On March 7, just a half-hour past midnight, stormtroopers from the Hallandale Beach Police Department and the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco raided the Cheetah gentlemen's club.
The cops busted 16 dancers and two managers, arresting the girls on prostitution charges and the managers for allegedly running a whorehouse. The officers also nabbed a patron holding a baggie of cocaine. Mighty fine work for a two-year undercover investigation. But I feel bad for those poor undercover detectives who had to figure out which girls provided "special performances" in the champagne room.
The state's Department of Business and Professional Regulation suspended the Cheetah's liquor license, and the club's owner has since closed the strip joint. No word on when it will reopen.
Banana Republican recently sat down with one of the strippers who was not arrested to get a blow-by-blow account of what went down during the raid. We're not publishing her real name, so we'll just call her "Siege." Hallandale Police spokesman Andrew Casper declined to comment about Siege's story. He also refused to provide New Times with the names of the strippers and managers who were busted, citing an ongoing investigation.
Anyway, here's what Siege had to say:
It was so scary, but some of the things that happened that night were pretty comical. I had just finished getting dressed and signed in to go out on the floor and make my rounds. When I turned around, I had a big gun in my face and saw this procession of people in ski masks coming through the front.
At first, I thought we were being held up, but when the DJ stopped playing music and they turned on the lights, I figured out it was the cops. The club was packed because we still had day- and night-shift girls there. I would say there were 60 dancers. They took all the women, including the waitresses, the house mom, the makeup artist, and a couple of female customers and put all of us in the Cheetah's sports bar.
The girls they singled out, they called them "keepers." They wrote "39" on a piece of paper and stuck it on their shoulders. They made each one of the dancers step forward, and dudes who had their faces covered would nod their heads yes when they recognized a girl they claimed were prostituting. They were also snapping photographs of everyone.
Some of the customers were acting stupid. One customer was being belligerent with the cops, so they took him to the ground and cuffed him. There was a random baggie of coke on the floor. A guy picked it up and giave it to one of the officers. Then the cops cuffed him even though the coke wasn't his.
Some of the girls were freaking out. My legs were shaking so hard from being nervous. The girl standing next to me passed out, and they had to call paramedics for her. They brought in two drug-sniffing dogs and didn't find anything.
They tossed the locker room so bad. They just threw everything on the floor. And then they only gave us two minutes to get our stuff. A lot of girls left in their stripper clothes because they couldn't find their belongings.
They asked us questions like who do we work for? Who is our boss? They asked us who was selling drugs and if the management knew about any drug sales. I told them no. And even if I did know, I wouldn't tell them.
They were trying to entrap us. But everyone knows a stripper doesn't have a boss. We are licensed by the state as independent contractors. We do our own work schedule. Those managers they arrested aren't pimps.
There were a few girls in there that had their own pimps. The Cheetah used to have a lot of pimps coming through there, but a lot of them outgrew it and moved on to bigger spots like Tootsie's or Solid Gold, where the clientele is richer.
And with that, we'll let Chris Rock take us out: