First, some background. There is only one agency in Manitoba that books exotic dancers, both male and female. It’s located in The White House, an elaborately decorated building downtown on Portage Avenue. The office of founder Rick Irving is atop a flight of marble stairs.
Inside, a visitor is met by a barking dog who appears to have the run of the place.
"Don’t pet him," the secretary advises. "He bites."
Turns out, the dog’s name is Napoleon and he has a cushion directly to the right of his owner, Irving, who for the last 27 years has managed Superb Entertainment Inc., which, among other endeavors, controls the exotic dancing industry in Manitoba. Superb is the distribution centre for all but a handful of dancers working in the province; recruiting, hiring, booking and overseeing.
Every Thursday, Irving schedules some 100 female dancers into appearances at approximately 25 bars across town and outside Winnipeg. Only three bars regularly host male dancers.
Most dancers walk in off the street to apply. There is no audition. They sign a form that, among other stipulations, forbids them from engaging in sexual relations with customers.
If Irving approves, the young dancer could be appearing at "Fresh Meat Mondays" (as it is commonly referred to by loyal patrons) at the Marion in just days. Or they could be on a bus to Thunder Bay for a one- or two-week gig that has served as a rite of passage for many in Irving’s stable over the years.
In all interviews, Irving also asks prospective dancers if they have any boyfriend or father "issues." Translation: "I’ve have had upset fathers and boyfriends come banging on office doors. I don’t want any problems," Irving explains.
When it comes to the recruitment process, however, Irving believes he has one advantage.
"Me being a gay guy," he says. "I’m not trying to take advantage of them. I’m not trying to hit on them."
Quite the opposite. Irving is often accused by his long-time partner, Mitch Fillion, of being a "Mother Hen."
But to understand that dynamic, you have to first know about Gladys.
Updated on Saturday, May 3, 2014 at 6:30 PM CDT: Corrects spelling of Chelsea; minor edits.
Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories? Please use the form below and let us know.
Having problems with the form?Contact Us Directly
S and P upholds rating, confident province will balance books
Selinger sidesteps questions on rules for leadership race
Agreement ends standoff at Jenpeg station
Police looking for a suspect in an alleged road rage incident that left a man dead
Bowman to attend Grey Cup, promote Winnipeg as a tourist destination
Water problems not linked to frozen underground lines, city says
Bowman to introduce proposals next week to keep campaign promises
City considers annual review for CAO
Police seek help in finding teen last seen in Fort Rouge
RCMP arrest Norway House man and woman after finding drugs, cash
Expanded powers for conservation officers
Doug & Buck gear up for Grey Cup
Teen who killed party-goer with punch avoids jail
Guay Park riverbank cash not lost, but project's future unclear
Winnipeg man jailed for assaulting girlfriend, off-duty officer
Snow-route parking ban begins Monday
Polar bears return to enclosure
Man arrested after multiple stabbings
Winnipeg shoppers hope for Black Friday deals
Firm fined $50K for fatal workplace accident
MD rapped after death, error
Woman jailed for running over man
Warmer today, with snow likely this morning
Councillors stunned riverbank cash gone
Winnipeg Airports Authority's debt soars to $646.3 million
Handful of First Nations yet to disclose finances
Earthling to touch down in city
New community-mailbox sites in St. Vital
Hola! Parents seek Spanish program at Luxton School
Thalidomide survivor hopes ongoing help around the corner
Oswald says she's being wooed
My life as an impoverished single mom
Keeping your baby happy and warm this winter
Siloam Mission gets step up on foot problems
Quenching a thirst