Will it be a flesh joint — or just a place to sing your favorite Fleshtones song? Will there be prostitutes — or just a lot of people screaming, “Roxanne”?
The owners of a planned karaoke joint in Bay Ridge say their place is the latter — but they were nonetheless stymied on Monday night when Community Board 10 voted nearly unanimously to nix their request for a liquor license amid allegations that the singalong studio was actually a den of prostitution.
The soon-to-be finished video karaoke parlor, Crown KTV, is still scheduled to open next month on 64th Street between Eighth and Ninth avenues — and supporters believe that the board’s vote hinged on a misunderstand of karaoke culture.
Crown KTV’s 13 private booths will rent for about $20 per hour and are equipped with TV screens that display song lyrics. Such facilities are quite common in Midtown Manhattan, but at least one board member was convinced they’d be used for prostitution.
“We don’t need no hookers here!” the member shouted at the March 16 hearing.
But the men who are converting the windowless warehouse into a swank karaoke bar and family-style restaurant say the only link to prostitution will be the off-key renditions of “Lady Marmalade” coming from singers’ voiceboxes.
“There will be no prostitution, that is completely inaccurate,” said Eric Zheng, whose venue is applying to sell beer, wine and sake — but not hard liquor. “This is a karaoke place. People come here, they sing and they have a good time. These kinds of places are really common.”
Some board members hooked their objection to the proximity of PS 69 on Ninth Avenue.
But Zheng’s attorney told The Brooklyn Paper that the board was misguided.
“They are suspicious and they are just hanging their hat with some theory that it’s too close to a school,” he said. “But that’s like saying that a restaurant with a wine license would be dangerous close to a school. It’s almost laughable.”
The State Liquor Authority will make the final ruling on the license.
The board’s lone voice in support of the karaoke club said the landslide vote leaves the neighborhood looking closed-minded.
“There was a cultural issue that needed to be addressed, and I don’t think it was addressed,” said Ron Gross. “To say on the one hand that we are an accepting community, and then to not take that into consideration when making a decision — that’s incongruous.”
©2009 Community News Group
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