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Originally published Friday, November 18, 2011 at 9:58 PM

'Historic' strip club Ricks back in business

A year-and-a-half after the feds forced the infamous Rick's strip joint in Lake City to close down and then put the building up for auction, it opened up again Friday evening with new management.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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A year and a half after the feds forced the infamous Rick's strip joint in Lake City to close down and then put the building up for auction, it opened up again Friday evening with new management.

This time, it is advertised as "Ricks" without an apostrophe — nobody said strip-joint owners got A's in Language Arts — and also as a "historic adult cabaret."

The historic part referred to the 22 years it was run by Frank Colacurcio Sr., who died in 2010 at 93 and who was sometimes called "Seattle's legendary organized-crime figure."

A hefty-looking doorman, apparently a prerequisite for the job, let in two customers who had been waiting outside, and it was showtime — $5 admission, $10 drinks, $20 dances.

Twenty bucks was the minimum for a dance at one of the tables in the main room.

If you were willing to part with $200 for 15 minutes or up to $600 for an hour, you could have a young woman dance naked for you in private rooms with names like "Party Room."

As for the historic aspect, Tim Killian — whose previous job was as City Council liaison for Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, and who was hired to do public relations for the strip joint — explained, "For most people in this area, when you mention adult cabaret or strip joint, the first thing they think of is Rick's. It's become so iconic. It has become part of the culture and lore of the city."

Chad, one of the two guys waiting outside, said, "Every 18th birthday, every bachelor's party was celebrated here."

As is the case in doing interviews at strip joints, please, no last names.

Said Chad: "I mean, the people you see here. Was that my sister's pediatrician?"

The new Ricks, officially called DreamGirls Ricks, is part of the Déjà Vu strip-joint empire in which Roger Forbes has ownership.

He's a local product, dating back to the 1970s when he was called "Porn King of Seattle" and ran theaters that showed dirty movies. He is listed as owner of the property on Lake City Way Northeast on which Ricks is located. It sold for $2.35 million this past June when auctioned off by the U.S. Marshals Office.

These days, said Killian, Forbes spends time in France, "where he's got a vineyard."

Though the management declined to say how much was spent on the remodel, it was extensive, with new carpeting, new furniture, two new stages, shiny new poles, big-screen TVs.

Gone were the high-sided booths in a dimly lit "VIP area" that were part of the old Rick's, and in which the feds said acts of prostitution took place.

Gone was the row of benches dubbed "perv row."

Gone was the condom machine in the men's room. An FBI affidavit about the old Rick's said, "Undercover officers have observed used condoms littered throughout the VIP area. ... "

Andy Wallock, the club's manager, said that now there are cameras throughout, including the private dancing rooms, and that what goes on is monitored. If a customer "gets too far out of shape," he said, the dancers are to "let management know."

One of the dancers at the new Ricks, who had worked at the old Rick's, said she was happy with the new management.

"They are way more professional," said "Serenity," 28. She had danced at the old Rick's for five years, she said, but had not engaged in illegal acts.

She has two kids, 1 and 6, she said, and began dancing after splitting up with the father of the older child when he became violent.

"I needed a job. I had to do something," she said.

Serenity said she can make $600 to $800 a night, sometimes even $1,200.

She said about her customers: "I don't have a relationship with them. It's strictly business. I'm like an actress in a movie."

At least that part is the same, whether it's the old Rick's or the new Ricks.

Strictly business.

Erik Lacitis: 206-464-2237 or elacitis@seattletimes.com

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