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Published: Sunday, 7/21/2002

Erie Twp. co-exists with topless club

BY LARRY P. VELLEQUETTE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

ERIE, Mich. - An adult strip club as good corporate citizen?

Maybe not in most places. But in Erie Township, home of Monroe County's one and only adult-oriented business, there are few complaints about Alcatraz, the nine-year old “gentleman's club” that just may be the illegitimate out-of-state father of Toledo's sex trade.

“They're there and they try and keep a clean nose,” Erie Township supervisor Dan Bonkoski said. “They pay their taxes. [The owner] is not a bad guy to deal with. He puts out a lot of fires himself, trying to keep control.”

Opened with little fanfare in 1992 by Toledo limousine service owner Jeffrey Truckor, Alcatraz soon became a popular destination for bachelor parties and others who wanted more than Toledo's few no-liquor, adult-oriented businesses could offer without making the hour-long drive to Detroit.

Shortly after the topless club opened, Mr. Truckor told The Blade that his inspiration for the club came from watching hundreds of men ride his vehicles north only to spend thousands of dollars in strip clubs in Detroit and Windsor.

“I had always wanted to open a bar of some kind, and this is what developed,” Mr. Truckor said then.

Mr. Truckor's business plan has been largely a success over the last decade, and gave rise to imitators south of the state line that tried to find their own niche.

The club's only next-door neighbor, Andy Porter, who lives just south of Alcatraz, said he has seen patrons outside “smoking pot and drinking beer” in the past. He acknowledged, however, that he has filed no formal complaints about his experiences.

“They throw the beer bottles in my yard,” said Mr. Porter, who's lived in the ranch-style home for five years. “Once in a while the noise gets loud, but it don't last.”

Erie Township Police Chief Bill Hines said his officers respond to fewer complaints at Alcatraz than they do at most of the other bars in the township.

“Usually a couple calls a month,” Chief Hines said. “And most of those are for patrons that don't want to pay their bills for their lap dances.”

Security at Alcatraz is tight and imposing, with several bouncers of substantial size patrolling the main room. They wear head-mounted communications systems that allow them to respond to problems like sharks responding to struggling fish: en masse and with overwhelming force.

“They always provide us with whatever assistance we need,” Chief Hines said. “If there's a problem and it's caught on their video [surveillance] system, they always give us a copy of the tape, and they always supply us with the names of any witnesses we need.”

After nearly 10 years of what can best be described as peaceful co-existence, a new variable has entered the relationship equation.

This month, two Toledo-area builders, Frederick Assally of Maumee and Daniel Montrie of Sylvania, bought Alcatraz Industries' liquor license from Mr. Truckor, apparently intending to continue operating the topless gentleman's club. The two men could not be reached for comment.

Chief Hines said he hopes the new players won't change his department's relationship with Alcatraz and its employees.

“The owner there was always very cooperative and very helpful and I would hope the new owners would do the same,” Chief Hines said.



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