Why I chose to sell my strip club: Refuge supporter tells his journey to Jesus

Charley is a pseudo name for a friend of ours and a donor to our ministry. He shares his story of becoming involved in the lucrative adult entertainment business and his process of walking away. Charley is always willing to share his story to help others. 

Fifteen years young and fresh off the plane in San Diego, Charley was greeted by a lifestyle that working in the adult entertainment industry could supply. Upon visiting his father’s residence for the first time, he was fetched from the airport in a Rolls-Royce. The few weeks that Charley spent nestled in California heights were good for getting to know his father, his successes and certainly his many possessions. Charley’s father was the owner of fifteen to twenty gentlemen’s clubs at a time. Through his endeavors and monetary successes, he acquired the largest Ferrari collection in North America as well as many boats, cars, and homes. At fifteen Charley was smitten by his father’s attainments.

Growing up Charley had never known his father; his parents divorced when he was at the young age of one and his mother remarried to a man who was active in Charley’s life adopting him at age three. Until Charley was experiencing medical conditions that required insight from his biological father, his father had been out of the frame of his life completely. Before the trip to San Diego, Charley had never known who his father was or what he was about. When it came time for college, at the age of eighteen, Charley headed back to the west coast seizing the opportunity to get to know his father even more. 


By the age of twenty, Charley was assisting his father in the affairs of his gentlemen’s clubs. Magnetized to the lifestyle, not for the drugs, alcohol, or girls but instead, for the sheer success, he experienced within the industry. He became the owner of many well to do gentlemen’s clubs ranging from Southern California, Florida, and Hawaii creating elusive nightlife settings where the girls were so plentiful it was as if they were falling from the sky. Throughout Charley’s time in the industry, he shared that many men would come in for the novelty of expression, to be whoever they wanted to be. A common mantra that they used to tell the girls is, “if a man comes in and says he is the president of the United States, your response should be, ‘Hi Mr. President.’” It’s the unrealistic, unlived fantasies that bring men in, bachelor parties, and the loneliness that drives men to look for dialogue and the desire to feel wanted. 

For Charley, his perspective of the industry began to shift when his wife began going to church. He had a lot of money and a lot of things but within the chambers of his heart, there was still something unmet and empty. This inspired him to check the whole church thing out. Charley began growing in his faith with God and talking to pastors at a local Kentucky church where they were residing at the time. In time, Charley experienced conviction, sharing that he felt more convicted walking into his businesses than he did when he walked into the church. He had his first daughter and hoped to be someone that she looked up to. He shared that he could never imagine someone looking at his daughter and trying to put her up on a stage. He recalls feeling like a total hypocrite, describing that he was no better than a pimp. Everything around Charley became hypersensitive. Jesus was doing a work in his heart and opening his eyes to the things he had been immune to since such a young age. 

While Charley did everything he could to run a clean business in adult entertainment, ensuring that girls were not selling their bodies for sex and being careful to look out for warning signs of trafficking there was still no way to ensure that it was a perfect system. Even though Charley was one who rarely drank, and often picked up the tab for cabs so that others would not drive under the influence it didn’t mean that it never happened. And just because Charley was against drugs, it didn’t mean that everyone who entered the club adhered to the same principles. He realized through the loss of one of his workers, that no matter how clean you aim to run a business in nightlife and adult entertainment, the components that are swirling around the scenes can be devastating. 

For Charley, there was no good time to exit the business of adult entertainment. Following a sleepless night, when his wife woke up he said: “we’re out, we’re done.” He couldn’t live in the in-between of serving two masters any longer. This decision was costly in a monetary sense, he says “we lost a lot of money, and we hit rock bottom, but I wouldn’t change it for anything.” When people ask Charley if he misses the money or the euphoria of being the man, he says “no I don’t miss any of that or wish that on anyone.” Today Charley lives in Hawaii with his family, his life has been forever changed by his relationship with Jesus Christ. He works in real estate now and sheds light and hope to those who consider walking away from the adult entertainment industry.