(In fact, if you are a resident of Saskatchewan, it is now officially easier to solicit birthday wishes from the premier than from an exotic dancer; the Saskatchewan government’s website offers instructions on how to “arrange greetings from Brad Wall for a birthday or anniversary.”) This new reality may not mean much in a province that doesn’t and never did offer a plethora of regulated adult entertainment.
But it means a great deal to the Codette Hotel, whose business has dried up in a matter of weeks.
Codette (pronounced “Cadet”) is a small community in northern Saskatchewan, 10 km south of Nipawin.
Driving down its main road—which in late April, truly the cruellest month here, is still sheathed in ice—you might conclude it’s the quietest place on Earth.
(Contrary to what its name suggests, the hotel does not offer lodging, though its upstairs apartment once served as a guest room and dressing area for visiting dancers.) Its owner, a wiry man in his early 50s named Don Verstraeten, who looks a lot like Bryan Cranston of , says that for a little more than a year, the Codette Hotel “was a gong show.” Two strippers danced on its small stage every week, packing the place with locals and out-of-towners alike; businessmen from nearby Melfort and Prince Albert.
Now the bar is more of a strip museum than a strip club.
Autographed headshots of the club’s former entertainers—mostly women from cities in Saskatchewan and Alberta who came to Codette specifically to dance—decorate the wall beside the bar.But the state of Parkyn’s heart on these matters may not be relevant to strippers themselves, some of whom might be in danger under Wall’s new legislation.Lindsay Krestianson, one of the Codette Hotel’s main bartenders, says she has heard stories of strippers doing private bachelor parties without security since the change in the law.But, he says, the government believed “the linkage between organized crime and this particular industry” was “well-established” enough to outlaw the practice.The only nudity-friendly exception to the new legislation applies to once-a-year charity events, where stripping will be permitted in licensed venues as long as event organizers acquire a special permit and the night’s proceeds go to charity.That is, until you step into the Codette Hotel, a tiny bar at the end of the street.