ORLANDO - The Lake County Sheriff's Department raided the Fantasy Gentlemen's Club here last Friday night, and the boys in blue were even nice enough to call owner David Wasserman, a former First Amendment attorney and political activist, to tell him about it.
"I was headed to the club [from my lawyer's office] and got a call from the Lake County Sheriff's Department asking where I was and telling me about the raid and asking if I could come to the club," Wasserman detailed. "We arrived at the club about 10 minutes later and the lead masked investigator told me they had me for selling illegal alcohol."
While it's true that Wasserman's license to operate an adult venue had expired, and that he'd had to fill out not only an affidavit attesting that his life hadn't substantially changed since the original license was issued - and then had to fill out a new "Renewal" form - and then had to fill out an "Amended Renewal" form - and then had to fill out an "Application for a new club" for the old club after he found out that his landlord was trying to sell the building he still had a valid lease on out from under him - the liquor violation was still bogus, Wasserman stated.
"Fortunately [the investigator] had called the Department of Alcohol, Beverage and Tobacco in on the case and I am so sorry that I couldn't see his face behind the mask when they informed him that we had wine-based alcohol and it is perfectly legal," Wasserman chuckled. "Some of the brand name companies like Jim Beam and Seagram's 7 and 7 wanted to expand their markets so they came up with a lower alcohol level [product]. We also have a variety of wine-based vodkas, tequila, etc. that are all under the limit but when we add a shot to a beer, for example, it makes it twice as strong. We also make mixed drinks with it and pour heavy so you get a nice buzz."
"A liquor license here is $400,000 and the beer and wine license only about $400," he continued, "so I chose the latter and we push champagne and Proseco, of which I had a container load imported from Tuscany, Italy. By buying wines directly from a small co-op of growers in Italy, I get the real thing cheap."
But illegal liquor sales wasn't even the thing that had brought the Sheriff to the club: It was porn.
"The search warrant for was 'pornography,' which is legal; nothing was alleged obscene and screened by a judge," Wasserman said. "We are located in the resort area [adjacent to Disneyworld] and the county was mad that I was advertising in the newspaper and that I flew a banner plane over Wrestlemania honoring Rick Flair, a famous wrestler who was retiring ... and also that I was selling DVDs, which they contended made me an adult bookstore without a license. The DVDs were less than 5% of the floor space. We maybe had two dozen magazines, mostly Hustler, which they seized also."
The cops also charged Wasserman with permitting full nudity to be displayed at the club, apparently not realizing that Wasserman's dancers, like many others across the state, wore medical tape under their tops, which both hid the areola area from view but allowed the outline of the nipple to be easily seen.
Because of the seizure, the Department of Alcohol, Beverage and Tobacco representative, though agreeing that no liquor violations existed, nonetheless filed administrative charges for "obscene literature." Wasserman's reaction was to go out the next day and buy an RV, which he turned into a campaign vehicle sporting banners, loudspeakers and towing signs, all encouraging local citizens not to reelect the current Sheriff, who'll be on the ballot in November.
But what bothers Wasserman the most is the little shit.
"Their investigation, I found out, lasted two months," Wasserman revealed. "They arrested a new dancer that had started that morning (without my permission) for a [marijuana] roach in her car. They arrested our DJ for a minute amount of pot and a pipe that was in someone else's car, so that should be easily thrown out. The cops did get all excited when they found white powder in our DJ's wallet, but they were deflated when their test revealed it was caffeine. The newspaper made it sound like there were drugs in the club but that was not true. We have never had an arrest in the club. I was treated with respect and not physically arrested but instead given a summons to appear."
Wasserman believes the newspaper will soon be doing an "exposé" of his operation, but he expects that if it's at all accurate, it will vindicate him of all of the charges being leveled by local officials.
"We are hoping to work things out and concentrate on fixing up the main room of our newly remodeled club," Wasserman said. "Due to its location - ours is the only club in the 80 miles between Orlando and Tampa - and referrals from hotels and golf courses, we have been able to pack the parking lot and have standing-room-only crowds on certain nights, so it doesn't make sense to go to war unless necessary. Nonetheless, we are preparing to start polling, walking precincts, advertising, and using banner planes and phone banks in addition to our legal battle to earn respect if necessary."
Noting that the prior Sheriff, who died recently, had approved of the way Wasserman ran things at the club, this veteran of the political wars, who had survived being shot through the chest last Christmas, had one piece of advice for AVN.com readers:
"You never know when things can change so you must always be prepared."