There’s something about a comeback that everybody loves.
There’s Michael Jordan leaving the baseball diamond for the basketball court, Kirk Gibson’s game-winning home run in Game 1 of the World Series against Oakland in 1988, George Foreman putting on the gloves and entering the ring at middle age — and winning.
And now there’s Mike Galam bringing back Crazy Horse Too, only under a new name — The Horse Gentlemen’s Club.
After several years of being shuttered, its copper wiring ripped from the walls by thieves, its interior all but gutted except for the poles, the notorious topless cabaret that’s steeped in old style mob influence is opening its doors again on Industrial Road.
The grand opening, featuring a pair of Playboy centerfolds and one from Penthouse, is set for 8 p.m. tonight. The cigars are stocked, nearly 60 strippers have been hired and a DJ is at the ready with a brand new sound system.
There is a good possibility that Galam, who owns two strip joints in Los Angeles, will meet you at the door.
That’s just his style. Look for the stocky guy with the dark wavy hair and the broad smile.
That the strip joint, with its faux Greek palace pillars, is opening at all is just short of a miracle. There have been doubters from the beginning. People said there was no way that Galam, 47, was going to pull it off — purchase such a storied establishment, then rise above its terrible reputation.
But whether he makes the place profitable again remains to be seen.
“I can do anything,” said Galam, an Illinois native but a California entrepreneur the past two decades. “I bought a hole in the ground in the middle of the desert in Blythe, California, and now it’s a fully functioning gypsum mine. If I can make money off that, I can make money off of anything.
“This is nothing.”
A little background if you haven’t been following strip industry news: There was a time when Crazy Horse Too was the place to be. That was in the mid-1980s. A few Hollywood stars were known to frequent it, even own back door keys, Galam said. The place was a scene straight out of “Goodfellas.”
But then bad stuff started to happen under owner Rick Rizzolo’s watch. Kansas tourist Kirk Henry was beaten by bouncers in September 2001. He became a quadriplegic for life. Under a settlement, he was to receive $10 million, which he’s still trying to collect.
Rizzolo was sent away to federal prison for a year for tax evasion, and the joint became the property of the federal government. It was auctioned off to Galam for $11 million on Feb. 28.
He got the keys in late March, but then a fight began over the name. Earlier this month he was told by a federal judge in Las Vegas to change it after Crazy Horse III, a strip joint on Russell Road, filed a lawsuit against Galam, claiming that the name “Crazy Horse” belonged to them.
Galam’s crew from Los Angeles, after much deliberation in what became a word game, settled for “The Horse” after wavering between “Crazy Mike’s” and “The Two.”
Now that the name has been established, Galam’s current chore at hand is talking to private investigation firms about getting a few guys to pose as “secret shoppers” to make sure the women he’s hired don’t engage in sexual acts.
“This is all about striptease. I love the art of strip tease,” he said. “This isn’t about finding a place where you can get a quickie, then walk out the door. That’s not what I’m all about. That’s just bad business. And it ain’t gonna be happening at my establishment, no siree.”
Already the club has more signs that say “Prostitution is unlawful” than ads for beer.
And Galam is already repeatedly warning the VIP bosses about the consequences if they look the other way.
“If something illegal is going on, and it’s happening on their watch, they’re history, along with the girl,” he says.
The way Galam sees it, if one or two dancers end up caving in to customer solicitation, then like dominoes the entire place is capable of sliding south, which is never good for business. It becomes a magnet for the seedy, and then the pretty women tend to steer clear, he said.
There’s also a new club policy in effect that he hopes will wipe the history of violence clean from the premises. Bouncers are only allowed to give “bear hugs” to customers who turn aggressive.
“They’re only allowed to tackle if somebody has a weapon, a knife, an open bottle or a gun,” he said.
Galam is a bit aggressive himself — from a business standpoint, that is. He said he hopes to employ from 200 to 250 strippers by the time the place is a couple of months old. He has 600 parking spots to handle all the guests. And like some convenience store, a beacon in the night to the ever hungry, the club will be open 24 hours a day except for 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays. The entry fee is $30. You have to be 21 or older to get in.
He put $75,000 into a new sound system, $30,000 into new lights, added 96 infrared cameras for the club’s softly lit interior and outside parking lot; and installed 26 air conditioners at a cost of $187,000, which also helped pay for the duct work and copper replacement.
Giovani del Cid, vice president of operations at Galam’s two other strip clubs in Los Angeles, is the new director of operations for The Horse.
He has heard the tales, and has seen the old-timers walk in off the street and marvel at the interior, not quite believing the place has been brought back to life.
“Every local who’s walked through the door so far said, ‘I had to see it for myself,’” said del Cid. Now in his late 30s, he was just a child at the time Crazy Horse Too was rocking.
Angelique Booker, a baby when the old Crazy Horse Too was hot stuff, says she has had her eye on working at the club the past few months. That became a reality a few days ago when Galam signed off on her application.
A dancer since age 18, starting her career at Little Darlings down the street, she’s now 23 and feels like she’s been called up to the Bigs.
“This is going to be fun,” she said Friday afternoon, with the club’s neon glow behind her. “And from what I understand we might even get health insurance.”
Galam said he’s working on that. But first, he needs boatloads of customers.
Contact reporter Tom Ragan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-224-5512.