After five women were arrested for prostitution at a Queens nightclub on Dec. 8, elected officials and community members held a press conference to ask that the city shut the establishment down.
Show Palace, located at 42-50 21st St. in Long Island City, has a long history of breaking the law, according to state Senator Michael Gianaris. The all-nude nightclub had its application for a liquor license denied by the State Liquor Authority (SLA) three times, most recently in January 2016.
According to Gianaris, the club’s owner turned the nightclub into an all-nude establishment because the SLA never approved its application though it’s been operating for about five years. Customers at Show Palace will sometimes drink outside near the sidewalk since the club is technically not allowed to sell liquor, Gianaris said.
“This is not the first time we have been standing in this same location talking about the bad business that is behind us,” Gianaris said at the press conference. “It’s bad not because it’s the type of business we don’t need in this community, but it’s bad because it’s breaking laws right behind us on a regular basis.”
According to the Daily News, the NYPD Vice Squad arrested five women between the ages of 20 to 35 on Dec. 1 during a raid that began as an investigation into liquor law violations.
The nightclub has made headlines for violating liquor laws, selling drugs, weapons charges and a shooting. Owner Gus Drakopoulos also ran Sin City in the Bronx, a nightclub that was shut down after the Daily News spoke to former employees who described the poor working conditions, harassment experienced by women there and the consistent violence.
Gianaris, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and members of Community Board 2 are asking that the NYPD and Queens District Attorney also shut down Show Palace under nuisance abatement laws.
Bishop Mitchell G. Taylor, the executive director of Urban Upbound, a nonprofit that serves Queensbridge Houses residents, argued that the 3,000 children living in the public housing development should not have to walk past the establishment.
“This is more than a travesty,” he said. “In the early morning hours if you make your way to this business you’ll see young ladies leaving the business scantily dressed having worked all night from the early evening. There have been numerous reports of fights, shootings, drug distribution. This has become the hot bed of criminal activity and I don’t think that we can just stand on the sidelines and allow businesses like this to be active in our community.”
According to Gianaris, Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown’s office is currently prosecuting the prostitution charges. Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer argued that the establishment’s owners “want to consistently stick their fingers in the eyes of the people who live and work in this community, who have made it a great community.”
The owners of Show Palace installed large signs outside of the club before the press conference, with statements such as “any show worth censoring is a show worth seeing” and “censorship is to art as lynching is to justice.”
Pat O’Brien, a member of Community Board 2, said asking for the club to be shut down has nothing to do with censorship.
“Let’s be real clear here: this has nothing to do with censorship,” he said. “This has to do with a blight on this community that has been so consistent from day one that it has brought together everyone who has examined [the club] to say this is a bad idea.”
QNS reached out to Show Palace for a comment and is awaiting response.