ACT News

Stripper numbers soar for profitable Summernats weekend

More than 100 extra women were brought into the nation's capital to provide adult entertainment during this year's Summernats, and at least one strip club said they had advertised within Exhibition Park. 

Glitterdolls members, from left, Kirra Morrison, Cassandra Orman and Talia Tate at the entrance to the Summernats.
Glitterdolls members, from left, Kirra Morrison, Cassandra Orman and Talia Tate at the entrance to the Summernats.  Photo: Graham Tidy

Challenging the family friendly agenda pushed by Summernats management, Wanderlust owner Rulla Tabban, speaking on Friday morning, said she had women handing out cards for the new Mitchell club – located one kilometre from EPIC – and had received no complaints.  

"They had an absolute ball in there, we couldn't get them back," she said. 

"Cars and girls just go together, it's like the Grand Prix, motorcycles, it has always been that way."

Summernats co-owner Andy Lopez, alerted to the claim by the Sunday Canberra Times, said he contacted Ms Tabban on Saturday and she told him there were no ladies on the site handing out materials. He said he had not asked about Thursday or Friday, but no promotional material for adult entertainment had been found. 


"Summernats does not and would never allow marketing or any sort of advertising of these types of adult premises, and our security team is particularly vigilant on any ambush and guerrilla marketing conducted on site," he said. 

Ms Tabban said the club had 45 dancers this weekend, with at least 33 from interstate, from as far away as Perth. 

She said the cards handed out referred to the club and the co-located Vice Sports Bar, but would not "insinuate" to any children that it was an adult club.  

"If [event organisers] were to call me and say they minded, I would tell [my girls] to stop," she said on Friday.

Other adult businesses said their promotions took place only outside EPIC's gates. 

Capital Men's Club owner Fulvio Gobeo brought more than 60 entertainers to the city and said there had never been any behavioural problems with the thousands of car enthusiasts who swarmed to his strip club.

Mr Gobeo, 66, said he expected a record 3600-plus patrons through his Fyshwick club during the four-day event, and he had employed 65 girls plus six showgirls to cater for demand, with 90 per cent from interstate. 

Last year there were 48, he said. 

"So many think the "turboheads" will cause an enormous amount of unjustified behaviour, which is a complete wrong impression ... in four years there's not been one incident, not one police report."

While each of the business owners the Sunday Canberra Times spoke to said the Summernats weekend would be their biggest for the year, the event's organisers have continued to push a family-friendly focus. 

The last wet t-shirt competition was in 2010, the last organised nude show two years later. One open-top car, fitted with two poles, did however parade through crowded streets on Saturday afternoon, with three women wearing matching water-soaked white t-shirts labelled "Puppy Wash Crew".   

Mr Lopez, in 2013, said the decision was made that "adult entertainment should be things like concerts", and the main attraction for most on Saturday night was a concert by the Hoodoo Gurus, with DJs scheduled to play at one EPIC bar until after midnight on Friday and Saturday nights.

Mr Gobeo said the car event had succeeded in providing more family entertainment but remained "highly beneficial" to his industry, with the club taking about three-and-a-half times the usual profit across the four days. Patron numbers increased by at least 20 per cent each year since 2012, he said. 

"Our numbers have not increased because they're not doing nude shows any more – our numbers have increased because we cater for a market far outside their market," Mr Gobeo said.

The Melbourne businessmen said the decision in 2013 to run a pink party bus from EPIC to the club had not been repeated as "the crowd it picked up were not the kind of people we wanted".  

In another part of town, two penthouses were rented out for 12 women who had come from Melbourne, Sydney and regional NSW to work for strip and lap dance business Glitterdolls.

The business owner, who gave her name as Talia Tate, said a shuttle bus would be used to take groups of Summernats attendees from EPIC back to their own hotels or accommodation.

"People are liking the family idea [of Summernats], but they still like their weekend away, starting off their new year with some fun," she said. 

An ACT government spokeswoman said an independent report commissioned by the government found the event contributed $20.7 million to the ACT economy last year, but it was not known how much went to the adult entertainment industry. 

"This report confirms that the average daily expenditure of visitors to Canberra was $190, but does not detail how this money was spent."