Volume 20 Issue 7 | June 29 - July 5, 2007

Don’t turn on the red light, Chinatown tells Sting & Bowie

By Albert Amateau

Ivan Kane and his celebrity partners David Bowie and Sting are about to bring burlesque back to the Big Apple with a New York branch of Forty Deuce, Kane’s club in Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

But some neighbors of 19 Kenmare St., formerly Little Charlie’s Clam House between Bowery and Elizabeth St. — where the ground floor and basement are being converted for the burlesque club — are not ready for it.

Indeed, about 1,200 neighbors in the area where Little Italy, Chinatown and Nolita converge signed a petition submitted on June 19 urging the State Liquor Authority to deny a liquor license for the club.

And about 20 neighbors turned up at the Community Board 2 monthly meeting on June 21 to urge the board to reconsider its conditional recommendation in April that the S.L.A. grant New York IKDF LLC (Kane’s corporate name for the local Forty Deuce) a liquor license.

“It’s evident from the approximately 1,200 signatures collected in only four days that we all agree that we do not want a striptease mega-nightclub in our neighborhood,” said Janet Freeman, a resident of 167 Elizabeth St., across the street from the side entrance of the proposed Forty Deuce at 164 Elizabeth St.

Sook Ling Lai, director of the Chinatown Head Start school at 180 Mott St. a block away from the club, recalled that she and some neighbors had gone to an S.L.A. 500-foot hearing to oppose a liquor license for Superior Restaurant, at 177 Mott St. between Broome and Kenmare Sts., on June 12, when she learned that Kane’s Forty Deuce was also on the agency’s hearing agenda.

The agency holds hearings on applications for licenses within 500 feet of three other licensed premises and may waive the prohibition of such licenses. Agency rules also prohibit licenses within 200 feet of a house of worship or a school.

Lai opposed a license for Superior Restaurant, a 4,600-square-foot, two-level establishment with two bars, on the grounds that it is within 200 feet of her Chinatown Head Start school, with an enrollment of 100 preschool children and a program for seniors.

She and her neighbors also asked the S.L.A. on June 12 to allow them to submit documents opposing the Forty Deuce license and they were given until June 19.

At the community board meeting, Lai and another Head Start teacher said they were particularly offended that on the club’s Web site, Kane boasts of having gone to burlesque clubs as a youth while playing hooky from school.

Freeman recalled the rush over the following few days to gather petition signatures and to assemble documents to demonstrate that a liquor license for Forty Deuce was a bad idea. A letter to the agency noted 26 licensed premises are within 500 feet of 19 Kenmare St. and 164 Elizabeth St.

The Forty Deuce notice that was submitted to Community Board 2 in April characterized the establishment as a “lounge bar” in a 3,000-square-foot space. But the application to the S.L.A. seeking licenses for three serving bars described the place as a “burlesque” venue and gave its area as 4,500 square feet. Moreover, a New York Observer article gave the area as 5,500 square feet.

“They failed to disclose the true nature of the business to the community board but they publicly announced its New York opening on its Web site and promoted it in numerous press releases,” Freeman said. “Guys in the neighborhood are asking each other when the [topless] bar is coming,” she said, adding, “We at least want the S.L.A. to order them to resubmit accurate information to the community board.”

Warren Pesetsky, attorney for Kane, denied that the C.B.2 committee was misled. “Everything we told the committee was 100 percent accurate, except that they asked us to close earlier, and we agreed,” Pesetsky said. The burlesque at Forty Deuce, he added, doesn’t reveal all that much naked skin. “I’ve seen their show in Las Vegas and I was disappointed. Sally Rand [famed burlesque queen from the 1930s to 1950s] was naked behind a fan; these dancers don’t even do that. We don’t need an adult entertainment permit.”

While many of the licensed premises within 500 feet of 19 Kenmare St. are restaurants, several, including Vig Bar, at 12 Spring St.; Sweet and Vicious, at 5 Spring St.; Crash Mansion and Club Boulevard, in adjoining buildings at 199-205 Bowery; and Katra, the former Mission bar, at 217 Bowery, are strictly bars or clubs, according to Freeman’s submission to the S.L.A.

Although several people spoke about Forty Deuce at the open session of the June 21 Community Board 2 meeting, the matter was not on the agenda and the board took no action. Nevertheless, Bob Gormley, C.B. 2 district manager, said this week that he was talking to members to explore the possibility of the C.B. 2 Business Committee’s reconsidering the liquor license recommendation.

Freeman said that neighbors have had commitments from aides to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, City Councilmember Alan Gerson and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer that the elected officials would write to urge the S.L.A. to deny a license for Forty Deuce.

Kane has named his burlesque clubs after the slang term for the 42nd St. of the bad old days before the street between Times Square and Eighth Ave. was cleaned up.

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