SPORTS, SEX & THE MOB:
*The following story is a excerpt from Jeff Benedict’s book, “Out Of Bounds,’ and ‘Court TV.’
Atlanta’s “Gold Club” was the most successful strip club in the country before it was shut down by authorities. This gentleman’s club grossed $20 million dollars annually; it was also a favorite hangout for some of the biggest names in sports. It was not uncommon to see a $50,000 tab. Dozens of athletes and celebrities, including: Patrick Ewing, Terrell Davis, Dennis Rodman, Andruw Jones, Madonna and Stephen Baldwin patronized the ‘Gold Club.’
Steve Kaplan made his club famous by catering to celebrity clients, mainly athletes. Celebrities were whisked away to VIP rooms upon their arrival, ‘Gold Room 7,’ was extremely popular among athletes.
Word quickly spread through the NBA and NFL that the ‘Gold Club,’ had the prettiest dancers in town and provided preferential treatment to athletes: complimentary drinks, food, and dances, all in private VIP rooms. Professional athletes were constantly comped because they were good for business, their presence brought the club prestige. The "Gold Club," had more Perrier Jouet champagne sales than anywhere in the country.
Out of the club’s 150 dancers, Federique was the one most frequently requested by NBA players. Before long, she became the most sought-after dancer among athletes and traveled as far as Las Vegas to entertain sports personalities. She also participated in lesbian shows and three-way encounters, sometimes earning $10,000 per night.
The athletes received special treatment inside the VIP rooms. The dancers were asked to do erotic dances and perform sex acts to arouse the players. The more the dancers did for the athletes, the more they got paid. Sometimes things got out of hand behind closed doors. Men got carried away. The dancers fed into it. It was not unusual for the dancers in the VIP rooms to make between $2,000-$3,000 per night.
The girls would typically stay up all night. After work they’d go to breakfast, then go home to sleep for the day. They returned to work in the afternoon. It was also alleged that the owner Steve Kaplan had several dancers put on sex shows for members of the NY Knicks, Charlotte Hornets and Indiana Pacers.
Meanwhile, the FBI was investigating the ‘Gold Club.’ Initiated in part because of Kaplan’s friendship with members of the Gambino crime family. Authorities wanted to know if some of the club’s $20 million dollar income was being funneled back to organize crime. Authorities also had surveillance tapes of Kaplan and John Gotti, Jr., another tape featured Kaplan with Gambino family soldier Shorty Mascuzzio who was later shot and killed. The charges of credit card fraud, prostitution, money laundering and tax evasion were never confirmed against him.
In March of 1999, the FBI raided the club and the federal government filed a 100-page racketeering indictment against Kaplan and sixteen club employees, alleging that the club had became a den for prostitution, illegal drug use, money laundering, extortion, credit-card fraud and tax evasion.
Meanwhile, Patrick Ewing was called to testify.
Ewing admitted that the girls danced for him, he got aroused. They performed oral sex on him. He hung around a bit longer, talked to them, and left.
When the prosecutor asked Ewing, did you tip the dancers any money that night? He responded, 'No. I was told that it was taken care of.'
It was later alleged that players were inundated by offers from businessmen and they often received complimentary meals, suits, jewelry and even automobiles. In this environment, sex can be just another freebie, arranged for and taken care of like any other aspect of a player's life. Ewing didn't have to go out and find a girl. He didn't have to pay money. All he had to do was show up.
Former Knicks guard John Starks confirmed through his lawyer that he had sex with club strippers but he has since "redirected his life to Christ."
NBA star Antonio Davis held a press conference with his wife by his side to explain that although he had gone to the club, he had not actually received sexual favors.
Former Knicks forward Charles Oakley is another one of the players whose name surfaced in the Gold Club case. When the press asked him, he didn't deny it.
NBA player Dikembe Mutombo's name also came up at trial.
Patrick Ewing's wife Rita Williams-Ewing, who is a lawyer, retained nationally renowned divorce lawyer Raoul Felder and filed for divorce around the same time that published reports surfaced that Ewing had been seeing a twenty-six old Knicks City dancer, who told the press she "didn't have anything to do with marriage breakup."
The Gold Club trial ended when Steven Kaplan pleaded guilty to racketeering involving credit-card fraud and prostitution and was sentenced to sixteen months in federal prison and ordered to pay a $5 million dollar fine, plus $300,000 in restitution. As part of the settlement, Kaplan had to sell the club.
In February 2004, the Gold Club building was taken over by a Christian congregation and is now dubbed, "The God Club."