Downtown Strip Club To Finally Open
Owners tout "the trendiest, sexiest, most exclusive, topless, full alcohol Gentlemen’s Club."
Mark your calendars. Or don’t. Come 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 10th, Silk Exotic Downtown Milwaukee opens its doors.
The long-debated strip club will open at 730 N. Old World Third St. in the space most recently occupied by Rusty’s Old 50 tavern.
The opening comes a year and a day after the Common Council approved a license for the much-debated “gentleman’s club” and settled a number of related lawsuits. Council president Ashanti Hamilton, who voted for the measure, described that vote as “uncomfortable.” At the time of the vote area Alderman Robert Bauman stated “in effect, we are being asked to trade a license for the settlement of a lawsuit.” Bauman and four other council members voted against the club.
The approval came after years of rejections for new downtown clubs, which led to a number of potential operators suing the city. Ald. Tony Zielinski, who voted for the club, said at the time of the vote: “we’re running the risk here of losing eight to many more million dollars.” A cover letter on a confidential memorandum distributed to the council by City Attorney Grant Langley said “a number for collective potential loss is probably in the low-teens ($13-$14 million).”
And despite all the controversy leading up to the vote, things have been mostly quiet since then. Silk, which also operates a strip club at 11400 W. Silver Spring Rd. on the city’s northwest side and one in Madison, has created social media accounts on Twitter and Facebook for the new club as well as a website — all not safe for work.
A statement on the club’s website gives you idea and doesn’t hold back on the bragging: “Silk Exotic Downtown MKE is the trendiest, sexiest, most exclusive, topless, full alcohol Gentlemen’s Club in the Milwaukee area and beyond. We have the best, most glamorous & gorgeous, topless female performers in adult entertainment.”
If it fails to meet that standard in the eyes of the Milwaukee Police Department or nearby constituents, annual license renewal hearings could become complicated affairs.
As stated in the original license application, the club will derive 45 percent of its revenue from alcohol sales, 45 percent from entertainment and 10 percent from cover charges. The cover charges are anticipated to be between $10 and $15 per person. The legal capacity of the club is 216.
Due to the unusual nature of the approval process, in which the various operators jointly agreed to settle their cases in exchange for one combined license, the club is to be owned by a number of individuals. Scott Krahn of Hartland serves as the agent and sole proprietor, owning 38 percent of the business, Joseph Modl of Germantown is listed as owning 38 percent and partner Radomir Buzdum of Watertown has the smallest share of 24 percent.
According to the application those three collectively own shares in Silk Exotic Milwaukee, Silk Exotic Madison (Middleton), Silk Exotic Juneau, Dew Drop In (Watertown), Buzdum’s Pub (Germantown), TNT (Watertown), Hideaway Bar & Grill (Okauchee Lake), and Lucky Joe’s Alchemy and Eatery (Wauwatosa). No one can say they’re not experienced.
The settlement prevents those affiliated with the club from opening another club in the city for a period of 10 years and prevents the city from enacting legislation hampering strip clubs for a period of six years.
Jon Ferraro, who has long been at the center of the issue, having applied (and been rejected) for a number downtown licenses, is nowhere to be found on the documents for the new club. In August 2016 the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Ferraro was indicted in a racketeering case in California with seven other men. Ferraro has previously won a lawsuit against the city for $970,000 regarding a 2013 application for a strip club in the Rusty’s Old 50 space.
At an April 2017 hearing on the application, Radomir Buzdum’s prior testimony before the Licenses Committee came under fire. When previously applying for a license at the location Buzdum referred to the area as “all homeless people” and noted “this would be a perfect gentlemen’s club [location], it’s in the middle of a toilet.” Buzdum apologized for those comments.
Rusty’s Old 50 was operated by siblings Diane, Boro and Radomir Buzdum. A police report from January 2015 notes that Rusty’s was found to have vertical poles for dancing and female dancers wearing just “pasties,” underwear and high heels.
The new club is adjacent to another major downtown development, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra’s redevelopment of the Warner Grand Theatre.
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