In the Age of The MeToo Movement How is The Friars Club Still The Good Ol’ Boys Club?
Rehanna Almestica a former receptionist charged that Bruce Charet a club officer (Vice President and Historian) of The Friars Club regularly made sexually explicit phone calls, sent pornographic photos and warned she’d be fired her after she complained. She did complained to Friars Executive Director Michael Gyure in 2014. He assured her he would “take care of it,” she was fired. In her suit she stated “[He] frequently touched me in an untoward and unwelcome manner, such as intentionally brushing his groin [against her].” He also asked for “the description of her panties” and said “he would give her designer shoes in exchange for oral sex.” Almestica originally wanted women’s rights lawyer Gloria Allred to represent her, but Allred declined. The reason… she is a member of The Friars. As a matter of fact Allred filed a complaint with New York City back in the 1980’s, because the club did not accept women. Ironically, Ms. Allred was the first woman Friar.
A settlement in that case was reached and the terms were part of a confidentiality agreement. Needless to say Ms. Almestica was appalled when Ms. Allred was given a roast at the The Friars late 2018 and received a $15,000 check for Women’s Equal Rights Legal Defense and Education Fund (WERLDEF) in which she is president. Also this 501 c 3 is registered to Allred. A statement from the club stated Ms. Allred “Is a strong advocate for women’s rights in the club and elsewhere.” Really?
What makes this check so interesting is that the club hadn’t filed a federal tax return since 2014. Net assets listed at the end of 2014 were $27, 142.00 and they were listed as having no assets. How did they afford this check?
I wrote on January 10th of this year that I personally have been told over the years of two accounts of women who worked or were members of The Friars Club. I have heard about the corruption of their executive director Michael Gyure and the disgusting way he threatened them, then fired them when they discovered his misappropriations. They were scared to report him because as they put it “The Friars was a good old boys club.” Women who ask questions at the general meetings have been put on suspension or kicked out. I know several people this happened to.
Shea Zephir, also a former Friars Club receptionist, penned an angry Facebook post about her own alleged sexual harassment by Charet. “The 365 days I worked at this place Bruce Charet was the head honcho of ‘THE CREEP SQUAD,’ ” wrote Zephir. “My first few weeks at this place was a jarring reality of racism, sexism and foolery that I will never forget.”
On February 14, 2017 The Friar’s Club was raided by the feds.
On Tuesday in Federal Court, it came out the Mr. Gyure failed to report $433,000 in compensation from 2012 – 2016. This included reimbursements and payments he used for personal expenses including wine, international travel for both himself and his family members, clothing and groceries. The Friar’s Club also forgave him of $160,000 in loans and the members were never told. In 2015, the club had to ask vendors to accept late or reduced payments. Mr. Gyure also failed to pay several hundred thousand dollars in state sales tax between 2015 – 2016, according to investigators.
Mr. Gyure has agreed to pay $156,920 to the Internal Revenue Service and could face a maximum of three years in prison.
Despite this, the “Good Ol’ Boys”, Gyure handpicked as his executive committee are still in charge. Two letters were sent one on January 8th and another March 6th to the club’s 1,000 members and they completely lie. The IRS is still investigating this case. See the underlined portion of the letter, as well as the 2nd to last paragraph. By the way the chef left because he was not getting paid, nor were his vendors. Sentencing is scheduled for April 22, 2019, at 2:45 p.m., before Judge Buchwald and there will be more!
Again questions led to harassment. When you are paying $4,235 for an annual membership, at least $450 on food, drink and entertainment per quarter, a monthly $300 tab for a “capital improvement fund” and a $100 monthly charge for something called “the Friars Benevolent Association, you should at least be able to freely ask questions.
By the way the reason Bruce Charet is still holding office. This is because he supposably brings in stars and produces the roasts and dinners, except that he hires outside companies to handle some of these roasts, but that is not mentioned to the members.
Also the club keeps claiming Stephen Weintraub is a theater producer, yet he is nowhere on IBDB. What he did produce was Love, Janis Off-Broadway, in 2001. Granted he could be grouped together as an investor, but normally your name shows up.
The Friars Club is located in a five story mock Tudor castle on East 55th Street and was the home to many comedians including George Burns, Milton Berle and Bob Hope, Alan King, Jerry Lewis and Freddie Roman.
My View: Clint Holmes Is In Town!
In the golden age of Manhattan night life top vocalists of the day would begin their engagements in venues like The Copa, Latin Quarter, Oak Room, Living Room, and similar glamorous nightspots. In the same month you might have Jack Jones at the Plaza’s Persian Room, Buddy Greco swinging in the Americana’s Royal Box and Vic Damone headlining the Rainbow Room. It all created a special kind of entertainment euphoria and excitement in New York City.
When the 54 Below advertisements came out heralding Clint Holmes’ engagement it rekindled that feeling for me. Clint’s talent and fame have been well established over decades and he’s just the type of performer who makes a town more exciting when he’s appearing in it. Seeing Clint’s extraordinary performance last night at 54 Below in his show celebrating Peter Allen, (back to back after being thrilled by Tom Jones at The Beacon and Barry Manilow at Radio City) brought me back to that era of New York’s glittering night life. What a joy to be in the audience and get that adrenaline rush from legendary performers whose artistry and charisma have not diminished, and are now communicating an even deeper expressiveness and musical eloquence than in their earlier years.
Here are photos from the closing night of Clint Holmes sensational run at 54 Below and an after party hosted by Producer Sunny Sessa saluting Director Will Nunziata, Music Director Michael Orland, guest artists Nikki Renee Daniels and Kelly Clinton- Holmes.
My View: “Because I Have A Story With Each And Every One Of You”…Richard Jay-Alexander
If you never heard of a restaurant/bar called Milady’s on Prince Street, you’ll know it now! That’s where Richard Jay-Alexander chose to celebrate his 70th Birthday and it was truly a WOWZA evening…the setting, the food, the peonies, the curated music PLAYLIST (assembled by longtime friend and assistant, Nellie Beavers), the craft cocktails and even a film crew (led by longtime pal, Brian Morgan) in the back, taping BRAVO-style “confessionals” with each guest, about the BIRTHDAY BOY. The guests in attendance ranged in age and interests, like a perfect jambalaya of an accomplished life. Even friends from his High School, in Solvay, NY! The most impressive part of who Richard is was quickly revealed in his post “blowing out the candles of his cake” moment when he looked around the room (clearly moved) and explained that the reason we were all there was, “because I have a story with each and every one of you.” Needless to say, there was much talent present throughout the room and plenty of legendary New Yorkers, raising a glass to a pretty special guy. In reality, it is he that entered into our lives and our stories and happily so. This is how you do it!
Ken Fallin’s Broadway: The World Says Good-Bye To Tina Turner
Tina Turner, the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll has died, after a long illness at 83. Turner was diagnosed with intestinal cancer in 2016 and underwent a kidney transplant in 2017.
Her life story was told in the 1993 smash film What’s Love Got to Do with It and in the 2019 Broadway musical Tina – The Tina Turner Musical, starring Adrienne Warren in a career-making performance.
Born Anna Mae Bullock on November 26, 1939, in Nutbush, TN, Turner became famous in the late 1960s as the singer of the Ike & Tina Turner Revue. Their major hits included: “River Deep – Mountain High” and “Proud Mary.”After leaving husband Ike Turner following years of physical and emotional abuse, she staged what remains one of the greatest comebacks in pop music history, scoring massive hits in the 1980s such as “What’s Love Got To Do With it”, “Private Dancer” and “The Best,” with an estimated 180 million albums sold worldwide, 12 Grammy Awards won and sold-out stadium tours around the world.
Turner scored another smash single in 1985 with “We Don’t Need Another Hero, from the Mel Gibson-George Miller threequel Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. She played the ruthless leader of Bartertown in the movie and delivered the memorable line, “Welcome to another edition of Thunderdome!”
She returned to the Top 20 later that year with “It’s Only Love,” a duet with Bryan Adams from his Reckless album, and also was part of the global smash “We Are the World.” That 1985 famine-relief single — written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, produced by Quincy Jones and credited to USA for Africa.
Turner also appeared at the intercontinental charity concert Live Aid that summer, performing a raucous, sexually charged duet with Mick Jagger in Philadelphia on a medley of his solo single “State of Shock” and the Rolling Stones’ “It’ Only Rock and Roll (But I Like It).”
Turner’s status as a musical pioneer extended to 1980s television when she became a staple of MTV.
A private funeral ceremony is expected for family and close friends and family.
My View: It’s Richard Jay-Alexander’s Birthday!
If there’s anyone who deserves to be featured in TIMES SQUARE CHRONICLES, on this particular day, May 24, it would be this guy, Richard Jay-Alexander. Born in 1953, today he turns 70 years old, here in New York City. He has walked these city streets more than most, as he pursued and has enjoyed a 49 year career, working on Broadway, in most theaters, clubs and majestic musical institutions, such as Carnegie Hall and The MET. He’s touched many, many lives and has a passion for this business that continues to burn and just this past Sunday, he helmed a thrilling evening, celebrating BroadwayWorld.com‘s 20th Anniversary, at midtown’s historic Sony Hall. On the eve of his birthday, he attended his favorite Tuesday night happening, Susie Mosher’s The LINEUP at Birdland Theatre, and treated the audience to a couple stories, observations on this important birthday and then, with Billy Stritch at the piano, John Miller on Bass and Clint De Canon on drums, performed a moving and heartfelt (THEY LONG TO BE) CLOSE TO YOU by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Richard clearly has a gift and a passion for the stage and for music and we are all the better for it, on the receiving end.
Happy Birthday, Young Man! Here’s to many more.
My View: A Glamorous Celebrity Filled Night With Lorna Dallas at The Laurie Beechman Theatre
It was a celebrity filled audience last night and the glamor of Manhattan Cabaret nightlife was in abundance for Lorna Dallas and her show at the Laurie Beechman Theatre titled “Glamorous Nights and Rainy Days
Ms. Dallas returned to New York City with a wonderful new show. This was Ms. Dallas’ first appearance in this town since she performed at the Bistro awards prior to the lockdown of 2020. The three years respite has done nothing to dim the luster of Ms Dallas’ exceptional instrument. She stayed in fine voice all evening long. But she is more than just an excellent vocalist. She is also a compelling actress. Her show, skillfully crafted by director Barry Kleinbort, and sensitively accompanied by one of this city’s best musical directors, Christopher Denny, was a joy from start to finish. The star studded audience at the Laurie Beechman theater responded heartily to every one of Lorna’s numbers. Evening high points ran the gamut, from standards like “I Have Dreamed,” to “When the Sun Comes Out;” from an hilarious “By Strauss” by the Gershwin’s to a dramatic “Silent Spring” by Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg. She also premiered a new song written especially for her by Ann Hampton Callaway and Amanda McBroom, “In My Dreams,” which wowed the savvy New York crowd. Hopefully, Lorna Dallas will return to these shores on a more regular basis. Three years is too long a wait for this powerful soprano’s next appearance..
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