For 18 years, the city of Chicago has been trying to shut down what’s now known as VIP’s A Gentlemen’s Club, whose politically connected owner, Perry Mandera, boasts that he runs “Chicago’s only full liquor & topless bar.”One way to look at this. This may not be the type of business you want in the neighborhood, but if Chicago isn't doing that great fiscally then is it in your best interest to close a business that's making money. Even if that business is "sin".
City Hall’s position is this: The club’s dancers showed too much butt and too much breast.
The club’s take: No, they didn’t — and, besides, it argued, the city ordinance that makes it illegal for a club to sell liquor if it has performers exposing their buttocks or breasts is unconstitutional.
The courts keep rejecting the club’s arguments. Mandera hasn’t won a court ruling in the case in 10 years, going all the way at one point to the U.S. Supreme Court, which refused to take his appeal.
But VIP’s is still operating and still serving liquor. Even as Mandera has lost one ruling after another, the courts have stayed those rulings, allowing him to keep operating the club while his lawyers keep fighting the city.
Whatever legal bills Mandera may have piled up, the fight clearly has been worth the effort financially, court records show. Mandera has said in court documents that his club takes in $6 million a year with its mix of near nudity and liquor. That’s at least $4 million more than adult-entertainment venues make that don’t have a liquor license, according to Mandera.
The club isn’t just good for him, Mandera, who declines to be interviewed, has argued in court, but is also good for the economy, employing 180 people, including 100 performers. The women are paid to dance on stage, and they can make more money by doing private table dances.
“According to Mandera, the average dancer at the club was making ‘six figures a year’ by the year 2000,” according to a 2006 Illinois Supreme Court ruling. “Mandera reported his own take from the club to be $75,000 a month.”
VIP’s says it pays $480,000 a year in taxes to the city and state.