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Showgirls donations refused

Mills College Weekly

A San Francisco strip club that had a $4,330 donation refused by
several nonprofit organizations, now has well over a hundred offers
from charities looking for cash, as well as plenty of the kind of
publicity money can’t buy.

Showgirls Cabaret in North Beach hosted a charity golf
tournament to raise money for a women-related cause. The first four
organizations they contacted all refused the donation. The
charitable organizations include the Breast Cancer Fund, Raphael
House, a homeless shelter for families, The Tenderloin Neighborhood
Development Corp., a low-income housing provider, and the Hamilton
Family Center, another resource for homeless families. All of the
organizations snubbed the donation, citing that they did not want
to be affiliated with a topless club that serves alcohol, as
reported in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Even though it was mentioned in the Chronicle news story that
the club eventually found a willing recipient, well over a hundred
charities and people in need contacted Showgirls Cabaret looking
for a donation.

Mike Gasperec, general manager of Showgirls Cabaret said that
since the article in the Chronicle was printed last Saturday, “I’ve
been getting five phone calls a night,” he said. “But as much as
we’d like to, we don’t give money away every day.”

Michelle Carter, a professor in the Creative Writing Department
at San Francisco State University e-mailed Gasparec to suggest he
consider supporting higher education. She said that due to
staggering cutbacks and climbing tuition, education is out of reach
for many students.

Carter said she felt compelled to respond to the article in the
Chronicle because, “It made me sad,” she said. “It is a shame that
a city like San Francisco would have a stigma attached to, what
seems to me, like honorable work.” She added that some of her most
talented, hardworking students have been strippers.

A member of Refuge Ministries in San Francisco also wrote to
Gasparec seeking support for their program that assists people
living with HIV/AIDS. The letter also included an invitation. “We
would like to offer an open hand to you and your girls to come to
any church services at one o’clock on Sunday,” the letter read.

Other individuals have contacted Showgirls Cabaret to advocate
on behalf of their charitable causes. A friend of a cancer-stricken
bartender in New York requested a donation be made to a trust fund
that was established to offset his friend’s medical expenses. Also,
the Reverend Mother Marina e-mailed the club to suggest a donation
be made to help the Bay Area homeless.

Other charities that have contacted the club include The East
Bay AIDS project, The Siberian Husky Rescue Mission based in
Pennsylvania, and The Transvestite Transgendered Sex Workers with
AIDS organization.

Kimberley Hathaway, public relations executive for the company
that owns Showgirls said that because so many of the women who work
at the club are mothers, their focus will be limited to charities
and nonprofits that serve women in need, particularly organizations
that serve battered women, homeless mothers and children, and
breast cancer victims.

In addition to the annual golf tournament, Hathaway said the
club will be raising money from private dances performed nightly by
the dancers, voluntarily. A single private dance which costs $20
and an average of 35 entertainers a night, according to Gasparec,
adds up to $550 a night. The proceeds will be donated quarterly to
smaller charities, Hathaway said.

Showgirls Cabaret has received plenty of free publicity even
after the Chronicle ran the story on the front page, two Saturdays
ago. Channel 2 News invited the president of the company that owns
Showgirls, Joe Carouba, to engage in a dialogue about the

National Public Radio also interviewed Carouba as well as
Gasparec for a story entitled “Dirty Money.” NPR focused mainly on
why charities refuse donations from the adult industry as well as
whether or not women are exploited in strip clubs. Hathaway feels
that the general attitude in the adult entertainment industry is,
“If a woman chooses to use her beauty and youth to make money [in
the club] she is empowered.”

In addition to the Chronicle, Channel 2 News and NPR coverage,
Carouba was invited to speak on the Berkley Access radio station on
Wednesday. Hathaway attributes the large amount of media attention
to the idea that even though times are hard economically, charities
still turned down a generous donation. “I think the media is
flabbergasted that these charities refused money,” she
said.Gasparec reasoned that charities should not feel reluctant to
accept a donation from Showgirls. “It may not be everyone’s cup of
tea,” he said, “but our money’s clean.”