Law and Order

Will a constitutional challenge finally end the cabaret law?

If NORMAN SIEGELhas his way, the cabaret law may be moot sooner rather than later. The former director of the New York Civil Liberties Union teamed up with lawyer PAUL CHEVIGNYand a slew of anti-cabaret law activists last Tuesday at NYU to talk about the possibility of bringing a constitutional challenge to the courts. After efforts to change the law through working with the Department of Consumer Affairs and the City Council faltered, Siegel and Chevigny thought they should try a different route.

"Litigation takes time, and the thought was we could get the DCA and the City Council to change the status quo," said Siegel. "That didn't happen, and many of us are not willing to accept the status quo and decided that we need to challenge it. Since the challenge to the legislative and executive branches hasn't succeeded, we are now exploring the third branch, the courts."

When Chevigny—who worked with Siegel at the Civil Liberties Union in the '70s—won the case against the three-musician rule in 1988, the dance portion of the law "wasn't a front-and-center issue," explained Siegel. "It wasn't enforced until the mid '90s. When you tell people about the cabaret law, half the time they think you are putting them on. The reality is that the status quo is unacceptable for the dance community. Dancing is expressive. We need to once and for all change the status quo."

Siegel may also have his eye on the Public Advocate office, which he ran for during the last election but lost to BETSY GOTBAUM. He's set up an exploratory committee to suss out support: "I believe I've been one of the private advocates for the city. I think I'm a natural for Public Advocate. I've watched for almost three years and have come to the conclusion that the office itself is shrinking in importance and visibility, and I think that [Gotbaum's] done an inadequate job. I think I could make a big difference in the visibility and effectiveness of the Public Advocate's office."


Elsewhere in clubland: After nearly a month of being shut down by the city for building-code violations, Rothko's finally reopened, restoring order to the Lower East Side. In Tribeca, employees at the Knitting Factory found a lost chinchilla (yes, a live one, not a fur stole) the night after pop-goth band THE RASMUS played. The rodent now resides with a Knitting Factory bartender, but the incident prompts one to wonder: Who the hell brings a chinchilla to a club? The chinchilla is not to be confused with the small, furry animal that the WORLD FAMOUS *BOB* is carrying around these days. She finally got her dream dog, MOVIE STAR, a pink toy poodle. "New York's hottest couple" debuted at Williamsburg's Dollhaus Gallery last Saturday as window dressing for the opening of burly-Q girl BAMBI THE MERMAID's photography show "Freakshow Pin-Ups." We're sure at least one person asked, "How much is that doggie in the window?"

And remember Powder, the ill-fated swanky joint in Chelsea that went bust almost as soon as it opened? It was designed by KARIM RASHID and closed in January 2003. Now called Glo, the space has been bought by JOHN SMYTHE, a businessman with ties to the entertainment industry, and opens to the public on December 3. He imported 14,000 quartz stones from Brazil for a water sculpture behind the bar and spent a cool $5 million in overhauling the interior. Guess that means that you all will be buying bottles from here till eternity to pay that investment back (since here at Fly Life, we don't do bottle service).

Those crying over the loss of record stores like Sonic Groove and Wows!ville a Go-Go, both of which shut their doors in the past month, can take solace in the impending opening of Cake Shop, a multifaceted venue with a record store, sweet snacks, and a live-performance space under one roof. Nestled on Ludlow Street, it's the brainchild of ANDY BODOR, of Alt.coffee fame, and might fill the giant gap between café and bar that some of us feel since Halcyon's original location went kaput. The best part: You can have your cake and eat it too.


tromano@villagevoice.com

 
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