Is it time for Deja Vu to go?

deja2Apparently no photographic proof exists, but an acquaintance of mine was issued a written warning by Ypsilanti police yesterday after writing “Ypsilanti respects women” and “Ypsilanti doesn’t need a strip club” in liquid chalk on the facade of our local all-nude strip joint, Deja Vu. (See his written warning from the officer below.) He and I have yet to have an opportunity to speak about it in person, but it would seem as though, based on what he’s shared online, that he’s initiating a campaign to have the Washington Street club shut down. At least that’s what it looks like to me, given the fact that he’s publicly reached out to several individuals currently running for elected office in Ypsilanti, asking that they “ban strip clubs from Ypsi’s city limits,” followed by the hashtag #WhatWouldMarthaWashingtonDo… a reference to the fact that the building in question, long before it was a strip joint, was the Martha Washington Theater.

Well, as it’s been a while since we’ve talked about the local sex trade in all it’s various forms, I thought that this might be a good opportunity.

Personally, I don’t like Deja Vu all that much. I understand from some folks in town that they’re good neighbors, and they police the activities of their patrons pretty well, but, all things being equal, I’d rather have a real theater downtown than a strip joint owned by a friend of Larry Flynt’s where, as I’ve said in the past, “men sip fruit juice and stare sadly into the orifices of coeds.” At the same time, though, I’m not terribly keen on the idea of shutting businesses down, as I value the first amendment and appreciate the right of consenting adults to do what they like behind closed doors. With that said, though, my sense is that there are other strip joints in the world that are significantly more friendly to women. At least I’ve heard in the past that strip clubs in the Portland area, for instance, are often owned and operated by women, which I think, from the perspective of a nude entertainer, would be preferable. In other words, I don’t think I’d go so far as to say all strip clubs are, by their very nature, bad. I suspect some are pretty good. In fact, I’ve often thought that, if such a place existed, I’d frequent a club that featured women in powered wigs stripping to harpsichord music.

I’m curious where the rest of you stand on this. Is it time for a coordinated campaign to get Deja Vu out of downtown?


Also, regardless of how they may or may not treat women at Deja Vu, my sense is that their model may not work for much longer in Ypsi. When the auto plants were in Ypsi, and the downtown was dead, it probably made good economic sense. I don’t know if that model works so well when the plants are gone and a family-friendly restaurant like Beezy’s is across the street, though. It seems to me that, sooner or later, the owners of Deja Vu might want to move a little further down Michigan Avenue to a town with better demographics and fewer people staring in judgement at their patrons.

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  1. dennis
    Posted June 15, 2014 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

    D’Real Graham is an arrogant, self-righteous fuck. He talks about women being disrespected, but gets all patriarchal like he knows what’s best for the women who work there. Fuck him and his puritanical attitudes towards women.

  2. Frosted Flakes
    Posted June 15, 2014 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

    Strip clubs strike me as sad places and I have no interest in going to any strip club (again), but, if Deja Vu is operating in a legal way, then I fully reject any campaigns to “get Deja Vu out of town”.

    I also support the police in giving your friend a fine if he continues to deface the property of a legally operating business.

  3. Posted June 16, 2014 at 6:19 am | Permalink

    They strike me as sad places, too. I don’t understand the dudes who go during their lunch hour…like they just can’t make it until the end of the day until they see boobs? Really? They just need the boobs SO BADLY?!

    That said, I would see men in powdered wigs strip to harp music. It couldn’t possibly be more pitiful than when I went to Danny’s for my bachlorette party.

  4. Eel
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    Someone needs to make a fake ad for DejaVu with the line “stare sadly into orifices”.

  5. Dan
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    Why does your friend think he knows what’s best for other people? Why does he want to take tax dollars off of the city’s income sheet? Why does he want to take away the jobs of law abiding citizens?

    This kind of shit drives me nuts. This guy is no better than the quacks protesting outside of planned parenthood. Actually, he’s worse

  6. Dan
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    as far as the business aspects go, I’d probably wager that they will shut the doors in the next year or so. Kind of surprised that they havent yet. Back in the day, people used to come to that street for bars and night life. Being open until 4 or 5 or whatever it is, was a nice way to get the drunk kids in after the bars shut down.

    When I was younger, we would go to that piano bar every now and then. You’d see tons of guys walking back and forth between the vu and the bars to get a drink in between lap dances or whatever. Can’t really imagine anyone wanting to venture over to the Vu these days to get a pop. Maybe college freshmen, or someone wanting to see their first vagina

  7. Mr. X
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    A guy writing “respect women” in chalk, which will wash off, is worse than someone yelling “baby killer” at young women as they go into Planned Parenthood for cancer screenings?

    I get that you love your local strip club, but Jesus Christ.

  8. Eel
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    Deja Vu: Stare into Your First Vagina

  9. Liz DMG
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    I don’t like having to explain what the marquee means to my seven year old, a new reader who must figure out what everything says. Regardless, it seems like a waste of effort to remove a legal (tax paying!) business. Especially given all the empty space right next to it.

    If it’s time for the ‘Vu to go, it will fail and go. Until then, if you don’t like it don’t go there.

  10. Megan
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    I went to Deja Vu once for a friends bachelor party (yes i’m a woman). It wasn’t too bad. Seemed clean enough. I didn’t really know what to expect, but the women i spoke to were nice. Mary Jane gave me a lap dance and she was working on her degree at EMU. Maybe if more women went we could give the women a break from creepy dudes? No harm in working your way through college as long as it’s voluntary and consensual.

  11. Jules
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    As a former stripper/topless dancer (we’re talking waaaay back, in the seventies), I can give you my view on this. This behavior pisses me off. I’ve never met him and I’m impressed with his tutoring work but this IS some patriarchal bullshit. There are SO many feels that I have about this but I don’t want to go into all of them. Look, these are grown-ass women and they’re doing what they want to do and probably making decent amount of money doing it. He wants to “respect” them by taking a a source of legal income away from them. Do I wish that women would band together and realize the power that the have and actually run this industry themselves? Hell yeah. When I was dancing in Metro Detroit clubs in the early 80’s, the dancers were actually paid an hourly rate. At least, there was that. Lap dances hadn’t come into vogue, yet (thank the gods). Then this creep came along and changed all of that. He came up with the brilliant idea of making the dancers pay HIM to work in the clubs. I don’t even understand how that’s legal but it’s still going on. I wish the dancers would band together and form a union but I’m doubtful that could ever happen for many reasons.

  12. Dan
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    @Mr. X

    I knew i should have explained what I meant when I said worse than the planned parenthood people. I basically meant that there are a lot of laws involved and those people actually believe that abortions clinics are either illegal or should be. IMO, someone ranting about lap dances is worse than someone thinking an abortion should be illegal. at least there is some reasoning.

    as far as loving my local strip club, nah. I’d probably take my chances at the Hot Spot, where I could get a blowjob for the price of a pop at the Vu

  13. Meta
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    I’d rather we push for a local strippers union. There has been some good movement in the last few years.

    The words “labor dispute” make a lot of people imagine big men on a picket line. This, despite the fact that the high-profile workers’ struggles of the past year happened in jobs dominated by women stuck with low wages and little respect: from domestic workers securing benefits in New York state, to Chicago’s teachers’ strikes, to this week’s Black Friday actions organized across the country against Wal-Mart. There’s another group of women we should add to this list, women who have been continually fighting for their rights at work, who are met with disbelief and retaliation when they stand up, and smirking headlines and punny scorn even when they win.

    Last week, strippers employed by the Spearmint Rhino chain won an unprecedented $13 million settlement in Federal court, the result of a class action suit to restore back wages and contest their status as independent contractors of the clubs. Deciding in the dancers’ favor is U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Phillips, best known for ruling “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” unconstitutional in 2010. It’s one of the largest financial settlements awarded to dancers at a major chain in the United States—with 20 locations worldwide, and though Spearmint Rhino would not release this information, it’s fair to estimate with several hundred if not several thousand dancers working in their clubs in the United States. In sex workers’ ongoing fight for the same rights on the job that any worker should expect, will the dancers’ case be a tipping point in the strip club business? “Spearmint Rhino is a big brand.” says Bubbles Burbujas, a stripper and one of the co-founders of the popular sex work blog Tits and Sass. “There’s no way this won’t have an effect.”

    It’s definitely a big win for the 14 dancers named in the suit, but also for dancers in California. Judge Phillips ruled that within 30 days Spearmint Rhino must stop charging dancers what are known as “stage fees” for the right to work. Phillips also ruled that the chain is required to grant all dancers in their clubs employee status within six months, ending the illegal practice of classifying dancers as independent contractors while also placing workplace demands on them that far exceed that legal status. By managing dancers like employees but putting them on the books as independent contractors, club owners get out of paying dancers the benefits they’re legally entitled to, which could include worker’s compensation, unemployment, and health insurance if they qualify. Owners and management alike tell dancers they’re independent, but they still exercise control over dancers on the job, routinely using the kinds of restrictive rules on breaks and conduct you’ve come to expect of Wal-Mart, not the mythically “anything goes” world of sex work.

    Read more:

  14. Dan
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 9:03 am | Permalink


    thanks for the prospective. My Dad actually grew up with that “Topless Prophet” guy. They called him “hamster” around the neighborhood. You can see why. Apparently, these days, he’ll have your knees broken for calling him that.

  15. Meta
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    I followed your link, Jules, and read the story about Alan Markovitz. This is the first comment after the story.

    FormerDancer27 • 8 months ago

    All LIES. ALAN is a sick disgusting control freak. I worked for him for him for several years. He fired a couple friends of mine because they wouldn’t do sexual nasty stuff with him. His ex wife left him because she busted him many times cheating. He’s obsessed with her now that she moved on. He bought the house next door to her & her new lover. The man has issues. He believes his own lies. If u don’t do whatever it is he wants from u, “YOUR FIRED” his favorite words haha! He thinks he’s Donald Trump! The girls now days in his clubs have very bad drug
    addictions, have pimps, are forced by someone to do whatever to make money and pay TIP OUT to Alan. starting at $105 + per shift. Under age girls wasted drunk & high doing Un-protected sexual favors “extras in the VIP rooms. Everyday girls are crying they caught done STD or tested positive for HIV. It’s a sad place to work in these days. Hopefully The Detroit Police put a STOP TO WHAT’S GOING ON IN THESE CLUBS. Alan has a bouncer working there Frank who is a Detroit cop. Frank has only kept his job because he gives the bar a heads up about when the cops r coming in! Alan &his clubs are dirty.

  16. Frosted Flakes
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    Mr. X,

    For what it is worth, Before Dan brought it up, I was thinking that the “respect women” protest was similarly inappropriate–like the anti abortionist activism I saw on Michigan avenue. I suspect Dan is trying to simply remind the readers of this blog that just because a certain strand of middleclass, educated and politically connected residents of Ypsilanti want Deja Vu to be run out of town IT DOES NOT MEAN THEY HAVE THE RIGHT TO DO SO.

    “Is it time for a coordinated campaign to get Deja Vu out of town?”–What an offensive question!

  17. Jules
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    Meta, that’s a fantastic Atlantic article. Gives me a glimmer of hope for women in the Metro Detroit clubs. There’s so much wage theft going on in all kinds of work. Years later, I went to massage school and worked in some very high end salons and was paid a decent wage. And then the owners started coming up with the “independent contractor” bullshit, too, though it couldn’t have been further from the truth. We were employees by every single definition of the word.

  18. anonymous
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    Frosted Flakes, why is it offensive to pose a question?

  19. Jules
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    Maybe someone should show this to Mr. Graham.

  20. Sock Puppet
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    I got excited when I thought this was announcing the arrival of Deja Vu To Go.

    Pizza Hut Pizza-to-Go is yummy, Starbucks to go is essential, but Deja Vu To Go would be really awesome.

  21. Thom Elliott
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    “…where I could get a blowjob for the price of a pop.” “Dan”,’s anwser to Eliot Rodgers.”Dan” not only feels entitled to blowjobs from strippers, but they’d better be cheap blowjobs. It was as though the pleasure of fellating this subhuman UofM “research scientist” was reward enough for the struggleing single mothers of Ypsilanti, who not only have to luridly dance for his greasy dollars, but are forced to bitterly choke down this sick pig’s acrid member in order to pay the bills. I suppose I shouldn’t be shocked by the outright misogyny this post attracted from the likes of human garbage like “Dan”, but that no one was critical of human trafficking, molestation, and the industrial objectification of women is utterly appauling. Should sex workers have a union? Yes. Should the nefarious element strip clubs introduce into communities be tolerated? No. Death to the Deja Vu, death to sex slavery, death to industrial misogyny.

  22. Dan
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    i thought we called a truce, Thom?

  23. Frosted Flakes
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 9:48 am | Permalink


    Fill in the blank until YOU become offended.

    Is it time for a coordinated effort to get ______out of town?

  24. Dan
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    and Thom,

    When was Deja Vu accused of human trafficking?

  25. Dan
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    actually, it sounds like shutting down Deja Vu could increase human trafficking.

  26. Dan
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    and secondly Thom, I take great offense to your insinuation that I have an acrid penis. I use Gold Bond

  27. Elf
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    If you want to help, get them unionized.

  28. Lynne
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    I pretty much agree with you about this, Mark. I mean, I can’t say that I like the place and I really would love to have an actual movie theater in town. I have mixed feelings about strip clubs too as they do often seem degrading to women however, on the flip side, I feel that as a culture we are way too prude about matters of nudity and sex.

    If deja vu wants to fit in better with our community (which I haven’t seen any evidence of), they might consider working with some feminist women to organize a true body positive burlesque show or something. There is nothing wrong with women celebrating their own bodies and I guess some dudes might like to watch that.

  29. Dan
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    idk, the “Topless MILF and GILF” contest probably represented a “true body” show. No word on whether or not any dudes enjoyed it.

  30. That Was Fast!
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

  31. Posted June 16, 2014 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    “If deja vu wants to fit in better with our community (which I haven’t seen any evidence of), they might consider working with some feminist women to organize a true body positive burlesque show or something. There is nothing wrong with women celebrating their own bodies and I guess some dudes might like to watch that.”

    This is exactly why I dislike “communities.”

  32. Posted June 16, 2014 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    Let me be clear.

    “Our community” is an exclusionary term. It supposes that a fixed group of people hold a monopoly on morality within a geographic space. Those who do not subscribe to those codes are not members of the “community.”

    It:s this kind of thinking that led to book burnings at best and lynchings at worst. Either way, I want absolutely no part of it.

  33. Aaron B.
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    After we ban strip clubs I think puppet theaters should be next and then the family friendly restaurants of Ypsi… but honestly I am not for banning places nor getting in the way of free speech or free expression. It is not illegal what they are doing, they pay their taxes, and last I checked there are several vacant spots on that block and another one would not do anyone any good.

  34. Frosted Flakes
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 3:20 pm | Permalink


    People who operate Deja Vu, dance at Deja Vu and are customers of Deja Vu are members of our community. Why would you think otherwise?

  35. Ben
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    Thom, I agree with you.

    It is possible (VERY POSSIBLE) to be sex positive and feminist. One of my friends runs a sex positive feminist sex toy store and there are feminist / queer oriented pornography sites even (Tobi Hill-Meyer is even going to be at Allied Media Conference in Detroit this week, talking about ideas of activism and body positivity in regards to queer / feminist / transgender positive porn). If this institution was unionised / women and feminist owned that would be one thing, but I don’t get that vibe out of this. This establishment feels exploitative. Of course, this also has to do with an economy and a patriarchal system that privileges men, pushing many women down on their luck into positions where working at an exploitative institution. Many working class men have to work at demeaning and exploitative institutions too, but this is more intense.

    That said, I wish they would go. Ypsilanti needs the Martha Washington Theatre. We need a space where the community can have performances of music and of film. We are very lucky to have spaces like the Dreamland Theater and cafe’s like Cafe Ollie and Ugly Mug which welcome all ages performances, but we need more places that aren’t a bar. I don’t know if Ypsi could support something as intense as the Michigan Theater (which is in the process of buying outright and running outright the State Theater) but we could probably have something like the Redford Theater in Detroit, which is volunteer run and shows films like once a week. We could use the space for music too!

    The second this places closes, I’d love to be involved. We could reach out to Russ Collins for advice, because he was the one who helped build the modern institution of the Michigan Theater! :)


  36. Lynne
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    Peter, that is kind of dramatic, don’t you think? You are reading way more into what I wrote than was my intention.

    Every community has its own character that evolves organically based on the combined values of the members of the community. One of the values that I like about Ypsilanti, btw, is that most people are pretty tolerant of others who are different than them. That includes, in many cases, tolerating things like strip clubs even when they go against our feminist sensibilities. I know that I wouldn’t support forcing Deja Vu to close even though I think strip clubs do tend to dehumanize women.

    However, if their business isn’t doing well, as has been suggested here, catering to the mainstream values in the community just makes good business sense. I just suggested that even though they are a strip club, they could still be a strip club but perhaps one which more closely caters to the prevailing popular values of the city in which they are located. You know, to bring in more customers. i.e. strip clubs do not have to be disgusting but instead could be something positive. That is all.

  37. Lynne
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    Of course I think that the patrons, dancers, staff, etc of Deja Vu are part of our community. They are a minority though. Which is OK. However, the mainstream values that I encounter daily in Ypsilanti are that women are more than objects so I don’t think their values are in sync with everyone else’s. That is also ok. People are allowed to think differently from the majority but unfortunately economic forces tend to favor businesses which cater to the mainstream values (I.e. the values of the majority), hence my suggestion.

  38. anony
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    My out-of-town friends love to point “a huge dick presides over the whole city, one might think a strip club is required”

    That being said, I am torn about this – I don’t care if Deja Vu is morally ok or not. They have kept an otherwise empty building maintained, on the tax roles and busy. That is better than any of the alternatives. I’ve been here long enough to see a few waves of anti-Vu silliness. They are easy to pick on. Reality is this, downtown Ypsi can’t support a(nother) theater and she’ll have to be a bit beyond the empty store fronts and plethora nail and hair salons before she can. Someday – probably. Now ? Bad idea. Additionally – They have been generally good business citizens. They even changed their sign when a few folks in Normal Park got wildly offended and asked them to. Why eat our own?

    On the other hand, that area is creepy and I think much of that is because of the Vu. Its been a year or so since I have walked through there but I used to be at the Centennial building regularly- getting there was creepy – Vu is creepy, the crime/drug vibe from the bus stop, the faux/front party store, the prostitute fights on pearl and that odd little barber shop…all creepy. The biz I went to moved to a \ place where its potential customers didn’t get creep-ed out getting to them and I know of at least one other business that made the same choice. So, yeah – its an issue that does drive away businesses.

    But lets not get delusional here. Its a false choice to say “we can run the Vu out and replace it with a theater” – nobody has the money for it. And seriously, some guy trying to make his name with sidewalk chalk ?…that is creepy too.

  39. Frosted Flakes
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    Ben’s comment makes me half suspect that people would want to run Deja Vu out of town so they might have a chance to gain control over a cool old theater that could serve their own purposes. Perhaps I am overly cynical…

  40. Quinn
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    I have mixed feelings about this gesture, despite my warm feelings for the chalk-graffiti artist in question. On one hand it’s great to have male allies in the fight against misogyny. I’m all for calling attention to female oppression. On the other hand, what message is this sending the women that work there? That to respect their personhood we should close down the place they work? That sex work is inherently disrespectful to women? That we need male saviors to protect us from the male gaze? If the intent is to call attention to issues impacting local women calling out Deja Vu is low-hanging fruit. Let’s talk about the county’s jail diversion program for sex workers, human trafficking, equal pay, sex worker’s rights, domestic violence, and the conservative war on women’s reproductive health. I hope the discussion continues!

  41. Posted June 16, 2014 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    I would love to see Deja Vu gone. As a survivor of sexual violence, I hate walking by their marquee — it disgusts me. It feels like a re-perpetration. As a feminist (and someone who’s spent thousands of bucks to become sex-positive), I don’t buy that working in the sex trade is empowering. It degrades women to pay them to treat their bodies as objects for male gratification. As a society, we can’t even be bothered to pay women EQUAL PAY for equal work! Thus women don’t have a genuine free choice. I believe that, were equal paying options available, only a small minority of people (male or female) would choose to work in this industry. Comparing an effort to remove an exploitive business like this to book-burnings and lynchings is really twisting history — those incidents were perpetrated by the facist mass culture against intellectuals and whites against minorities to enforce the status quo, instill fear, and allow domination of by racist thugs. It’s a false comparison.

  42. Frosted Flakes
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 6:26 pm | Permalink


    The comparison is valid if you don’t get bogged down in the irrelevant particulars. At best you would have a group of people trying to enforce their moral code on others because they are in a position of power. At worst, you would have a group of people using their power for the opportunity of personal gain for themselves and their clan.

  43. koosh
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

    i e-mailed all of the people running for mayor to see if they would come out in favor of closing deja vu. the only person to respond was tyronne bridges, and all he wrote in his e-mail back was ‘tittays!’

  44. Dan
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

    There are plenty of other vacant buildings in downtown Ypsi to turn into a feminist theater. Why does a tax paying business need to leave?

  45. D'Real Graham
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    Phase two of the conversation begins Saturday, June 21 at noon (#WaterStreetCommons).

  46. Posted June 16, 2014 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

    Like I said in the original post, I’m conflicted about this. I don’t have any love in my heart for Deja Vu, but I don’t like the idea of cities banning adult businesses. (Banning national chains I could get behind, though.) If I were forced to take a public position, I’d probably say that we should find a free market solution… Encourage a woman, or a group of women, to open a strip joint 1000x more awesome somewhere else in town, driving the Vu out of business. Or find an entrepreneur to make them an offer on the building and open a theater. (My guess is that they aren’t making anywhere near the money they used to make, so it’s conceivable that they’d take the opportunity to close down and move further down Michigan Ave.) And, in the meantime, I like the idea of interviewing the women that work there about the economics of the industry, and trying to think of ways to make it more fair to them. I don’t know how feasible a union would be, given the dynamics of the industry, but it would certainly be worth exploring.

  47. Dan
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

    When is Phase 1?

  48. Posted June 16, 2014 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

    (also posted on D’Real’s facebook post:)

    The Vu is an “existing non-conforming land use”, which is to say that it would not be legal today for a strip club to open in that location, but, if a land use is operating legally, they can keep operating legally even in the face of changes to the zoning laws that would not permit that business. There is no change that any Ypsi City Council could make today to force the Vu to move, short of perhaps buying them an even better property and offering to trade. (And, in that case, I’d ask whether yet another vacant property on Washington Street is really what downtown needs right now.)

    As noted, adult entertainment businesses cannot legally be regulated out of existence in any given municipality, because pornography is considered protected speech. Municipalities can regulate the “time, place, and manner” of the speech under certain conditions, such as saying that adult entertainment has to be at least 1,000 feet from a school or residential area, but you have to be careful that the resulting map leaves enough property “in bounds” that a strip club could reasonably find a place to operate.

    So, while Ypsilanti may not need a strip club, we can neither legally regulate them out of existence, nor forcibly remove the Vu itself.

    So, if it’s given that we’re going to have such businesses, would we prefer the approach that many communities take, of pushing them to our boundaries, as if our neighboring communities don’t have similar concerns to our own, or burying them in our industrial parks as our secret shame, or would we rather have them operate in the open, acknowledging that they exist and, if we are so concerned, keeping an eye on them? (I don’t think any conversation about, for example, unionizing the Vu’s dancers would happen if it were tucked away in the back of our industrial park, so perhaps keeping it in the public view is the better option for maximizing the social good possible?)

  49. Posted June 16, 2014 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

    And, as Frosted Flakes suggests, I’m a little concerned about a conflict of interest between “Ypsi doesn’t need a strip club, yuck,” and “We should totally turn the Martha Washington Theater building into an indie theater if the Vu ever leaves!” Voicing both of those sentiments seems a little Chinatown / Rango in the ulterior motives department.

    If the second is what folks are interested in, they’d probably be better served putting together a business plan and raising some capital, and perhaps looking at the Pub 13/Club Divine complex as an immediately available option for a theater. (Or, hey, even the Vu — if you raise the money, maybe you could get them out of the building willingly.)

  50. Dan
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

    Great post murph. Really informative.

    As mark mentioned, the vu is really one of the most protective strip joints around. The 2 or 3 times I went there in my early 20s, a friend got kicked out for trying to bring liquor in, and another time, I saw a dancer get thrown out. Not sure why. Like I joked about (hi Thom) there is a much bigger problem at the other strip club associated with ypsi. Google that place. Its basically a brothel

  51. Posted June 16, 2014 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

    To play Devil’s advocate for a moment, though, Murph… All of this was true several years ago and the city was able to shut down the other adult businesses in town, wasn’t it? Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Again, I’m not saying that I think they should be shut down. I’m just saying that it may not be as cut and dry as the local ordinances might make it sound.

  52. karen
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

    The adult bookstore on Cross was shut down because they were breaking the law. Same goes for the adult bookstore on Michigan. The bottom line is if you break the law, you’ll get shut down no matter what kind of business you are.

  53. Anonymous
    Posted June 16, 2014 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

    I remember hearing the porn sop on Mi Ave was shut down because it was considered a bio hazard site. Too much man fluid. My guess is that if you went into the Vu with a black light, you could have the place shut down as well.

  54. josh
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 12:07 am | Permalink

    With all the fucked up shit in this town we are worried about the Vu? Compared to all the other sources of human misery it doesn’t even rank, but it’s visible so it makes a lot of conservative middle class sphincters itch on their 2x4s.

    If we believe that the women of the Vu are so exploited ( kind of arrogant to assume all the dancers are there because they are desperate), you think they will have better options if it closes?

    It doesn’t do much for me, but I have been in there 2 or 3 times. Nudity aside, I have been in sleezier bars and clubs.

  55. Posted June 17, 2014 at 4:15 am | Permalink

    This blog is really interesting.

    Not only do residents of Ypsi want to exclude poor people (Water Street Flats), they are horribly puritanical and wish to exclude establishments they don`t like, despite real evidence of wrong doing.

    I would never live in Ypsi after reading some of the comments on Mark Maynard`s site.

    I`ve never been to Deja Vu but could care less if a place like it exists. Personally, I was victimized by the Catholic Church (not physically) and find religion in all its forms completely repulsive but would never suggest that the state be used to push Catholic churches out of any town.

    Honestly, I find ordinances against adult establishments more repulsive than the establishments themselves.

  56. Ben
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 6:38 am | Permalink

    I don’t think it is a good idea for some sort of government action to try to shut down Deja Vu. I simply wish for something better. And yes, while you can make the argument that the desire to see a theater there for the community (why be secret about that? It’s a good goal for the public to have) is tone deaf to the working class women who need jobs and work at Deja Vu, I would argue that many people feel unsafe walking through that area because of triggers of sexual violence in their past. Their experiences are valid as well. And as I said before, sex work doesn’t have to be inherently misogynist (there is a growing feminist porn industry), it has more to do with the worker conditions, worker agency, and the type of gaze, and the type of ownership of the operation.

    In the end, I think Ypsilanti would be better served by a multifunction community theater, though I do understand that Deja Vu does pay its taxes, shovel the sidewalk in the winter, et cetera.

  57. anonymous
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    Peter is enraged.

    Murph, as always, is Father Knows Best.

    Mark thinks the Free Market can solve this issue.

    A couple average white guys are snarky and dismissive.

    A couple “feminist” women are outraged and shouting.

    Good work, D’Real!

  58. anonymous
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    “I find ordinances against adult establishments more repulsive than the establishments themselves.”

    As most communities in these parts, Ann Arbor included, have ordinances against such businesses, Peter, you must be outraged quite a bit.

    Does your community allow them? If not, have you initiated a campaign to have such businesses allowed?

  59. Jules
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    Two things. We all have triggers in our lives. Getting rid of the things that trigger us seems like a great solution but it’s not possible.
    Also, sex work (whether or not stripping is to be included in the sex work category is debatable. I think of it as entertainment) is empowering in the same way that any fucking job is empowering. It’s called a paycheck.

  60. Frosted Flakes
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 8:22 am | Permalink


    Just because people do not agree with you and your (apparent) agenda does not necessarily mean they are male, dismissive, average and white, does it?

    In the spirit of not appearing dismissive. I ask you to please tell us what the precise issues are with Ypsilanti Deja Vu (as you see it). In other words, please explain why it would be RIGHT to give my support to a campaign to get Deja Vu out of town?

  61. murph
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    Mark: what Karen said; the adult bookstores were shut down for things generally unrelated to being adult biz power se, like fire code.

    Anonymous: go to your room.

  62. murph
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    “Per se”.

  63. Anonymous
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    I wasn’t joking. If the city wanted Deja Vu out of business, they could do it. That’s not an exaggeration. Cities do that kind of thing all of the time. FWIW, though, I’m not advocating that. The Vu will eventually fail on its own. It doesn’t need our help. I only raised the point in response to Mr. Murphy’s comment about how nothing can be done. We all know that’s not the case. Rightly or wrongly, when a city wants a place like this out of business, they have tools to make that happen.

  64. Frosted Flakes
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    Jules: Thanks for the linked video.

  65. Mr. Y
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    I like the video as well, Jules. I’m afraid, however, that, taken to its logical conclusion, she’s saying that we should cocoon ourselves off from the world (wrap ourselves in leather to keep from coming in contact with that which annoys us). I understand what she’s saying, and see the wisdom in it, but I’d prefer to live in a world where people engage and attempt to change those things that aren’t working well.

  66. Kim
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    35 practical things men can do to support feminism.

  67. kjc
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    “I would never live in Ypsi after reading some of the comments on Mark Maynard`s site.”

    isn’t this assuming that mark’s “community” of readers represents ypsi at large, one of your major complaints about the assumptions behind many people’s comments? there are loads of people in ypsi who will never appear on this site, in comments or interviews, never promote a cause or a business, never share their ideas in a public forum, never weigh in on issues of the day, never draw attention to themselves in any way, and who wouldn’t even know who you’re talking about if you mentioned maynard’s blog. personally they’re the reason i live here. but you won’t ever know them unless you do. (if online presence equals existence then they don’t exist. and yet they do.) c’mon Peter.

  68. Jules
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    No, Mr. Y. You misunderstood. She’s saying exactly the opposite. Did you watch the whole thing?

  69. stupid hick
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    MM: “Again, I’m not saying that I think they should be shut down. ”

    Duh, despite your obligatory and defensive disclaimers, of course that is what you are saying. Over and over. Boy are you conflicted.

  70. Lynne
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    There is a difference between saying that you would be happy if they shut down and saying that you want to take action to shut them down. That seems to be lost on some people in this conversation.

  71. Art
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    People like things black and white, Lynne. It’s not surprising to me that Stupid Hick is confounded over the fact that Mark, while longing for something better than DejaVu, does not feel as though they should be closed down. It does not fit his, “Me no like. Me must Smash.” worldview which has no place for complexity.

  72. stupid hick
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    Lynne, some introspection please. You present an even easier target for criticism than Mark.

    The whole point of Mark’s post is summed up by this quote: “Is it time for a coordinated campaign to get Deja Vu out of downtown?”

    And then a lot of conflicted waffling and liberal posturing. Do Deja Vu’s detractors need a coordinated campaign to do nothing except stand by and except collectively be happy if they went out of business?

  73. Frosted Flakes
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    Stupid Hick,

    I would never say so in a public (because we are supposed to give others the benefit of doubt) but what you say seems so obviously true.

    I also think everyone is underestimating the power such a campaign would have. Everyone except for Mark ( when he is playing “devil’s advocate”). The conversation should revolve around not whether or not it is the right TIME to push a business out of town, rather, the conversation should revolve around whether or not such a campaign is RIGHT.

  74. Lynne
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    Stupid Hick,
    You are critical of my position that I don’t particularly like Deja Vu but don’t think any formal effort to remove them should be undertaken? Why?

    Frosted Flakes,
    As for pushing a business out of town? I would be ok with it or not depending on the business. For example, I would actively make an effort to keep something like WalMart out of town but I don’t think a strip club qualifies as being evil enough.

    As a matter of hypothetical, I think of government as something serving the will of the people. It is a tool. We have constitutional rights to protect people from the tyranny of the majority and of course, people can (and do) move to places that reflect their values. It is ok to pass ordinances which reflect the will of the majority even if those ordinances are intended to discourage or prevent certain types of businesses from operating. Isn’t there a city ordinance which prevents Deja Vu from serving alcohol? I don’t have a problem with that although I wouldn’t have a problem if that ordinance didn’t exist either.

  75. Posted June 17, 2014 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

    Here, at the risk of further befuddling you, are the thoughts that went through my head when writing this post. Hopefully they’ll help with your comprehension.

    1. Someone I know a little bit wrote some pro-feminist stuff on the wall of DejaVu and almost got arrested for it.

    2. Hmmm… Perusing Facebook, it looks as though he’s also asking people running for office to pledge that they’ll help get the strip joint out of town. And he’s called for a meeting to discuss the launch of a campaign.

    3. Personally, I don’t like the idea of shutting down the Vu, but it would be really cool if there were a “real” theater in town. Or, I’d even settle for a cooler strip club, like one owned by women. Portland, as I understand it, has some cool ones.

    4. As it’s been a while since we’ve talked about the Vu, I guess I’ll mention it on my site, and see if maybe this guy that I know is onto something… Maybe there really is widespread sentiment that they should leave downtown.

    5. And I’ll tell people that I’m conflicted about it. Unless they’re really stupid, they should understand what that means.

  76. Posted June 17, 2014 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    Would it help if, from now on, I started posting remedial versions in the comments section of what I put on the front page? Would people find it helpful? I could maybe even include drawings, and link to dictionary definitions of hard words, like “conflicted.”

  77. TitsNAss
    Posted June 18, 2014 at 1:21 am | Permalink

    1. As someone who had the “Deja Vu” conversation with his daughter, just today, I’m not conflicted. There is consumer and commodity. Sure, maybe the commodity has a sense of power by selling something. But you can’t get past the economics. Women’s bodies are a commodity. Men have the purchasing power. Mark … has your daughter yet learned that her body is a potential commodity?

    2. Deja Vu isn’t profitable based on Ypsi patrons. It’s a place for lunch-breakers from Canton and Saline to get their lunch buffet of boobs. Because a) there are no strip clubs in Canton or Saline or… and b) because the majority of strip club attendees prefer not to greet their kids or neighbors while walking into the strip club.

    3. We don’t need any involvement from the City to shut Deja Vu down. We can stand outside, on public sidewalks, taking pictures, posting them online, getting press, etc. If we determine Deja Vu isn’t the best use of the space … it won’t be.

    4. Mark, are you conflicted about the idea of your daughter getting a summer job to pay for college at Deja Vu? That’s a patriarchal question. Or, maybe it’s just parental. If we think our own daughters have more to offer than their boobs, why not all daughters? I know the term “adults” has been used. But there ain’t a lot of 40-year-old strippers. I’m old enough to realize I was still a child at 18. That we send kids to war and kids to strip at age 18… why not 15 or 12? What’s the magic age that we are “grown-ass” adults?

    5. Boys, women and men. I get that having a strip club keeps Ypsi gritty. I get that you have your own issues and it makes you feel a tingling sense of power of the erection of your own yet unrealized promise. But let’s be real. I’m guessing neither Mark nor I (nor most of you) would imagine our daughters stripping. Why? With no
    disrespect to strippers, because we’re trying to raise our daughters to believe their commodity, like men’s, is way more than their body.

    Yes, it boils down to me not wanting my daughter to feel summarized as a sexual commodity.

    That’s not how I view myself, my partner, or my friends.

    But that’s the commodity Deja Vu is selling: very young, naked, women.

    If 12 was the legally determined age for adulthood, I’m confident 12-year-olds would be on stage.

    And the guys from Canton and Saline would eat that shit up.

  78. Frosted Flakes
    Posted June 18, 2014 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    “If WE determine Deja Vu is not the best use for the space…it won’t be.”

    I wish you could hear yourself…We would need to go to the fictional town in FOOTLOOSE to hear such closeminded / self-righteous talk.

    I am a heterosexual male and I have zero interest in going to a strip club (again), but, I support the police in issuing fines and even arrests if necessary if the campaign to replace Deja Vu with something “better” or “cooler” involves the disruption of their very established and apparently legal business.

  79. Frosted Flakes
    Posted June 18, 2014 at 8:34 am | Permalink


    You sound like you have your heart in the right place not wanting “your daughter to be summarized as a sexual commodity”, but, those are values you should instill in your daughter. This might come as a shock to you but I am sure that dancers do not summarize themselves that way either. We are complex beings and Ypsilanti is a complex place. Live and let live, dude.

  80. BrianB
    Posted June 18, 2014 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    I wish someone would challenge the state law that allows full nudity strip clubs as long as they don’t serve alchohol. It is a bad law because it is sort of half moralistic, like “people couldn’t possibly handle full nudity and alchohol at the same time!” But it creates businesses like dejA vu where their only commodity is nudity. So it is at cross purposes with itself and you’d think some lawmaker would gain political stature across party lines by addressing it.

    But anyway, the sidewalk chalk appears to have done its job because they are now advertising an amature male stripping contest on the marquee.

  81. Grady
    Posted June 18, 2014 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    Before anyone does anything they should ask and answer some questions:

    Is the real issue the marque? If you removed the marque would anyone even know a strip club is there? I think the marque is what really annoys people. Having said that —

    Would the market support a local theater? Those are tuff businesses to run and most seem to struggle. Where are the investors lining up to buy this valuable property? The market generally decides what works and what doesn’t, not our best wishes. Would you want to force them to leave and let the place sit vacant? What if they run a dollar movie night on Tuesdays and start to get issues with patrons (and major theaters did years ago, major reason they stopped that practice), do you really want to make a tenant leave that is one of the few businesses that has survived Ypsi for two plus decades? be careful of what you wish for folks … and lastly … liking or not liking strip clubs, thinking they denigrate women or don’t, have nothing to do with business. You don’t get to make the call on business if its legal and can be supported via the market. Some will blame the business but aren’t they filling a need? Kind of like kids working in coal mines … blame the business or blame the parents for sending them to work?

  82. Lisele
    Posted June 18, 2014 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    Thank you, Ben, for noticing what I said. Thanks, TitsNAss, for saying more of what I feel than I had the energy to say. And thanks, Kim, for posting the article “35 practical things men can do to support feminism.” I shared it after reading the entire thing and found it comprehensive of the many little ways we continue to uphold our patriarchal society. (Completely a prospos of this discussion, although oddly, strip clubs weren’t even mentioned!)

  83. jcp2
    Posted June 18, 2014 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    But what about the authenticity and grittiness of Ypsilanti?

  84. TitsNAss
    Posted June 19, 2014 at 2:25 am | Permalink


    -“I am a heterosexual male and I have zero interest in going to a strip club (again).”

    Zero interest? But there’s boobs and nipples! Why don’t you want to go again? Really. You sound puritanical in your assertion that you are heterosexual but don’t want to see boobs and nipples. Why don’t you, personally, go to Deja Vu? It serves locals, right?

    -Footloose. Can’t argue with classist film. Would it be better if I didn’t want city hall telling me how short to cut my grass or that I couldn’t cover my house with virtual nipples? You support “the police issuing fines”?! That makes you sound like a Nazi, bro. Police and fines and what’s legal. Fuck what’s legal. Business as corporation is legal. But, my point, is simply that we don’t need city hall to shut any small business down. Right or wrong, if enough people are picketing, any business can be closed. And it would be especially easy to shut down one where Canton dads don’t want to be photographed. Legal or not, we don’t need city hall to determine what is.

    -You say I have my “heart is in the right place” by not wanting my “daughter to be summarized as a sexual commodity.” Do you hear yourself? Why does “not wanting my daughter to be “sexualized” indicate my “heart is in the right place”? Should I want my daughter to realize, on the Deja Vu marquis, that other young women can be paid by old men to show their tits, but just not her? I’m confused.


    The marquis is what made my 10-year-old girl realize old men will pay to see her eventual boobs. So … removing that would be a start. If removing the marquis is too much to ask, I’d suggest it adds, “View tender young dicks” at least 4 times a week. I think that would double the conversation.


    Deja Vu pays about 12K a year in property tax. That’s not a lot more than I pay as a homeowner. Murph, correct me if I’m wrong, but this isn’t a “sink or swim” tax-base question.

    And … what would taxable values be (on homes and whatnot) if there wasn’t a strip club in town. If we’re assessing the value of Deja Vu in dollar terms, I’m guessing Ypsi homeowners (and the city) will come out ahead without a strip club.

    Bottom lines, for me:

    I’ve lived here for well over a decade. I, literally, know hundreds of neighbors, by face and name. I don’t know one who goes to Deja Vu. Has anyone who lives here been asked and answered, “Wanna get a beer … Sure, let’s meet at Deja Vu!”

    Anyone? Is this a local watering hole? Or … is a hole for folks who would rather not be seen?

    Let’s not romanticize it.

    Guys drive in, get their boob fix, and leave. Deja Vu isn’t about tax-base or local biz or anything I (or most ya’ll) care about. It’s about men finding a discreet place, away from home, to pay to look at naked young women.

    That’s it. That’s all. The benefit we get from that? 12K.

    Meanwhile … yes, I know my daughter will have to confront sexual stereotypes someday … but at what age? So … meanwhile … a ten-year-old has to realize her body is a cash commodity. Meanwhile … any business opening on the block has to evaluate the impact of guys from Canton coming to look at 18-year-0ld flesh …

    You’re probably gathering that I’m done with old men extending control of young women with cash. I’m done with “dance for me”.

    Some will label me a puritan or a feminist. Labels are sticky notes…

    I’m probably both.

    But … Deja Vu has added, in my calculation, nothing to my love of living here. If I’m missing something, let me know.

  85. Frosted Flakes
    Posted June 19, 2014 at 6:32 am | Permalink


    Strip clubbing is not my thing but I respect the rights of other consenting adults to engage in such activity. It is legal. The fact that it is legal seems reasonable to me.

    Sexuality is a fact of life. Your daughter is 10. It seems reasonable that you would begin talking to her about the various forms of sexual expression and interaction.

    It is nude dancing. Why the hysterical reaction?

    Civil disobedience works best when the disobedient do not come across as self righteous and completely hysterical.

    My advice: Do some research. Have you tried interviewing any of the dancers? Perhaps you can find one person in your life that has gone to a strip club before. My impression was that there were a lot of deeply sad and lonely guys there. It seemed to me that the dancers were at times almost providing counseling services. I wonder if you are underestimating the interaction between dancer and customer. I am not sure. Would love to hear more input from people who actually know someone who has gone to a strip club.

  86. Aaron B.
    Posted June 19, 2014 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    TitsNAss – hard to grab a beer with your neighbor at the Vue because they don’t serve beer. Would be a much better strip club if they did.

  87. Eel
    Posted June 19, 2014 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    Regardless of where you stand on the Vu, can we all agree that strip clubs without beer are an abomination?

  88. Anne
    Posted June 19, 2014 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    Evidently I am the only reader of this blog that actually likes and goes to strip clubs on occasion. Yes, I’m morally corrupt. I’ve never been to the Vu, because I rather be able to sip on a real drink while viewing partial nudity. I do have associates that worked there and it sounded like an okay place from their prospective. There are a lot of bad strip clubs, like all the ones Jules mentioned, that encourage illegal “extras”. I have a friend that worked at a few of those for the last decade and still does. In more recent years she has said that if you are not willing to give “extras” it becomes generally known and you won’t get much business so there aren’t a lot of options. These places also won’t allow women patrons in without a male and even though I am always escorted, I won’t go to those types of establishments.

    You can identify all those clubs that allow “extras” on sites like Vu in Ypsi is not listed as one of those. There are some good clubs in the area that do seem to have a lot of respect for there dancers, are very female friendly, and don’t tolerate extras, like Bouzouki in Greektown. They don’t have private rooms so dancers can’t get away with “extras”.

    All that aside, I do think its a bit odd to have a strip club smack dab in downtown, but it doesn’t bother me too much. I do agree that not advertising on the marquee would be a nice improvement. My kiddo can’t read yet so I haven’t had to have that discussion. There are a lot of professions that I wouldn’t want my child to go into. I have a male child so this is less of a possibility. I can try to steer him the direction I would like, but ultimately, if he finds something that makes him happy, I’ll be happy with that. In general I rather encourage Vu to be a better neighbor than oust them and have another vacant storefront.

  89. Frosted Flakes
    Posted June 19, 2014 at 12:07 pm | Permalink


    Of course you have never been to the Ypsilanti Deja Vu. I heard from a reliable source that the only people that go there are Dads from Canton who like to look at young girls and who secretly want to see 12 year old naked girls. He did mention sometimes men from Saline go there but if I understand him correctly the dads from Canton are really the one’s we need to look out for. He goes by the name “titsnass” and apparently he wants to stand outside of the Vu and take photographs of these guys from Canton for supporting a business that has a marque that (through coded messages) is somehow sexualizing his daughter (or at least trying to sexualize her). It is a big mess here according to him. You should maybe meet him at Deja Vu and discuss all of this stuff with him because you are wrong about one thing–they do sell alcohol there–(he told me so)–so, maybe we will see you soon then?

  90. #GetTheFreeTutoringAwayFromPedophiles
    Posted June 20, 2014 at 12:00 am | Permalink

  91. Clit Eastwood
    Posted June 20, 2014 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    Good to know I can jerk off to young titties and still be a feminist.

  92. Posted June 20, 2014 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    For what it’s worth, I imagine you’d find registered sex offenders in any community, GTFTAFP. This is especially true in somewhat densely populated downtown areas. The only way to avoid it, I imagine, would be to move 826’s tutoring operations into a field somewhere outside of town. Of course, if they did that, it would be more difficult for them to reach the underserved kids they want to reach. And, as we know, pedophiles also reside in rural America.

  93. Dan
    Posted June 20, 2014 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    why would pedophiles be interested in 18+ year old strippers?

  94. Anne
    Posted June 20, 2014 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    I’m sure plenty that profess to hate strip clubs, are happy to jerk off to internet porn from the comfort of their own homes.

  95. Dan
    Posted June 20, 2014 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    correct, Anne. and they can enjoy a beer while sadly staring into an orifice

  96. Ark
    Posted June 20, 2014 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    DAN: “We don’t all stare sadly. Some of us drool and giggle.”

  97. stupid hick
    Posted June 20, 2014 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    Lynn: “You are critical of my position that I don’t particularly like Deja Vu but don’t think any formal effort to remove them should be undertaken?”

    OK, I’m NOT critical of that position. I’m suggesting that’s what you seem to want to project, but is it really where you stand? If you were the Queen of Ypsilanti and had the power to close Deja Vu without having to give a reason, would you do it? You don’t have to answer publicly. Ask yourself and try to be honest with yourself.

    My sense, and what prompted my comment, is you (and Mark) appear to want to convince yourselves that you are tolerant and respectful of the choices others make about their own lives. Are you really?

    Mark: What I said to Lynn. And yeah, draw some pictures to illustrate what you mean, that would be amusing.

  98. stupid hick
    Posted June 20, 2014 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    Something I find puzzling about the view of some of the commenters here: if strippers are independent contractors who voluntarily PAY to work at Deja Vu, how can it be said that they are exploited?

    The truth is strippers pay Deja Vu for access to vulnerable men to exploit.

  99. stupid hick
    Posted June 20, 2014 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    TitsNass is naieve. There are plenty of 40+ year old strippers. Good looks may help, but long term success probably has more to do with being a manipulative, practiced liar.

    TitzNass has it backwards. The strip club business is like the magazine business. A magazine’s commodity is not the articles they publish. Its the audience they sell to advertisers.

    A strip club’s commodity is not the dancers, it’s their audience. That they sell to free agents who PAY to work at the club. Don’t you know that clubs PAY taxi drivers to bring clients to them?

  100. stupid hick
    Posted June 20, 2014 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

    Mark and Lynn, I got carried away by a thought-provoking blog. I apologize for my tone.

  101. Elf
    Posted June 20, 2014 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

    There aren’t just woman owned strip clubs in Portland, but vegan ones.

  102. wobblie
    Posted June 20, 2014 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

    “Pride, Diversity, Heritage” is our motto. I’ve lived in the city for over 30 years, and it is clear that strip clubs, peep shows, porn theaters, and glory holes are an integral part of our cities heritage. They have existed in the city at least since the 70’s. That is over 25% of the time the city has existed. Seems that is part of our heritage. Deja Vu is really a relic from a dieing age that existed before the internet, and like the Preservation Hall Jazz club in N’Orleans, could become a center piece of Ypsilanti as a destination city.

    Our whole city is only slightly bigger than the French Quarter. The party center, ie. Bourbon St. is only about 12 blocks long. We have, or could have, with some creativity, all the things that make New Orleans an adult travel destination.

    Our party zone would be depot town through the parks (where various festivals would run through the 3 seasons) to downtown. We have antique dealers (and more will come), artist (the most essential part of a creative city), cultural attractions (two museums and live theater). More music and theater venues can be created. And with our more liberal gaming laws, poker rooms or perhaps a casino could be in the future.

    New Orleans is a great city for adults to visit. We have many of the same attributes. We in fact do have an interesting history that people would find fun to explore during the day time.

    Ypsilanti is dead. We are currently on life support. At some point they (our creditors) will pull the plug and we will be in Detroit’s situation.

    Growing Hope and local sustainability I love. They will not keep the rapacious capitalist from coming and raping us. I think a destination “party zone” could be the economic salvation of our city. It is expensive for people to go to New Orleans. If we could provide a local/regional destination for people to come for the week end, some industries would be revitalizes and
    others created.

    Creative folks are key.

  103. Posted June 21, 2014 at 4:33 am | Permalink

    “Something I find puzzling about the view of some of the commenters here: if strippers are independent contractors who voluntarily PAY to work at Deja Vu, how can it be said that they are exploited?
    The truth is strippers pay Deja Vu for access to vulnerable men to exploit.”

    I also find this quite puzzling. If dancers were paid an hourly wage, that is, if they were truly employees of the establishment, they might be compelled to do things they might no want to since money comes from the establishment, rather than directly from the customer and, it might be assumed, dancers are under some sort of contractually determined period of employment. As an independent contractor who receives money directly from the paying customers, a dancer can refuse anyone or anything she wants. If she doesn’t make money, she can freely leave the business for good and move on to other things. She is also under no contractual obligation to provide long term service for the establishment, nor even for customers.

    I’ve known many people involved in Deja Vu’s industry and I wouldn’t label any of them as being “exploited.” In fact, it appeared to be quite the opposite.

  104. Posted June 21, 2014 at 4:34 am | Permalink

    Please excuse the run on, typing on phone.

  105. XXX
    Posted June 21, 2014 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    If glory holes are Ypsi’s heritage, I suggest we start a campaign to call them Ypsilanti Heritage Holes.

  106. Grumpy
    Posted June 21, 2014 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    I think wobblie may really be on to something. Jackson is not likely to capitalize on their potential pride in their diverse cultural heritage, so the is ripe for Ypsilanti to appropriate as a tradition. A festival site on the water street property modeled on the state-of-the-art rotating music stage, openly visible drug sales and use and public nudity could be a great economic boost to the city. It would require a lot of specially trained security to ensure a safe environment, but a local organization akin to the Psychedelic Rangers could add a significant number of jobs to the city and there are a lot of underemployed locals with that skill set. This fits well with the success of Beer Fest and the for-profit fake Hindu yuppie 5K and could quickly make Ypsilanti the New Orleans of the east. Ann Arbor is also eager to forget anything that was ever cool about itself so reboots of the Ann Arbor Blues and Jazz Festival, Free John Sinclair/Hash Bash, etc. are also low-hanging fruit that fit very well with the city’s motto. If the Tough Nerd turned down a solid development plan like this, it would stand as evidence against his pragmatic comeback kid narrative.

  107. Grumpy
    Posted June 21, 2014 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    Oh crap I made an invalid tag #ChangingTheNarrative

  108. Grumpy
    Posted June 21, 2014 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    Getting the Ypsilanti Hysterical Commission behind a privately funded plan to do a historic renovation of the Martha Washington Theater including buyout of the property from Déjà Vu and relocation to a more discrete location with their grandfather clause intact would probably be the way to actually accomplish what the goal of this “our community” pitchfork and torch effort seems to be. Also, there is no reason automobiles should be driving down that block on Washington St. It should go pedestrian-only with a concert/event stage setup on a permanent basis.

  109. ToniN
    Posted June 21, 2014 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

    Economics is its own morality. I’m not an authority on the cultural/gender morality of strip clubs, but can speak to the issue on the morality of economics.

    “Entertainment districts,” if defined broadly to include adult entertainment and gaming, are a net loss. Their modest contributions to the tax-base are uniformly offset by an erosion of the existing and potential tax-base of neighboring property values.

    The existence of a casino or adult entertainment venue (generally speaking, a strip club or porn shop), uniformly erodes the value of surrounding properties by degrees beyond the taxable income it generates.

    It may be counter-intuitive to some, but a vacant storefront generates more community benefit (in the terms of economic morality as defined by jobs, income and taxable assets) than a casino, strip club or other so designated adult businesses.

    Studies also confirm that those most supportive of adult entertainment districts are, by far, those most likely to leave those districts once career and family/school decisions come into play.

    Visit New Orleans, Detroit’s casino districts, Las Vegas, fill in the blank. They all have rich adult entertainment districts. They all also share a perpetual funding crisis for core public services.

    That’s economic morality and reality. Nothing more. Nothing less.

  110. Grumpy
    Posted June 22, 2014 at 6:50 am | Permalink


  111. Grumpy
    Posted June 22, 2014 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    Ypsilanti respects women and rejects human slavery, yet there are dozens of Christian churches in the city teaching messages such as the Apostle Paul’s first letter to Timothy:

    2:11 Let a woman learn in silence with all submissiveness. 12 I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men; she is to keep silent. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 15 Yet woman will be saved through bearing children, if she continues in faith and love and holiness, with modesty.

    6:1 Let all who are under the yoke of slavery regard their masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be defamed. 2 Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful on the ground that they are brethren; rather they must serve all the better since those who benefit by their service are believers and beloved.

    Furthermore, these businesses don’t pay any taxes, wasting some of the city’s nicest historical architecture outside the revenue base for public services while causing a disproportionate drain on traffic and parking. I’m reaching out to all candidates for office in Ypsilanti to add “ban churches within the city limits” to their campaign platforms.

  112. Posted June 22, 2014 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    Do businesses now need to prove that they have “economic benefit” to be allowed to conduct business?

    I’m pretty sure that the Vu is providing a valuable to service to its customers (who probably aren’t exclusively middle aged men, given that the Vu also houses a sex shop). That it serves a market and sustains itself would seem justification enough.

    Again, I find churches vastly more offensive that any sex establishment and consider their damage far deeper, but that’s a personal opinion.

  113. murph
    Posted June 22, 2014 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    ToniN- I’m curious about your assertion on the relative property tax merits of vacant storefronts vs casinos/adult entertainment. I’m mostly familiar with the literature on terror negative property value impacts of vacant properties; can you provide comparative research?

  114. Bob
    Posted June 22, 2014 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    We finally found something Peter Larson doesn’t hate. Dildo’s and nude twenty-year olds!

  115. dragon
    Posted June 22, 2014 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

    Peter Larson doesn’t hate dildos.


  116. Grumpy
    Posted June 23, 2014 at 6:50 am | Permalink

    ToniN, the Goose Lake International Music Festival had 200,000 attendees with $15 tickets, which is about $92 in 2014 dollars so $18.4 million in ticket receipts. The Jackson sheriff estimated that 75% of attendees were “on drugs” so assuming each of those 150,000 stoned youths spent on average $50 in 2014 dollars on drugs, that’s another $7.5 million, plus $50 for each attendee as a conservative estimate for food and other non-drug festival supplies adds $10 million to bring the total to $35.9 million. Using the logic of the color run’s “economic impact,” an event like that would have an economic impact of somewhere around $180 million. That’s the economic impact of 100 color runs at the scale of only about 13 color runs in terms of attendance numbers. It would probably be an equivalent strain on residents and city services, since the event would be physically enclosed rather than spread across town shutting down every street (maybe more like a color run level annoyance each as people arrive Friday evening and leave Sunday afternoon). There were 160 arrests related to the event, a rate of .0008 of attendees which led to a public outcry that ran them out of town on moralistic grounds, somewhat reminiscent of “ban strip clubs from Ypsilanti” or “Adult entertainment districts drive down property values more than empty storefronts and are the direct cause off the diverse public funding crises in Detroit, Las Vegas and New Orleans rather than white flight, housing market bubbles, systemic multigenerational poverty and entrenched historic corruption in municipal governments.”

  117. D'Real
    Posted November 19, 2014 at 11:37 pm | Permalink

    Hello, Friends!

    I would like to thank the users of for contributing critical feedback to the comment section.

    One hundred and seventeen comments later seems like the proper time to communicate the following:

    1. It’s truly inappropriate to urge City Council and active citizens to deem the Vu and its employees (or any tax paying business) as unfit for operating downtown. Especially if they are paying their taxes.

    2. It’s important to remember that Mark Maynard wrote the copy for this article, I on the other hand took liquid chalk to the display windows of the Vu’s storefront, jotting down witticisms with reckless abandon.

    3. It’s true that text were gingerly inscribed on to the Vu’s storefront window. And, if you are familiar with the venue, the storefront display has remained in disrepair, and hasn’t been considered aesthetically pleasing since, I don’t know, ever.

    4. It’s also true, that text was written on the display window in red, white, and blue liquid chalk. However, folks, most of the surface area of the display windows were marred with clouds, flowers and other juvenile styled summer-themed favorites more than anti-feminist or feministic retorts.

    5. Should I have taken liquid chalk to the display windows of the Vu with youthful fervor? That’s debatable. Did I ever say, “Ypsilanti Respects Women,” followed by “Ypsilanti Doesn’t Need a Strip Club.” Uh huh, I did. But, it was before I had any opportunity clarify my stance (or actually process my actions). It would be great if the city and its residents would acknowledge the fact of the matter that we have dozens of aging infrastructure in Ypsilanti proper, mostly along Michigan Avenue and corridors like Washington Street.

    (Property managers and directors of day-to-day operations have access to micr-grants sponsored by the YDDA, and other local agencies.)

    So, I conclude by stating the following. The Vu looks like it is in need of some fixing up.

    Would it be feasible to have a cooperative adult’s entertainment venue in downtown Ypsilanti? If that sounds ridiculous, please consider this: would it be feasible for the Vu to undergo some fixing up, maybe take advantage of an YDDA facade grant or two? Or is that too much to ask of downtown merchants and shopkeepers? (Is it outlandish to agitate that business owners keep downtown lookin’ good and welcoming?)

    Thanks again, for generating over one hundred comments, and a special thank you to the YPD for settin’ me straight. Oh yeah, the ‘banning strip clubs from the city limits’ spiel, was definitely me being trigger happy. However, did you all know that someone went to the City Chambers soliciting the idea that smoking be banned from city parks!

    Ideas, like tears in the rain. xo

  118. Frosted Flakes
    Posted November 20, 2014 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    I am confused. You wrote graffiti on Dejavu that said “respect women” and “ypsilanti does not need a strip club” because you are concerned that Ypsilanti storefront windows IN GENERAL do not look nice enough for you?

  119. createharmony
    Posted March 31, 2015 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

    I used to live in Portland. There are LOTS of strip clubs there. All of them sell alcohol. People get crazy, and its not the safest environment for women with all the drunk dudes. Deja Vu does not sell alcohol. While this does not stop someone from coming in after drinking, it sure makes it a safer place for the ladies trying to earn a living there.

    I AM NOT IN FAVOR OF BANNING ANYTHING. I am tired of witch hunts around here. Deja Vu is a legal business. I have never encountered anything crazy going on in front of their operation, nor have I heard of any problems. I haven’t been there, but I think they should have the right to exist without someone defacing the area outside of their store. Everyone needs to focus on all the crazy chemicals going into their bodies from the air, water, and food, instead of campaigns to oust something that really has nothing to do with them.

  120. Posted June 9, 2015 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

    Time flies!

  121. Sam E.
    Posted December 29, 2016 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

    So the conversation here seems based around the idea that Dejavu is good for the community or at least profitable for the community on the whole. I’m not really sure, I’ve gone to the place a number of times over the years and it’s probably actually better than most strip clubs in terms of pay, what the women are expected to do and cleanliness. That said there is a feeling from a lot of people that it hurts other restaurants, bars and development in general. You can think this is a dumb puritanical idea maybe it is but it’s also hard not to feel like Ypsilanti gets the short end of the stick when it comes to all kinds of shady businesses many of which are no doubt patronized people living wealthy surrounding communities that wouldn’t want ‘those kind of places’ near where they live.

2 Trackbacks

  1. […] know it’s highly unlikely, but it occurred to me as I was walking by our local strip club this evening that it’s at least conceivable that their big, upcoming event was the result of […]

  2. […] Say what you will about our local strip club, they usually have pretty interesting signs, especially around major holidays. And I was expecting to see something good this morning as I drove my daughter to school. I thought that, surely, there would be some kind of cringe-inducing Easter pun. But, sadly, I was disappointed. I was so disappointed, in fact, that I turned to Facebook to vent. […]

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