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Strip poker! Will new Red Hook ‘burlesque’ club be legit or nuisance?

The Brooklyn Paper
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The new operators of a notorious Red Hook bar want to transform the former noisy joint into a “burlesque comedy club,” but neighbors suspect it will morph into yet another rowdy watering hole that will keep them up at all hours.

Paris Burlesque Club — which has not yet opened at 18 Commerce St. near Columbia Street — is set to replace the grocery store-sized party hall, Hello Brooklyn, where Sunday night crowds once spilled onto sidewalks and management was last year arrested for selling booze without a license.

Neighbors are already lining up to oppose the new owners’ bid for a difficult-to-get cabaret license, saying they prefer a good night’s sleep to a good night on the town.

“Everybody knows the word ‘burlesque’ is used to mask the words ‘strip joint,’” said Bill Sullivan, who has been fighting noise in the neighborhood for two years. “I can’t even tell you what a nightmare it’s been.”

Club operator David Ruggiero promises to follow noise regulations and insists that his “burlesque” performers will not simply be naked ladies.

“If I can’t do this legit, I’m not gonna do it at all,” said Ruggiero, who added that he has run clubs before, though he declined to say which ones. “This will be a place for talent, set up like a speakeasy.”

Some Red Hookers welcomed Ruggiero’s plan — so long as customers don’t congregate on the sidewalk at wee hours of the morning near the mouth of the Brooklyn–Battery Tunnel.

“Far be it from me to protest a legal small business,” said Lou Sones of Community Board 6, who owns a bar. “I’d support it.”

Whatever Ruggiero’s plans, he hasn’t yet reached out to Brooklyn’s homegrown talent in the legitimate flesh trade.

“I’m surprised,” said Doc Wasabassco, founder of Wasabassco Burlesque, whose stars include GiGi La Femme and the legendary Nasty Canasta. “If something new is happening and it’s authentic, I almost always hear about it.”

The venue was once a jazz club called Red Hook Blue and later became a concert hall with live rock music and barbecue.

Trouble began in 2008, when the space was renamed Hello Brooklyn and was operated by a dance party promoter, whom residents say packed the space beyond capacity.

The problems were not just the crowds, but what they did.

On Jan. 16, Det. Rene Samaniego of the 76th Precinct arrested Hello Brooklyn servers for selling booze without a license.

Community Board 6 will take up the issue on Jan. 24 at 6:30 pm at PS 58 [330 Smith St. at First Place in Carroll Gardens, (718) 643-3027].

Updated 5:22 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Kiki from CB6 says:
Idiotic quote of the day provided by BILL SULLIVAN: “Everybody knows the word ‘burlesque’ is used to mask the words ‘strip joint."

Really, Mr. Sullivan? "Everybody" knows that? Well, I do declare I haven't any idea where you're getting your tally from, but I guarantee that I will be in attendance at that CB6 meeting. Glitter and all. And perhaps with the media in tow. I'm sorry that I missed the 76 PCT meeting last night, but I will NOT be missing an opportunity to challenge any and all ignorance about my art form, especially from (and please beg my pardon), a notoriously grumpy nitwit in my own neighborhood. And this still matters to me whether or not the club is granted a cabaret license. Shame on you, Mr. Sullivan. And I look forward to meeting you face-to-face.
Jan. 5, 2011, 11:17 am
redhook from redhook says:
a tittie bar? the old days are back in da hook! hope there's a back room to relieve all the stress of living in the neighborhood that refuses to gentrify despite the hipsters who pay too much for too little!
Jan. 5, 2011, 1:12 pm
Chloe from Kensington says:
Burlesque is not the same as a "strip join." I agree with Kiki. I love burlesque. The girls there will hopefully be talented and it will be a good time for all. Hope they will open and stay open.
Jan. 5, 2011, 2:39 pm
Bill Sullivan from Red Hook says:
I was misquoted in this article.
If you are offended,please take it up with the writer.
The issue is not what type of club wants to come to 18 Commerce st.
The issue is that we local residents have had major problems coming from this location, and we do not want any more such problems.
Jan. 6, 2011, 2:19 pm
george m from red hook says:
Th issue i the noise level. Our past experience was loud noise til 4 AM and kids hanging out at the corner drinking and being loud. A club in Williamsburgh had a burlesque night. I went and it was a lot of fun. There were no lap dances and throwing dollar bills at the dancers.
Jan. 6, 2011, 5:05 pm

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