Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Downtown Strip Club To Finally Open

Owners tout "the trendiest, sexiest, most exclusive, topless, full alcohol Gentlemen’s Club."

By - May 2nd, 2018 02:16 pm
The trademark Silk "S" is now visible at 730 N. Old World Third St. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The trademark Silk “S” is now visible at 730 N. Old World Third St. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

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.”

In a phone interview, Bauman said “I hope it’s a respectable, high-class operation.”

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 DianeBoro 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.

Despite the years-long debate, this won’t be the only strip club operating downtown. Art’s Performing Center (144 E. Juneau Ave.) has been open for decades.

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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18 thoughts on “Eyes on Milwaukee: Downtown Strip Club To Finally Open”

  1. IzzyDidIt says:

    There goes the neighborhood! Not! If you don’t like it, don’t patronize it! I am curious to know what they plan to do with those garage door windows, they can’t possibly have visibility into the club from the street, right? Maybe silhouette dancers? I’m sure all the uptighty flighties would love that! Shockingly, the world continue to spin, cranes continue to build-up downtown’s revitalization and that $80 million Warner Theatre renovation continues to move forward full speed ahead! Loosen up Milwaukee, you’ll live longer!

  2. Troll says:

    I am just glad all the “me too” folks and feminist are in support of this establishment. Lastly, the trolley should get some consideration for creating this establishment. God knows with out the economic power of rail young strippers would not be able to get downtown. Thanks, Tom Barrett and Gwen Moore. Putting African American women to work.

  3. MidnightSon says:

    Is this the end of the world? No. Is this the best possible outcome? No. The City screwed up and had to pay, one way or another. This will either become an unfortunate but innocuous business at this location, or it will be a bad neighbor and lose its liquor license in a years time.

    Time will tell.

  4. Terry says:

    Got no time for booze or boobies, (unless I am at the Legendary Buckwheat’s Resort in Ojibwa of course, which I am frequently) for I have my mind on more spiritual issues, like God, Nature and the Beautiful Healing herb. You can keep your tits and hangovers, legalize cannabis Wisconsin!!

  5. Bay View Gal says:

    Other campaign finances donations to Tony Zielinski: Jon Ferraro, $780 on 7/8/2016.
    Radomir Buzdum, $780 on 7/28/2016. Both are the maximum allowed for this campaign season ending in 2020, that is until TZ is able to start collecting cash for his Mayoral run.

  6. Dave Reid says:

    @Bay View Gal Thank you for pointing this out…. That report has now been added to the system.

  7. DAG999 says:

    Years ago, when these types of clubs tried to open up in other areas, the City didn’t understand that it was wrong to discriminate against this type of business. Zoning aside…what did they already pay out in settlements over this…something like $500,000? Sometimes the City of Milwaukee fights the wrong battles at taxpayer expense. Now–that being said–it’s been a long time since I even knew about this type of club (does anyone remember amateur night at the Cheetah Club)? Maybe UM can take a couple of photos and post them when it opens? LOL.

  8. MKE Kid says:

    Cheetah Club? That dump?

  9. Comfy Chair says:

    What’s that one on 27th & State?

    Depressing as fuck, those places….

  10. Jeff Weiner says:

    Troll should just change his name to: racist moron asshole. It would be a better description of you.

  11. Andre says:

    But it may bolster the evangelical tourist numbers!

  12. Troll says:

    Jeff, do you have a problem with employers hiring African American women. Who is the racist?

  13. Jeff Weiner says:

    Of course I don’t have a problem with who they hire. I just think it racist to assume they will be African-American. But maybe you’re a frequent flyer at “gentleman’s clubs and know more about the dancers than I do.

  14. Michelle says:

    If women want to do this to make money, that’s their business. If men cannot get women to take off their clothes without paying them, that’s their business. I think it’s pathetic, but if everybody’s getting what they want out of the deal, fine by me.

  15. MKE Kid says:

    Andre and Michelle: LOL. Sleaze for sale.
    BTW, I used to assist in training the dogs for the owner of the Cheetah Club in the 1980s.
    What a dump.
    20 years later, while with MPD, got frequently dispatched to complaints from CC. Owner hadn’t changed (well, maybe off the rails a bit more) and the same worn dirty carpeting was still on the floor.
    What a dump.

  16. frank a schneiger says:

    To reinforce MKE Kid’s comment. Decades ago, the National Liquor Bar was an upscale and high end destination for an elite clientele who were looking for a prestigious destination for an evening of high quality dining and beverages. And it was not just a local destination, Top shelf people came from as far away as the toney east side and trendy West Allis. It was also a gathering place for intellectual and cultured discussion for faculty members of the prestigious University of Lawsonomy.

    Then, in a greed-driven decision, new owners decided to add a “gentlemen’s” strip club, recruiting young women and virgins from as far away as South Milwaukee. These were innocents who gullibly believed they were launching careers in show business. It was a disaster for the community as the elites and intellectuals departed and were replaced by shifty-eyed guys wearing raincoats in August, flashers and other reprobates. The police became a permanent presence, and a monitoring site had to be set up in the SLOGA office kitty-corner on 26th Street. Let’s hope history does not repeat itself.

  17. MKE Kid says:

    frank, aka robbies: We should team up and write a regional history book. Dunno, tho. With our extensive insider knowledge, we might end up on someone’s hit list. I wonder if John Gurda needs bodyguards.

  18. Cannot find enough ear plugs says:

    The music is loud and annoying

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