Exotic dancers get in on spirit of giving

Barefax Gentlemen's Club in Ottawa is using its assets to collect children's toys for charity.
Exotic dancers at Barefax in the ByWard Market are collecting toys from clients to donate. 2:02

Sometimes Christmas charity can come from the most unlikely places.

Dancers at the Barefax Gentlemen’s Club in the ByWard Market are offering table dances to patrons — usually $20 per dance — in exchange for toys instead.

"I had no problems, the girls were on board right away," said club co-owner Carmalina Bentivoglio. "It’s something we all decided we wanted to do."

Barefax dancer Melina, who did not want to use her real name, said she loves children and agreed to donate her time.

"When they asked me to do this I thought it was a really good idea because there’s a lot of children who have nothing," Melina said.

Asked her thoughts on the method for collecting children’s toys, which some might view as inappropriate, Melina said people should not rush to judge her and her colleagues.

"Just because it’s a strip club doesn’t mean that we’re mean people and we can’t do any good," she said.

To date the club has donated about 80 toys to a group that asked to remain anonymous. Some of the other toys were supposed to go to Debra Dynes Family House, but the organization canceled its agreement with Barefax shortly after CBC called requesting an interview for this story.

While Debra Dynes Family House said the toys it received would be forwarded to the Salvation Army, that charity group did not return CBC's phone calls.

Nevertheless, Salvation Army volunteer Tania Milosevic gave the club and its Christmas spirit the thumbs up.

"Whatever works, it's for the kids. Do it up. It sounds like fun to me," she said.

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