"What's black and white and read all over?"

Friday, November 18, 2005
Posted 3:30 PM by

It must be ratings week

Rick: How can you close me up? On what grounds?
Captain Renault: I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!
[a croupier hands Renault a pile of money]
Croupier: Your winnings, sir.
Captain Renault: [sotto voce] Oh, thank you very much.
Captain Renault: [aloud] Everybody out at once!
- Casablanca

This how CBS-3 hyped the Club Kama Sutra storyIn case you missed it, Club Kama Sutra at Seventh and South streets got busted last week by Channel 3 (CBS) and the city's Licenses & Inspections agency for running an allegedly illegal sex club without proper permits.

It only took this hypocritical city five years to shut the club down. I mean the name is Kama Sutra, right? What the heck do they think the place was advertising 52 times a year in two weekly "alternative" newspapers and on its Web site?

Hell, City Paper even did a huge feature story on it last year - four years after it opened - which included the front cover.

Nevertheless, "investigative reporter" Todd Quinones and an undercover producer went inside the club and took surreptitious video of customers having sex - sometimes unprotected - everywhere.

"Is this club illegal?" Quinones asked Deputy Commissioner Dominic Verdi.

"Yes, no doubt it's illegal," Verdi replied. "This place is zoned to be a restaurant."

Give me a break. This is what passes as investigative reporting these days?

The club's web site says, "We are fully licensed and legal and have been open in Philadelphia since December 2000."

The only sign outside the club was for the now-defunct Senor Rattler's restaurant. Ironically, a recent state audit found thousands of Pennsylvania restaurants have been licensed in recent years without the required annual inspections for sanitation and health, and penalties for failing the checks have been rare and insignificant.

Which brings us to the real story - Why didn't L&I shut the club down sooner? There are even reviews of it posted on the Internet.

Meanwhile, every week advertisements for escort services/brothels take up two full tabloid pages inside City Paper and Philadelphia Weekly.

But did Quinones or his producer ask Verdi to explain any of that?


An even better question is why haven't the Inquirer or Daily News done anything until this lame TV report aired?

No one has reported that the club was founded by Alan Tizer, the same guy who used to own the now-defunct Diva's International Gentlemen's Club on Route 13 in Bristol, Bucks County.

That strip club - which even had a short-lived TV series, "G-string Divas," on HBO filmed there - closed after one of its dancers, Rachel "Roxanne" Siani, was murdered by patron John A. "Jack" Denofa in April 2000.

I reported on the murder case as the online editor for the Bucks County Courier Times and kept a gallery of stories online dedicated to it and the public response.

That included the passing of a township ordinance imposing new restrictions on existing strip clubs. Club owners challenged the law in court, but later signed an agreement that gave them until Dec. 31, 2005 to conform to the new rules.

Here's hoping Tizer and Kama Sutra sue Channel 3 and Quinones for violating the privacy of the club's more than "5,000 couples who are current members." It would make for one heck of a court case.
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