Bar owner defends charges of criminal activity

Video shows graphic images of entertainers

Managers at a Forest Park restaurant and lounge, under fire for allegedly illegally operating as an adult entertainment club, described customers as "lonely men talking to beautiful girls," during Tuesday's hearing at City Hall.

If hearing officer Mike Martin determines the Crazy Horse Saloon violated city ordinances, the restaurant –– and its “sister” operation, Ponk Pony South –– could lose their business or alcohol licenses, or both. The businesses have the same owner, and are fighting similar allegations from the city, in their quest to remain open. The hearing for Pink Pony South is scheduled to begin today.

Key to Tuesday's presentation was videotaped evidence showing female dancers making physical contact with customers, and exposing their genitalia, both of which violate Forest Park's ordinance governing restaurants, said city attorneys Robert Mack and Joe Harris.

Undercover private investigators also testified to several visits to Crazy Horse. Private investigator Ronnie Myers, of Business Consulting and Investigations, said he was approached by a dancer as soon as he walked in the building. "She sat on my thigh and asked if I was ready to have a good time," said Myers. When Myers asked how much it would cost, she reportedly told him, "'It's according to how much money you want to spend.'"

Myers said he saw dancers on stage performing sex acts on themselves, and sitting on, and grinding, customers' laps. Within minutes, Myers said he was getting a lap dance from a woman who took off her top and put her tongue in his ear, both of which violate city ordinances, said Harris.

"The dancer asked if I was interested in getting a VIP room, that she could get me off in a VIP room," said Myers. "I asked how much and she said $145 plus $45 for the room. We went to a room, I paid upfront and she undressed, telling me I could touch her because we weren't on the floor."

Myers said the dancer straddled him, but he has a bad back and made her get up.

A second private investigator from the same company, Walter Parker, testified to similar experiences. Parker said he was charged $10 a dance and quickly ran up a $90 tab.

"I just about fell out my chair when she told me it was $90," said Parker. "Apparently, a lot of the guys were regulars. The girls called them by name, go right up to them. Big spenders, I guess."

But Crazy Horse General Manager David Rashmir took the stand and defended the charges. Mack asked Rashmir why there is a charge for the VIP rooms. "Because of the quietude, and it's cooler than on the floor," said Rashmir. "These girls don't do anything for free."

Under questioning by Crazy Horse attorney Aubrey Villines, Rashmir said customers are mostly lonely. "A girl can choose whatever she wants to charge, she could charge $100 just to talk to a customer," he said. "These guys are lonely, they don't have social skills, they work hard. They are convinced they have a one-on-one with a woman. Why are we so busy on Thanksgiving? They don't have families, they hang out, get a friend for an hour or two. They come in to be part of a family. We're 'Cheers' or Hooters."

Mack leaped to his feet when Rashmir compared the Crazy Horse Saloon to Hooters.

"It's like Hooters? Hooters? Have you ever seen Hooters girls drop their bottoms down in the middle of the restaurant?" said Mack.

"No," said Rashmir.

Ryan Jackson, another Crazy Horse manager, called the VIP area "sitting rooms."

"It's a sitting room, that's all it is," said Jackson. "It's a lonely hearts club, lonely men talking to a beautiful girl."

Under questioning by Mack, Jackson said the dancers are average women. "I've got a bunch of very nice gals who'd do anything for anyone," he said. "They're moms, they're in the community."

The videotaped evidence was taken by Forest Park police during the investigation of an aggravated assault case involving two dancers in April. Villines argued that the police used the incident as an excuse to gather evidence against the club. Villines said police knew the fight took place in the women's bathroom where cameras are not allowed.

Villines also argued that the most the restaurant could be accused of is public indecency and public nudity.

The case against Pink Pony South will begin at 9 a.m., today. It is unknown how long Martin will take to make a decision.