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One Last, Year-End Look at the Passing Parade of People in the News : The Bordello Blues

December 26, 1985|ALLAN PARACHINI

View has revisited some of the people and places it reported on in the last several months. Among them:

--Hollywood's Masquers Club, which because of declining funds sold its building and moved.

--Jimmy and Ricky Sperry, blinded in an accident 11 years ago, who received cornea transplants in August.

--Balu Natarajan, who triumphed over 167 other youngsters to win the National Spelling Bee in June.

It wasn't supposed to take quite this long, but Strong Point Inc. of Irvine is still waiting to close the deal that will assure it a place in at least the history of dubious distinctions. The deal is its now substantially delayed purchase of the Mustang Ranch, the famed Nevada brothel.

In August, View examined the inner workings of the Strong Point-Mustang Ranch deal, which would have created an unlikely precedent for Wall Street--the first purchase of a house of prostitution by a publicly traded company.

As things stood at the end of the summer, Strong Point had until sometime in October to come up with the $18 million it agreed to pay the Mustang's colorful owners, Joe and Sally Conforte. But as the fall came, it had become clear that Strong Point was going to have more trouble than it anticipated closing escrow on the deal, and the Confortes agreed to an extension until Dec. 1.

The major problem, said Strong Point's lawyer, Michael Oswald, was that either conventional lenders spurned Strong Point's advances after a perfunctory study or they wouldn't let the company in the front door with its request for an $18-million mortgage to buy a brothel.

Bordello in Elko

Dec. 1 came and went and, still, Strong Point hadn't come up with the money needed to complete the Mustang Ranch deal. Instead, the company technically became the first publicly traded company to own a house of ill fame by paying $1 million for the smaller Sue's Bordello of Elko, Nev.

But the Mustang Ranch remains the sine qua non of Nevada prostitution and, as the year ends, Conforte is letting his patience be tested a little further, his lawyer said, and Strong Point is still struggling to get a final, firm and funded commitment from a conventional venture capital lender or a consortium of private investors.

Meanwhile, the frenzy of anticipation that ran up the value of Strong Point shares as small investors savored the racy implications of buying stock in a brothel has abated somewhat. Just after the sale was announced, Strong Point stock--which is traded over the counter--had increased from 50 cents a share in March to about $3.25. Last week the price had fallen to between $1.80 and $2.25.

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