Pimpin’ Ain’t Easy

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Posted February 22, 2006 by Last Call in Clubs

Call topless bar magnate Walt Duncan anything you want – just don’t accuse him of being a pimp.

Duncan was recently summoned by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission to a hearing to face an administrative inquiry regarding prostitution at one of his clubs. Last year, an exotic dancer at Illusions allegedly offered sex in return for cash to a couple of undercover TABC agents. Both Duncan and the dancer, a contract employee, were charged.

There’s no word on the dancer, who was fired immediately afterward, but Duncan is facing the possibility of losing his alcoholic beverage permit (though no criminal charges), and he’s fighting back with everything he’s got. He showed up for the hearing in a bright-orange faux crushed velvet zoot suit with furry faux-zebra-striped trim and faux-fur-trimmed hat, his ironic way of expressing his rage against the machine. He told Last Call the proceedings were nothing more than “character assassination.” Too bad the hearing was pushed back until Friday – the prosecuting attorney didn’t show up.

Duncan doesn’t believe he’s responsible for contract employees, only staffers like bartenders and cooks. But TABC attorney Tim Griffiths sees things differently. “If you give a permit to a bar, they have greater duties to prevent things from happening,” he said. “The bar is responsible for what the employee does. The permit holder has an affirmative duty to be in control of the entire licensed premises.”

A source told me Duncan’s had other minor run-ins with TABC but wouldn’t elaborate. In addition to Illusions, the Clubland mogul also owns two other topless bars, Main Stage and T&A Cabaret, and two watering holes, Gizmo’s Disco and Cowtown Country.

If he loses the fight and his alcoholic beverage permit is revoked, it may mean more than no Illusions – potentially no Main Stage, no T&A Cabaret, no Duncan-owned clubs anywhere.

Even if the TABC does ostracize Duncan, something tells me he wouldn’t be gone long.

MacCooly, Cooly-Cooly Cool

Ya know the old adage, Good help is hard to find? Well, for one local hang-out that recently celebrated its first birthday, the saying just doesn’t ring true.

You may remember that when Finn MacCool’s Pub first opened, I reported that I had to wait so long to be even acknowledged by the bartender (we’re talking, like, 15-20 minutes) that I just bailed and took with me a great disdain for both the joint and pretty much ignorance in general. I know that bartender saw me – doesn’t he know I just got paid and am looking to spend some dough?!

I didn’t think Finn MacCool’s was gonna make it – not only was the service dreadful, but the location, somewhere on the South Side, wasn’t great.

So much for my prognosticatin’: The beautifully appointed Irish-themed pub is doing better than just surviving – it’s swinging. Most of the clientele is made up of hospital worker bees and their friends, and, while the location hasn’t changed, the service is as Johnny-on-the-spot as you’ll find anywhere in town. The barkeep acknowledged me cordially on my entrance, kept me well lubed for the duration, and sent me off with a buzz and a smile.

And with a newfound appreciation for a clean, friendly, safe, inexpensive pub-lover’s pub on the South Side called Finn MacCool’s.

Contact Last Call at lastcall@fwweekly.com.


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