“Craziness. wackiness. dirtiness.” Sounds like our kind of television show. That’s how dancer Rhesa Schwimmer describes the new Playboy TV reality show King of Clubs, in which she’s featured.
Filmed in Las Vegas at the legendary Palomino Club, King of Clubs is the venue’s second foray into adult TV (the first being the humorous lap dance/quiz program Show Us Your Wits). This show follows the Gentile family as they take over the only strip joint in town with a full-nude license and a full bar, plus dancers who are as young as 18. But this is not just a half-hour’s worth of lap dances on the small screen.
“I really don’t think it’s ever been done in this way before,” says executive producer Adam Reed. “It’s not the seedy underbelly of Las Vegas. We’ve managed to create a comedy about a family-run business that happens to be in the adult entertainment industry.”
King of Clubs premiered on September 25, and though sexuality is a strong component of each episode, it’s easy to become wrapped up in the stories of the individuals involved in the night-to-night operations of the Palomino Club.
Reed happened upon the club while working on another one of his shows, Gene Simmons Family Jewels. “In one wacky episode, we ended up at the Palomino Club. Gene thought he was going to be investing in a Western bar or restaurant,” laughs Reed. While there, Reed met new Palomino owner Adam Gentile and his mother Michelle.
Gentile’s lawyer father Dominic acquired the Palomino in lieu of payment while defending the former owner in a murder case. Given Gentile’s experience—he’d worked for strip clubs since age 21—his father gave him a chance to turn the failing business around, with the stipulation that Gentile’s mother help keep the books. “It’s interesting having an employee that can ground me,” says Gentile, now in his 30s. “It’s really entertaining at this age.”
Entertaining it is, and Michelle seems none too thrilled to now be the Palomino’s accountant, but wants to help her son succeed, even if that involves sitting in on dancer auditions. “She’s still not quite sure how working there happened,” laughs Gentile. “She tries to avoid the main floor as much as possible and mostly stays in the office.”
“It’s a lot funnier than people would think,” Schwimmer says of the show’s dynamic, though the dancer admits having cameras inside the Palomino was nerve-wracking. “We’d be in the locker room where you’re not used to having someone watch you. Definitely a strange experience.” Schwimmer adds, “Eventually we’d have a few drinks and forget that they were there.”
Reed believes the family running the club presents an interesting dynamic, but also that the show reveals that strippers aren’t as dumb as the prevailing stereotype. “These women are business women,” he says. “They know how to look at a guy, and from his watch to what he’s drinking and the way his hair is styled, they know how much money he has, and if he’s going to give it to them.” He proudly claims that the show could easily be on A&E, Bravo or VH1—if the nudity was edited out.
But thanks to Playboy TV, the nudity stays in, though it’s easy to forget. Well, sometimes. “I saw some stuff that I didn’t know that they had captured,” Gentile says. “Our girls apparently get naughty in the dressing room with each other!” (That’s in just the first episode, by the way.)
Don’t have Playboy TV? Locals and military are always free at the Palomino Club, though we’re considering adding the channel to our cable package just to get the show.
Even if you aren’t intrigued by the business side of King of Clubs, there’s plenty of titillating content. One upcoming episode features “Design a Vagina” night. “We were all nude, and they would paint us with different things to do with Vegas,” says Schwimmer, who was painted like a King of Clubs playing card. And look out for the naked backstage cat fight!
(Originally published in Las Vegas Weekly and at LasVegasWeekly.com.)