“I’ve got bigger tits than the broads in here!” quipped the jovial Steve Schirripa.
The Brooklyn-born actor perhaps best known for his role as Bobby Baccalieri on HBO’s The Sopranos had just arrived at the boozy grand-opening party for the newly rebranded Sapphire New York strip club on Monday, April 27, looking very “legitimate businessman” in a silky black short-sleeved shirt.
He was a long way from Satin Dolls, the real-life suburban New Jersey backdrop for the Sopranos‘ fictional Bada Bing Club.
But, compared to the swankly 10,000-square-foot Sapphire, located in the original Scores space at 333 East 60th Street in Manhattan, “Bada Bing is a shithole!” chirped Mr. Schirripa.
His Sopranos co-star, Vincent Pastore, agreed. “This is a little more classy than Bada Bing,” said Mr. Pastore, dressed in a gold-and-blue-patterned blazer and shiny multi-colored shirt. “The girls at Bada Bing, you know, they wish they could work here.”
He promptly took one of Sapphire’s more beautiful blond dancers by the arm–“my next wife,” Mr. Pastore said–and smiled for the cameras.
Would she really marry that guy? “I would if he asked,” replied the personable pole-dancer, Constance B., sporting four-inch heels and a slinky, easily shedable shiny blue gown with the designer label Nom de Plume. The jet-setting Portland, Ore.-based stripper, a regular performer at the company’s ginormous 70,000-square-foot Sapphire club in Las Vegas, was one of many sexy gals flown in specially for the splashy opening party.
Buxom Barb Wire actress Pamela Anderson soon her took her proper place among the scantily clad, appearing briefly outside in a tiny white top and even tinier Daisy Duke shorts. She posed for photographs but quickly slipped into the club without speaking to reporters along the red carpet. (“Sapphire rules!” Ms. Anderson later announced in a brief, barely amplified statement from her tightly guarded, velvet-curtained VIP booth in the back of the club.)
Actress Shannen Doherty also made an appearance, huddling with Noah Tepperberg, owner of the West Chelsea nightclub Marquee, in a big black semicircular booth by the main stage.
The newly renamed and remodeled club, acquired by Sapphire honchos David Talla, Jeffrey Wasserman, Glen Peter Bernardi and Peter Feinstein amid previous proprietors Richard Goldring and Eliot Osher‘s legal woes, has been open for business since January.
But, its highly touted restaurant, Prime 333, helmed by chef Jayson Margulies, formerly of Adam Perry Lang‘s acclaimed Robert’s Steakhouse, only began serving food in March. “Steak and women go hand in hand–it’s testosterone food,” Mr. Margulies told the Daily Transom.
Does the chef get free lapdances? “No–I’m a married guy,” Mr. Margulies said. He added, however, “If a customer feels so strongly that he wants to buy me a dance, then for the benefit of the club, I’ll graciously accept it.”
Still, Monday’s big event was the first attempt by the new operators to reinstate some of the star-studded buzz of the old Scores days, when celebrity wrangler and longtime Howard Stern pal Lonnie Hanover was promoting the place. (Mr. Hanover now shills for rival Midtown strip club Rick’s Cabaret.)
“We want everybody to know that we’re here,” managing partner Mr. Feinstein told the Daily Transom. “So we decided to spend, you know, a couple hundred thousand dollars and have a big party.”
Mr. Pastore, for one, fondly recalled the old Scores days.
“I used to come with Chuck Zito all the time,” he said. “Is Chucky still allowed to come in?” Mr. Pastore asked a security guard in a pinstriped suit. “He’ll be here later with Mickey Rourke!” the beefy bouncer replied.