The city of Milwaukee owes the owner of a non-existent downtown strip club nearly $1,000,000. I’ll let that sink in for a second.


Jon Ferraro is the owner of Silk Exotic, a successful Gentleman’s Club on the far northwest side of Milwaukee. It’s not an ideal spot for his business, as he considers it too far away from his primary market: businessmen and travelers.

Since 2010 Mr. Ferraro has been attempting to find a more centralized, downtown Milwaukee location to be closer to foot traffic as well as a shorter bus/cab ride for his customers. I was unable to find any laws prohibiting such an establishment in the downtown area; in fact, there’s already one in East Town and another in Walker’s Point.

So far, though, Jon has been unsuccessful in his pursuits of a new location. Here’s a rough timeline of the last few years:

2010: Get denied by 1 location in Walker’s Point.
2013: Get denied by 2 locations in Walker’s Point.
2014: Get denied by 2 locations in Westown.
2015: Win a $425,500 suit against the city. Get denied by 1 location in East Town. Win $483,000 in court fees from the city.

Here’s a handy-dandy map showing the proposed (and rejected) “Silk East” locations (in red), as well as the existing Milwaukee-area strip clubs (in yellow). Please note, this is not an exhaustive list, only those easily found on Google with SafeSearch on.

To clarify, the “city” rejecting a proposal by Silk is in fact the Common Council, our city Aldermen, making the decision with input from the public. Most of the public’s negative feedback concerning a new strip club in the area revolves around the same few themes:

  1. Increased crime / unsavory characters
  2. Increased traffic / lack of parking
  3. Decreased property values
  4. Increased noise

Something that cannot be brought up, however, is any sort of moral argument. That’s subjective and illegal. Just this week, Alderman Zielinski proposed an Adult Entertainment District in an industrial area, but it’s only an idea and Mr. Ferraro can’t be forced to build there.

My Take

The most recent proposed site was on the fourth floor of a vacant office building on the corner of Wells and Milwaukee. For reference, that’s a block away from both Old Saint Mary, the oldest Catholic church in Milwaukee, as well as the Cathedral of St John; it’s also a block from Jazz In the Park, next-door to Real Chili, and a couple blocks from City Hall.

I used to live on Cathedral Square, and as a young professional I would not have considered living there had a strip club existed two blocks away. I also would have avoided walking past it on my way to or from nearby businesses. That’s just my feeling.

But the fact is, it is currently legal to operate a strip club in Milwaukee; so Mr. Ferraro has every right to demand the city either let him build (in a location willing to sell to him and zoned appropriately) or pay damages. If the residents of the downtown area do not want strip clubs built, as they’ve made known over and over again, then it is our politicians’ responsibility to enact laws that disallow them.

According to current law, Silk Exotic is allowed to build anywhere they want.


Our politicians need to outlaw strip clubs downtown.

Do not continue to say no then pay them for the privilege. The Common Council is getting an unsatisfactory lap dance and the city’s taxpayers are picking up the tab.

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