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Canute strip club is sore subject for some

BY RON JACKSON Published: January 17, 2010
CANUTE — Kellie Hurtgam is probably like many other single mothers who own their own businesses. She juggles a busy daily schedule, trying to balance the responsibilities of successful employer and proud soccer mom.

There is a difference, though. Hurtgam owns a strip club.

"I’m proud to tell people I own this business,” said Hurtgam, 31. "I’m Kellie Hurtgam, and I own a strip club.”

The existence of Outer Limits Entertainment is only part of Hurtgam’s bold story. It’s the location of the club that many find shocking. It opened in November 2008 on the western edge of Washita County and across the street from the town limits of Canute, a quiet hamlet on State Highway 66 that boasts 524 people and three churches.

"I’m sure people don’t expect it to be where it is,” said Hurtgam, who lives in nearby Cordell. "But we’re here, and we run a clean, legal operation.”

Hurtgam said she has gone to great lengths to present a respectable establishment, even going so far as to warn customers of what they will encounter. She posted a sign that reads: "If nudity offends do not enter.”

The club is a sore subject in Canute, and the topic has made its way onto a blog site where locals have launched anonymous barbs at it.

"I’m not OK with it, but what can I do?” said Jan Camphouse, vice president of First National Bank in Canute.

The manager of one store said, "A lot of people are against it ... but you really can’t use my name. It could hurt my business.”

‘I love my girls’
Mayor Phillip Root chooses his words so carefully when discussing the strip club, he avoids the issue entirely.

When asked about Hurtgam’s club, Root politely sidesteps the subject and instead extols Canute’s positives.

"Canute is a great place to live,” Root said. "We have a great school and great people. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.”

And Hurtgam would not want to work anywhere else.

"I love entertaining people,” Hurtgam said. "And I love my girls. They’re not whores. They’re dancers, and a lot of them are single mothers just trying to make a living.”

Crowds flock to the club four nights a week, especially on Saturdays when Hurtgam suspends the dancing temporarily so customers can watch live mixed martial arts fights on big-screen televisions.

She said she has more than 1,000 members, and 32 dancers who travel from as far as Oklahoma City and Amarillo for the opportunity to dance topless for wages.

"On a busy night?” Hurtgam said. "A dancer can make upwards of $300.”

Hurtgam takes home her own pay as well as a sense of pride.