Las Vegas Sun

February 22, 2019

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OPINION:

Change afoot backstage at infamous Las Vegas strip clubs

Crazy Horse Too

John Katsilometes

The shuttered Crazy Horse Too gentlemen’s club on Industrial Road, as seen Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014.

There has been a lot of tap dancing in the land of lap dancing recently. A few developments from some of our more famous topless haunts:

• After a six-month dormancy, a new owner of Club Paradise, across from the Hard Rock Hotel, plans to reopen the establishment in January.

The new investor in the 20-year-old nightspot is Steve Park, the proprietor of clubs in Philadelphia, New Jersey and Atlanta. Club Paradise previously was owned by C.P. Food and Beverage Inc., managed from Chicago by Sam and Geralyn Cecola.

That ownership schematic has proved infamous over the years.

In 1997, Sam Cecola was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison for defrauding the Internal Revenue Service and filing false income tax returns. He was released in 2000. To prevent his liquor license from being revoked, Cecola transfered majority ownership of the club to his wife.

Club Paradise regularly was the focus of unsettling reports of illicit activity. Five years ago, a tourist from Kansas City claimed he blacked out during an early-morning visit to the club and was stunned to find $29,500 in charges, including a $4,000 bar tab and more than $25,000 “unexplained services” from a sextet of exotic dancers.

Club Paradise was shut down in early June after it was raided by IRS agents and Metro Police detectives acting on reports of credit card fraud and other violations.

Park now wants to change the business’s reputation, and possibly its name, which is equal measures famous and notorious. He is said to be a mellow sort who hails from South Korea and is eager to sort out the intricacies of the Las Vegas marketplace.

Steering clear of Metro Police would be a great place to start.

The beginning of the new era of Club Paradise begins this week. A job fair is scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday at the club. Park needs staff to fill all levels of operation: bartenders, bar backs, security guards, valets, cashiers, cocktail waitresses — everything but the dancers themselves. As it has been explained to me, “No top-level dancer would show up at a job fair.”

• The saying about beating a dead horse applies here. Crazy Horse III has prevailed over what has become something of a lifeless opponent, Crazy Horse Too, in crisscrossing lawsuits over the Crazy Horse Too brand.

The latest ruling states that the current owners of what has been known as Crazy Horse Too cannot use that name in any advertising or marketing of the club.

In February, then-owner Mike Galam prevailed in U.S. District Court when he sought to restore the club’s original name. He argued that when he bought the club in May 2013, the name came with it. Galam since has turned over ownership to a group of investors led by onetime business partner and club manager Craig Franze, founder of the concierge company Zexzoo and a man familiar with the Vegas strip-club scene.

But Crazy Horse Too has been dark since Aug. 23, when it was closed by enforcement agents from the city’s business licensing department. The club had been hit with 18 violations of its liquor and cabaret license — which Galam consistently said was the result of repeated and unfair inspections from city officials, 27 total in 14 months.

Crazy Horse III has been represented by Las Vegas attorney Puoy Premsrirut of Brown Brown & Premsrirut.

At the moment, Franze is running the Mile High Gentlemen’s club in Clearwater, Fla. Galam is something of a partner there, too, but both he and Franze stress that Galam is not a formal investor. He just pitches ideas, evidently, based on his experience with clubs in L.A. and, yes, Crazy Horse Too in Las Vegas.

And at this writing, the famous Crazy Horse Too sign on Industrial Road near the I-15 onramp remains in place, as dark and foreboding as a gravestone.

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