This week I spoke with a former dancer at Platinum Showgirls, the gentleman's club in Boynton Beach that was raided on the night of October 30. That raid came after a sting by undercover officers who claimed they found drug-dealing and prostitution.
The dancer, who knows club management and several current dancers at the club, told me that Platinum owner Matt Barrow runs a tight ship and if drugs or prostitution happened there, it could have only been without his knowledge. (Barrow has been charged with felony racketeering, drug trafficking, public nuisance and profiting from prostitution.)
Before we hear from the former dancer, a programming note: This post will tell one side of the story. In a subsequent post, we'll give the law enforcement side of the story, based on the probable cause affidavit.
The former dancer spoke with two friends about their interviews with police. Both told her they stated, honestly, that they didn't know anything about drug-dealing or prostitution. The former dancer says that Barrow had a strict policy against both.
"Matt didn't want to bring that into the club," says the former dancer. "Matt would always say, 'This is my livelihood, don't screw it up." She can't imagine him jeopardizing that by allowing illegal activity in Platinum.
"A girl got fired three weeks before the raid," says the former dancer, "because she got caught giving a blow job in the champagne room." If club management didn't tolerate that, she asks, then how could they have allowed dancers to have sex with patrons?
The former dancer knows Lily Gibeaut, the 51-year-old accused of being the "madam," but says that Gibeaut is innocent. "The 'madam' sets up champagne rooms," says the former dancer. "She doesn't take money for sexual favors. (Patrons) pay her for the room, which is common -- that's how it's done everywhere in South Florida."
In all, about 40 dancers spent time on the Platinum Showgirls catwalk. In a batch that big, says the ex-dancer, there's bound to be a few bad apples. "Managers watch over the girls, but things can still go on -- because girls can be sneaky."
During the years she worked at the club, says the former dancer, she never suspected the owners or managers of allowing prostitution and says they'd have fired any dancer who sold drugs.
The $64,000 question then, is whether there's video backing the police statements -- either hidden cameras being worn by the cops or cameras discreetly filming from within the club. The former dancer says she doesn't know whether management keeps tape of what happens in the champagne rooms.
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I read portions of the probable cause of affidavit to the ex-dancer, including a claim by police of two female dancers having oral sex. "But girls can fake it," she said. "You can cover your hair over it. They're dancers -- they fake everything."
More details in the case will arrive soon, perhaps next week, in the form of police incident reports. The former dancer is skeptical there will be evidence of owners and managers collaborating with dancers to sell drugs and sex.
"I think (police) had a sting for four months, so they need to prove they had something," she says. "But I don't know how they can prove that the manager actually knew and allowed that kind of stuff to go on."
Check back later for the X-rated probable cause affidavit.