An angry exchange of words between two strippers in their locker room at the Glass Slipper one February night may or may not have ended with one one of them punched by the other's boyfriend at closing time, but it did land the club before the Boston Licensing Board today.
The board decides Thursday whether to sanction the LaGrange Street club, not so much for the fight itself as for failing to call police after learning the two women had somehow gotten into it.
Both strippers testified before the board. Both agreed they'd exchanged words around 10:30 p.m. in the locker room and that one opened her locker in the other's face and the other then closed it, and that there was a confrontation around 2:15 a.m. outside the club involving both of them and a patron who also a boyfriend, but other than that, their stories varied widely.
The first stripper said the second stripper and that woman's boyfriend were waiting for her outside, "in the shadows" by the entrance of the neighboring Centerfolds. She said the two walked up to her, the boyfriend cursing her out in the few seconds it took to go face to face. She said she asked the guy why he was yelling at her; she didn't even know him.
"Oh, bitch, you know me," she said he said. Then, she said, he took his hands out of his pockets, made a fist with some money in one hand, and punched her in the face, she said. "Really, you're going to hit a girl?" she said she asked. Then, she said, she sought refuge back in the club and to complain to managers.
She said she didn't know why the other woman hated her enough to get her boyfriend to attack her, but speculated the woman was upset because she had earlier asked her to stop smoking in the locker room - it's banned anyway, and she'd just gotten her hair done. Plus, the other stripper seemed annoyed she didn't know her name - which she explained by saying that while she was a longtime night stripper, the other one had only just come on the night shift from daytime dancing.
But the other stripper contradicted this account. She said she had heard from other dancers that the veteran dancer "had feelings toward the man I was dating," and that the woman had been bitching at her much of the evening, until the volume of their yelling in the locker room brought a DJ in to complain about how loud they were and to tell them to knock it off.
She said that, at closing, the woman had come out of the club and moved aggressively toward her and her boyfriend. "Wassup bitch, you're outside now," she said the first woman snarled at her. Her boyfriend, she said, stepped between them to try to ward off any problems. She said the first stripper derisively called him "a broke man" - so he reached into his pockets to grab some money to refute her accusation by showing that he, in fact, was not broke. But he never touched her, she said.
Club co-owner Michael Bennett said that when the first stripper came into the club "hysterical" after whatever happened, he talked to other dancers and reviewed the club's outdoor surveillance video, all of which led him to believe that there were no punches thrown. Plus, he said, "her makeup still looked very good" - he didn't see any red marks or any other indications it had been disturbed bythe force of a man's fist hitting it.
Because he didn't think anything other than typical stripper drama had actually happened, he said, he didn't call police.
Board Chairwoman Nicole Murati Ferrer was aghast. Two employees were accusing each other of assaults - in one case, a physical one - and Bennett should have called police and let them figure it out.
"The rules demand you call the police," she said. "I think you call the police and you let the police do their job. It's that simple."
Throughout his testimony, Bennett had some trouble identifying which woman he was referring to, because they, a police detective and his lawyer used their real names, while he only knows them by their stage names.