- Plural of fleshpot
A clip joint or fleshpot is an establishment, usually a strip club or entertainment bar, typically one claiming to offer adult entertainment or bottle service, in which customers are tricked into paying money and receive poor, or no, goods or services in return. Typically, clip joints suggest the possibility of sex, charge excessively high prices for watered-down drinks, and then eject customers when they become unwilling or unable to spend more money. The product or service may be illicit, offering the victim no recourse through official or legal channels.
In the United States, clip joints were widespread during the national prohibition of alcohol from 1920 to 1933. They are generally outlawed in America now. For instance, the New York State Liquor Authority will impose penalties against any licensed premise permitting such conduct.
Clip joints in the United KingdomA number of clip joints (or "near beer bars") still operate in London's Soho area, alongside legitimate strip bars.
The scam operated by these clubs is very simple: a customer is shown in from the door, typically by a hostess, and quickly offered a drink or the company of another hostess at their table. If they accept either offer, then as soon as they try and leave the bar, they will be presented with an outrageously high bill - often for several hundred pounds - for the drink, service charges, or hostess company. As with any bar bill, immediate payment is demanded on pain of criminal charges (or, occasionally, physical violence).
Although strongly disliked, this scam is in a legal grey area if extortion is not involved, since there is no law against charging high prices and it is the customer's own fault if they consume goods or services while unaware of how much they cost. It remains technically a confidence trick since customers order in the false confidence that prices will be around the standard market levels.
One such Clip Joint (for instance Twilight, Rupert Street) advertises a £5 nude show with a minimum order of one drink (the cheapest of which being a £4 half pint of lager). Once the drinks are paid for a bill will be presented to the customer for £35/person "hostess charge."
The New Wave of Clip Joints: Bottle Service Clubs
The clip joint has evolved over time into a sophisticated scam that targets a materialistic crowd eager to use their credit cards. The new take on the old scam is to offer a "VIP experience" in exchange for buying bottles of liquor at outrageously high prices. The setup is as follows: The customer is led to believe the experience will include great service, the chance to see celebrities, or the chance to meet attractive singles. Often the customer receives very little service, with the server only appearing twice: once to drop off the bottle (for customer to mix drinks on their own) and then again to drop off the bill. The scam includes hiring people to act as fellow club goers dancing and enjoying the club. Attractive women, hired as "floor managers", start up conversations with customers unaware of the arrangement. Word of mouth advertising is spread by "party promoters", who talk up the club or invite people to the club in way that disguises the commercial pitch as a normal conversation. http://nymag.com/news/features/27845/index4.html
Once in the club, the $50 bottle of liquor will be marked up $300 to $500. While the markup is officially legal, there are several grey areas exploited to pad the bill. For example, several extra mixers not ordered may be added to the final bill. An automatic twenty percent gratituty is added, marking up the final bill an additional $60-$100 when there was often little or no service. In extreme cases, a "minimum table charge" of 3-4 bottles is imposed and the customer is not allowed to leave without paying. The Manhattan bottle service club Arena is being sued for their version of the clip joint scam. In 2007, a patron knowingly purchased a $350 bottle of vodka, but was not told of a 3 bottle minimum. At the end of the night, he was presented with a $1050 tab that included two unordered bottles. When he refused to pay, the Arena bouncers threw the patron to the floor and held him down while punching and kicking him. After being threatened, the patron agreed to get money from an ATM. The bouncers escorted him two blocks to the ATM, where his debit card was declined. The bouncers then dragged him back to the bar, where he was held until police arrived.http://gothamist.com/2007/12/31/roughedup_revel.php
- National Prohibition of Alcohol in the U.S.
- Soho clip joints
- Guardian story: Soho clip joints to be forced out of business by police, dated February 29, 2004, accessed September 16, 2006.
- Bottle Club Patron Roughed Up
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