Topless clubs cast spells that leave politicians dumbstruck, or just dumb

by J.L. Smith

The Las Vegas topless racket continues to make fools of educated men and suckers of dime-a-dance politicians. At times, I'd swear they were under a spell.

The list of mortification, felonies and pending indictments is too long to detail in a space smaller than the phone book, but the latest episode involves promises attorney Mark Fiorentino made in 2001 in an effort to win a liquor license for cabaret owners Ali and Hassan Davari and their $30 million Treasures club.

The promise: The club's dancers would never be convicted of soliciting prostitution. (Insert laugh track here.)

Fiorentino was either terribly naive or under intense pressure to appease the City Council, which had before it a Metro report listing ample evidence of the Davaris' sleazy history as Houston club operators. Not long after the brothers won their controversial approval with Fiorentino's laughable assurance, attorney Ross Goodman, son of Mayor Oscar Goodman, was retained by the Davaris, and Councilman Michael Mack became a consultant.

The rather ham-handed attempt at winning friends and quieting critics only succeeded in forcing Mack and the mayor to recuse themselves from future matters involving the brothers. It made it easier for them, but no easier for the Davaris.

Now the Davaris face the prospect of losing their liquor license and ruining their multimillion-dollar investment should any of the women charged with soliciting be convicted. The council faces the embarrassing dilemma of once again revisiting the issue and possible litigation if it appears to hold the Davaris to a higher standard than other topless operators face.

Meanwhile, Las Vegas topless mogul Michael Galardi has admitted he attempted to buy favorable treatment from the County Commission in an attempt to reduce competition in the racket. Galardi has agreed to plead guilty to political corruption-related charges in San Diego and Las Vegas.

The Galardi skunk spray promises to spread for years to come. Combine that with the guilty plea of his favorite County Commission private dancer, Erin Kenny, and the embarrassment figures to reach epic proportions.

But, wait, there's more.

Word is, Galardi was contacted about creating a topless review at a Laughlin casino and a marketing deal with one Strip gaming property, where the resort's preferred customers were to receive the VIP treatment.

Galardi is also said to have had preliminary conversations about the future of the topless business at Strip casinos with other corporate gaming executives.

That, of course, was before he found himself mired in a two-city federal political corruption investigation.

It isn't as if a topless cabaret were the valley's only trauma center. Thanks to our local elected lapdogs, suspicious bureaucratic activity, and some clever lawyering, Clark County is top heavy with jiggle joints.

Until the feds came calling, the racket operated with impunity.

With increasing numbers of careers and reputations ruined, it makes you wonder what drove people to be so blindly loyal to such controversial businessmen.

Was it money? Was it what passes for a glimpse of stocking in Las Vegas?

As indicted former Commissioner Lance Malone might say, "Yeah, dude."

Sorry, political dudes, but it's time to break the spell.

John L. Smith's column appears Fridays in the Nevada Appeal. E-mail him at or call (702) 383-0295.


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