It’s safe to say most clubs in Los Angeles wish they could have an opening year like that of Voyeur. Since its 2009 debut a year ago today, the West Hollywood club instantly became one of the best-known nightclubs in the country, when it appeared on cable news programs last March, from CNN to MSNBC, thanks to a scandal involving RNC staffers using donor money to enjoy a wild night out at the WeHo hotspot.
“It introduced the brand to people who wouldn’t know us otherwise,” said Matt Bendik, one of the partners at the club, speaking last night at a Tissot-sponsored event. “It gave us a lot of notoriety.” That’s putting it mildly. Everyone from Wolf Blitzer to Keith Olbermann got details wrong of what actually goes on inside the club, but it didn’t matter: Voyeur’s fate as a racy destination for Angelenos and anyone within 500 miles of the bar was sealed, and the busy club got even busier.
Most nightspots would kill for the publicity Voyeur received earlier this year, but owners were caught by surprise by the enormity of the viral political freak-out and say they did nothing to fan the flames. “We never leaked anything, it was an organic thing,” said Bendik.
And while Bendik and other partners have been instrumental in keeping the numbers up at the Santa Monica Boulevard bar (everyone from NBC to Russian billionaires have thrown private events at the space), the club’s unsung hero is artistic director Mia Presley, who is responsible for all the semi-nude dancers and the main sex-soaked concept that drives the bar. “We wanted to shock and awe people until they wanted to leave or join in,” the former Penthouse Pet said Wednesday night. “I think we’ve accomplished that in a year.”
Presley describes the just shy of X-rated vamping inside the club by her dancers as “artistic vignettes that come to life throughout the night” with “a slight fetish feel but high art concepts are behind them.”True enough—the multiple women who appear throughout the club infuse Voyeur with an unmistakably sexualized energy, yet it’s done with class.
“Every single girl I’ve hired is still working for me,” she said of the 32 dancers now working at the club, all brunettes and redheads who scowl and sometimes hang from the ceiling via netting. “It’s hard for me to find blondes that get it,” the director said of the concept behind Voyeur. Girls are not allowed to flirt with customers, smile or take tips.
After a year, it seems, that mission has been accomplished, despite a few hiccups along the way (earlier this month Voyeur found itself in the news again after someone twittered a picture of an underage Miley Cyrus at the venue). “Voyeur has a concept and it stays true to the concept,” said Bendik.
“That’s what differentiates us from every other run of the mill club in L.A. At Voyeur the name means something, the concept means something and every last detail is towards that vision.”