Stephen Less head of Secrets lapdancing clubs

Stephen Less is the Head of the Secrets group of table dancing clubs which is one of the longest established and largest in the UK with 5 clubs currently open and a 6th in the pipeline all in Central London. Two of the clubs were recently subject to a hidden camera expose by the Channel 4 programme Despatches. I met up with Stephen to discuss the industry, the state of the economy, and his response to this programme.Tyke. How did you initially get involved with table-dancing clubs?


SL. I had been involved in the leisure industry for over 30 years running pubs, nightclubs, restaurants etc and in the mid 90s I saw table-dancing clubs as a new branch of this business with great potential. At the time there were only 2 clubs operating in London namely FYEO Park Royal and Stringfellow’s and both were doing very well. We located suitable premises in Hammersmith {right}and opened in July 1997, we were {I believe} the 3rd club in London.

Tyke. How did it go?

SL. Very well and it enabled us to expand opening a further 4 clubs over the next 7 years in different areas of London. Running one is more similar to a conventional nightclub that most people might think, you have most of the same elements though having to recruit and keep some dancers is sometimes a complication, but we have a strong management team and the customers tend to be well behaved.

Tyke. You never expanded out of the capital, why not?


SL. Our strategy was to stay within the M25 so that we could keep managerial control of the clubs and wouldn’t have to spend half our lives in the car or in hotels. There were ample opportunities within the M25 corridor at least in those days.



Tyke. Are your current clubs all the same?

SL. They all operate in a similar way but they all have totally different characters. It’s partly a reflection of the location and layout of the venue but also the personality and ability of the club manager makes a big difference.

Tyke. Where do you recruit your managers from?

SL. It varies, a couple are ex waiters/barmen who have been promoted internally, others have managed other clubs and come recommended.

Tyke. Has the credit crunch had a big impact yet ?

SL. It’s had an impact on almost every type of business but it’s not affected the actual numbers going to our clubs at all so far. The bad impact has been that we are getting less really big spenders coming through the door because a lot of the City Boys have lost their jobs and the rest afraid of losing their jobs soon. About 70% of our customers are regulars and nearly all of them are still coming in as often as before but spending a bit less when they are here.


Tyke. Has the Despatches programme had any impact?

SL. So far it’s been beneficial and increased custom. We are complaining to the broadcasting authorities about the programme which was hopelessly biased and one sided from the outset. It was supposed to be about “supposed loopholes” in the new licensing act but it only featured places that had been open long before it came into effect and a proper balanced programme would have featured a number of London table-dancing clubs and not just one chain.

A lot of what was said was factually inaccurate and the programme had 2 undercover people approaching a number of dancers in a number of our clubs, over several days in order to get one or two to say something about “extras” and to come up with what they did. We also think that the offer made in the broadcast was probably subject to questionable editing which we are looking into in great detail, so watch this space.

The Secrets chain had taken over the historic Gaslight club in St James

Spilling the Secrets

The Secrets Soriety Striptease

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