I did an audio podcast on this investigation. For those that don’t do the podcast, here is a written version of this story. You may wonder what happened after the River Quay area died out. As Chuck Haddix said, after the bombing of the building housing Judge Roy Beans and Pat O’Briens night clubs, customers simply stopped coming to the Quay area. All the existing restaurants, bars, galleries and clothing stores closed. Delaware Daddys, a strip club from West 12th street, opened featuring strippers.
In the old space occupied by Papa Nicks Omelet restaurant, a new bar named the Bowery opened. This was on the northwest corner of 5th and Delaware. A former used car salesman named Gary Huffman obtained the liquor license. We did not pay much attention until we started hearing stories. We started driving by and taking license numbers to see who was frequenting the joint. We found cars belonging to some of the local Mob guys like Tuffy DeLuna were parked outside the club. We found the car registered to state legislator Alex Fazzino parked there. We found cars registered to members of the El Foresteros motorcycle gang parked there. Our first visit revealed they did have strippers. We noted a table occupied by Motorcycle gang types was the table where the strippers would go and sit when they were not performing. This was a common occurrence, motorcycle gangs providing strippers to clubs.
Informants were reporting the girls were stripping down completely naked later at night. The word was getting around and soon, every evening found a long line of guys waiting to pay the dollar cover charge and gain entry. I was assigned to go inside later in the evening and see what was the big draw. I also wanted to see if any of the mob guys took any management type actions. The signs someone has a hidden interest in a club are; going behind the bar and getting their own drinks or a drink for a friend, have unfettered access to backroom offices and storage areas, making sales and using the cash register or directing employees.
What I saw was a bar full of guys totally focused on the strippers. The strippers were taking all their clothes off. This was a huge “no no” at that time. Tuffy and his pals seemed to be merely watching the show with great amusement. About midnight, an attractive 20 something couple were leaving the bar. The man stopped Huffman at the door and they had a conversation. Huffman slapped his hands together and said, “OK!.” He turned to the bartender and shouted, “Set up 5 shots at the end.” He gestured toward the far end of the bar as the couple walked back to that area. The young woman threw back 4 of the shots while the guy did 1.
The couple went to the jukebox and selected a song. They got on the small stage and started dancing an erotic dance wearing their street clothes. The male customers became very interested and crowded up next to the stage, within a foot or two of the dancing couple. One particular loud and obnoxious guy started chanting, “Live fucking” over and over and the rest joined in. The couple started stripping and the chant got louder and the crowd pressed tighter and closer to the stage. Actually, this was a very scary and weird sight. Soon, the couple were naked and the man was doing pelvic thrusts between the woman’s legs. As I would soon learn, this was simulated sex. The song ended and they stopped, grabbed their clothes and pushed through the crowd. As they pushed through, the obnoxious dude, yelled, “Shit dude you weren’t even hard.” The male dancer yelled back, “You get on the stage and see how you do.” This shut him up and the bar owner handed the couple a wad of cash.
When I reported this back at the office, the upper management of the Department came back with orders, “Close this place down.” The following Saturday night, we got 6 Vice officers, a tactical squad and an investigative squad from White Collar Crime to do the follow-up. I went in early and was to stay inside during the upcoming raid. The Vice officers were inside to identify the dancers that removed their Pasties and G-strings (this is in violation of city ordinance). They were to identify any motorcycle gang members who received money from tips given to the dancers. My job was to see what happened after the raid.
Soon, the Tactical Unit entered the joint and pulled the plug on the jukebox, grabbed the owner and one got on the bar and told everybody to stay in place that the joint was being raided. This was so cool, just like in the movies. I wanted to be the guy who yelled, “This is a raid.” Several girls and one motorcycle gang member were arrested. We did not arrest the owner intentionally because we wanted to see who he contacted.
It was kind of a bust (no pun intended), because all he did was call the Central Patrol Station and complain about police harassment. We never saw him contact any mob folks. He closed the joint down about 2 weeks later and we never heard of him again.