Bar workers, cops offer conflicting testimony

For the second day, a compliance hearing officer viewed video clips of sexually suggestive behavior inside a Forest Park bar and restaurant that is contrary to what the city ordinance allows.

Employees of Pink Pony South, a former strip club turned bar and restaurant, and undercover officers gave conflicting testimony about what goes on inside the business. The officers' testimony is backed up by the video clips, which were taken from the bar's own surveillance system.

A decision on whether that bar and the Crazy Horse Saloon will keep their business or alcohol licenses will be announced Dec. 5. Both bars are operated through corporations owned by Jack Galardi. Both bars opened as adult entertainment centers, but opted to change business designations in January to allow food and alcohol sales, but prohibit nude dancing.

City officials contend that dancers continue to show genitalia and breasts, and exhibit sexually explicit contact with customers.

Mike Martin, the hearing officer, questioned the bar's "house mom" before she left the stand Wednesday. Mellissa Rosser had testified that none of her "girls" would ever engage in behavior contrary to the bar's policies and city ordinance. Rosser said she works 5 p.m., until 2 a.m., Monday through Saturday.

"I expect my girls to act like young ladies," said Rosser. "I don't want to work in an environment that is less than desirable. Our young ladies have quality and character. They know we are a no-contact club."

But the clips shown Wednesday seem to tell a different story. Covering a period from March 4, until April 30, the video images portray dancers in physical contact with customers, engaged in lap dances, exposing their breasts, straddling patrons, grinding into male customers and allowing customers to put their faces into their breasts.

One clip showed customers and dancers playing musical chairs on the dance floor. Dancers were in customers’ laps, grinding and writhing.

Under oath, Rosser testified that that behavior would not have been tolerated had she been on duty when it occurred.

"I'm there six nights a week, and I am on the floor for the duration," said Rosser. "I'd relieve the ladies of her duties, if I saw that. We don't allow that to happen."

Rosser said the activity did not happen "on my shift."

Before leaving the stand, Martin quizzed Rosser more specifically about the events.

"Every one of these clips showed dancers at the club exposing their breasts, day after day after day," said Martin.

Rosser said it occurred before her shift began at 5 p.m. "The times on these clips are between 10 p.m., and 1 a.m.," said Martin. "How is it possible you didn't see it? Were you there for the musical chairs event?"

Rosser said she was there, but did not witness any questionable activity. "I do not recall seeing the girls grinding on the guys," she said.

Galardi's attorney, Aubrey Villines, said the businesses have been unfairly targeted by Forest Park police officers. Capt. Mark Harris maintained a steady presence at the bars, workers testified, so much so that they played a special song when he showed up at the entrance.

"'Can't Touch This,' by MC Hammer is played just about every time I walk in unless they don't catch me coming in," said Harris. "The dancers leave the stage, employees head to the VIP rooms and they make contact with dancers, whisper in their ears."

Bar manager Larry Holcomb confirmed the song is played when Harris arrives, but said it is done for fun. "I have no problem with law enforcement," said Holcomb. "I am prior law enforcement, so I have no problem with them."

Undercover private investigator, Ronnie Myers, took the stand Wednesday to testify about his visits to Pink Pony South. He said he got a lap dance from a woman who performed a sex act on herself, which Myers found distasteful.

"That's just straight up gross," he said.