The Rise and Fall of Crazy Horse Too
by Joshua Longobardy
Las Vegas Weekly
May 10-16, 2007
Four perspectives on the violent, greedy tale of an iconic strip club
Save for this spring’s intermittent wind gusts, which charge down old, glum Industrial Road like a team of horses, there is an elegiacal silence that sometimes looms over the parking lot of the Crazy Horse Too gentlemen’s club, even as night falls, when in past times the Crazy Horse Too pulsated without pause—sometimes it can be perceived from inside Buffalo’s shop next door, 2478 Industrial Road.
Perceived even through the newspaper articles taped to the façade window of Buffalo’s shop, clippings that document the saga of the Crazy Horse Too, the topless bar notorious in this city and whose name resonates nation- if not worldwide, but which is an afterthought now, no longer the lurid and lucrative paradise it was, after a monumental collapse on account of its former owner’s myopia and greed. And, in all truthfulness, it pleases Buffalo—Jim Barrier, a former professional wrestler and one of Las Vegas’ most colorful characters—for he says that ever since 1984, the year the Rizzolo regime took over the Crazy Horse Too (seven years after Buffalo had opened his shop, Allstate Auto & Marine Electric), he has had to contend not just with his neighbor, Frederick “Rick” Rizzolo, but also with the mafia men associated with his neighbor, as well as with the government, numerous individuals of which, from councilmen to cops to mayors to judges, have had close ties to Buffalo’s neighbor.
“I remember the day Rick Rizzolo moved in—February first, nineteen hundred and eighty-four,” Buffalo says. “I’ve been here, seen it all, bro. Business isn’t one-tenth of what it used to be over there; the parking lot isn’t half as full as it was five years ago. That’s a fact.
“My good friends used to come to town, guys like the Undertaker and Papa Shango. Wrestlers, you know. They’d come visit me at my shop, and they’d say, ‘Buff, we know you’re in a fight with your neighbor, and we’re not trying to betray you, but everyone in the county knows Crazy Horse Too is the only place you can get it all.’ They were wrestlers, you know, the type who did it all.
“I’ve seen James Caan walk in there. Brad Pitt, Tom Selleck, Tyson, Rodman. You name it. They treated those guys like kings.
“But other guys—every day I seen the other guys stumble into my shop drunk and bloodied. Every day, bro. They sat right there on my couch as I called 911.”
Although Rizzolo had forbidden his employees from speaking to him, Buffalo says, he still had friends in there, and they would describe to him how the hustle worked during the club’s supernatural rise:
“A mark comes in, a guy who looks like he has money, and Vinnie would send his girls to meet him at the door. Vinnie’s girls, you know, were the Playboy type, girls that made 500 grand a year. They bring him straight back to the VIP, which cost him $100 a girl just to enter, and he has to buy at least one bottle of champagne, something that cost the club $80 but him $800. He has some fun, and before he knows it they are ringing up $5,000 on his credit card. If he contests the bill, he gets taken out, and those big goons Rizzolo employs beat his head in.
“That’s what happened with Kirk Henry,” Buffalo says. “I was there, I saw him. And if I hadn’t taken those photos, they would’ve pretended like nothing happened that day.”
Buffalo tells how, on the morning of September 20, 2001, arriving to work, he saw a body lying on the ground just outside the Crazy Horse Too’s golden front doors, and how he heard an indiscernible voice saying, “You killed him ... You killed him.”
And so Buffalo called 911, just as he had done dozens of times prior, and just as he would do dozens of times afterward, until Rick Rizzolo was finally exiled from his strip club five years later, almost to the day. And because so many atrocities had occurred out in the plain view of Buffalo from his auto shop next door, beatings and drug deals and prostitution, which had not only been crimes against the law and Buffalo’s own sense of right, but had also hindered the flow of business at Allstate to a mere dribble, twice sending Buffalo into bankruptcy, he had already gotten into the habit of retrieving his camera and snapping photos—at first to bolster the lawsuit he had filed against Rick Rizzolo in 2000 for racketeering, an accusation which District Court Judge Nancy Saitta, who already had four other cases on her calendar involving Rizzolo, a chief campaign contributor, threw out in 2001 but which the feds would vindicate five years later when they hit Rizzolo’s Power Company with an indictment under the same charge; and then because it was the right thing to do. And that’s what he did: He shot photos of the body lying in front of the strip club.
Buffalo tells how there was a formidable silence hovering over the parking lot. How nobody wanted to talk. He says the firefighters and EMTs who responded to his call walked around in a daze, and they would not tell him anything, save for one firefighter who mumbled the truth:
“They broke his neck.”
“They wanted to pretend like it never happened, bro,” Buffalo says, his eyes distant and his voice still astonished, as if both were back in September 2001. “No one would’ve ever known about Kirk Henry if I hadn’t taken that photo.”
“That beating,” wrote longtime mob reporter Jeff German, in a comprehensive article for the Las Vegas Sun detailing Rick Rizzolo’s long and dramatic reign at the Crazy Horse Too, “invigorated an FBI racketeering investigation into other alleged criminal activities taking place there.”
Buffalo tells how there had been a deep dark history of such violence outside the Crazy Horse Too. Such as Scott Fau in 1995, whom a homeless man found beaten and deceased next to the train tracks behind the strip mall which encapsulates both Allstate, on the south end, and Crazy Horse Too, next to it. And Rick Sandlin in 1985, whose severe beating with a baseball bat was attributed by law officials to Rick Rizzolo, who walked away from the case with a gross misdemeanor and no jail time thanks to his lawyer, Oscar Goodman.
“And there were so many more, bro, I could go on all day,” Buffalo says. “I don’t know why Rizzolo and his goons did it. He was making more money each year than I will in a lifetime. It must have been a power thing,” Buffalo continues on. “It was like he had a perversion for power. I’ve seen him stand out there and laugh as his goons smashed people’s heads in. He’d watch, and cackle.
“Just like he did in April of nineteen hundred and eighty-five. He walks out back here, in the back alley behind the strip mall, and he has one of his goons with him. He doesn’t have the mafia look that he does now; he is thinner and he doesn’t have the premature white hair he has now. He’s back there and he pulls out his 9 millimeter and he shoots this dog. For no reason. Just points his gun sideways, like they do in the gangster movies, and shoots the dog. And then he starts laughing. Cackling. Then he walks back to his club like nothing happened. That’s a true story.”
Neither Rizzolo nor Tony Sgro, his attorney, opted to offer Rizzolo’s perspective on this event or any other regarding the Crazy Horse Too. In one of the scarce times Rizzolo has spoken to the press, in 2003, just after it became public knowledge that the FBI had long been investigating his club, he said: “I’m making more than $15 million a year. Why would I jeopardize that by doing something stupid?”
“Rizzolo was a moron,” Buffalo continues. “He could’ve had me out of this place in April of 1997 if he would’ve done business with me like a man.”
Rizzolo had in fact called Buffalo that April and arranged a meeting between the two neighbors to talk about buying Buffalo out of his lease. Rizzolo’s business was proliferating, no doubt tops at that time in Las Vegas’ strip club industry, which though cutthroat is second only to brothels in regard to the most lucrative businesses per square foot (ahead, even, of casinos). More than the actual building space Buffalo’s auto shop occupied, Rizzolo needed Buffalo’s parking allotment to keep up with the heavy traffic that passed through his strip club 24 hours a day, 364 days a year (Crazy Horse Too closed on Christmas, to clean the carpets). Rizzolo had or would manage to usurp the strip mall’s other tenants, but on account of the contract Buffalo had consecrated over a handshake and drink with his original landlord, which provided for at least 20 years’ option on his lease of 39 cents per square foot, Rizzolo could not move Buffalo, despite his obsessive efforts, for which Buffalo would file a second litigation against him in 2003.
“That’s how it’s been the last 23 years, bro,” Buffalo says, stroking his beard. “All this stuff I’m telling you is stuff that happened.”
In April 1997, Rizzolo himself called Buffalo, proposing the two meet at the auto shop to discuss business. By this time Buffalo had had enough and was more than ready to be bought out. He, Buffalo, brought his brother to speak on his behalf, for he believed his brother would be more apt for business, objective and unimpassioned. Rizzolo walked in with his associate Al Rapuano, and they positioned themselves on either side of the small, congested office. Buffalo’s brother laid out the terms that Buffalo had dictated to him prior: $1 per square foot, which equates to $10,000 a month, for 10 years, for a total of $1.2 million. Rizzolo, Buffalo says, appeared offended. Buffalo would not relent a penny. And so Rizzolo put his cigarette out on Buffalo’s floor and walked out. He never returned.
Buffalo tells how he wouldn’t get so close to Rizzolo again until June 1, 2006, when he shadowed Rizzolo out of the federal courthouse Downtown, where U.S. District Judge Philip Pro had heard Rizzolo’s guilty plea to crimes uncovered during the feds’ long investigation of the Crazy Horse Too. “Crimes,” Buffalo says, smiling, “that I’ve been yelling about from my rooftop since February, nineteen hundred and eighty four.”
The mainstream media was not there during the rise. For 16 years—time in which Rizzolo built for himself and his impregnable coterie a grand Roman paradise smack dab in the middle of downtrodden Industrial Road, by means truculent, ruthless and no doubt corrupt—the media touched little on the Crazy Horse Too. In fact, it wasn’t until September 20, 2001, when Kirk Henry had his neck twisted outside the strip club, that the media begin to record the Crazy Horse Too’s place in the history of Las Vegas.
It was no secret at the time that the club was basking in triumph, high above its competitors, in large part because of the news outlets themselves, which reported that the Crazy Horse Too was grossing anywhere between $10 and $20 million a year, that some 2,000-plus patrons a day were walking through its golden doors, including actors, rock stars and sports heroes, and that it, once a small, solemn warehouse with just enough square feet—1,200—to accommodate its 12 dancers, was now 2.3 acres, and housed up to 1,500 girls in a single 24-hour span. One reporter made it into Rizzolo’s office, and he (the reporter) took note of the photos of mob legends on the wall, the crystal cabinets, the magnificent desk, the 16 surveillance monitors, the heavy ordnance, the barber’s chair that once sat the infamous Al Capone, the overall splendor and sheer size of the 7,000-square-foot room, adequate for a man who was reported to put in 18-hour workdays.
No doubt the Crazy Horse Too was at its apex when the mass media turned its eyes to the club, and so it was also there to record with accuracy the decline of Rizzolo’s empire, from the day Henry had his neck twisted to January 23, 2007, when Rick Rizzolo was sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison, ordered to pay $17 million in restitution, forfeiture, back pay and fines, and struck with the paralyzing mandate to never again operate in the realm of adult businesses.
No doubt, September 20, 2001 was the pivotal point. For that was when the story of Henry was dispersed throughout Las Vegas, in large part due to the photo snapped and disseminated by Buffalo Jim Barrier, whom journalists both local and national would seek as a source. It was reported that Kirk Henry, a businessman from Kansas with a wife and two kids, had engaged in a dispute over his $80 bar tab at the Crazy Horse Too and ended up with a loyal shift manager snapping Henry’s neck just outside the club—or, as Henry’s attorney Don Campbell would put it to the press, “twisting his neck like a corkscrew.” Henry himself, paralyzed from the chest down, would later tell reporters:
“I heard a noise behind me, and before I could turn around I felt an arm come around my shoulders and neck and I heard a grunting noise. I fell to the ground. I reached down and touched my legs and there was no feeling. I screamed, ‘I can’t feel my legs! I can’t feel my legs!’”
Representatives for Rizzolo and the Crazy Horse Too responded that Henry’s blood-alcohol level was two and a half times over the legal limit. It was the same rebuttal—customer drunkenness—that they would give when reporters rekindled the story of Scott Fau, whose wrongful death lawsuit against the club was still pending at the time of Henry’s incident, as well as of other past beating victims.
And that was it. That was all the media reported then. The district attorney’s office declined to prosecute the case, and the outgoing DA at the time told a reporter that he was handing it off to his successor, who turned out to be David Roger and who also let the case slide. But it had already evoked the media’s attention, so that by the time Henry and his lawyers filed a lawsuit against the Crazy Horse Too and Rick Rizzolo a year later, news sources from print, TV and the Internet were looking into and revealing Rizzolo’s connections with not just suspected members of La Cosa Nostra but also elected officials in the government.
Channel 3 News aired a lengthy investigative piece, after which it became public knowledge that Rizzolo kept on staff at the Crazy Horse Too men like shift manager Vincent Faraci, son of Bonnano crime family captain “Johnnie Green” Faraci and a verified member himself; bartender Joe Blasko, a disgraced ex-Metro police officer who had been convicted for his part in a 1981 burglary linked to the “Hole-in-the-Wall” gang run by Anthony “the Ant” Spilotro, the notorious mobster; and floor man Rocco “Rocky” Lombardo, brother of Chicago crime boss Joey “The Clown” Lombardo, recently implicated in the cinematic homicide of Spilotro.
Other reports would reveal that Rizzolo’s best friend and the godfather to his three children was Joey Cusumano, a former top lieutenant of Spilotro’s, whom Rizzolo gave the refuge of his house after an assassination attempt almost took Cusumano’s life in 1990. Rizzolo was close associates with Fred Pascente, a reputed Chicago mob figure, and with Fred Doumani, a wealthy, longtime Las Vegan often associated with underworld mob figures.
“Rizzolo did not hide the fact,” Jeff German says: “When you visited the Crazy Horse Too, you got the feeling that you were in mob territory.”
(“I used to sit on Joe Blasko’s lap, and he would tell me these fascinating stories about the old days in Vegas, you know, with the mob and everything,” Sandy White, a former cocktail waitress at the Crazy Horse Too, recalls. “I really admired him, liked him, even though I guess he was a bad man.”)
The media documented Councilman Michael McDonald’s home, which happened to be in the same Canyon Gate community as Rick Rizzolo’s, and which happened to be listed under Joey Cusamano’s family name. In fact, McDonald, whose Ward 1 encapsulated the Crazy Horse Too at the time, was served, though to no avail, with two ethics complaints that accused the councilman of not just being complicit but also catalyst in Rizzolo’s overt and endless attempts to countermine his competitors’ innovations, such as Sapphire’s unprecedented size and Treasures’ fine steakhouse.
It documented Mayor Goodman’s sponsorships of changes in the law that would allow Rizzolo to expand his club to within the prohibited 1,000-foot barrier of another strip club, and which would permit 18- and 19-year-old girls to dance in strip clubs within the jurisdiction of the city. It documented, in 2002, the City Council’s approval of Al Rapuano as a key employee at the Crazy Horse Too, despite his ominous standing with Nevada’s gaming board, with Mayor Goodman himself saying (yes, saying: not abstaining, even though he once served as Rapuano’s attorney) that the gaming board has nothing to do with liquor licensing, which is required for key employees. In that same year all the major media outlets documented an unprecedented act in the city when the council permitted the Crazy Horse Too to expand by 6,000 feet prior to obtaining the required inspection approvals from various government agencies. Rizzolo’s local campaign contributions, exceeding $135,000, including $40,000 to Goodman, were well-documented.
And the media recorded the downfall. On May 31 and June 1, 2006, Rizzolo and 16 of his employees entered into plea deals with the United States Department of Justice, all except one (Bobby D’Apice, who twisted Kirk Henry’s neck) for tax evasion. Moreover, Rizzolo pleaded guilty on behalf of his Power Company to charges of racketeering. By March 28, 2007, they all received their sentences in U.S. District Court, with only two of them landing time in prison, Rizzolo’s punishment the worst: 366 days at Taft Correctional Institution in California.
The Crazy Horse Too had shut down on September 6, 2006. Newspapers snapped photos of Buffalo Jim Barrier showing the victory sign in the empty parking lot in front of the club. It was an ephemeral end. The club reopened, under new ownership, on October 16, 2006, the papers would report.
“What distinguished Crazy Horse from its competitors was its reputation for being a mob hangout and dishing out frontier justice,” says German, who has been covering the mob in Las Vegas since 1978. “It was basically a minor story in the grand scheme of things until the FBI conducted its raid in 2003.”
To be precise, that was February 20, 2003, at 5 in the morning, with more than 80 law officials at hand.
Two S.W.A.T. teams charged the old ivory-columned palace that early morning, guns drawn, says an FBI agent who spoke at length under the two conditions that he be neither named nor quoted. Two teams, along with the FBI, the DEA, the IRS, ATF, Metro: It was a cast of thousands. Later, the Crazy Horse Too would try to sue them for use of excessive force, but to no avail. The FBI has five criteria for bringing in S.W.A.T., and the Crazy Horse Too met four of them, when only one was needed.
The investigation, which culminated in the raid, was called Genuine Risk. The agent remembers it: How they went in, one of the S.W.A.T. teams going one way, one the other, and he headed straight for the shift manager’s office. The FBI had planted one of their cameras in there, and so, he said, he knew what to expect. Sure enough, there was Vinnie Faraci, staring at them as they came in, his disposition as indifferent as ever.
It was 5 a.m. There wasn’t much commotion, as if they had foreknowledge of their fate. One thing you should understand about Rick Rizzolo, the agent says, is that he always seemed to be bored. He had everything—the best women, the best cars, the best food—it wasn’t easy to excite him. Perhaps Rizzolo found the investigation fun, because it was unpredictable and because it was something new.
The FBI brought hospital gowns for the girls and female agents to assist them. When the lights were turned on, the agent tells, and the officers’ eyes adjusted a little, guys became nauseated by what they saw. Nobody wanted to go near the seats.
He elaborates: When the FBI had asked the judge to sign the search warrant, she had made the comment, “My, you guys want to seize everything but the carpet and furniture.” Yes, ma’am, the FBI agent told her. Then, after they ran through the club with the ALS (the alternate light source, which detects bodily fluids), the agent went back to the judge and asked if they could take a sample of the seats and carpet. The FBI delivered them to the lab. And the lab turned up nine different types of semen from one seat.
The FBI scanned over the entire club, from front to back, like a copy machine, for more than 14 hours, with exceeding diligence and meticulousness, because they knew that defense attorneys like Oscar Goodman, who had an amazing record of having cases against his clients, like Tony Spilotro, thrown out for technicalities or legalities before they even made it to trial, would be scrutinizing the raid for any small yet fatal misstep.
They searched Rick Rizzolo’s office; they saw the mafia pictures exalted on the walls and Al Capone’s barber’s chair, and they found the million dollars in cash he was reported to keep in his office at all times, not locked away in a hidden safe but tucked neatly in a desk drawer. It was $800,000, to be exact, with markers denoting money owed to Rizzolo. Such as the $15,000 from Metro Sgt. Tom Keller, who was to be suspended by his superiors and then transferred to another unit.
Rizzolo was no doubt a huge gambler, the agent says. A whale, the casinos called him, and of the best sort. He was low-maintenance. He didn’t need to be flown in on a private jet, didn’t need a prince’s suite to stay in, didn’t need any of that: He only wanted to have fun, and sometimes, the FBI discovered, that resulted in losing $1 million in a single night. But Rizzolo is a shrewd, remarkable businessman, says the agent, and one cannot underestimate him.
Much to their surprise, the agent says, they found that the regime at the Crazy Horse Too had retained tons of boxes of records—documents from throughout the years, enough to fill an entire moving truck and more than enough to incriminate no fewer than 21 employees for the felonious deeds they committed and had recorded in those documents—deeds that should have gotten them no less than 20 years in prison.
It was staggering how much money they were making back then, in the ’90s and early 2000s, the agent says. What was different about the Crazy Horse Too, as compared to other strip clubs, is that the girls did not pay a buy-in at the door. No. They worked their shift, and at the end they reported to the shift manager’s office and gave 10-30 percent of their earnings, depending on the girl, to the club. A girl could make $75 and plead with Vinnie that she needed to keep more money for her sick child, and he’d look at her with complete indifference, tell her to never come back again.
Despite several calls placed to the law offices of David Chesnoff, in an attempt to speak about the saga of the Crazy Horse Too and his client Vinnie Faraci’s place in it, neither Chesnoff nor Faraci has opted to speak.
The money, the agent says, would then be distributed proportionately in white envelopes to the bartenders, floor men, bouncers and Rick’s brother and father. The shift managers made double. So everyone was vested in what the girls made. The bouncers didn’t patrol the club to keep the peace, as they do in other clubs; no, they were there to check on how much the girls were making, to intimidate the customers, to beat them up if need be. That was how they did business.
The girls enticed customers to the back, the VIP room, which has doors that lead to the back alley. Either they took the customers back there, where parked limos served as mobile brothels, or the bouncers dragged them out there to extort money. That’s how it was.
The agent says that the FBI had accumulated enough ironclad evidence to hit 21 employees with RICO charges (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupted Organization acts, historically tied to organized crime), which carry a sentence of no less than 20 years. And so they were shocked when the U.S. attorney’s office announced on June 1, 2006, that they had negotiated plea deals with 16 employees at the Crazy Horse Too, for nothing more than tax evasion, and one (D’Apice) for racketeering, as well; and then they were demoralized when they found out that 14 would never spend a day in prison, and that Rick Rizzolo, who got the worst punishment, would only have to serve one year and one day behind bars.
When asked what the impetus behind the plea deals was from the U.S. attorney’s point of view, Natalie Collins, spokesperson from Nevada’s U.S. attorney’s office, did not provide a response.
No, the agent says, for many in the FBI this case will never be resolved. Ten years they investigated, starting around 1995. They had 14 agents on the investigation—five full-time—and 23 personnel in total. They collaborated with the IRS, DEA, Metro: It was a cast of thousands. They traveled the country to track down witness statements, they used innovative techniques to hammer down the case, and now most of the Crazy Horse Too employees are back out on the streets. And Rizzolo, he says, will receive nothing more than a slap on the wrist.
The FBI wanted RICO for 21 of them, the agent says, not even so much for all the evidence they gathered, but because of the countless victims, like Scott Fau, so that truth and justice are done.
There were just two stages flanking the bar and pool table when Jenna Massoli walked into the Crazy Horse Too in 1991. That’s all there was. It had by then nonetheless earned the reputation as the best damn topless bar in town, and the girls—redheads, brunettes, blondes; young and old; all with “10 times tighter bodies and much bigger boobs” than Jenna—were making, she heard, upward of $300 a night. And so Jenna suppressed the fact that she was only 17 and still just in high school when she applied to be a dancer there, for it is illegal for minors to dance, but it did not matter: They permitted her anyway, because she was blond and appealing, and, as her eventual path to the top of the porn industry, as Jenna Jameson, would demonstrate, ambitious. And so with the stage name Jenasis, she dissembled her innate shyness and diffidence, which stemmed from her turbulent personal life, and without any formal training she began to master her wiles, practicing them on men like Nicolas Cage, Jack Nicholson, David Lee Roth and, even better, hotel presidents. And just like that, not even yet a full-grown woman, Jenna turned wealthy, grossing $2,000 to $4,000 a night.
According to Jameson’s autobiography, How to Make Love Like a Porn Star, she became one of Vinnie’s favorite girls.
“Yes,” Sandra White says, “that’s how it was. Except that when I worked there in the mid- and late ’90s, rumor was Vinnie’s girls were making anywhere between $10,000 and $20,000 a night.” Which no doubt meant the men were making more every year too, splitting 15 percent of every girl’s earnings each shift.
Sandy had worked as a cocktail waitress and dancer for five years. From inside the dark club she saw the intemperate fun; she saw how the girls walked out of the club with no less than $500 a shift and, many of them, with cocaine and booze in their system; she saw how the club attracted the best of the best-looking girls from across the country, lured by the same scent of cash that had lured Jenna Massoli. And, now a decade removed from that place, White says the memories of the Crazy Horse Too are still active, incessant, which is why she feels the urge to write a book about the club to which she already has a title picked out: The Truth (Behind the Doors of the Crazy Horse Too).
An urge to tell how during the club’s celestial rise, while White was bringing Bart Rizzolo, Rick’s father, his coffee each morning for five years, the topic of his conversation every morning was how to get rid of Buffalo Jim Barrier. (“Every morning?” an FBI agent had asked during investigations into the club. “Well,” she’d told him, “there was two—maybe three—days he didn’t.”) To tell what happened to Scott Fau, the big, talkative man who was having so much fun with everyone without getting even one lap dance and who was showing Sandy pictures of his wife and kids—what happened to that man on that fatal morning in 1995, when all of a sudden two bartenders and two floor men, including Joe Blasko, whom she liked and admired, beat him down to his knees, beat his nose clean off his face ... and ... and ... (even after a dozen years it throbs so vivid she struggles when recounting it) ... and the next thing she heard of him was when the cops came to the club the following morning to take statements on his death.
There were others, too. There was Sean Spanek, who went with three friends to the Crazy Horse Too on the last day of January 2001. He said the bartenders lied about the charges, and when they (Spanek and his friends) challenged the bill, the bouncers “threw us against the wall, and then out the door, and then onto the ground, and left us bloodied.”
There was Debra Washington, a dancer, who said Rick Rizzolo, whom she knew personally, told her he’d kill her boyfriend, and it wouldn’t be the first time he did something like that.
There was Jermaine Malcolm Simieou, a customer at the strip club who had to file a police report after he, according to what he wrote on the report, suffered at the hands of bouncers a broken nose, missing teeth, a black eye, knots in his head and a damaged shoulder.
“It was as if the money was not enough,” says White, who had testified on behalf of Scott Fau’s widow during her lawsuit against the club and who had been an informant for the FBI. “It was as if they wanted more.”
And further, it was as if nothing could halt the Crazy Horse Too’s rise during the late ’90s and into the dawn of the new millennium.
Because it seemed like no one outside themselves could have stopped the ascension. Not the city. Despite the violence, and despite more than 700 calls placed to Metro concerning the strip club in the years 2001, 2002 and 2003 alone, the Crazy Horse Too never once experienced an arrest of staff or incurred a citation of any sort—let alone came up before the City Council for a show-cause hearing, required of any business in the city’s jurisdiction suspected of wrongdoing. Mayor Pro Tem Gary Reese, in whose Ward 3 the Crazy Horse Too now stands, says he had asked for one during those years but was told it couldn’t be done because the club was under federal investigation. Yet the Cheetahs strip club of the infamous G-Sting scandal appeared before the council for a show-cause hearing while they were under an FBI investigation. The man responsible for scheduling show-cause hearings—Jim DiFiore, business-licensing director and the same man today responsible for enforcing the special conditions of the permanent liquor license the city council granted the Crazy Horse Too this past April, against the advice of Metro and the city attorney—declined to speak about the Crazy Horse Too despite numerous attempts to get his take.
Mayor Oscar Goodman, a former attorney for Rizzolo and his Power Company, who has long called Rizzolo a friend and generous campaign contributor, also declined to speak about matters referring to the Crazy Horse Too, instead deferring to Reese, who said: “I don’t know, I don’t go in those types of clubs.”
Nor the courts. Although at least seven civil cases had been brought up against the Crazy Horse Too during its rise through the ’90s and early 2000s, and settled out of court, the district attorney’s office never pursued one complaint. When it was made public that DA David Roger had received $50,000 in campaign contributions either from Rizzolo himself or fundraising parties that Rizzolo threw, he returned the entire largesse without explanation. Rizzolo’s parties, in fact, were legendary, and well-attended by top lawyers and prestigious judges. One of whom, now Supreme Court Justice Nancy Saitta, whose name would be sullied by the LA Times during its 2006 investigative report on judicial corruption in Las Vegas, managed to have at one time five cases involving Rizzolo on her calendar (two of which also involved Buffalo Jim Barrier, and one Scott Fau), and in none of the five cases did Rizzolo suffer harm.
When Michael Galardi was on the witness stand during the infamous G-Sting trial, the investigation which had stemmed from a seed of information caught on one of the FBI’s taped phone conversations of Rizzolo, he claimed that Rizzolo “owned” Saitta.
Only they at the Crazy Horse Too could’ve brought themselves down, White tells. And, she says, with an interminable sigh, they did.
The Crazy Horse Too is not dead. On account of a new owner and a sympathetic city council, it endures, although not as vital as it once was. The handful of girls working there bring in enough money to keep the lights from turning off.
But before that—before the regime at the head of the Crazy Horse Too had pleaded guilty to tax evasion and racketeering, which was the coup de grace, and before the invasion of law enforcement in 2003 had left the club in rubbles, and before Kirk Henry had had his neck twisted, and before the gentlemen’s club had risen to the top of Las Vegas’ lucrative strip club industry, and before Rick Rizzolo had come to the helm of the club in 1984 ...
And before they were to find his head, detached, in the desert, Tony Albanese, an authentic mob man, was the first to call the place Crazy Horse Too. It had been a discothèque, of substantial popularity, called Billy Joe’s, owned by a man who had introduced dancing girls to the bar and who would die of health complications in the late ’70s. The day Albanese bought the place he slapped onto the preexisting sign the words “Crazy Horse Too,” because by that time, 1978, he had already opened the first Crazy Horse, on Flamingo and Paradise, his real bread-winner. And so the sign out front read Billy Joe’s Crazy Horse Too, and it was a fun little place, according to Buffalo Jim Barrier, who used to treat his employees out there after work.
In 1981 they found Albanese’s head in the desert in Needles, California. Henry Rapuano, the father of Rick Rizzolo’s close associate Al Rapuano, took over the operations of the club, placed it under the name of lawyer Joseph Monteiro, and took out the Billy Joe’s from the name out front, so that it would from then on be known only as what it remains today: Crazy Horse Too. Then Henry Rapuano would die of a sudden and unforeseen heart attack. Rick Rizzolo, a Valley High School graduate and a former soda jerk at A&W, would, two years later, take control of the club.
Son of Bart, brother of Ralph and Annette, now a father of three who divorced his wife of 15 years the day before he was indicted, Rizzolo, exiled now from his strip club, must report to prison no later than this forthcoming May 22. If its current tenant cannot afford the $45 million Rizzolo is asking for the Crazy Horse Too by June 30, the property will be taken over by the government.