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Silk Exotic will open a club in City Hall as part of a settlement of a lawsuit against the city.
Silk Exotic will open a club in City Hall as part of a settlement of a lawsuit against the city. (Photo: Sarah Laux / Shutterstock)

City attorney says Silk can open new location at City Hall

Dollar bill dispensers, ATMs, a stage with a pole, a bar with high end liquor and a DJ booth with speakers – these will be, ahem, coming to Milwaukee’s City Hall soon thanks to a settlement reached with Silk Exotic Tuesday.

In addition, Milwaukee will see it’s first mobile strip clubs running along the proposed streetcar line during spring and summer months.

This frantic activity is the result of the recommendation by City Attorney Grant Langley that the city cut its losses in the settlement of a lawsuit with Silk Exotic, which runs strip clubs in Milwaukee, Juneau and Madison. Silk sued the city over the action to deny operators a license to open a Downtown club and a jury awarded the club $12.3 million in damages and another $22 million in punitive damages to the aldermen, whom the jury described as "blue noses, anti-entertainment prudes."

Langley, who represented the Common Council in the lawsuit in federal court, told alderman that the chance of prevailing on appeal was not a good one and that they should try to settle.

"When we looked at that money we figured we should find a way to protect taxpayers, and this is what we came up with," said Ald. Joe Dudzik.

Jon Ferraro, the Silk owner who has fought city hall for years over a license, said he was exhausted from the fight and couldn’t talk about his plans right now.

But his attorney, Jeffrey Olson, said he expected Milwaukee to really take notice of the new development.

"I think the city hall club will be the first one in the nation," Olson said. "We think the club will be huge during the day as well as during cocktail hour. Can you imagine the line of people to get in on the days they line up to pay property taxes? It’s going to be incredible."

According to the settlement agreement, the club can build a stage in the atrium of the building and place speakers throughout the first floor. There are no limits on the decibel level.

In addition the club will be able to have dancers on the first thre…

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The Rolling Stones drew tens of thousands to County Stadium in 1975.
The Rolling Stones drew tens of thousands to County Stadium in 1975. (Photo: Rich Zimmermann)

Ain't nothin' like seeing the Stones

Over the last four decades I’ve seen plenty of big star shows, Rod Stewart, The Who, Madonna, Faith Hill and Tony Bennett, but nothing has ever matched the sheer excitement of seeing the Rolling Stones.

On stage there is hardly an act that brings as much energy, sexual power and showmanship as the Stones.

I’ve seen them three times, once in 1972 at Madison Square Garden, again in 1975 at Milwaukee County Stadium and, the most memorable, on Sept. 9, 1989, at Alpine Valley in East Troy.

The show in Madison Square Garden was powerful, with all the magic you can get only in New York. The crowd, I remember, was full of celebrities and dressed to the nines with a joyful atmosphere.

The opening act was Stevie Wonder and I recall him joining the band for an encore of "Satisfaction."

In 1965 my most vivid memory was the band playing The Temptations’ classic "Ain’t Too Proud to Beg," the first time I’d heard that one.

The Alpine Valley show was the most memorable of all.

The weather was terrible, with rain starting in the morning and running through the afternoon. I went to the concert with Dr. Robert Peterkin, the Milwaukee superintendent of schools. He had a big old brown Mercedes, and we got stuck in the mud when we tried to leave.

Alpine Valley was a stage absolutely made for the Stones.

With Mick Jagger on one side of the stage and Keith Richards on the other, you got a sense of the raw and coordinated power of this band. When Jagger moved from one side of the stage to the other, Richards slid across the stage to take his place.

While Jagger was the preening peacock, Richards was like a slithery snake, waiting to pounce on the unwary.

The sound from the band was huge. It seemed to ring down from all corners of the space. We were in the fifth or sixth row and talking was impossible for anyone, In order to react to each song, the crowd only used smiles or other sorts of silent signals.

There was a lot of confusion due to the size of the crowd. Rumors …

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Cassandra Black as the Snow Dragon at Skylight Music Theatre.
Cassandra Black as the Snow Dragon at Skylight Music Theatre. (Photo: Dragon Media Photo)

Skylight's "Snow Dragon" roars across the stage with passion and elegance

Now, THIS is what live theater is all about.

Forget, for a moment, form or design or lights or actors or singers. Think of the one thing that matters more than anything: the story!

And that’s what Skylight Music Theatre delivers in "The Snow Dragon," a powerful and insightful opera that opened over the weekend.

It’s an evening that grabs hold of your heart and your head and shakes both until you holler "uncle" and try to get some kind of equilibrium back into your life.

Imaginative and daring don’t come close to capturing the web woven by this production, but it’s a good place to start.

Somtow Sucharitkul composed the opera based on a short story he wrote. The subject is perhaps the most uncomfortable you can imagine: abuse of a child by an adult. There have been countess books, movies and plays written about child abuse, but they all seem to have a focus on the perpetrator and how we as a society should deal with him.

This opera moves the focus to all the victims, and there are more than one.

Billy Binder, played by Luke Brotherhood, is the young boy who has been victimized. But Dora Max, sung by Colleen Brooks, is also a victim as a counselor who has seen too much too often and has lost her sense of compassion and confidence in helping children like Billy.

Billy has a place called "The Fallen Country" (the title of the short story) where he can retreat to in order to find succor from the horrors of his life. He finds solace but is unable to find any outlet for the rage that all but overwhelms him.

His imaginary place is not a circus or field of dream, but rather a place where emotion has no place. It’s an easy place not to feel anything and is therefore a welcomed spot for a character who suffers such emotional trauma at the feet of the physical abuse.

If he can’t feel, maybe he won’t feel.

The country is ruled by a Ringmaster (Dan Kempson) the embodiment of Billy’s tormenter, and it is in this land that Billy meets "The Snow Dragon" (Ca…

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The Mollusk Cast brings Big Nate to joyous life at First Stage
The Mollusk Cast brings Big Nate to joyous life at First Stage (Photo: Paul Ruffolo)

First Stage displays solid grasp on sixth grade in "Big Nate: The Musical"

Think back, if you will, to that special time in life, the time when you, or a child of yours, was in the middle of the turbulence of being a sixth-grader, filled with both the hopes and the fears of that period of life.

Those moments are the key to "Big Nate: The Musical," which opened a month long run Friday night at First Stage.

The hero of a comic strip and a series of books, Nate has now become the hero of his very own musical, and what a hero he is. Nate is honorable, he has his principles, he won’t compromise, he’s a little shy and he always tries to tell the truth.

Goals are relatively fluid things when you’re in sixth grade, but Nate has two of them firmly in sight.

One is that he wants his band, "Enslave the Mollusk," to win the school battle of the bands. The other goal is Jenny, the girl of his life.

Like every good story, this one has plenty of obstacles in front of our hero.

The band doesn’t have enough time to rehearse, and the growing pile of detentions threaten the ability of the band to even compete. If Nate has 25 detentions, the band is out, and he is at 24. Not much room for error.

As if the detentions aren’t enough, there is Artur, a classmate from Belarus who has his eyes set on Jenny and who has the kind of foreign born appeal that has melted American hearts throughout the world of literature.

Nate is a brave hero, however, and he steers his three-piece band through rehearsals, manages to keep detention 25 at bay and managed to keep his hidden pursuit of Jenny on fire.

In typically realistic fashion, the First Stage production doesn’t end with happily ever after. Oh the band does great, but Jenny ends up with Artur, which Nate has to keep his mouth shut as he watches the boy and girl start to go steady.

The Mollusk cast opened the show, and Darius Gaskin took full charge of the role of Nate. He is a warm and expressive singer and led this pack of young actors both musically and theatrically.

The actors were blessed …

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