girls know that the bills stay within the club so every time they bring change, they use as many $2 bills as possible.
I quickly found out that using the $2 bill in the real world isn’t so easy. Clerks can’t make correct change with it and no one has a cash register drawer for it. So I did what every girl does. I deposited my $2 bills in the bank and spent my $1s.
Although I’m sure that other strip clubs in the 90s were using the $2 bill gimmick as well, the only club consistently using it (that I know about) were the Baby Dolls clubs. I worked at another Burch Management club (Cabaret Royale) and the $2 bills weren’t there. I assume that Duncan Burch, who has been on Exotic Dancer forum panels and featured in the magazine, must’ve talked about this trick and the idea spread. Okay, I don’t really have any clue but that’s my best guess. He was becoming rather well-known (and respected) in the industry nationwide around 2000/2001. The requests for $2 bills began exploding in 2001.
With more and more strip clubs being pushed out of their communities or barred from building new clubs, here’s undeniable proof that Americans love naked breasts enough to affect the Federal Reserve (or at least the bill-printing part of it).