March 22, 2018
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Future of Diva’s Gentleman’s Club in Bangor in judge’s hands

By Eric Russell, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — Diva’s Gentleman’s Club owner Diane Cormier and her landlord, Thomas Brann, both testified in civil court Monday during an eviction hearing, but resolution of the matter was pushed back one week.

Brann, property owner of 190 Harlow St. where the controversial exotic nightclub has been located since 2008, tried unsuccessfully in October to evict Cormier. The first attempt was thrown out on a technicality, but Brann decided to bring the matter back before a judge.

At issue is rent owed by Cormier for use of the downtown space for her business. Brann and his attorney, F. David Walker, claim Diva’s owes the landlord at least $7,500 in back payments. Cormier, along with her attorney, Kirk Bloomer, testified Monday that she has paid all her debts.

Both sides still have to make closing arguments, but the decision rests in the hands of Justice S. Kirk Studstrup, who postponed action until Monday, Dec. 13, because of time restrictions.

The relationship between Brann and Cormier has been contentious ever since she moved her business to Harlow Street from State Street in late 2008.

Brann said she fell behind on payments from the beginning, made renovations to the space without his permission and had inadequate liability insurance. In June, Brann gave Cormier a chance to vacate voluntarily and, in exchange, she would not be held financially liable for the remainder of her lease.

Cormier opted not to leave and instead tried to work out an arrangement with Brann that would allow Diva’s to stay open while she paid off overdue rent and other costs.

“I want to stay. I love the place,” she said Monday. “I’ve put a lot of money into this building. … I think he wants to take my investment.”

Cormier has said in the past that her business has been suffering since the move. In June, was thrown out on a technicality to ask the city to ease restrictions that would allow her exotic dancers to perform topless. City ordinances allow nude dancing and the consumption of alcohol, but not both at the same time. To comply with the ordinance, Diva’s serves alcohol but requires dancers to wear the equivalent of bikini tops and bottoms, a combination Cormier said hurts business.

The City Council denied Cormier’s request around the same time that Brann was moving forward with eviction proceedings.

Diva’s has been in business in Bangor since 1998. It’s the only exotic dancing business in the city and has more than 20 part-time employees. If Cormier is evicted, she could move to another location in the city, but it’s unclear whether she would do that.

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