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Another application for a strip club in Downtown Milwaukee is scheduled for a hearing before the Licensing Committee of the Common Council Tuesday, but this one seems to have a slightly different, and perhaps problematic, approach.
The application was filed for a strip club at 730 N. Old World Third St., by Boro Buzdum, a member of the Buzdum family that has run strip clubs in small Wisconsin towns. Previous applications for the address have been unsuccessful.
The most prominent applicant for a license recently has been Silk Exotic, which operates high-end clubs in Milwaukee, Juneau and Madison. Buzdum's application may well be a move with an eye toward federal court.
Buzdum said Sunday that it might even be "better" if the committee turned down the application. He was referencing a million-dollar verdict against the city in a lawsuit by Silk Exotic, which has repeatedly been denied a license to operate Downtown.
"If they turn it down Tuesday, I’ll be in Federal Court on Wednesday to file a discrimination lawsuit against them," he said. "My lawyer will file the suit. They’ve already lost one of these suits before. For a million dollars."
I asked Buzdum the identity of his attorney.
"I don’t know his name; I don't have it in front of me. But he’s from Chicago, and I’ll get hold of him if I need to file the suit," he said.
The location has a troubled history regarding operation by the Buzdums.
His brother, Rad, and his sister, Diane Collins, operated the club, known as Rusty’s Old 50, as a regular bar and food establishment. But a year ago, Milwaukee police made a routine stop and found dancers wearing pasties, bikini bottoms and high heels while dancing and using what are commonly called "stripper poles."
Buzdum said that there was no connection between his brother or sister and himself.
"My brother doesn’t have anything to do with this," said Buzdum, who plans to call his establishment 10 Exotic. "What happened before happened before. I don’t know why they’d turn me down because of what happened before.
"There are hundreds of thousands of hotel rooms Downtown and other downtowns have gentlemen’s clubs. I think Milwaukee should have one, too. Silk has high-end clubs and we would be a high-end club, too. Nude would be really good, but I don’t think the city is going to go for that."
Buzdum said he thought his chances this time were "pretty good."
"Last time my sister got a license to run a restaurant there," he said. "Then a couple of weeks later she filed a business plan for a strip club. I think they thought she was trying to backdoor them. There were pretty mad about that."
Buzdum, who lives in Slinger, has had a number of run-ins with the law, including revocation of his driver’s license in 2012 and 2015 for driving under the influence, and a disorderly conduct guilty plea in 2012.
The Buzdum brothers also owned an apartment building in Oconomowoc where agents busted a meth lab in 2003, called the first such bust in Waukesha County by then District Attorney Paul Bucher. Boro Buzdum told officials he had been in the building two weeks before the bust but had no knowledge of the meth lab. The full story on the meth lab can be found here.
In October, when Buzdum filed this latest application, Ald. Robert Bauman was quoted as saying that the whole thing was a "convoluted history" and said that this is "essentially the same guy" who is trying to open a club that was found to be operating a strip club in violation of its license. Buzdum denied any connection between previous operators or applicants and himself.
The licensing committee has been stalwart in its refusal to grant a strip club license for Downtown. Silk Exotic has never been cited for any kind of violation, and it’s likely that if they can’t get the aldermen to budge, it may prove more difficult for Buzdum to do so.
There have been negotiations between the city and Silk Exotic in attempts to settle the million-dollar verdict that went against the city. Proposals have included relieving the city of the burden of paying that amount in exchange for a license Downtown.
The licensing committee has heard almost universal opposition to granting a license to any establishment where residential neighbors opposed it.
The hearing on the latest application is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Tuesday.
With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.
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