Strip Club Owner Starts Charity
Las Vegas Review-Journal (NV)
April 14, 2004
Author: Richard Lake
When no one wanted his money, Peter Feinstein did not give up on trying to give it away. He is, after all, used to that sort of reaction. Feinstein is part owner of Sapphire Gentlemen’s Club, billed as the largest and most expensive of its kind anywhere in the world. He said he was simply trying to do some good when he decided to raise money for charity.
“It just seemed like a worthwhile idea,” he said Tuesday. Well, it seemed like a good idea until he was told that it was not. He wanted to hold a golf tournament, sponsored by Sapphire, with the proceeds earmarked for a nonprofit foundation geared toward helping people with prostate cancer.
But none of the established charities Feinstein contacted wanted anything to do with him or his strip club, he said at a news conference Tuesday, flanked by four women from his club and later joined by managing partner Delores Eliades.
“Once it got through to the board of directors at each of these foundations, they were unwilling to associate with a gentlemen’s club,” he said. That sort of thinking is almost always rooted in politics, said the executive director of a national trade organization representing about 4,000 adult entertainment clubs. “The charitable groups are afraid of taking money from the strip club industry,” said Angelina Spencer. She said conservative organizations brand anyone who takes money from the industry as “pro pornography,” and such an allegation can taint the group’s reputation. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among U.S. men, striking about 230,000 each year. Gov. Kenny Guinn was treated for it in 2002. “I have good news and I have bad news,” Feinstein said his doctor told him after a routine checkup about a year ago. The bad news was that he had prostate cancer. The good news: It was caught early and could probably be treated. Feinstein, now 59, spent most of last year undergoing treatment and recovering. Then, early this year, after he’d had time to reflect, he decided that he’d like to help educate the public about prostate cancer. He talked to his partners at Sapphire, and broached the idea of a fund-raising golf tournament with Bill Walters, a local developer who owns the Bali Hai Golf Club on Las Vegas Boulevard. Then, last month, he read a feature story in the Review-Journal about a 55-year-old Oregon man who was dying of prostate cancer. A nonprofit organization granted the man, Steve Hunter, and his wife a trip to Las Vegas as a dying wish.
“It actually brought tears to my eyes,” Feinstein said. “All of a sudden, a light went on.” He began contacting prostate cancer foundations immediately. He was rejected at every turn. The strip club industry, after all, has had a tough year or two in the press, especially in Las Vegas. Federal agents in February 2003 raided the Crazy Horse Too, just down Industrial Road from Sapphire, in an investigation of mob ties by the club’s owner, Rick Rizzolo. Just a couple of months later, the FBI raided strip clubs owned by Michael Galardi in an investigation that led to the indictment of three current or former Clark County commissioners, among others. “There’s nothing we can do really to stop what’s being said about gentlemen’s clubs,” Feinstein said, noting that his club and its owners were never tied to those investigations. “All we can do is act as good corporate citizens of Las Vegas.”
And so, with all the rejections, Sapphire’s owners started their own charity, the Sapphire Foundation for Prostate Cancer. It has applied for nonprofit status with the IRS. Feinstein did not say what its annual budget will be.
Its “first annual” golf tournament will be held in May at the Bali Hai. The tournament will cost $350 to enter, or $1,200 for a foursome. The proceeds will be used to educate the public about the disease, and will benefit only local prostate cancer victims in need of financial help.
Copyright (c) 2004 Las Vegas Review-Journal