The owner of London’s first ever fully-nude gentlemen’s club tells us why his electric car comes a close second to his wife in the true love stakes
By Will Dron on November 23, 2011 9:35 AM
Peter Stringfellow, who recently turned 71, is best known as the brassy owner of two London gentlemen’s clubs, Stringfellows in Covent Garden and Angels in Soho. Both feature full-nude lap dancers (female, in case you were wondering). In fact, Stringfellow was the first club owner to gain a fully-nude license from Westminster council, with the club that bears his name this year celebrating its 30th anniversary.
A highly recognisable face on UK TV, with numerous appearances in reality shows and documentaries, Stringfellow has over the years garnered a reputation as a ladies man (well, with two lap dancing clubs you would, wouldn’t you?) but in 2009, after a five year engagement, he settled down and tied the knot with former ballet dancer Bella Wright, 30.
Perhaps less well reported, though, is the Sheffield-born businessman’s love of little electric cars. For the last five years Stringfellow has been driving an electric city car in London. That would make him an ‘early adopter’, then… a pioneer, if you will. Who’d have thought?
Stringfellow called us from his apartment in Majorca to give an exclusive insight into why his Porsche is just for show while his true love is for electric cars, why it’s time to upgrade from the Maranello (and he knows what he’s going to get) and why the only girl he needs to impress these days is his new wife.
Oh, and he thinks the Tesla Roadster is a joke.
TCP: You test-drove an electric car recently. Which one?
PS: The new Mitsubishi i-MiEV. Excellent car – I liked it very much. But you have to test it within the bounds of electric cars – it’s no good getting in there and thinking it’s going to turn into some kind of sportscar… it is what it is. But I was very impressed with it.
Stringfellow's next car - the pure electric Mitsubishi i-MiEV (photo: Mitsubishi)
TCP: Have you tried any other electric cars?
PS: No, but the one I have is the Maranello – an Italian car I imported from Italy with all the extras included. It’s black on black – black on the outside and black inside. I’ve had it for just over five years.
I also have a Porsche 911 Carrera 4S – also black on black – and basically I bought it for the evenings because I don’t do any mileage. It’s got my plate on and I take it out only at night and park it up outside of the club. It’s part of the publicity machine; part of the image that goes with the club.
I stay in the centre of London, and therefore my mileage is no more than four miles, maybe five miles depending on the route into Soho.
"I also have a Porsche 911 Carrera 4S. It’s part of the publicity machine; part of the image that goes with the club."
TCP: What sort of driving do you do, then?
PS: I live on the Albert Embankment and drive into my Angels club on Wardour Street in Soho, so the beauty of it is, there’s no London Congestion Charge to be paid, there’s no road tax, and I can park it for free all day long. Now, to me it’s not that it saves money – it’s that it’s perfect for parking because I can park it straight on into the curb.
TCP: How much have you spent on the Maranello over the years?
PS: I would say I’ve spent zilch on the car – there’s nothing to pay for… oh, wait a minute… for some reason the heater on the car is run by a little diesel engine. I’ve never seen it but it must be a right diddy little thing. And every year I put a gallon in and then I’ve got my heater working right through the winter.
TCP: What else do you like about the Maranello?
PS: The thing about the Maranello is that it will go 40 kilometres, which is approximately 30 miles, and I haven’t done 30 miles in it yet. I went to Putney the other day to look at the new Mitsubishi, and then went into town quickly, then back home and that was 20 miles. And I plug it in every night and it just sips electricity, using next to nothing.
Now, having had it five years I honestly believe electric cars are the future, and I needed to upgrade. So I decided to look at what’s out there now and I was astonished at how far they’ve come. And the one that struck me as looking the part is the Mitsubishi. So I went to see one at Mitsubishi in Putney, and they were absolutely delighted and they showed me around it. It has a regular heater, it’s got sat nav, it’s got cameras in the back for when you’re parking. It’s a four-door four-seater with a really good hatch back. I’ve enquired about black on black – they’re going to put black leather in mine, I’ve got special black wheels going on it, a fantastic radio, sat nav… what more can I tell you?
It’s 80% that I’m going to buy it – I’ll make that decision when I get back to London. With all the best discounting they can do for me, I’ll be looking at something like £24,000 with all the extras bits stuck on that I want. On resale, I’ve worked out that my Maranello isn’t going to be worth more than about £3,500.
Outside Stringfellow's Angels club in central London (photo: Christopher Butchart/ The Cult PR)
TCP: Your Maranello’s still worth £3,500? That’s not bad after five years.
PS: No, it’s not, I suppose. And I’ve got a queue of people wanting to buy it – the guy that owns the Jamaican Jerk Chicken restaurant next to Angels has offered me £5,000! I can’t take it because I know it’s not worth it. However there’s one online I saw for £3,500 and it’s not as good condition, so I might sell it to him for £4,000. But then one of my managers in the centre of London is desperate to buy it, too.
I have a garage and my wife has a fantastic, special Mini conversion – it looks like a Quality Street toffee to me, all shiny and purple. She loves it.
"Tesla Roadster? I think they’re jokes. If you’re going to get something like that you may as well get the real thing."
TCP: Did you ever feel the need to look at something a bit bigger like the Nissan LEAF? Or something sportier, like the Tesla Roadster?
PS: Of course I did. I think they’re jokes. If you’re going to get something like that you may as well get the real thing. Except, of course, if you want to save the planet with zero emissions. But that’s not the game – the game with electric cars is to make them small so that you can park them. They’re city cars. If you want to travel from Birmingham to London every day, maybe you get one of the other cars that you’re talking about, but I don’t think that someone driving on the motorway every day is going to be looking at electric cars. Not if you do 100 miles a day.
The Tesla Roadster - if you're looking at supercars you might as well get 'the real thing', reckons Stringfellow (photo: Tesla)
TCP: But what about your image – what about the cool factor?
PS: Do you mean, what’s Peter Stringfellow, supersonic nightclub owner doing getting out of a little electric car?! It’s fine, people actually like it. And I have black windows as well so you can’t see who’s driving it anyway, but when I park and get out people very nearly give me a round of applause! I think it’s one of those things for me – it’s either a Ferrari or Porsche, or it’s an electric car, one or the other.
I know one of my friends who lives in Soho, who owns an advertising company; he’s got a G-Wiz, and he’s got a collection of classic cars, and a Ferrari, and I’ve forgotten what else, but he’s got a G-Wiz. So there you have a Ferrari owner with an electric car, you have me as a Porsche owner with an electric car, so if you see someone with an electric car at the moment you can guess that that guy can afford any car he wants. He isn’t buying it because it’s cheap, he’s buying it because he can park it easily.
The black Porsche 911 will stay - but it's just part of the image of the club, says Stringfellow (photo: Stringfellows.com)
TCP: So you’re not thinking of replacing the 911 with an electric supercar one day?
PS: Well, to be honest with you the Carrera comes out at night – it does its two miles to the club – and then comes back again, that’s it! My son, who’s an ex-racing driver and he drives the safety cars at race meetings around the world now, he thinks I should be arrested! He thinks it’s just plain criminal that I have a Porsche 911 Carrera 4S that has never been above much more than 80 miles an hour. And when it went above that, it wasn’t me it was my wife on a motorway while I was asleep. When I woke up I saw she was doing 92 miles per hour and I went mad!
"The Porsche has never been above much more than 80 miles an hour. My wife did 92 miles per hour in it and I went mad!"
TCP: Do the girls like your electric car?
PS: Well, I don’t know about the girls – it’s about whether my wife likes it, that’s all I’m bothered about. You’d better print that before you start giving me an image I haven’t got anymore, OK?! I’ve been happily married now for two years and engaged for five years before that, so the only girl I want to impress is my wife.
Photos of Peter Stringfellow with his Maranello © Christopher Butchart - contact The Cult PR.
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