Rosedale pushing for clubs' last dance Charges against bars go to liquor board today

February 10, 1997|By Joe Nawrozki | Joe Nawrozki,SUN STAFF

To Nancy Lighter, a beleaguered stretch of Pulaski Highway in Rosedale is taking yet another alarming turn -- clubs with female exotic dancers, allegedly featuring illicit acts, attracting unwanted visitors to the community.

Now the Baltimore County liquor board is taking a closer look at charges that three clubs that started offering female revues in late fall undermine efforts to clean up the neighborhood.

The clubs -- Shakers, Boomerang, and Backsides -- will go before the Board of Liquor License Commissioners today to face a host of charges, including inappropriate conduct by dancers, soliciting drinks and administrative violations.

"We have gone from the honeys of the highway to this evil; the trouble has simply gone inside," said Lighter, president of the Rosedale Community Association, which has battled prostitution in the area for years.

In the latest skirmish, she will lead a contingent of Rosedale residents, clergy members and merchants, some of whom will testify against the clubs, which are within 1 1/2 miles of each other.

Not everyone agrees, however.

"We're a sports bar with a female revue," said Tony Mansueti, the manager at Backsides.

"Rosedale is getting a little carried away, because we're a classy place," said Stephen Georgaklis, day manager of Boomerang.

And Maj. Jeffrey M. Caslin, commander of the White Marsh precinct, which patrols the area, said the "jury is still out" on whether the clubs will draw prostitutes. But "if that happens, there are lots of motels along the highway to accommodate hookers and their customers."

Since January 1994, Pulaski Highway has been the scene of a war by county officials, police and residents against prostitutes who worked at the city-county line, an area dotted by industrial parks and a community of about 3,000 homes.

Two years ago, police likened the prostitution problem to a "Third World country" where women, some clad only in underwear, solicited motorists for sex outside a motel on the city side. In the most notorious case, a county officer was critically wounded while investigating robberies involving a prostitute and her pimp.

But the Drake Motel on Old North Point Road in the city was closed about a year ago. The Davis Motel in Baltimore County was set afire in 1995 as a training project for firefighters after police said it was a continuing base of operations for prostitutes and its license was revoked and the building was sold.

During the crackdown, scores of arrests were made in police sting operations. Among those arrested were two Maryland state troopers who attempted to hire undercover county officers posing as prostitutes the same night.

Prostitutes still work the strip. Police say that was a factor in the case in September of a Rosedale man, Richard P. Elliott, who kidnapped two Pulaski Highway prostitutes. Elliott kept the women in his home as sex slaves until they escaped. He later was shot to death in Andes, N.Y.

Now, residents fear the dance clubs will bring more undesirable visitors to the community.

What undercover liquor board inspectors have seen doesn't please the regulatory agency that closely monitors the eight other Baltimore County clubs that serve alcohol and feature female revues.

Among the liquor board's allegations:

In three visits to Shakers, at 7916 Pulaski Highway, in November a dancer solicited an inspector to buy her a drink for $10; another used see-through Band-Aids to cover part of her breasts; a dancer placed her breasts in the face of a man at a bachelor party.

Officials also charge the club owners with building two stages without filing for permission to alter the club.

During three visits to Boomerang, 8200 Pulaski Highway, in December inspectors said dancers sprayed whipped cream on their bodies and allowed customers to lick it off for $1. Inspectors said dancers wore see-through costumes or Band-Aids, and the inspectors were solicited to sit in a private booth with a dancer for $60.

An unidentified female manager of Boomerang allegedly did not fill out a liquor board application to manage the club as required by the county code.

At Backsides, at 8359 Pulaski Highway, inspectors saw a dancer place a customer's face between her breasts on Jan. 18. Owners also changed the name of the bar, formerly the Fireside Inn, without notifying the liquor board.

Gerard Kilduff, deputy board administrator and chief inspector, said the board had received two complaints about the establishments. He said each bar faces a $2,000 fine for each violation and possible license suspension or revocation.

One of the complainants, he said, was Patricia Donoho, co-owner of Memories, a bar on North Point Road with female dancers -- fewer, now that clubs on Pulaski Highway are competing for her employees and business.

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