By Ray Stern
By New Times
By Amy Silverman
By Stephen Lemons
By Stephen Lemons
By Monica Alonzo
By Chris Parker
By New Times
Debby Kosobucki vividly recalls her first gig as a topless dancer.
It was 1984, and she was 28 years old. She had fled a broken marriage, packed up her three daughters and moved to Phoenix from Washington state. She chose Phoenix for her fresh start because she had read there were jobs for apartment managers. There weren't.
She sold the contents of her U-Haul trailer, found a cheap apartment and wondered how she would feed her kids. Some of her neighbors in the apartment complex were topless dancers, and they had encouraged her to go for the easy money. With no other prospects, she followed their advice.
She lied to her daughters and said she was waitressing, then walked into the Uptown Express at Seventh Avenue and Camelback Road. It was only her second time in a topless club, ever. The first time had been as an unwilling patron.
"I didn't know how to put the Band-Aids on my nipples, I didn't know what the hell I was doing." She put on some lingerie and headed out, "all by myself on that big, monstrous stage."
She tried to dance, she's a good dancer, but she was too nervous. "Tears just started pouring down my face and I was just standing there. And that's all I did, I just stood there."
Some of the men took pity; others heckled. She took home $20 and swore she'd never do it again.
"But then one day I woke up and smelled the coffee, and I was like, 'Do you want to take care of your daughters or do you want to be in the poorhouse?'"
She went back.
"This is how naive I was. I would go into a bathroom and I'd see like a spoon there. And I'd say, 'What the hell is a spoon doing in here?' I had no clue. I didn't know they were shootin' dope up.
"You'd see a dancer come out of the bathroom and from shootin' up, she's got blood running down her hand. She's got shit all over her 'cause it automatically makes you shit."
As for Kosobucki? "I never got on that stage without a pint of vodka. You can't do it sober. I wasn't going to do it sober. Because no matter what you sit back and say, that it's a job and everything, it's degrading."
Much about Kosobucki's life has been degrading. But while she consciously cast her lot in a seedy, sometimes cruel business, she always tried to make the best of it. She hoped someday to rise above the exploitation.
Kosobucki thought she'd found her big opportunity last year when she was hired to manage what was to be a first-class topless bar called Expos‚ Cabaret. All the dues she'd paid--flaunting her anatomy, pouring drinks, teasing drunken lechers--would finally pay dividends. It was her chance to help build an establishment from the ground up. She knew how to run a bar and she knew how to lure the best dancers and keep them happy, perhaps even dignified.
The Expos‚ Cabaret people paraded their new manager, Debby Kosobucki, before the Arizona state liquor board, which was impressed enough with her credentials and spotless record to grant a liquor license.
But while her determination and confidence had flourished, her naivet‚ had not subsided. Her big opportunity began to unravel. It became evident that she would be manager in name only, that the man calling the shots for Expos‚ Cabaret was a convicted felon who happened to be the son of a reputed mobster--someone who would have instantly disqualified the club for a liquor license.
Kosobucki was not about to be exploited again. She began taping phone calls and gathering evidence of the club's ruse. She turned it all over to Phoenix police. A City of Phoenix attorney presented the evidence at a rehearing in an effort to keep Expos‚ Cabaret from getting its liquor license.
The state liquor board upheld the license, anyway, leaving Debby Kosobucki, once again, all by herself.
Debby Kosobucki wasn't getting any younger, so when her old buddy Dave Postal called last year with the chance to manage a first-class topless bar on East Van Buren Street--one owned by a woman, no less--Kosobucki ran out and bought a $300 suit. She got her jewelry cleaned. She wrote up her r‚sum‚ of ten years' experience as a topless dancer, bartender, waitress, housemother and assistant manager in Phoenix bars. And she hurried over to Postal's law office for the interview.
There she met the owner of a club to be called Expos‚ Cabaret, a 78-year-old widow named Elizabeth Brazee, and Brazee's project coordinator, Dennis Mondavano. Kosobucki asked Brazee if she'd ever been in a topless club. (She hadn't.) Brazee asked Kosobucki where she was from. (Michigan.)
Then Mondavano took over.
Kosobucki was disappointed with the looks of Brazee and Mondavano. Brazee's hair was uncombed, her skirt wrinkled, and, besides that, she knew nothing about the business. Mondavano wore a tee shirt and shorts.
"You know, I didn't want to admit it then, but when I sit back and think about it, I should have known it was a scam from the beginning," Kosobucki says.
But Kosobucki was itching for the job, a chance to run a classy club that treats its dancers right. She was sick of being a bartender.
"For me, it was a career move," Kosobucki says, taking a hard pull on a Virginia Slims 120. Cigarettes and life have toughened her voice and skin, but she's still got a dancer's figure. She's an odd combination, with a sex kitten's pout, a truckdriver's mouth and, yes, feminist tendencies.
She wanted to manage a topless club so she could make the lives of her dancers better. "Being an ex-dancer myself, I had respect for them and they had respect for me," she says. It's as simple as understanding when a sick kid keeps a dancer from showing up for work, and as complicated as making sure dancers are fairly compensated.
Kosobucki is no pushover. She's poured drinks in bars where the patrons use cue balls as weapons. She's danced topless to feed her kids, then to pay legal bills when her ex-husband whisked them away. And she says she's been fired from jobs because she wouldn't put up with prostitution.
"I'm not patient. When I want something, I want it now, and I work hard for what I get," she says unapologetically.
But she wasn't prepared for Elizabeth Brazee and Dennis Mondavano.
She knew she'd get the job as soon as the interview ended. "I've only had two speeding tickets in my life, and I do know the bar business. I was perfect," she says.
Sure enough, Postal called the next morning. No time to waste. It was March 18, 1994, less than three weeks until Expos‚ Cabaret's license was up for consideration by the Arizona state liquor board.
Dressed in another pricey suit, her shoulder-length hair teased and sprayed and her answers scripted by Postal, Kosobucki performed for the liquor board. She was the only person involved with the club who had any experience in the liquor business. The license was granted and construction of the club proceeded.
Kosobucki and her husband, Gary, began making the rounds of local topless clubs, wooing the best talent with the promise of better working conditions. She lost her bartending job at Pollock Joe's in May, she says, partly because Postal kept calling her at work and coming in with papers for her to sign. (Her former boss at Pollock Joe's didn't return calls.)
Kosobucki still hadn't talked salary with anyone but Postal, and Mondavano was starting to make her nervous. She says Postal warned her not to mention Mondavano's name, because he had a felony conviction and couldn't be listed on the liquor license. Was he really the manager, she wondered?
She put it out of her mind, and kept recruiting dancers and preparing advertisements. She couldn't wait to be in charge, to prove herself. Finally, something in her life was going right.
Then Kosobucki slipped in her backyard and broke her arm. In early September, with her arm in a sling, she visited Brazee and Mondavano at Expos‚ Cabaret, which was under construction. Her worst suspicions were confirmed.
"As soon as I walked through that door, [Brazee] looked at me and she said, 'How are you gonna bartend?' And then Dennis yelled out, 'How's my number one bartender gonna bartend with a broken arm?'
"And I looked at Gary and I went, 'Omigod, I was right.'"
Expos‚ Cabaret opened in November, without Kosobucki. She claims that she was wrongfully terminated, saying Brazee never intended for her to manage the club, but used her to get the liquor license. Brazee insists Kosobucki never showed up for work, although there's no evidence that Kosobucki failed to follow any specific orders to that effect.
Mondavano doesn't remember calling Kosobucki his number one bartender. He says, "I think [Brazee] said, 'How are you going to bartend on occasion?' And the reason was, Debby had a real problem with doing anything but calling the shots. . . . She wanted the keys and the title and that was it."
Brazee does remember Mondavano calling Kosobucki his number one bartender. But everyone laughed, she says. She never suspected Kosobucki was unhappy.
"We intended to keep her. We never once did not intend to keep her," Brazee says.
Kosobucki's old friend Dave Postal--who's no longer associated with Expos‚ Cabaret--doesn't have much sympathy for Kosobucki. "She's sometimes not very realistic about life," he says.
But Phoenix assistant city attorney Jim Hays, who tried to get the liquor board to overturn Expos‚ Cabaret's license in February, believes Kosobucki was set up.
Hays says, "She was nothing more than a front, a fa‡ade. She was never intended to be the manager."
Hays lost the case before the liquor board, but has appealed the board's decision in Maricopa County Superior Court. For him, it was just another case.
For Kosobucki, it was the latest in a string of disappointments.
"I've had a fucked life," she says.
She was born and raised in Clio, Michigan. Her mother waited tables, and about the only thing she recalls about her father is that sometimes he detailed cars.
As a little girl, Debby didn't dream of becoming a ballerina or a doctor. She dreamed about her next meal. "People don't know what it's like to be as poor as what we were."
She married at 18, had her first baby at 19. She won't discuss her ex-husband, except to say that he was in the Army and she hates him. In 1984, she packed up her belongings and her three daughters--then ages 4, 8 and 9--and "escaped" to Arizona from Washington state.
She danced for two years, in clubs all over town. She had the body--and the temperament--to succeed. At her peak, Kosobucki says she made $1,000 a night.
"A lot of these guys that come into topless bars, they don't come in for sex," she explains. "They come in for companionship. And they come in for someone to listen to them, to talk. . . . The more happier you are, the more they enjoy talking to you."
A decade ago, dancers made their own hours and, for the most part, their own rules. "We were professional dancers. We made all of our money onstage. We didn't have to go around and beg for table dances."
Today, by Kosobucki's estimation, personality counts for little. "It's all plastic--you know, who's got silicone, who's got saline."
Kosobucki lost her daughters in a custody battle shortly after arriving in Phoenix, then met her future husband, Gary, at the Uptown Express. They've been married ten years. Debby danced until she was four months pregnant with her daughter Jessica and intended to return to dancing, but gallstones forced doctors to operate.
"PHHHTTT! They cut me down the middle. So that was the end of my dancing days, and that's when I started bartending."
She worked at bars--some topless, some not. She's a natural entertainer, and she met all sorts of interesting people--like Dave Postal, the lawyer. She says that in 1992, he guided her toward a job in management at the Foxtrot, a topless bar in west Phoenix. She was fired, she says, because she wouldn't put up with prostitution in the bar and wanted to be treated equally to the male manager, Jim Smiley.
Postal--who at the time represented the Foxtrot--sat in on some meetings, and recalls that Kosobucki and Smiley were both to be part of the management team.
But Smiley says Kosobucki was hired to be the housemother, and when she tried to take over more management responsibilities, he demoted her to bartender. He says she quit.
Smiley says, "Debby is a power freak. Everything she does, she's got to be in charge, boss, or whatever."
After the demotion, he says, "[Kosobucki] called the liquor board, she called the police, she called the [dancers'] parents and told them that I was forcing them to dance nude in the club, she called my wife and told her to keep her eyes open, that I was messing with the girls out there."
Kosobucki doesn't dispute any of that; she says those things were happening at the club--although she says she called the IRS, not the police. She was devastated by the experience at the Foxtrot, and settled down to nurse her wounds and tend bar at Pollock Joe's.
Then Postal called to tell her about Expos‚ Cabaret.
Kosobucki was delighted to work for a woman. She didn't realize that working for Elizabeth Brazee would mean working with Dennis Mondavano. The two were inseparable.
Brazee and Mondavano met in 1992, when she began using a shuttle service he ran to Sky Harbor International Airport. She traveled often between Phoenix and St. Louis, and the two developed a "deep friendship."
"We did a lot of talking. And I sensed that he was carrying a great burden," says Brazee, who owns the mechanical seals business her late husband, John, started in St. Louis. Mondavano got out of the shuttle business, and the two decided to do some deals together. First, Brazee says, Mondavano paid her a visit at her Scottsdale home.
"He looked at me and he said, 'There is something you should know about me,'" Brazee recalls. He told her he had "been away" for three years, she says, avoiding the words "prison" and "criminal."
"I knew then that this was the burden that he had been carrying."
Beginning in 1988, Mondavano served three years in a federal prison in Lompoc, California, for his role in a fraudulent investment scheme. But that's just the latest.
Dennis Charles Mondavano, 45, grew up in Boston, the son of Daniel Mondavano, a reputed Mafia figure.
In his 1973 memoir, My Life in the Mafia, Vincent "Fat Man" Teresa--a Mafia boss turned informant--describes Daniel as his best friend and "one of the best thieves in New England."
Some friend. Teresa wrote the book after his testimony sent the elder Mondavano to prison for transporting $610,000 in stolen securities. (It was Daniel Mondavano's second such conviction.) Teresa mentions Dennis briefly, writing that Daniel's only child wore $250 suits and attended private schools, and that after his father was sent to prison, Teresa gave Dennis pocket money.
Dennis Mondavano's own rap sheet begins in the early 1970s in Massachusetts and New York, where, according to the presentence report in a 1986 Arizona conviction, he was accused of possessing controlled substances, forging prescriptions and armed robbery. New Times was unable to verify the disposition of those cases.
In the 1986 case, he was arrested and charged with selling 2.5 grams of cocaine to an undercover Scottsdale police officer, a class 2 felony. He pleaded guilty to possession of narcotics, a class 4 felony, and was sentenced to four years' probation and fined $300.
Mondavano was arrested twice in 1987, both times in Phoenix--once for driving with a suspended license and again three months later for shoplifting. And in 1988, he was indicted in Los Angeles--along with his father and his mother, Rose--for operating a scheme that bilked investors out of an estimated $4 million. Dennis and his father were charged with physically intimidating investors who threatened to report the scheme to the Internal Revenue Service, according to the indictment.
All three Mondavanos served time in connection with the IRS case. Dennis was sentenced to four years, after pleading guilty to one count of conspiring to deceive the IRS. Daniel was sentenced to five and a half years and Rose just 60 days.
Dennis Mondavano was released from prison in 1991. According to a 1992 federal tax lien, he owes the IRS almost $34,000 in back taxes.
"He's a very nice person. And he's trying to rebuild his life," Elizabeth Brazee says.
Brazee readily admits that were it not for Mondavano's criminal record, he would have been the club manager.
"But we knew from the very first that he couldn't be," she says.
Brazee turned to Hugh Ennis. For most of his career, Ennis fought people like Mondavano, he didn't help them. Ennis is a 22-year veteran of the Phoenix Police Department. As superintendent of the Department of Liquor Licensing and Control under then-governor Rose Mofford, he turned the department into a mini-police force, complete with military titles and firearms. And he earned a reputation as a tough superintendent.
Now he runs a consulting company, Ennis and Cassidy, working as an international lottery consultant. He also helps people get liquor licenses.
Brazee hired Ennis in early 1994, after the Phoenix City Council had recommended disapproval of her liquor license--automatically booting it to the state liquor board. Ennis looked at the principal parties: Brazee, an ailing old lady with no background in the liquor business; her son, Jim, also inexperienced and living in St. Louis; and Dennis Mondavano. Ennis tells New Times he didn't know of Mondavano's criminal record until months later, but was informed that although Mondavano was basically running the show as the "turnkey" coordinator, Mondavano would be unable to go on record as the club manager.
Ennis' advice: "Get a professional manager who knew the business."
That person would be Debby Kosobucki.
Once Kosobucki learned that she would be the manager of Expos‚ Cabaret in name only, she set out to prove that she had been scammed. She started tape-recording her phone conversations with Brazee and Mondavano.
Brazee assures Kosobucki over the phone that she will be "in charge of the girls," that Brazee and Kosobucki will order the liquor, although they'll be told what to order (she doesn't specify by whom), and that Kosobucki will be called the manager.
But it was becoming clear to Kosobucki that Mondavano was actually managing things. She caught Mondavano on tape one afternoon in late September. He answers groggily, apologizing that he just tried to catch a half-hour nap before going to dinner with Brazee and her son, Jim, who was arriving from St. Louis.
"I'm just so fucking--excuse me--so busy," he says.
The power, the phones--everything's behind schedule, he tells her. The new liquor board hearing's been postponed 'til November.
Hiring was supposed to be Kosobucki's responsibility, but Mondavano makes it sound like his: "If I can open with 15 [dancers] a night, 8, 9, 10 a day, I'm happy. I mean, I don't even think we'll open with that. I mean quality chicks, I'm not looking for chicks that you see in the Foxtrot."
As for the dancers Kosobucki has been recruiting, he tells her: "You can start telling them to come down. I'm going to have to pick up some applications and W4s and shit. Jimmy's [Brazee] in here and we'll probably start doing some of that tomorrow."
He tells her he'll "take care of" doormen, and he knows a guy he might use as deejay.
The next day, Kosobucki called Brazee at home.
Nearly in tears, she says, "When I went into this, the way I understood it, I was hired as the manager. Comes out, I'm not no manager. All I'm gonna be is a housemother, that's it. I really feel that I've been used. That my name was put down on this. For what?"
Later in the conversation, Brazee all but confirms Kosobucki's theory, telling her, "I still feel that you did us a great favor and that in return that you can be a part of our team."
Kosobucki tries to appeal to Brazee, woman to woman, telling her, "I was fired at the Foxtrot because it's a man's world. . . . When I got involved in this, I was writing up ads and everything for us, because it was woman-owned and woman-run. And I knew that we could make this bar a hell of a success because I could get dancers to leave every bar, because it's female. Then I find out this female has nothing to do with it."
Later, Brazee says, "Well, Debby, that happens a lot of times. A woman does a good job and gets shafted."
Kosobucki tells Brazee she might sue. (She hasn't.)
A few days later, Brazee and Kosobucki met at the office of Brazee's attorney Harvey Yee. (Yee replaced Postal as lead counsel in the fall of 1994.) The meeting lasted 16 minutes. Kosobucki says she told Yee she didn't intend to work for tips, that she wanted what she was hired for--to be the manager. (She says Postal told her she'd earn $600 to $750 a week. In a taped conversation with Kosobucki, Postal acknowledges discussing this pay range with Brazee and Mondavano, and says they told him it wouldn't be a problem. Brazee denies ever discussing Kosobucki's salary with Postal.)
Yee told Kosobucki they'd get back to her. Later that day, Brazee received a letter from Kosobucki's attorney, Rosemary Cook, demanding restitution of a year's salary, about $36,000. Yee wrote back, offering to settle, but asking Cook to offer another amount.
Kosobucki says Cook dropped her after Cook learned that Kosobucki had taken evidence of hidden management at Expos‚ Cabaret to the police. (Cook did not return calls.) Kosobucki's new attorney, Bill Loftus, hasn't taken any action on her behalf. He says, "There's not a hell of a lot of question in my mind of what happened. And I don't think it was right. The question is, is it worth all the tremendous amount of time and effort it would take to prove it? I don't know."
Late last fall, Phoenix assistant city attorney Jim Hays convinced the liquor board to consider his argument that Expos‚ Cabaret's license should be denied on the basis of information he'd received regarding the capability and qualifications of the owner and manager. Most of that information came from Kosobucki, via the Phoenix police.
The liquor board was already set to reconsider the Expos‚ Cabaret license based on its location.
Yee went to Superior Court to fight the decision to reopen the capability and qualification issue, and lost.
The liquor board heard testimony on the location issue in December, and on capability on February 5. During the February hearing, both Hays and Blair Driggs, the assistant attorney general assigned to represent the liquor department, alleged hidden management, that Dennis Mondavano and/or Jim Brazee were really intended to manage the club, and that Kosobucki had been a front.
Regardless of who actually was managing Expos‚ Cabaret, it is illegal to lie on a liquor license application, or to lie in testimony before the liquor board. Mondavano apparently did just that when he told the board under oath that he never had sold controlled substances. It's true that he pleaded guilty to possession--not selling--of cocaine, but if board members had read the Scottsdale police report on Mondavano's cocaine case, they would have harbored little doubt about his role. The report, by undercover detective Carl Angelini, painstakingly describes his purchase of cocaine from Mondavano. One passage describes Mondavano weighing some white powder on a scale. (Mondavano tells New Times that cocaine was found on property he owns, but that he was not otherwise involved.)
Hays argued that Mondavano's criminal record made it impossible for him to qualify as manager, and that Kosobucki was hired to go before the liquor board because she had experience and a clean record.
Yee argued that the City of Phoenix knew about Mondavano's involvement all along, that Mondavano even testified before the city council on Brazee's behalf. Therefore, he wasn't hidden. Further, Yee argued that Mondavano was the project coordinator, not the manager.
Phoenix Police Detective Mark Stribling presented the results of his investigation into Kosobucki's allegation and his conclusion that she was a front--including allegations that Mondavano was really the one doing the hiring for the club, a duty specifically reserved under state law for the manager. However, liquor board chairman Jim Shaw did not allow the Phoenix police report documenting Kosobucki's recollections of meetings and taped phone conversations into the record. Kosobucki also testified.
After hearing testimony on February 5, the board took separate votes on qualification and location, and voted 4-3 both times to grant a license to Expos‚ Cabaret.
Jim Tidwell, a retired cattle rancher from Globe, cast the deciding votes, and, in doing so, made personal history; by his own calculation, the former president of the Gila County Republicans and 3 1/2-year veteran of the liquor board has never voted to license a sex-oriented business. In fact, when the liquor board had first considered Expos‚ Cabaret's license in April 1994, Tidwell had voted against it.
Tidwell says the City of Phoenix did a poor job from the beginning, by not registering its protesters in the prescribed time and by presenting what he views as a shoddy case February 5. Moreover, he suggests that a political turf war had a bearing on the Expos‚ Cabaret case. Tidwell says he doesn't want city councils to think they can tell the board what to do.
He tells New Times, "There's a lot of political posturing on behalf of city councils who want to supersede state law, the authority of the liquor board. I think you're going to see a lot more confrontation."
As for Kosobucki, Tidwell says, "She was not a big factor in the case in my opinion. They tried to make her one."
Other board members disagree. Theresa Keeley, a Scottsdale attorney, voted to deny the license based on both location and qualification. She was amazed that the license was approved. She found Kosobucki to be "pretty credible," although shaken.
Keeley says, "I think there was ample, ample evidence to suspect that there was maybe hidden ownership or the fact that he [Mondavano] was the managing agent. And, in my mind, I'm still convinced that the evidence they presented did establish that he is the managing agent."
A few days after the decision, Hays was still "in shock," he says. "I'd like to think that people were paid off, but I really don't believe that's the case," he says.
Janice Saulsberry, the former president of the Sunbeam Neighborhood Association, who protested the liquor license based on location, was also stunned. Citing ongoing efforts to rid East Van Buren of prostitution and drugs, she says a topless bar is the last thing the area needs. She calls the decision a "slap in the face" and says the liquor board is now "one of our most formidable enemies."
And Phoenix City Councilmember Cody Williams, who also opposes the license, is steaming.
"I may have believed that [the liquor board's] goal was to protect the community. That may not be the charge of the liquor board. The liquor board may be [there] to protect the ability of liquor to be sold in the state."
On March 15, Hays filed an appeal in Superior Court, marking perhaps the first time a city or town has sued the liquor board over a decision.
It will be months before anything happens, Hays says. Meanwhile, Howard Adams, director of the Department of Liquor Licensing and Control--which finds itself on the same side as Phoenix and against its own governing board--wrote to Brazee February 16, ordering her to cease her business association with Mondavano because state law prohibits a licensee from "knowingly associating" with a felon.
Yee wrote back the next day, claiming state liquor investigator Richard Gilchrist told him last November that Mondavano could work for 3613 Ltd., Expos‚ Cabaret's holding company, owned by Brazee, as long as he was not a manager, officer or director in the company and did not hold more than 10 percent stock in the company.
Brazee doesn't seem worried. She clearly is "knowingly associating" with Mondavano. Reached at Expos‚ last week, she confirms that Mondavano is an employee of 3613 Ltd.
She says, "He does the payroll [for Expos‚]. He does not hire, he does not fire people. He does not work in any capacity as a manager. He bartends and he takes me back and forth between my home and here."
Jim Brazee, Elizabeth's son, is listed as the general manager of Expos‚ Cabaret. He's relocated to Phoenix from St. Louis.
Debby Kosobucki's got a new job at the Arabian Room, a tiny neighborhood bar at 43rd Avenue and Bethany Home Road with a cast of craggy-faced regulars who come in as much for Kosobucki's banter as for the beer. Her boss, Judy Matias, likes Kosobucki so much, she says she'd trust her with the business, but for now the only job available is bartender.
The Arabian Room's the kind of place where you drink for free on your birthday. There's a Mr. Coffee behind the bar, and a big plastic jar of beef jerky. And there's a bartender like Kosobucki.
The bar's full on a Tuesday night. Kosobucki collects change for the jukebox--none of that "country shit"--and flirts a little with a new customer, Michael, whose hands are black from climbing aluminum ladders. Michael tells a joke about a smart blonde and Santa Claus.
Punch line: There's no such thing as either one!
Kosobucki throws back her own blond head and cackles, then stops suddenly, straight-faced. "D'ja make that one up yourself?"
More peals of laughter.
She leaves her woes at home. No one tips a depressed bartender. But Kosobucki can't get over the Expos‚ incident. She's lost 30 pounds, she's got an ulcer, she and her husband quarrel. Her reputation in the topless clubs is shot. Brazee and Mondavano "made me look like a liar in this town," she says, by letting her promise dancers they could work at a woman-owned, woman-run club.
On a recent day off, Kosobucki sits in her west Phoenix home at her pretty new glass kitchen table, nursing a can of Squirt and chain-smoking.
The part that irks her the most is that she was unable to convince the liquor board that she was used, that Brazee lied at the original hearing when she said Kosobucki would be the manager of Expos‚ Cabaret.
"I got all the transcripts, I've got the tapes. . . . What more do I have to prove here?"
She's content at the Arabian Room, but if she got an offer tomorrow to manage an upscale topless club?
"I would do it," she says quickly, then hangs back for a moment. "I think.