The biggest chain of strip clubs, says Exotic Dancer's Manack, is the privately held Déjà Vu Showgirls, with about 70 clubs nationwide. But Déjà Vu, which partnered with Hustler, usually puts one Larry Flynt's Hustler strip club in each market. Same goes for Scores, the topless club that shock-jock Howard Stern made famous, which is also licensing clubs in major cities. Another big-name player, Spearmint Rhino, has already eyed Denver, attempting to land a 20,000-square-foot stripper palace in Sheridan. But Lowrie appears to be the only one intent on dominating each of his multiple markets. The real prize for Lowrie, however, lies a step beyond the national strip-club expansion. He wants to leverage the clubs to secure a slice of the lucrative porn industry. Mark Kernes, senior editor of Adult Video News, estimates adult entertainment as a $10 billion to $12 billion industry, including strip clubs, novelty shops, the Internet, TV, and DVD sales. Lowrie is already seeing some of that cash, but he wants more.
The plan hinges on The Brand. Take the Diamond Cabaret. Let's say it becomes known as the premier "A" level club in eight markets nationally. Lowrie then ties it to a television channel (either satellite or cable, ideally a Denver-based outlet). He gets a cut of the channel, and that channel builds name-brand recognition and drives business to the clubs. Eventually porn stars from "the Diamond Cabaret Channel" make special appearances at his clubs. The television screens inside the club promote the network; advertisers buy time on the network (think Viagra). Complete the scene with a gift shop by the front door selling brand-name porn and the skin business is taking a page from Walt Disney. Except there are only three Disney theme parks in the United States-Lowrie wants 40. As for the name, it probably won't be the "Diamond Cabaret Channel." PT's has the biggest presence nationally and it has sentimental value-after all, it's the name Hal used on the original clubs. Also, since Lowrie's already got three Penthouse Club licenses in play, cashing in and expanding on the Penthouse brand is attractive to Lowrie. He calls the magazine "the second most recognizable name in adult entertainment." If he can't make his daddy's brand famous, he'd settle for capitalizing on the Gucciones' family biz. He's had talks with the players, and time will tell. "Maybe those guys underestimate us a bit; it just means we'll have to prove ourselves that much more. They'll be surprised how well the clubs help the magazine." He doesn't sound worried.