The Palomino Club Blog

Strippergate, Extortion, and Other San Diego Strip Club Screw Ups

May 4, 2018  |   5:22 pm

Some cities just have it out for the gentlemen’s club. You’ve got places like Reno, throwing a hastily edited book at clubs that have been operating legally for years. You’ve got Opa-Locka, Florida, which has banned strip clubs so hard they forgot they gave a business permit to one. You’ve got the New Orleans city council trying it’s level best to ‘sanitize’ Bourbon Street, claiming it is part of an effort to take down human trafficking. It’s almost a surprise to see similar BS happening in California, where the San Diego strip club scene has been under fire for years.

Strippergate – An Actual Thing

In 2003, the San Diego City Hall was a wretched hive of scum and villainy. Or at the very least, it was partially staffed by folks who would take bribes from Cheetah’s strip club owner Jack Gallardi. Michael Zucchet, Charles Lewis, and Ralph Inzunza were accused of taking those bribes as part of a scheme to amend a ‘no-touching’ ordinance. Ultimately, the FBI raided San Diego City Hall, which would save the fair city from dreadful things like proper lapdances.

Cheetahs is a San Diego strip club casualty

Ultimately, Cheetahs was shut down in 2014 for repeated violations of the ‘no-touch’ ordinance. The club fought back in and out of court. However, the San Diego PD wasted/spent who knows how many man-hours and dollars documenting violations of the ordinance, as well as improper nudity, dating back to 2006.

Can you imagine being the guy who documents that shit for real? Like, how do you join that particular Vice Squad? It can’t be for your stellar qualities as a police officer. I kinda wonder what their notebooks for this case look like.

In March 2014, the brave boys of the SDPD were called out by Cheetahs owner Rich Bounantony and several dancers. A raid by the SDPD involved the officers ordering dancers to line up in varying states of undress, and forcing them to pose for photographs.

Jesus Christ, SDPD, you would get thrown out of most strip clubs for shit less offensive than that.

Cheetahs isn’t the only club to get the routine ‘inspections’ from the so-called thin blue line, but they are the most frequently targetted. The dancers would go on to sue the department in 2016. Of course, it doesn’t change the fact that the club was closed down.

Overpriced Permits: The price of doing business in a city run by assholes

San Diego is raising the costs of permits for strippers and strip club owners alike. On July 1st, San Diego strip club permits for a club operator will shoot up to $5830 a year. A stripper will be expected to pay $388.

Let’s pretend that the city was actually doing something useful with the money beyond letting the streets fall apart from lack of maintenance. Or pay hikes to motivate the cops on high-risk assignments, such as camping out at clubs looking for things to “take notes” on.  Certainly not to help them police their own internal screw-ups.

Ok, stop pretending. According to one stripper, no other city charges fees this high, if they charge them at all. For some comparison here, Los Angeles charges an annual fee of $528, which places San Diego firmly in the ‘still raging assholes’ side of things.

San Diego could learn to lighten up a little bit, ideally at a nice strip club. If they hurry, the city government can have a good time at a club or three before they get the cops to shut them down.