Nude dancers helping wage war on fungi


In the tiny lobby near her office, she looks every bit the well-off, well-educated suburban working mother of two who runs her own business.

Clutching her basic-black Coach purse and adjusting her argyle Adrienne Vittadini sweater, she's trying to get away to run some errands. But first, she has to deal with a front door that won't open.

While she messes with the handle, she talks about the books she's reading at bedtime to her two little girls. They live in a 19th century Victorian house she's renovating with her husband in Milford.

In her next breath, she's talking business. ''I used to run a photo studio in Aspen,'' she says. ''I made $750,000 a year.''

But now, she's averaging 1,000 customers an hour. ''This,'' she says, rubbing her thumb and index finger together, ''is much, much better.''

Still working on the door, she calculates the number of minutes the women on stage at Rumors, the Mount Carmel club she owns, are stark naked.

''Two out of 10,'' she says, marveling at how so many people will pay so much to see so little for so short a time.

Elisabeth Kemper was called ''Lis'' by her friends in the Class of 1966 at Indian Hill High School. She went to Indiana University, earned a B.A. in fine arts and spent five more years in graduate school.

The phone at the lobby desk rings. It's for her husband, Richard. She gives up on the door and goes inside.

''We're a lot alike,'' she says. ''We look like Mr. and Mrs. Goody-two-Shoes.''

The Goody-two-Shoes are running a strip club. Moral watchdogs say it is an affront to community standards. The Goody-two-Shoes say they're operating a show club for the betterment of mankind.

Bare profits

Inside the club, the music booms as the women strip. The room is half-full. Guys sip $3.25 soft drinks and watch in silence.

''Isn't this pathetic?'' Lis asks as she walks through the crowd. ''Grown men watching a woman take her clothes off in front of a bunch of mirrors. It's funny and sad at the same time.''

She finds her husband at the bar. Straightening the collars of his Geoffrey Beene shirt and sweater, he talks about the paper he's writing on fighting fungus infections, the medical journals he reads at night, and what he likes to cook.

Richard Kemper, Milford High School Class of 1969, is ''Rick'' to everyone at Rumors. The former Milford city councilman is a medical researcher who spends his days as an ''unpaid go-fer'' at the club.

In his spare time, he cooks. ''French food,'' he says, ''is my favorite.''

Across the room, a naked blond makes a vigorous attempt to dislocate both hips while dancing to a tape of Janis Joplin singing ''Piece of My Heart.''

Rumors saves

Switching from cuisine to commerce, Rick casually explains how he persuaded his wife to go into the strip-club business.

''A bunch of doctors I know from Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, told me you can make a lot of money with these things.''

So true.

Back at the entrance, Lis watches customers line up outside with the $10 admission in their hands.

The club's precinct voted to go dry on Election Day. So, Rumors opted to drop the booze and the dancers' clothes. It went to nude dancing on Wednesday.

Business boomed.

''This is incredible,'' Lis says. ''Look at all the suits.''

The line is 10 deep, all male, some in suits, others in jeans and sweat shirts.

''Normally, we have 30 guys in here at 3 p.m.,'' she says. ''Today, we have 300.''

Turning over 1,000 customers an hour, her club's grossing $16,500 every 60 minutes - $231,000 in a 14-hour day.

''I want 5-10 clubs like this,'' Rick said.

Why not? They're money machines.

Rick won't dispute that. But, donning his medical crusader cape, he promises he will do good things with all that money.

'We are developing a technology to remove types of fungus from schools and hospitals,'' he said. ''Our goal is to take it worldwide to help many people.

''But it costs a lot of money to do research,'' he added. So, this is where highly profitable strip clubs come in.

''I know it sounds twisted,'' Rick said, ''but when people come in here, they're helping humanity.''

I can see the ads now: Buy two minutes of nudity. Kill a billion fungi.

Very sexy.

Cliff Radel's column appears in The Enquirer Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Published Nov. 22, 1996.