Strip poker! Will new Red Hook ‘burlesque’ club be legit or nuisance?

Strip poker! Will new Red Hook ‘burlesque’ club be legit or nuisance?
Photo by Bess Adler

The new operators of a notorious Red Hook bar want to transform the former noisy joint into a “burlesque comedy club,” but neighbors suspect it will morph into yet another rowdy watering hole that will keep them up at all hours.

Paris Burlesque Club — which has not yet opened at 18 Commerce St. near Columbia Street — is set to replace the grocery store-sized party hall, Hello Brooklyn, where Sunday night crowds once spilled onto sidewalks and management was last year arrested for selling booze without a license.

Neighbors are already lining up to oppose the new owners’ bid for a difficult-to-get cabaret license, saying they prefer a good night’s sleep to a good night on the town.

“Everybody knows the word ‘burlesque’ is used to mask the words ‘strip joint,’” said Bill Sullivan, who has been fighting noise in the neighborhood for two years. “I can’t even tell you what a nightmare it’s been.”

Club operator David Ruggiero promises to follow noise regulations and insists that his “burlesque” performers will not simply be naked ladies.

“If I can’t do this legit, I’m not gonna do it at all,” said Ruggiero, who added that he has run clubs before, though he declined to say which ones. “This will be a place for talent, set up like a speakeasy.”

Some Red Hookers welcomed Ruggiero’s plan — so long as customers don’t congregate on the sidewalk at wee hours of the morning near the mouth of the Brooklyn–Battery Tunnel.

“Far be it from me to protest a legal small business,” said Lou Sones of Community Board 6, who owns a bar. “I’d support it.”

Whatever Ruggiero’s plans, he hasn’t yet reached out to Brooklyn’s homegrown talent in the legitimate flesh trade.

“I’m surprised,” said Doc Wasabassco, founder of Wasabassco Burlesque, whose stars include GiGi La Femme and the legendary Nasty Canasta. “If something new is happening and it’s authentic, I almost always hear about it.”

The venue was once a jazz club called Red Hook Blue and later became a concert hall with live rock music and barbecue.

Trouble began in 2008, when the space was renamed Hello Brooklyn and was operated by a dance party promoter, whom residents say packed the space beyond capacity.

The problems were not just the crowds, but what they did.

On Jan. 16, Det. Rene Samaniego of the 76th Precinct arrested Hello Brooklyn servers for selling booze without a license.

Community Board 6 will take up the issue on Jan. 24 at 6:30 pm at PS 58 [330 Smith St. at First Place in Carroll Gardens, (718) 643-3027].