Dancers and Detectives

A play turns a fictional strip club into the site of a sexy murder-mystery

Strip clubs and topless revues in Las Vegas are like coffee shops in Seattle—there are multitudes of them and they all offer the same thing. This begs the question: Do we really need another T&A show?

$trip The Play—which touts pasties, booty shorts and pole dancing with a murder mystery storyline—is banking on an affirmative. Unlike the other topless shows and boobie bars, this $25 play offers a sexy strip club vibe, while playfully mocking the stereotypical drama and sleaziness.

George Damian, the writer, producer and director, based a large part of the story on the tales he heard and the people he met during his time as a San Diego-strip-club DJ: “Not the murder part, but definitely the basis of the characters,” he says. “But a lot of dancers’ stories are sad. I wanted it more balanced—not too sexual, not too campy, not too graphic.”

Damian has accomplished just that. Although the show is a little cheesy, the cheese has its charm. The story includes the classic strip club elements and stereotypes: The stagehand wipes the pole between dancers. The sound track includes strip anthems “I Touch Myself” and “She’s My Cherry Pie.” All the dancer personalities—the bitch, the lesbian, the druggie—come out to play, leading to juicy drama between the girls and complex relationships within the club. It all comes together to present the real strip-club experience, but in a comedic way that’s unexpected and, strangely enough, refreshing. It makes you laugh and keeps you guessing the true identity of the murderer.

The play had a successful run when it premiered in 2007 at the Actor’s Playpen in Los Angeles, Damian says. Then, the script was based on a former stripper who tried out for American Idol but was disqualified when they found out about her past. Now, the story revolves around the murder of Buck, the Sunset Lounge’s owner. A Las Vegas Metro Police file clerk (played by L.A.-based actress Tara Lynn Phillips) goes undercover and becomes the strip club’s newest dancer, America, who solves the crime and discovers her inner stripper.