Controversial Red Hook burlesque plan stalled

They told you so! Neighbors irate over strip-club switcheroo
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

Hold your dollar bills.

An ex-teacher who wants to turn a vacant strip joint into a “burlesque cabaret” in Red Hook will have to wait before she can raise the curtain on the sexy endeavor.

Cynthia Thomas-Dicks — a Department of Education employee and former math teacher — withdrew a liquor license bid for the proposed club dubbed Con Amore Cabaret after neighbors stormed a Community Board 6 meeting to protest the plan on Monday.

Her husband and partner Earl Dicks, who last month noted the establishment would feature upscale jazz — but keep stripper poles for burlesque acts — said they will revise their business plan then resubmit it next to CB6 next month.

“We are reassessing things,” Dicks said. “I was surprised at the amount of people who tossed out unfounded accusations.”

Angry neighbors were skeptical the duo would open a legitimate entertainment venue in the long-troubled Commerce and Richards Street building, which was formerly home to the controversial strip club Paris Cabaret and Burlesque and the rowdy nightclub Hello Brooklyn.

Some residents claimed operators’ minimal experience in the industry is problematic considering the history of the venue.

“They didn’t have a leg to stand on. They couldn’t point to anyone in the jazz community they’d worked with,” said neighbor Kiki Valentine, a burlesque performer who opposes the club.

Thomas-Dicks, who didn’t return a call seeking comment on Monday, first filed papers with the State Liquor Authority last month then noted she plans to cater to a classy “35-plus crowd.”

But she isn’t the first person who promised the club would be dedicated to a performance art. Last year, Paris Paris Cabaret and Burlesque’s owner David Ruggiero told the same community group that his nightclub was “not going to be an adult establishment,” and wouldn’t feature stripper poles.

The this newspaper later discovered it featured pole dancers, softcore porn on TV, and lap dances — while neighbors claimed it lured disruptive and sometimes violent patrons who urinated on the street.

Neighbors now say it’s difficult to imagine the new establishment will attract an artsy crowd rather than a seedy scene considering its location near the Brooklyn–Battery Tunnel and the venue’s troubled history.

At the meeting, CB6 members recommended the duo take more time to communicate with neighbors then return to a permits and license committee meeting in October.

“The committee thought the applicant needed more time to work with community to resolve discrepancies,” said CB6 district manager Craig Hammerman. “They’ll come back with a revised business plan.”

Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at [email protected] or by calling her at (718) 260-4505.