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By Chuck Strouse
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By Kyle Swenson
A year earlier, a patron named Pedro Bados filed a lawsuit claiming he had been permanently paralyzed by a drive-by shooting there. He settled with the club. "I have my suspicions that he was actually paralyzed," says Karen Raley. Bados couldn't be located for comment.
"That establishment has been a nightmare for the City of Miami," says Detective Joe Schillaci, who six years ago investigated the murder of its owner.
But as Karen points out, South Florida's strip clubs aren't exactly known for their staid and safe environs. "The wild atmosphere comes with the territory," she says. "This is Miami-Dade County. We can't control what happens on the streets outside."
New Times requested statistics on a few of the city's other notorious strip clubs. Karen's right: Take One isn't the only out-of-control establishment in town. At Diamonds Cabaret, a North Miami Beach club where 19 arrests were made in 2004 after cops discovered strippers pleasuring themselves with toys and performing oral sex onstage, there have been four shootings and 23 assaults and batteries in the last five years. In 2008, Diamonds's manager was shot three times during a botched armed robbery. He survived and killed one of the robbers with fire from his own semiautomatic pistol.
In only three years since Miami Gardens Police Department incorporated, its local Tootsie's Cabaret has hosted 41 reported batteries, 56 thefts and burglaries, and seven narcotics violations. Club Lexx on NW 27th Avenue in unincorporated Miami-Dade has registered an admirable 48 assaults in the last five years. And, in 2006, a patron was murdered there.
But none of these super-clubs drip noir quite like Take One. It has about one-tenth the square-footage of Diamonds, and it has cornered the market when it comes to combining neighborhood dive-bar charm with semi-regular shootings.
In a county crowded with garish strip clubs featuring $500-an-hour skyboxes, in-house barbershops and basketball courts, and pole dancers acrobatic enough to be Cirque du Soleil understudies, Take One offers respite: a no-frills temple to the booty pop.
Its following is loyal and staunchly defensive. One regular — we'll nickname him "Willy" to protect his high-profile job in university athletics — calls the Take One crowd "a twisted sort of family. Once you're a regular, they treat you splendidly." Willy, who has what is usually the only Caucasian face in the joint, says that manager James Wright once fronted him $100 in singles to save him from a $7 gouging at the ATM. Another time, he reminisces, "a security guard texted me and told me to watch out if I was coming that night because there was a DUI checkpoint set up nearby."
About the size of a suburban living room and decorated inside with balloons and red neon female silhouettes, Take One has only one strippers' pole. The dancers wipe away the previous girls' sweat with a white towel before getting to work. Instead of all those frivolous dance moves, Take One's girls usually just grab hold of the pole and quake, with a Rick Ross or Lil Wayne banger providing meter. Slipping dollars into G-strings isn't customary at Take One: Patrons nonchalantly bounce balled-up bills off dancers' stomachs and butt cheeks.
The club's signature drink is the blue martini, a neon-blue gin concoction. The DJ calls out regulars and strippers by nicknames ("Whatup, Big! I see you, Booboo!") when a lap dance — offered by trawling strippers at bar stools for the throwback rate of $5 a song — stretches beyond a few tracks.
And Take One's dancers are a special breed: One working regular has "100% BEEF" tattooed across her buttocks.
To fans of such an establishment, Take One's sharp edges are part of the appeal. "To me, the place is Miami embodied," says super-fan Willy. "Miami isn't South Beach. It's not BED or Mansion.
"If I get killed there, I hope they put my smiling headstone right onstage."
In 1977, Miami Police raided Take One Cocktail Lounge for the first time. Bob Raley, then aged 46, was led away in cuffs. His crime: hiring ladies to take the stage wearing only clear Scotch tape on their nipples and transparent panties, in violation of the city's anti-nude dancing ordinance.
But instead of paying a fine and moving on, Bob fought back in court. He argued that the ordinance violated free expression rights. Miami-Dade County Judge Robert Deehl sided with Bob — noting that the female cast of Hair would be criminalized in Miami if cops followed the letter of the law — and struck the law from the books. A Miami Herald article covering the story was accompanied by an editorial cartoon featuring Bob, identified by his dark, bushy eyebrows, standing before a judge with a babe by his side. She's making the obvious pun: "Does that mean the Scotch tape charges won't stick?"
Bob returned to peddling buck-75 roast beef sandwiches to accompany thrusting female pelvises, and Miami became the all-crevices-are-a-go strip club town it is today.
Despite the turn as a local Larry Flynt, Bob hadn't originally intended to own a strip club. A stocky Michigan native with a lumpy, bee-stung nose, large-framed glasses, and a gold Rolex, Bob was a longtime behind-the-scenes film hand. When he built the place in 1973, he had only wanted a low-key bar where his friends from show business could hang out.
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How do you open an envelope "officiously"?I guess that you have to take over a club "officially" before you can open the envelope "officiously"
How does one open an envelope officiously?When you officially take over a club, you open an envelope officiously!
Thanks for putting Take One back on the map. Great story and editorial, I love Take One, the place is the best, love the girls and the atmosphere. I will drink to Take Love in a bit love the place.
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"....cops discovered strippers pleasuring themselves with toys and performing oral sex onstage...."
I love the Miami New Times!
Miami New Times is the hoodrat of Miami newspapers... you guys should cover Centro Español next...
nonetheless... entertaining I must say