2012-05-30 / Front Page

Owners Juice Up Nude LIC Strip Club

By LIZ GOFF

Operators of a controversial Long Island City strip club twice denied a state liquor license are making good on their threat to open a nude jiggle joint in the newly trendy neighborhood.
Show Palace, formerly known as Gypsy Rose, is scheduled to open at 42-50 21st St. on May 31 as a gentlemen’s club and restaurant– with a twist.
A message on the Show Palace Twitter account describes the club as “the newest, largest, most upscale Full Nude Adult Nightclub/Restaurant in NYC”.
When local leaders, elected officials and business owners battled against a liquor license for Gypsy Rose, the club owners told reporters they would open a strip joint at the location– alcohol or no alcohol.
Club owners are touting Show Palace as a juice bar featuring full nudity, bypassing a city law that says alcohol and full nudity don’t mix.
A spokesperson for the city Department of Health said full nudity must be limited to the cabaret area of a club, since city laws require food servers to be clothed from the waist down.
“They don’t have to be clothed down to their ankles,” the spokesperson said. “Simply interpreted, the law says that naked people cannot serve food to customers at restaurants, bars and the like.”
The club’s Web site outlines its hours, 7 p.m. to 4 a.m. Thursday through Sunday and advertises a $10 steak, egg and mimosa meal deal.
The voices of local lawmakers, civic leaders and residents reverberated with officials at the State Liquor Authority (SLA) in January, when the agency rejected a second application by the owners of Gypsy Rose for a liquor license.
Area officials and community leaders opposed approval of the liquor license since 2010, charging the club would damage Long Island City’s restored image as a family neighborhood.
Club owners fought back by sending letters of support and numerous petitions to the SLA and Community Board 2, claiming a large portion of the neighborhood supported the club.
Sources said the letters were from religious and community groups thanking club owners for supporting charities and fundraising efforts. “These were not letters of support for a new strip club in the area,” the sources said.
Club owners, “21 Group, Inc.,” touted Gypsy Rose as an “upscale adult entertainment establishment”, and described the neighborhood on their Web site as “desolate, dark and dingy”, saying the club would provide jobs and “nightlife in the area”.
Local business leaders brushed off the owner’s description of the neighborhood and said the original application was denied, in part, because SLA had questions about the “character and fitness” of one of the club owners, Konstantine (Gus) Drakopoulos, operator of The Bronx club, Sin City.
Drakopoulos was not included in the second application, which listed a new principal operator, sources said. But it is unclear if the new principal was a front for someone who was removed from the second application, the sources said.
Club owners claim they have invested “millions of dollars” in renovations at the club, but financial records show an investment of only $515,000, the sources said.
The owners of Show Palace are not counting on Twitter and Web site messages alone, to promote their new establishment. In recent weeks, scantily clad young women walked door-to-door along local commercial strips, handing out business cards promoting the club’s “total nudity” for ages 18 and up.
In a statement protesting the opening of Show Palace, City Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer repeated his belief that the club is a bad addition to the up-and-coming neighborhood and promised that the community would continue to protest the club.
“These guys have been sticking their fingers in the eyes of their neighbors and that’s not the way to come into a community – by showing a real lack of concern and appreciation for the people around you,” Van Bramer said.
“People getting off the Queensboro Bridge who exit at 21st Street, the first thing they see is that club,” Van Bramer said. “Great things have been happening in Long Island City and it is an amazing place to live, work, own a business and raise a family – and it is going to continue to be so.
“I think we don’t want anything to detract from that and that’s why we have been opposed,” Van Bramer said.
Officials at Community Board 2 said they plan to monitor the club’s activities and call for inspection and enforcement by city agencies as appropriate.
 

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