The Topless Prophet: The True Story of America's Most Successful Gentleman's Club Entrepreneur
by Alan Markovitz
Topless Prophet is a hodge-podge of memoir, tell-all and business guidebook. Alan Markovitz, with the assistance of journalist Thomas Stevens, tells his story as one of the strip-club businesses top dogs, with all of the smarts, braggadocio and occasional lewdness that goes along with it. His story is as sensational and risque as you could want or expect, but it's grounded in business-savvy and Midwestern living.
Topless Prophet isn't something you'd normally find on my to-read shelf. That's not due to any squeamishness about strippers and adult entertainment, but more about the fact that I don't care all that much about business. (I know, not what people are expecting in the way of complaints about this type of book.) But what caught my eye and made me decide to read this was the old adage: location, location, location. The events in this book -- as sensational and surreal as they sometimes are -- took place practically in my own backyard. Okay, not really. But Alan Markovitz built his topless empire on Detriot's Eminem-famous Eight Mile, expanding to Dearborn and then the rest of the country, and as a fellow Southern Michigander, I find his story fascinating.
But let's just get it out of the way, shall we? If you are offended by strippers/strip clubs/braggarts/the club scene, etc., this book is not for you. And you already know that. So don't bother.
That being said, this book is not what you may expect. Sure, there are occasional buts of the scandalous and lascivious, and frankly, in a book about strip clubs, I would have been disappointed if it were otherwise; I want to hear about insane stripper antics. And they are there. But they are not the focal point of this book by any means. Alan Markovitz is a business man, and this is a business man's book. It's full of tips, tricks and advice for aspiring business-people, albeit filtered through a rather adult lens.
More than anything, though, Topless Prophet reads like a memoir. Markovitz has certainly led an interesting life, and his business side is just the tip of the iceberg. Topless Prophet is a mash-up of vignettes from his life, from opening his first club (The Booby Trap*), to having his Holocaust-survivor father face down a vicious motorcycle gang, to being shot on not one by two occasions, as well as having his business partner put a hit out on him and having to face down the mob. Long story short, the man's been through a lot, and he has a lot to say. There's a good bit of funny, interesting and odd in his story, and his particular spin even makes the business stuff interesting. And there are times when it's down-right riveting; the man was shot twice within the first fifty pages!
The downside: It certainly needed some proof-reading. Maybe it's just a product of having been a writing tutor for 5+ years, or maybe it's the result of being *slightly* anal, but all the little mistakes jumped out at me and kinda got on my nerves. I mean, they weren't so overwhelming that they outweighed the story, but they were the types of obvious mistakes that should have been caught.
The only other thing that bothered me was some of the set-up and tone. With this type of story and this type of narrator, some bragging is expected, maybe even called for. But sometimes it just seemed silly. Also, there was a lot of hint-hint/nudge-nudge going on, mentioning some big event and then saying "but more on that later." Once or twice is okay, but frankly, this kind of obvious hit you over the head foreshadowing is a pet peeve of mine.**
All in all, it's an interesting business book cum tell-all, and if you're into that sort of thing, you'll like it. And if you read it and like it, you can always do a little in-person sleuthing; like a good businessman, Markovitz concludes his book with an open-invitation to his clubs.
* The Booby Trap. I really don't know how to feel about a cheesy pun for a strip club name. Part of me thinks 'ha!' and part of me thinks 'really?' Pretty typical pun reaction, I guess.
**I can't watch Access Hollywood or any of those types of shows because of all of the teasers that are always 'coming up next.' Drives. Me. Nuts. I can't even watch the local news because of it.
Read the NY Post's 60 seconds with Alan Markovitz article.
Or read about Markovitz's successful Penthouse Club in Philly.
Check out the Book Connection's author spotlight on Markovitz.
Amazon allows you to look inside...
disclosure: I received this book for review