Rochelle Olson, Star Tribune
The muted cabaret sign at 15 Glenwood Av. N. seems barely capable of beckoning customers, let alone announcing the newest nightclub neighboring Target Center and Block E. Dean Perlman, a 39-year-old St. Louis Park native, is the owner and operator of the Seville, the fifth establishment in downtown Minneapolis to offer topless dancing and alcohol.
Questions and eyebrows tend to rise when a topless club opens in any neighborhood, let alone a downtown district into which the city has sunk millions of dollars. But so far, the earnest but publicity-shy Perlman seems to have allayed fears about the quality of his establishment.
Most City Council members were unaware of the club, which opened last week. Council members approved the club’s license on a 13-0 vote without a word of dissent on the council or in the community. The mayor wasn’t aware of the new club. A city inspector offered only praise, calling the business an improvement on previous ventures near the corner of N. 12th St. and Glenwood.
Seville Club Bruce Bisping Star Tribune Recently, construction equipment was all over the new two-level club.
Perlman, wearing jeans, a gray sweat shirt and stubble on his face, was hyped up from coffee, lack of sleep and an incessantly ringing cell phone. ”There’s a stereotype of people in this industry, and I just don’t fit into this mold,” Perlman said. He added: “I love my mother. … I don’t feel there’s a misogynistic bone in my body.”
Highly conscious of the industry’s notorious image, Perlman opted against poles for dancers at the Seville. He doesn’t like such terms as “strip club” or ”gentlemen’s club.”I cringe at ‘dancer.’ They’re ’entertainers,’ ” he said. Most of the time, he said, they will be dressed “as if they were going to the Oscars.”
The new club began to come together last winter when landlord and developer Chris Diebold asked Perlman, a longtime associate, what he thought about the building, the former site of Blues Alley and a men’s hotel called Seville. The corner was abandoned, but Perlman liked the building. So Diebold bought it, allowing some 48 men living in the rooming house upstairs to stay rent-free before helping to relocate them. Some of the men began working for Diebold, and he said four are still on his staff.
The interior of the new club is imbued with warm yellows, russet and black. Exposed brick and steel give a nod to the building’s history and utility. The new club’s owner got his start as a DJ at Bennigan’s in St. Louis Park. That led to a job at Schiek’s in downtown Minneapolis and then at its successor, Solid Gold, a topless club. Eventually he became a manager at Rick’s Cabaret at 300 S. 3rd St. Several members of the management team and staff have followed him to the Seville.
“This is the most safe, secure, respectful environment you will find in any genre of hospitality,” Perlman said of his new club. Before Solid Gold, Perlman said, he’d never been in a topless club. But he paid attention when the time came. “I learned a very upscale, very sophisticated, elegant way of doing things, which I learned to believe in,” he said. “It wasn’t what I perceived the industry to be.”
Entertainment and the Seville are both part of Perlman’s heritage. His uncle was Benny Melton, considered a premier emcee in vaudeville who frequently played a Hennepin Avenue theater. Family lore has it that Melton stayed at the Seville when it was a hotel, Perlman said.
Perlman’s older brother, Marc Perlman, also is a well-known performer. He the bassist for the Jayhawks.
No flash in the pan
At City Hall, the new club has barely caused a stir. Most council members were unaware of the venture even though they unanimously signed off on the topless liquor license earlier in the year. Ken Ziegler, a licenses inspector, said the club, which has easily passed all tests, is a big step up from former tenants of the site. After a visit to Blues Alley, he said, “you wanted to hit the sanitizer.” Council Member Natalie Johnson Lee, who represents the area, said the club will provide a place for visiting conventiongoers to spend their money. Johnson Lee explored a moratorium on topless clubs for a while but found it couldn’t legally be done. She is satisfied that current ordinances are restrictive enough to keep such establishments from multiplying. The city recently denied a topless bar license for the former Nikki’s bar because the site was within 1,000 feet of a residentially zoned area, Ziegler said. Such clubs have to be in the downtown area, but cannot be within 500 feet of a church or too close to housing. The city currently is in legal battles with two clubs outside of downtown, BJ’s at W. Broadway and Washington Av. N., and 22nd Avenue Station at 22nd and University Avs. NE. ”We contend they were supposed to have amortized long ago, and they contend they were grandfathered,” Ziegler said.
The council members seemed generally oblivious to the Seville. ”Is it a gay or straight club?” Council Member Scott Benson asked. Asked whether this was the type of development the city hoped to attract with the millions spent on Block E, Benson — who wasn’t on the council at the time – said: “I wouldn’t have done Block E.”
Dan Niziolek, the council’s public safety and regulatory services chairman, said of the club: ”They’re a part of our city. Our job is to ensure effective regulation.” To which Council Vice President Robert Lilligren said, ”You’re going to do a little field work in that area, Dan?” When Council Member Dean Zimmermann was told of the club, he deadpanned, “Oh, cool,” before adding, “Don’t quote me. That was a joke.”
Perlman wants city leaders to see the new club and the rehabilitation of the building — along with some of it’s former residents — as an inner-city success story. He said his club will fit well into the Hennepin Avenue theater district and pointed to the historic sign out front as proof. Unlike Block E, Perlman received no city subsidy for the project. He declines to say how much money he put into the building, but it clearly wasn’t cheap. ”I want this to be here long after I’m gone,” he said. ”There’s a family history with this industry and a little bit with this building. It’s not a flash in the pan.”
By Kara Nesvig; Photos by Carlos Gonzalez
by By Sarah McKenzie
Orginially Published by: Skyway News
Can a not-quite-nude club improve Downtown? Neighbors, business people and city officials say yes.
Don’t call The Seville a strip club. At least not around Dean “Dino” Perlman, the nightclub’s owner and operations director, who winces when he hears the word.
Although the new nightspot at 15 Glenwood Ave. N. features topless dancing, Perlman has a different way of describing his new business.
“This is the upper echelon of sophisticated, adult-themed cabaret entertainment,” Perlman said during a recent interview in his new club across the street from the Target Center, 600 1st Ave. N. “It’s the modern-day incarnation of burlesque.”
Perlman, 39 — who looks like a clean-shaven version of his rock star brother Marc Perlman, a bassist in the local alt-country band The Jayhawks — has created a club with a different vibe than other Downtown topless bars.
There’s no tacky neon exterior or stripper’s poles on the runway. Instead, the bar has an elegant and demure quality with dimly lit lounge areas and posh furniture around the club’s stage. An old sign from the bar’s early-20th-century namesake, The Seville hotel, hangs above the bar’s first floor.
Seville performers and servers wear provocative clothing, but they maintain what they insist is an elegant and classy look.
“This isn’t a bar. It’s a show club. The show comes first,” Perlman insisted.
The show is in the same vein as Lili’s Burlesque Review, a variety act that performs in a space next to the Urban Wildlife, 327 2nd Ave. N. The performers are true to Downtown’s ’40s and ’50s entertainment scene, when burlesque theaters dominated Hennepin Avenue and featured comedy routines, dancing and performers who strip down to pasties.
Later this year, Perlman plans a weekly cabaret show featuring some of Lili’s dancers.
The burlesque revival is a tribute to Perlman’s late uncle Benny Melton, who worked as an emcee for a traveling show that performed in clubs nationally and at Downtown’s Alvin Theater (roughly where the Hard Rock Cafe now stands). Melton was also known to stay at The Seville when it was a hotel, Perlman said.
The vaudeville entertainer collected autographed photographs of some of the performers, including the Three Stooges and burlesque divas Sally Rand, Tempest Storm and Gypsy Rose Lee. Another performer in the photo collection is “Flip Saunders” — an entertainer who apparently shared a name with the Minnesota Timberwolves head coach.
The photographs are prominently displayed on a wall in the back of the club, a point of pride for Perlman.
The nightclub has made a dramatic transformation in recent months, erasing any trace of The Seville’s shabbier predecessor, The Alley, a blues bar and pool hall. Perlman worked on the makeover with property owner, Chris Diebold.
The pair enlisted help from tenants who lived above The Alley in low-rent apartments. He hired 18 residents as laborers who helped with renovations and has offered jobs at the club to three residents.
Forty-two people who lived above the club have been relocated. Some were referred to new apartments or the Central Community Housing Trust, which developed the nearby Lamoreaux at 706 1st Ave. N., efficiency apartments for formerly homeless people.
Perlman’s efforts to help out his new neighbors and improve conditions on the block have also won over nearby businesses. The Seville’s immediate neighbors, O’Donovan’s Irish Pub (700 1st Ave. N.), First Avenue (701 1st Ave. N.) and a parking lot owner, embraced Perlman’s business concept earlier this year when he pitched his plan to City Council.
In a letter to City Council member Natalie Johnson Lee (5th Ward), O’Donovan’s owner Dermot Cowley wrote: “The concept of a new upscale cabaret-themed nightclub will enhance our block and will be a welcome addition to the neighborhood.”
To ensure top-notch security, Perlman has hired veterans of the adult-entertainment business he has worked with at other Downtown adult entertainment clubs.
Before opening The Seville, Perlman, a St. Louis Park native, worked as the general manager at Rick’s Cabaret, 300 S. 3rd St. Before Rick’s, he worked at Schiek’s Palace Royale, 115 S. 4th St. and its predecessor, Solid Gold.
When Perlman informed Rick’s that he planned to open his own nightclub, he said staffers were skeptical he’d be able to secure a license. But he made it through the city-approval process without opposition from neighborhood leaders — a rarity for adult entertainment clubs.
To feature topless entertainment, bars need to obtain city approval for a Class “A” liquor license. In a 13-0 vote last spring, the City Council approved Perlman’s application.
Perlman signed off a license addendum to limit the entertainment to topless dancing. Performers are not allowed to be fully nude.
Ken Ziegler, a city licensing inspector, said The Seville had a couple of things going for it — its location, which is isolated from residential areas on the outskirts of the Hennepin/1st Avenue entertainment district.
City officials rejected another recent plan for a topless bar called Trocadores in the old Nikki’s Caf/ space, 107 3rd Ave. N., after facing an uproar from residents. That proposal didn’t square with a city ordinance that requires adult-entertainment clubs to be more than 1,000 feet from residential properties. Trocadores changed to an upscale restaurant/nightclub.
Said Ziegler of The Seville, “Number one, there really isn’t a lot of high-buck residential [development] present or planned in the vicinity of The Seville, like there was with Trocadores. Number two, [Perlman] did his homework regarding the distance requirement from residentially zoned areas, schools and churches.”
Johnson Lee, who represents Downtown west of Hennepin Avenue, supported the North Loop Neighborhood Association in its efforts to keep Trocadores a fully clothed nightclub. She briefly considered a moratorium on new strip clubs in her ward after receiving several calls from concerned constituents.
However, she agreed with Ziegler that The Seville’s location made an adult entertainment venue more palatable.
“Basically, they are legal businesses. Our job is to make sure we regulate them to the best of our ability,” Johnson Lee said.
Tom Hoch, head of the Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association, agreed.
“These adult-entertainment establishments need to be located somewhere, and the city — I think wisely — several years ago decided that they should be Downtown, and not in outlying neighborhoods,” said Hoch, whose company also manages the city-owned Hennepin Avenue theaters.
Perlman acknowledges that The Seville might turn off some, but is hopeful others will be pleasantly surprised when they look inside.
He’s determined to improve Downtown. “I want to leave a legacy,” he said.
MINNEAPOLIS, MN — Neighbors, business people and city officials all seem to be lining up in support of Dean Dino Perlman’s topless dance club. Scratch that. Not a topless dance club. The Seville, while it does, technically, feature topless dancing, is in “the upper echelon of sophisticated, adult-themed cabaret entertainment,” according to Perlman, who is giving a clinic on how to build community acceptance.
During the building makeover from sleazy bar to classy “show club,” Perlman and the property owner, Chris Diebold, enlisted help from tenants who lived above the club in low-rent apartments. He hired 18 residents as laborers who helped with renovations. He has offered jobs at the club to three residents. Forty-two people who lived above the club have been relocated. Some were referred to new apartments or the Central Community Housing Trust, which provides efficiency apartments for formerly homeless people.
Perlman’s efforts to help out his new neighbors and improve conditions on the block have also won over nearby businesses. The Seville’s immediate neighbors, O’Donovan’s Irish Pub and a parking lot owner, embraced Perlman’s business concept earlier this year when he pitched his plan to the City Council. Perlman also did his homework regarding the distance requirement from residentially zoned areas, schools and churches. He found a location in which there is no expensive residential development present or planned.
The vote by the City Council for Perlman’s Class A liquor license? 13-0 in favor.
From Sarah McKenzie, Skyway News Online, 11/23/04
Winner: The Seville Club
We’re as into strip clubs as the next guy–unless the next guy happens to be, say, Kid Rock–but frankly, we find most of them around here to be problematic. They tend to range from high-end crass to outright scummy. And the main problem with all of them is that they simply cost too much money. On the cheap, we tend to like the conveniently located Skyway Lounge, an old staple in the heart of downtown Minneapolis, mostly because there’s no cover charge and the drinks are cheap. But this year a new venue opened nearby, in the old Hotel Seville space that was formerly home to Blues Alley, a bar that had long outlived its usefulness. Dino Perlman, a former DJ at other strip clubs, has smartly positioned his venture as a sort of hipsters’ gentlemen’s club. Perlman readily acknowledges the pitfalls and perceptions that plague the biz, and he possesses an aesthetic sense–he’s constantly on watch making sure nothing “gets out of control”–that’s almost PG-13. Uh, except for all of the naked women, that is. Speaking of the women, the waitstaff is more attractive than the talent in other venues in town, and on more than one occasion, we saw crowds that were evenly split along gender lines. Most of the action is out in the open, though a VIP membership (annual cost: $1,000) does afford some privacy upstairs in the mezzanine. The cover usually runs about eight bucks, and there’s a full bar and a full menu that’s not cheap at all but reasonable compared to other venues of this ilk. More importantly, the atmosphere is low-key, and the ladies don’t pressure customers for a lap dance–a rarity, we assure you. (The dances themselves run about $20, which is lower than the norm as well and leaves you with more cash for a good tip.) That means you can leave Club Seville with your wallet, hygiene, and dignity still largely intact.
Reader’s Choice Winner: The Seville Club
Winner: The Seville Club
The Fauve-inspired poster of Louise Brooks on the back wall should be your first indication that the Seville isn’t your average Minneapolis skin shack. Then there’s the exposed brick, the elegant design scheme, and the shockingly non-surly staff. All the best elements of stripclubbery (candlelight, boobs, enthusiastic DJ) are present and accounted for, while the worst (bad drinks, hideous logo merchandise, the whiff of desperation) are mercifully absent. Couples and co-workers are just as likely to frequent the Seville as the letch-next-door, and the overall vibe is more Adrian Lyne than T.T. Boy. Even a quaking strip club novice—or reluctant wife—could easily get comfortable in this atmosphere. Best of all, the entertainers seem relaxed and pampered: There’s no aggressive lap-dance hustle. If you crave top-shelf vodka, shelflike bosoms, and an intimate nightclub atmosphere, then the Seville is your joint—just don’t expect to see any pole tricks.
City Pages 2008 Best Of Issue
There are many reasons to fall in love with Seville: its exceedingly courteous wait staff/bouncing crew, an elegant decor, impeccably clean bathrooms complete with attendant, and of course—and this is key—tits. But what sets Seville apart from other skin shacks is the obvious effort it puts into creating a respectful environment. The dancers are presented more as sensuous, poised performers than, say, gyrating mounds of carnality. As a result, you’ll notice a striking lack of skulking scalawags and shifty riffraff among its denizens (nary a Quagmire-esque ogler in sight). Tasteful artwork and black-and-white photographs adorning the vanilla brick walls provide a touch of class—which isn’t to say Seville wallows in snooty pretension. The cover is reasonable at $10. Beer is a tad spendy (around $8 per), but considering that some juice bars charge double-digits for a Coke, it’s a good deal. The dancers are friendly, but won’t pester you incessantly in pursuit of a lap dance. And did we mention the tits? Giggity.
City Pages 2009 Best Of Issue
When choosing the right strip club in which to spend your hard-earned paycheck, there are a few obvious things to look for. Good-looking dancers, a comfortable environment, and a solid selection of booze to get you in the proper mindset for the show. The Seville has all of these and a lot more. In addition to the spacious layout, the club offers a great upstairs VIP section with bottle service so you can make it rain in style. Are you a baller (or ballerette) on a budget? No worries. “Bare Market” Sundays and Mondays offer $10 dances all night long. Still not convinced? The Seville also has gift certificates called “dance dollars” that you can buy with a credit card to pay for lap dances. This is perfect for those times when you absolutely must get another dance but you’ve run out of cash. Just tell your waitress you need some dance dollars and boom—you’re back to getting your groove on. Amazing. Oh yeah, and the women are pretty hot, too.
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