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Islington Tribune - by PETER GRUNER
Published: 4 December 2009
Chatterbox on Farringdon Road
Chatterbox on Farringdon Road
Topless bar boss hits back at his critics

Owner of club accuses objectors of ‘hypocrisy and prejudice’ as he is granted new licence

THE owner of a topless bar accused those who oppose his business of showing “prejudice and hypocrisy” at a licensing committee meeting on Monday.
Peter Tsai, of Chatterbox in Farringdon Road, said he thought it particularly “absurd” that he needed a dance licence just to allow his staff and guests to “sway” to recorded background music at the venue.
Mr Tsai was seeking a variation to his licence to provide wheelchair access and six extra individual customer booths.
The committee heard from officers that the venue may have broken the terms of its licence by allowing customers and staff to “move” to background music.
Mr Tsai said: “How can I control customers swaying to music? It’s a natural impulse.”
However, he was informed the club would need a dance licence.
An objector had written to the committee calling for the bar to be closed down on the grounds that it is close to a residential area, including a nursery, a school and flats.
The objector wrote that the bar had originally been a restaurant under a previous owner, adding: “But within a short time it obviously changed its character, as there were large poster-size photos in the window of topless women.”
The resident described driving along Farringdon Road at 5pm and seeing a man holding a large banner with a “naked woman” displayed on it.
The man, according to the objector, was handing out leaflets advertising the venue.
“There were mothers walking past with children and it was highly offensive to see this happening. I was appalled to see it, especially at this time of day,” added the objector.
However, Mr Tsai maintained that the woman on the poster was wearing a bikini.
The committee heard that on a recent enforcement visit to Chatterbox, council officers found that the CCTV was not working at the bar and on another occasion a member of staff in underwear was recorded on CCTV gyrating on a customer’s lap for more than an hour. These were two infringements of the terms of the licence, the committee heard.
Mr Tsai, who said he has previously run a number of clubs in Hong Kong, was granted his variation with strict conditions.
Speaking after the meeting, he insisted his venue was well run and provided entertainment and employment.
“We run a gentlemen’s club at a time when 50 or 60 pubs in Britain are closing each week,” added Mr Tsai. “It’s mainly for men, but they do bring their wives and girlfriends. There’s nothing wrong with girls being topless.
“I think compared to Hong Kong Britain is very old fashioned when it comes to topless bars.

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