How much money do strippers make? This is how much lapdancers were earning at Birmingham’s Legs 11 club

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Lap-dancers at a famous Birmingham club closed amid allegations of human trafficking and fraud were earning up to £1,000 a night, a leading charity claims.

It is said punters forked out so much cash for the stunning strippers to slide the oiled poles at Legs 11, on Birmingham’s Broad Street , that the girls were making a profit, despite having to pay the club £100 a night to work there.

The Hope for Justice charity, an organisation dedicated to stamping out modern slavery, was one of the many agencies who took part in a June 23 raid on the club – a popular haunt of screen and soccer stars – but failed to find evidence of trafficking.

A damning report at a local authority licencing sub-committee meeting this week stated: “The sub-committee determined the causes of the serious crime and/or serious disorder appeared to originate from a concerted, sophisticated and highly organised criminal operation being run from the premises.

“This included, but was not limited to, financial fraud and human trafficking.”

It concluded: “The sub committee was presented with compelling evidence at this stage which satisfied them on the balance of probabilities that the premises were indeed associated with serious crime.”

The suspension prevents the club from being an entertainment venue for businessmen.

At the moment it cannot play music, serve drinks or let girls dance.

Legs 11 shut its own doors shortly after the raid, claiming on Twitter that the premises had closed for “urgent repairs”.

It is a shocking development for a brand which celebrated its 20th anniversary last October.

The first lap-dancing business to open in the West Midlands, Legs 11 lauched in Birmingham’s Chinatown and still has a club in the district’s Ladywell Walk, which is unaffected by the suspension. The Broad Street sister venue opened seven years ago.

The company’s twitter account advises: “Broad Street closed for urgent repairs, enjoy all the Legs 11 girls at our Chinatown Club.”

The Legs 11 name has attracted stars such as Robbie Williams and became so mainstream that it hosted charity events, business seminars and even life-drawing classes. But the careful PR work was seriously stained when police executed a raid at 11pm on June 23.

Those taking part in the operation included Hope for Justice, city council officials, trading standards, Revenue and Customs officials, and even the Red Cross.

No arrests were made, and the West Bromwich-based Hope for Justice stresses no hard evidence of people trafficking was uncovered.

A charity spokesman said: “Some of the girls talked about having to ‘pay to work’, maybe £100 or something, but then potentially being able to earn more than that.

“Some of them earn very good money – £1,000 a night perhaps, but others much much less.”

He added: “In general, it’s never easy to help victims of trafficking because they’re often scared; they worry about deportation or petty crimes they’ve been forced to commit; they might be hooked on drugs and their trafficker is also their supplier. But in this particular case, we didn’t see clear cases of girls being forced to be there.”

With the potential to earn huge sums in a single night, that is understandable. Management at the Chinatown club last year revealed one customer paid £10,000 for a sensual dance.

And that wasn’t even for the strippers’ company. The small fortune was paid to remove a group of footballers whose rowdy antics were proving a distraction in the plush VIP room.

Mike Olley, boss of Westside Business Improvement District, which includes Broad Street, spoke of his “horror” about the Legs 11 allegations.

“We had received allegations of illegal touting,” he says. “Did we know for sure? Of course we didn’t. We also had issues with signage on a Legs 11 car. From that to allegations of modern day slavery is quite a jump.”

He and his team opposed Legs 11’s application to open on Broad Street.

“At one time we had three strip clubs on Broad Street,” he explains. “We have no objection to them, abd I fully recognise the need for such establishments.

“But BID – the umbrella group of Broad Street businesses – took the view that one was enough, and we did not want a proliferation.”

He was unsuccessful in blocking the venue’s arrival.

What the police say

In the immediate aftermath of the Legs 11 raid, police spokesman said: “A warrant was executed at the Legs 11 premises on Broad Street, Birmingham in response to information that has been received in connection with suspected People Trafficking and Modern Day Slavery at 11pm on Friday June 23.

“We are working with Birmingham City Council Licensing, Trading Standards, Fire Service, SIA, HMRC, Hope for Justice and the Red Cross to ensure the safety of potential trafficked victims at the location, employees and the wider public.

“West Midlands Police is committed to tackling People Trafficking and Modern Day Slavery which is still largely a hidden crime.“

The spokeswoman added: “We are striving to raise the public’s awareness of the signs and urge them to report anything suspicious so we can take action.”

Following this week’s hearing, the West Midlands force issued the following statement: “A lap dancing club in Birmingham has had its licence suspended after allegations of fraud at the premises on Broad Street last month. Legs 11 is no longer able to sell alcohol, play music or allow girls to dance at the club after a licensing hearing. The club has the option to appeal the decision.”

Risqué business was place to be seen for celebs

The internet is filled with gushing reviews for the risqué Broad Street venue.

UK gushes: “In a city that’s not short of clubs, Birmingham’s Legs 11 Broad Street has to be the pick.

“It’s the place where celebs and those in the know go. It’s really luxurious and packed with lovely Midland girls.

“Once you get inside, it’s luxury all the way with a large main room and a couple of poles centre stage, plus separate rooms for VIP treatment clients.

“There’s over 50 ladies on the books. Every night you can enjoy some beauty and professional dancing skill.

Meanwhile, another posted: “Fast becoming one of Birmingham’s most visited gentleman clubs, Legs 11 is a strip club with a dash of style.

“Boasting premium private VIP rooms, stag specific party packages and a fully stocked bar, Legs 11 is home to teasing evenings and stylish nights for those after something a little different in Birmingham.”

Unexpected twist for club that took pride in its ‘talent’

Nobody was available for comment at the Broad Street club when the Sunday Mercury attempted to make contact.

At the Chinatown venue, the phone was answered by a woman with a heavy Eastern European accent who promptly hung up when we gave our details.

Yet the organisation was less coy during last year’s 20th anniversary – a milestone celebrated with stilt-walkers, fire-eaters and free bubbly at both venues.

Top brass sat down with a Sunday Mercury reporter and boasted of the close working relationship with both police and council officials.

It was a business dealing in a saucy, seaside brand of showbiz, they insisted. Legs 11, they said, played strictly by the rules of the Sexual Entertainment Venue licence. Touching and dirty dancing are strictly prohibited.

It is high finance fantasy: akin to purchasing a top shelf magazine, but being barred from turning the pages.

They boasted of their VIP customers, and giving dancers the confidence to pursue high-powered careers well away from the poles.

One member of the management team said: “To work here you absolutely must have talent and those talents are recognised in whatever career they wish to follow. Once a man came up to me and said, ‘I want to thank you. My daughter worked here and now she’s a top lawyer in Australia’.”

In a statement, the business said: “Of course, the future is unwritten, but expansion is always on the mind of the current management team.”

The future may be unwritten, but this week’s chapter is a very unexpected twist in the Legs 11 story. Following this week’s licencing subcommittee meeting, an official explained: “Legs 11 could appeal the decision of the licensing sub-committee and, if the club does, a hearing must be held within 48 hours.”

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I'm a writer who focuses on the outdoors and travel. I share my time between Alaska and Colorado, where, when I'm not writing, I enjoy camping, kayaking, hiking, fishing, and skiing (often with dogs in tow). My byline may also be seen in publications such as The New York Times, National Geographic, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, and others.


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