KIRTLAND — A pink-painted strip club in Kirtland opened in April under new ownership and has semi- and full-nude dancers six nights a week.
The business opened as San Juan County government officials are considering new land use ordinances aimed at restricting where adult businesses could operate. County officials have expressed interest in asking county commissioners to vote on an ordinance that would prohibit adult business from locating near homes or along highways, though no such ordinance is currently being considered.
But the recently opened gentlemen's club in Kirtland, which is the only one of its kind in the area, would be "grandfathered in" and would not be subject to any land use ordinances that would affect future adult businesses, said Larry Hathaway, the county's community development administrator.
The club's new owner hopes the lack of competition will give her a chance to be profitable in her first attempt at owning and operating a nude-dancing club.
Jacqueline Ritchie, a former exotic dancer, purchased the strip club formerly called Latitudes Gentlemen's Club in April and quickly cleaned and reopened the businesses under the name Taboo Show Club. The club, located in a bright pink building at 5451 West Main St., is open Monday through Saturday. It opens at 5 p.m. and closes when customers and dancers leave, which could be as late as 4 a.m., Ritchie said.
"If there's still customers coming in I'll keep it open," she said.
There is a $10 cover charge to enter the club. The business doesn't have a liquor license, and alcohol isn't allowed on the property.
Ritchie, 52, said she was in an abusive relationship and had no education or job experience, so she started exotic dancing to support her children after she left her partner. Under the stage name Jewel, she danced in clubs throughout the southwest, and Taboo is her first attempt at owning and operating her own club.
"This can be a stepping stone to a better life for a lot of women," she said. "I personally believe that (the nude dancers) are very brave, and they walk a tight rope between exotic and depressing as hell."
Ritchie said there are three to eight women who regularly dance at her club. On the weekends, the club can attract additional dancers from Albuquerque and Phoenix.
She said her target customers are men who work in the oil and gas industry.
Ritchie said she was enticed to open a gentleman's club in San Juan County because there are no similar businesses. Taboo is the only place in the Four Corners region that offers nude dancing. The next closest strip club is in Albuquerque.
"I'm the only game in town for about 200 miles in any direction," she said.
Ritchie said her customer base has started to increase during Taboo's first two months of operations. So far, she said she has been welcomed into the community.
"For thousands and thousands of years, people have danced for each other exotically. You have your belly dancers in the deserts of the Arabia, the geishas in the seas of Japan ... and here we have exotic dance," she said. "Even though the name of the business is Taboo, gentlemen's clubs are becoming more mainstream. I hope San Juan County is ready for Taboo."