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August 22, 2000 09:00pm
Snooky's Bikini Bar Changes Ownership
Source: Ventura County Star
by: Jim Perez

(SIMI VALLEY, CA) -- Some things are permanent fixtures in Simi Valley. One of them is Snooky's. The only bikini bar in town, it's been open for 30 years, the last 17 under Duke Podulka's ownership.

Until Monday. That's when the 30-year Simi Valley resident handed the reins of the business to Jerry Cucco, who Podulka said, owns other adult-oriented establishments in the San Fernando Valley.

Podulka plans to work at the Donville Avenue bar through the end of the week, helping Cucco during the transition.

Saturday, during a party at the bar to celebrate his semiretirement, Podulka said he plans to take it easy the first three or four months, "or until I start crawling the walls. I just had to get out of this. It ran its course for me."

Podulka still owns interests in two other bikini bars, PJ Grunt's in Oxnard and Snooky's in Lancaster.

The former owner-operator of a muffler shop said he never managed anybody before going into the adult entertainment industry.

With ownership of the bar came the task of managing 25 people, most of them women.

"It wasn't easy. I guess I've got a good temperament for it," Podulka said with a grin.

The lanky, silver-haired man reportedly treated his people so well even his daughter, Destiny, tends bar there.

"It's just like a family. The people who worked here and the customers", said Kristi Richards, who with her friend, Amy Turner, danced at Snooky's 10 years ago.

"It was almost like going to work for your dad, keeping all his daughters in line," Turner said.

"It was a good growing time in our life. It was definitely one of those times where, if you're fortunate enough to move on, you say you learned a lot. You have to be like a psychiatrist to get to know why people come here,"she said.

"Or much less to even own or work here,"Podulka added with a laugh.

Turner said she saw clergy members, even a former Simi Valley police chief, when she danced at Snooky's.

"People think this is a sleazy place. It's not just about girls dancing around. It's about fellowship and having fun,"she said.

"It's like 'Cheers,'" Richards added. "People, a lot of women, come and hang out when they see what it's like."

When asked her name, Richards hesitated a bit, then gave it, adding, "I think we were the only girls who didn't go by Angel or Bambi."

Over the years, Podulka said changing social mores hurt his business more than city ordinances.

Over the past 10 years the tougher drinking and driving and smoking laws put a dent in his business, Podulka said.

"I think I'm the only bar in town that enforces the no smoking law. But seeing as this is Snooky's, the only bikini bar in town, I knew they'd enforce it here."

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