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Friday, September 14, 2007

NoLita residents try to stop planned burlesque club

NoLita residents are trying to strip a West Coast impresario backed by singers David Bowie and Sting of the liquor license they need to open a swanky burlesque club.

"Forty Deuce," the proposed third branch of Ivan Kane's pseudospeakeasies in Los Angeles and Las Vegas named after the old slang for 42nd St., is on track to open at 19 Kenmare St.

Activists have gathered 2,000 signatures on a petition and are calling on residents to show their opposition at tonight's Community Board 2 meeting.

While the neighborhood is plastered with flyers in English and Chinese warning direly of stripteases until 4 a.m. - "Is that what we want in our community?" - residents fear drunken noise more than naked ladies.

"It's just going to be more people, more traffic, more liquor - and more people throwing up in the street," said Eric Dorfman, 46, an ad exec who lives three blocks away.

For 80 years, the site was home to Little Charlie's Clam Bar, a venerable Sicilian red-sauce joint that in good times had lines of mobster Cadillacs idling out front.

The community board, which initially approved the license, now wants to rescind it.

"We were pleased that Community Board 2 unanimously approved our application in April," Kane said in a statement. "We continue to act in good faith and look forward to discussing the merits of our application."

Tony Russo, 34, who is working on the project, was tearing down the flyers yesterday, calling them "propaganda."

"Everybody thinks it's a strip place like Scores. It's not that," he said. "This is going to be beautiful. They are spending $2.5 million on this place."

Burlesque, a classic mix of comedy and dancing girls that dates back to the vaudeville era, is enjoying a popular revival as "neo-burlesque."

Performers disrobe to pasties and panties, but unlike strippers, the emphasis is on elaborate costumes, old-fashioned, va-va-voom glamour and bawdy humor.

Kane is trying to take the vibrant neo-burlesque scene mainstream. His clubs are big successes, even though they charge $75 covers.

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