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Last Wednesday night, at a Midtown lounge, middle-aged Wall Street bankers in crisp blazers and more casually clad tech guys mingled with younger women in high heels. Both sexes eagerly eyed their prospects around a dimly lit, chandeliered bar as Drake’s “Nice for What” played in the background.
At first, the evening resembled a mixer connecting pretty 20-somethings with well-off men in their 30s, 40s and 50s, but, as the night wore on, things changed.
Some of the women led men to plush leather sofas lining the space and began dancing for them, seductively removing their tops and bras.
At new gentlemen’s club the Rosewood Theater, fresh-faced college coeds take off their clothes for wealthy men seeking a strip-club experience with a different, more hip feel than Scores or Sapphire.
It’s “Soho House meets the Box,” Rosewood founder Kalin Moon tells The Post, name-checking the trendy members’ club and the risque burlesque boite, both located downtown. “Strip clubs today … have no style and sophistication.”
Moon, a hospitality industry veteran, also operates WLVS, a private men’s-only club launched in 2014 that hosts private parties where its wealthy members can get lap dances or meet sugar babies. Rosewood, located at 552 W. 38th St., is his first venue open to the public.
The cost to enter is $40 for average Joes. (WLVS guys, who pay $100 or more per month to be a part of that society, can enter the club free of charge.) A sign in the lobby reads: “Drugs, soliciting, heavy touching, sex and bad vibes are strictly prohibited.”
Lap dances start for a “suggested gratuity” of $20 per song, and $125 buys access to semiprivate, curtained-off VIP rooms at the back of the club. There are no poles in the main space and, other than a weekly burlesque night, no public performances. A second-floor area — only accessible to WLVS members — features poles, along with a tapas kitchen that serves a burger with foie gras and edible gold for $100.
To further distinguish Rosewood from standard strip joints, Moon makes a point of hiring 20-something women who aren’t professional exotic dancers.
“Girls come [to work for me] literally straight out of college that don’t want to bartend, don’t want to work at a strip club,” Moon says. “If you look and act like a stripper, that’s a no. We just want the girl next door: bubbly personality and attractive in their own way.”
‘If you look and act like a stripper, that’s a no. We just want the girl next door.’
Naomi, a petite 22-year-old with long black hair, hasn’t yet graduated from NYU and started working for Moon about a month ago. On a recent night at Rosewood, she looked sexy but wholesome wearing subtle makeup, a slinky Topshop dress and strappy heels.
“They told us to dress like you’re going to a nice dinner with friends,” she says.
Naomi, who didn’t want to share her last name for privacy reasons, says she never gives her number to men she dances for, but, under different circumstances, she’d consider dating them.
“If I met them in another setting, I’d be friends with some of them,” she says.
She started working at Rosewood for financial independence because her parents are threatening to cut her off. She says she’s heard of girls making $800 a night, and, while she hasn’t raked in such sums yet, she’s hopeful she will.
“I’m able to start saving now,” Naomi insists. “It’s empowering.”
“Empowering” is a word Moon also tosses around. He notes that Rosewood women can come and go as they please. They don’t work by the hour, but rather are free agents who keep all of the money they make off lap dances.
“I asked a girl, ‘Why do you take your clothes off for guys?’ and she says ‘Kalin, you create this amazing experience. I’ve never felt this sexy with my boyfriend. I would do this for free,’” he claims. “I want to create an empowering atmosphere for women.”
Katie, a 21-year-old engineering student who started working for Moon a month ago, is also looking for financial independence. A blonde who wears her hair in long braids, she says it’s easier than studying.
“I like stroking a guy’s cheek to pretend that I care,” says Katie.
Some Rosewood clients certainly seem to buy into the illusion.
“Part of the allure is that they can come home with you,” says one client, who didn’t want to disclose his name.
At other clubs, strippers are just “going through the motions to make their financial goals — here it’s more about relationships,” he says.
Across the bar, a middle-aged guy in a blazer wraps his arm around a curvy brunette, and his wedding ring sparkles under the chandeliers.
“Most [of these men] … work all the time,” Moon says. “They accumulate all this money … they’ve done a lot and are now looking to enjoy their downtime — they want more.”
— Additional reporting by Heather Hauswirth
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