The GOP's Grand Little Party

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Inevitably, they’re calling it “Bondagegate”: Republican National Committee aides racked up a $2,000 tab at a Hollywood topless club featuring a bondage/S&M theme.

The club, called “Voyeur,” was inspired by the orgy scene in the 1999 Stanley Kubrick movie “Eyes Wide Shut.” Erik Brown, a California-based Republican political consultant, handed the RNC a reimbursement request for more than $1,900 for a visit to the club on Jan. 31, listing it as a “meal expense.”

Although Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele didn’t attend the outing to “Voyeur” and didn’t personally approve the expenditure, the incident has turned up the pressure on him to resign. Big GOP donors are said to be disgusted at his free-spending ways, including (according to a New York Times story) “$17,500 on travel by private jet, in addition to about $15,000 on limousines” plus “several hotel charges ranging in the thousands of dollars, including the W Hotel in Washington ($15,000), the Beverly Hills Hotel ($9,000) and the Four Seasons in Philadelphia ($7,000).”

And that was just for one month.

One of the few defenders of Steele has been Oregon Republican Party Chairman Bob Tiernan, who told The Oregonian’s Jeff Mapes that “Voyeur” isn’t as raunchy as news accounts have made it out to be.

“It's an extremely high-end bar, it's not a topless or bottomless or strip joint kind of place,” Tiernan said.  “They cover a hell of a lot more than a lot of nightclubs do.”

A review published in the Los Angeles Times when the club opened last October described “impromptu bondage and S&M ‘scenes’ being played out on an elevated platform by scantily clad performers throughout the night. … There is also a heavy net suspended above the club's lounge area where performers writhe above the heads of clubgoers. Even more provocative scenes are played out in an enclosed glass booth area adjacent to the club's dance floor area.

“‘It's pretty . . . intense,’ clubgoer Lee Stone admitted on opening night as one female performer with a horse's bit in her mouth was being strapped to the wall by another just behind the booth he was sharing with friends.”

It all sounds pretty kinky to me. But I guess I haven’t had as much experience inside strip clubs as Bob Tiernan has.

Tiernan told Mapes that although the club wasn’t as decadent as portrayed in the media, he still doesn't approve of the party reimbursing people for “spending $1,900 for drinks with your buddies.” The staffer who approved the reimbursement has been fired, and Brown is supposed to pay the party back.

Whether this latest flap will finally bring down Steele remains to be seen, but my guess at this point is that it will soon blow over. What the heck, these guys are working around the clock to save this great country from “socialism” and they deserve a little R&R sometimes.


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