The Rick Kogan, Chicago Sun-Times article, Naughty Night Life, which ran on July 7, 1979, and which is noted in Dana's book, Dancing Stallions, was the spark that lit the rebellious feminist fuel that was spilling all over the Sugar Shack stage as Dana presented for the first time ever, anywhere, guys stripping for the entertainment pleasure of gals! Dana had been showcasing male stripping since March 15, 1976, but attendance was marginal until the Naughty Nightlife article was published and sent syndicated to over 100 newspapers. The phones started ringing at the Sugar Shack and didn't stop for over 10 years.
Here is the copy of that iconic article penned so well and so boldly by Rick Kogan, Sun-Times reporter (now at the Chicago Tribune) who over the years has been one of Dana's most loyal supporters. He wrote the article after attending a show at the Sugar Shack with some friends.
What are two nice girls doing in a place like this? Watching the men 'take it all off.'
There is no doubt about it: The girls are excited as the Jaguar snakes its way along the dark roads near Lake Geneva.
They are Chicago girls and rather sophisticated--in the ways of the big city at least--and they have been looking forward to this night for weeks, ever since a friend suggested that even two bright and with-it young ladies from the big city might have some use for the diversions to be found at the Sugar Shack.
So, they are talking very fast on their way to the Sugar Shack and giggling and asking questions like, "What kind of laws do you suppose they have up here?" and "How long has this place been open?" and "Do you think they take off all their clothes?"
But before any of the three men in the car can answer, the Jaguar pulls into the small town of Lake Como and just as quickly pulls off the road and into the large parking lot in front of the Sugar Shack.
It is an ordinary looking building, a product of the Swiss chalet school of design so favored by restaurants and souvenir shops in the Midwest. There are two well-dressed couples laughing as they walk from the door. “Was it fun?” asks one of the girls from Chicago. “Great,” says one of the laughing women. “Never seen anything quite like it. Amazing. You’ll love it.”
Some three hours later, they did love it. But their affection did not come easily, for wanting to be naughty and really being naughty are two very different things. And being naughty is what the Sugar Shack is all about: the only place this side of God-knows-where to feature nude male dancing. That’s right. At the Sugar Shack men dance without their clothes. Men dance without any clothes!
“The chicks have a great time,” says Dana Montana, between shows. “They come here by the busload. Why, just last week we had a convention of female bus drivers. Man, did they tear the place apart.”
Montana, a husky former Playboy bunny still pretty around the edges, has owned the Sugar Shack for 14 years. For 10 of those years it was a simple place, a spot for men to gather, knock back a few beers and spend a couple of hours watching women disrobe. But four years ago Montana changed all that. She introduced the male nude dancer to this subdued Wisconsin resort town and things have never been quite the same.
“The chicks are worse than the men ever were,” Montana says. “The women get 10 times more free-wheeling than the men ever did. Maybe that’s because there’s nothing you can’t do while you’re here.”
THE TWO GIRLS FROM Chicago are seated with their friends at a comfortable booth and they order drinks. As they suspected, the place is dimly lit, but to their surprise it is also noisy and active. There is none of the furtive whispering, sitting in the shadows or lurking oddballs that one associates with some places where women take off their clothes. Rather, there is a boisterous, almost party-like atmosphere.
The place is almost filled and most of the patrons are women, clustered around tables in four- or five-person groups. But some men are sprinkled around the room, sitting next to their dates. (“We don’t get any gay people here,” Montana says.)
“I never was to a place like this in my life,” says Gladys Rosciszewski, sitting at a table with her daughter Chris. “I don’t know what to think. I own a bar near Green Bay and I hate to guess what would happen if I did this. It is something different but maybe I’m too old for this.”
While she is a little reluctant to say what in the world she is doing in the Sugar Shack, Rosciszewski is not at all shy about saying that she is 59 years old. In fact, it’s her 59th birthday tonight and she is here celebrating. “My mother didn’t believe me,” says Chris. “So I decided to take here here as a birthday present. I think she’s having a great time. Everyone does. And the older I get the more frequently I visit. The guys are all fantastic dancers and it’s all done in very good taste.” She excuses herself to make reservations for a July birthday gathering—this time her own. “Look,” she says when she returns, “you can have a lot of fun and not get into any trouble. It’s like you’re not really cheating on your husband, but you are. I love it here.”
THE SHOW IS ABOUT to begin. Montana announces through a microphone: “Anything you girls feel like doing is just fine with me. And now here’s Turk Johnson. Let’s get to it.”
A table of innocent-looking young blonds, sporting fine summer tans and pretty summer dresses, bursts into randy harmony: “Go Turk. Do it Baby. Take it off. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Take it aaaaaaallllllllll off.”
Turk Johnson seems reluctant to take anything off just yet and one can hardly blame him, for he is wearing an obviously expensive Darth Vader outfit, complete with a laser sword that he suggestively thrusts at the table of howling innocents. But eventually he does “get to it.” First he bares his chest. Then off come his pants. He dances on the small stage wearing nothing but a pair of black bikini underpants and the crowd is going crazy. “Now, baby, now. Do it. Take it off,” everyone is shouting.
The disco music beats as Turk leaves the stage and begins to prowl through the audience. Women grab at him, pulling him into their laps. Kiss him. They rub his arms and not so gently brush his bare thighs. They snap pictures. They scream and laugh and squeal. “Take it aaaaallllll off.” Soon he does, using a towel in the same way (but not as effectively) as Sally Rand once used her fans. There is, putting it mildly, nothing left to the imagination and just to make sure, women touch ALL parts of Turk Johnson’s body.
“This is unbelievable,” says one of the girls from Chicago. “I don’t believe this is happening.” She is trying not to look at naked Turk as he edges toward her table, waving his towel before him. “Don’t let him come over here. Please.”
LARRY SLADE is the next dancer and he is treated to the same frenzied reception Johnson received—more grabbing, more kissing, more fondling and more picture taking. He dances around the room with all the practiced moves his predecessor displayed. He is using a smaller towel. When it is all over, when the female occupants of the Sugar Shack have let out a collective sigh, Turk and Larry sit at a small table in the back of the room, signing pictures. They are fully clothed.
“Some tough way to make a living,” says Johnson, laughing. “Turning on all these women every night,” He pauses to autograph a picture of himself in black bikini underwear for an admiring female. “Thanks for coming,” he writes across his legs, and then he embraces the woman and gives her a long kiss. “We think of ourselves as exotic dancers,” says Slade who used to work as a bodyguard for Liberace, and who, like Johnson, admits to being 32 years old. “I’m just doing what comes naturally. I’m completely into dancing and trying to get the ladies to enjoy themselves.”
The parade of females, inhibitionless, continues for nearly 20 minutes—autographs and kisses, kisses and autographs. “You were wonderful. You were great,” many of them said to the two smiling dancers. Even the two girls from Chicago approach Johnson and Slade and accept their pictures. They do not, however, want to be kissed. “I don’t kiss just anybody,” one of them says.
But the party-like atmosphere continues. Women make plans to return with other friends—“Can you see Betty here. She’ love it.” They line up in front of Larry and Turk. They giggle while making their way out of the club into the crisp Wisconsin night and barely notice the naked woman now dancing on stage, her bare breasts bounding to a disco beat. Why should they?
Tonight they have been naughty. So naughty.