PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Tammy Marie Kruwell has spent six years working at the Foxy Lady, a popular adult entertainment club where she says her coworkers are like family.
“The carpet was just pulled out underneath us,” she said. “I was shocked.”
The Providence Board of Licenses revoked the strip club’s licenses Wednesday after Providence Police arrested three dancers at the club last week, alleging they offered sex to undercover officers in exchange for money.
The vote was 3 to 1 in favor of revoking the licenses.
“My heart sank,” Kruwell said when she heard the news. “I really believed that wasn’t going to happen.”
Kruwell says her official title is “Foxy rub girl,” one of dozens of uniformed women who give neck rubs to clients while they watch the club’s entertainment. While dancers and entertainers are typically independent contractors, paid directly by the customers, she said she is a full-time employee on the club’s payroll.
Now, she and at least 200 other employees are suddenly out of work.
“There’s the valet crew, there’s a kitchen crew, there’s a cleaning crew, there’s waitresses, there are shooter girls…there are register girls,” she said, listing off just some of her fellow coworkers. “We’re suffering for the actions of others.”
Providence Police requested that the club be shut down after the undercover sting, a decision supported by Mayor Jorge Elorza who accused the club of running a “full-on prostitution ring.”
The attorney for the club, Fausto Anguilla, has argued the police department never proved that sex was occurring inside the club’s private rooms.
Several dancers who spoke to Eyewitness News on the condition of anonymity said management at the club is strict with its no-prostitution rules, and cut ties with dancers who were caught having sex in the private rooms.
“That’s not what we do,” said one dancer who asked that her name not be published. “Guys bring this stuff up and have to be turned down…any time anyone got caught, they got fired.”
Stephanie Cullen, who works at the front of the house charging admission and checking IDs, said she was devastated by the news.
“This has hurt many people and it’s less than a week before Christmas,” Cullen said. “The board should be ashamed of themselves.”
Board of Licenses Chairman Dylan Conley acknowledged the hardship to the employees, telling reporters he feels badly for the workers. But he placed the blame squarely on the club.
“When you’re imposing penalties on a licensee, there are a lot of innocent people that get caught up and injured by those penalties,” Conley said. “This is a case where a lot of people are now out of work and put in a very bad position because the licensee failed to maintain its premises.”
Anguilla said the club plans to appeal the board’s decision, which he believes will need to be to the state Supreme Court. The Department of Business Regulation handles appeals for liquor license revocations, but not for adult entertainment licenses.
Kruwell said she has a 14-year-old son and will need to get a new job to support her family, but she hopes the Foxy Lady will be able to reopen.
“I’ll need to do something until this is resolved,” Kruwell said. “When they open their doors, I would 150% go back in a heartbeat.”
Dan McGowan contributed to this report.