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Happy ending: Former brothel becomes a cocktail bar

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Photo gallery

1/4
Hot spot: Cocktail bar Barely Disfigured will open its doors to the public on Nov. 6.
2/4
Get comfortable: Pamela Blanco, of Bedford-Stuyvesant, sips champagne while lounging on the bed in the back room of new cocktail spot Barely Disfigured.
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Ladies in red: The dimly lit back room features a canopied bed and several chairs, creating intimate conversation nooks.
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Triple treat: Bar owners Damien Frey, Regis VanKaster, and Jeremy Andre welcomed friends and family to Barely Disfigured on Friday night.

From hot sheets to hot plates!

A posh new cocktail bar and eatery will open tonight in a Carroll Gardens space formerly occupied by a house of ill repute. But the owners of Barely Disfigured say they are not trying to hide its hedonistic past — in fact, it was an inspiration for the space’s reincarnation.

“We didn’t want to shy away from the brothel thing, we thought we should embrace it,” said Jeremy Andre, a Red Hooker who owns the bar with fellow Brooklynites Damien Frey and Regis VanKaster, who also run neighborhood French bistro La Cigogne.

The Smith Street space used to house a “massage parlor” that was exposed as a brothel by the New York Post. That business closed in December, right about the same time Andre and his partners were scouting spots for a new bar, and the sordid locale — which had formerly housed a Baluchis Indian restaurant — offered just what they were looking for.

“We obviously knew what it was before, but the layout was amazing,” he said.

Now the space is a swank saloon, with a long art deco bar in the front room, a lounge area decked out like a French boudoir, and a backyard.

Barely Disfigured, which is named after a French love poem, includes what Andre calls “subtle” references to its former life, including headboards behind the bar, a red light outside, and a canopied bed in the lounge. A sign on the doorway warns those looking for the former occupants, “This is not a brothel. There are no prostitutes at this address” — which is also a nod to a similar placard posted outside the London home of flamboyant artist Sebastien Horsley.

The menu features a selection of small food plates, and cocktails that range in price from $11–$16, all with prostitution-inspired titles, including the Madame Kelly — a vodka drink named after a famous Paris brothel owner — and the Winchester Goose, a bourbon concoction that echoes a 13th century nickname for prostitutes.

Andre said the gimmick is not trying to cash in on women who walk the street, though he does hope it will get people talking about sex work.

“It’s something we should be able to talk about,” he said.

He plans to donate a portion of the bar’s proceeds to Brooklyn’s Sex Workers Project, which provides legal and social services to those involved in sex work.

Barely Disfigured [257 Smith St. between DeGraw and Douglass streets in Carroll Gardens, (718) 858–5646, www.barelydisfigured.com]. Opens Nov. 6 at 5 pm. Open Mon–Fri, 5 pm–1 am; Sat, Sun, 4 pm–2 am.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Posted 12:00 am, November 6, 2017
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Reasonable discourse

Drew says:
Just ladies giving it away for free, in the hopes of becoming shackled.
Nov. 6, 6:03 pm
Morris from Mill Basin says:
Drew, no no no. All hugs and love. Especially from Morris from Mill Basin .
Nov. 6, 9:15 pm
Mustafa khant from Atlantic Ave says:
At those prices you are still getting screwed.
Nov. 6, 9:47 pm
HONEY Pooter from Williamsburg says:
This cold jackass has kicked the women out of their home, and left them to walk the streets. And he's so pround of it! He's like : giggle giggle isn't it funny that there were prostitutes here? That's so naughty! Let's have a French cocktail, tee he he, we're so bad!
Meanwhile, it's cold outside and they prostitutes have to be out exposed to the weather.
Nov. 7, 5:22 am
JIm from Cobble Hill says:
A bed in a bar? That is so SITC/30 years ago. Disgusting!
Nov. 7, 6:32 am
Carmine from Park Slope says:
Hookers are gone? Hardly! The same working girls are still here. I went looking for a nice night out, but this place is just a meet-up point for sex workers, the homeless, and drug dealers. It's filthy, and if the owners think that anyone's fooled by their whole "oh, no prostitutes here" bs - they're dumber than they look.
Nov. 7, 7:05 am
Slut from The Bar says:
Fill me up!
Nov. 8, 7:17 pm

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