I’ve been to Cheaters in Cocoa Beach, but missed this particular club. Pity - sounds like a hell of a party going on in there! (STD’s free as party favors)
COCOA, FL — Capping an undercover operation Thursday, SWAT units arrested seven women and the manager of a strip club after residents complained that illegal sex often ended up in the parking lot.
For two months, officers said they gathered video and audio evidence of women stripping completely naked, touching customers and performing sexual activity for $20 to $100 at Playmates, a club that touts an “All nude revue” on the pink exterior of its 518 Industry Road location. Such acts are banned under city code.
"They would do anything for money," said Officer Barbara Matthews of the Cocoa Police Department. "The nudity and gratuitous sex was spilling out into the parking lot."
Three of the women were charged with misdemeanor solicitation for prostitution after undercover men were offered sex Thursday. All of the seven women and the manager face allegations of code violations as well. Their names will be released today.
One woman was arrested after she pulled into a parking lot full of police vehicles and television news reporters.
"She had to start her shift," Matthews said.
After the 6 p.m. raid, Sgt. Gordon Teachworth of Cocoa’s Special Investigations Unit said he witnessed “filthy and unsafe” conditions. Inside — amid black walls, gold tassels hanging from the ceiling and a carpet of multicolor stars and swirls — he found electrical outlets near shower stalls, a 9 mm Beretta pistol and a .44-caliber revolver. One woman threw some prescription medication as officers burst through the doors.
"There were open packs of condoms in the room where you could get a private dance, called the Champagne Room," said Teachworth, who coordinated the undercover effort. "But they said they didn’t serve champagne there."
The club has been the target of past complaints, including when a 16- and a 17-year-old duped business officials into thinking they were legally allowed to strip, according to the police.
Playmates, located on property that was annexed into the city of Cocoa, was raided not on a warrant but on the principle of probable cause. Undercover officers gathered enough evidence to conduct the search, Matthews said. The club was closed Thursday night but might reopen today, after fire marshals inspect the building.
"We’re going to be on these guys all the time," Matthews said. "The police department, the city council want to send that message."
Of the six women inside at the raid’s start, Teachworth said many were “99.9 percent nude.” The seven donned their clothes and were led in handcuffs in front of TV cameras and into a jail van. One smiled. One cursed. One wore a necklace with a Christian cross.
"Why are you doing this?" one yelled.
As the police wrapped up their night inside the club, a blue Durex condom wrapper on the front lawn fluttered in a light breeze. Cars repeatedly drove by the building near a Cemex cement plant off State Road 528.
Inside a green Pontiac was Mustafa Okur.
Okur, as owner of Super Blue Shuttle & Taxi, rents warehouse space from Playmates’ owner. There, he makes repairs to his 21-cab fleet. But, a time or two, Okur has been a customer of Playmates, too. He said he wasn’t aware of ordinances restricting touching and full nudity at such an establishment.
"It’s like a real strip club," Okur said. "There’s just a few bad apples."
As he stood near the darkened club Thursday night, Okur answered his cell phone. He said it was one of the club’s employees.
"She said she didn’t know they couldn’t be nude," Okur said. "It’s always been full nude since I’ve known the place. And they don’t serve beer. No beer, no nude. Now how will they make money?"