Kathleen Lazorchack, 39, has been working at Good Guys for 16 years. She had just started her shift—- waiting tables—-on the evening of Nov. 4 3, 2007 when the place burst into flames. She took the stand today in the trial of Vasile Graure, the man accused of igniting the fire last year.
Good Guys is a gentleman’s club. That means it has “strippers—-ladies that dance,” the prosecution clarifies for the jury. On the evening of Nov. 4 3 of last year, Lazorchack noticed a man she had never seen before watching those ladies dance. He was “standing up, waving money at the dancers,” she says—-the strip club sign for “Hey, pay attention to me.” He was a white male with dark, thinning hair, Lazorchack says. She identifies him as Vasile Graure, the defendant. He sits in the court room, wearing a light green shirt and spotted tie.
On the night of the fire, Lazorchack says, a dancer named Gabriella suspected that that man had taken a photo of her. That’s against the rules of Good Guys. So his cell phone was confiscated and brought to Lazorchack to check out. Lazorchack cycled through the phone and found a photograph of a naked woman from “behind, from the neck to the back of the knees, but mostly in the butt area.” She could tell the photo showed Gabriella. “You know Gabriella’s butt,” she says
Lazorchack informed the man that he wasn’t allowed to take photos. “I’m sorry, but it’s time to go,” she said. The man said he would leave, took a sip of his drink, and headed for the exit, drink in hand. When Lazorchack followed him and asked him not to take his drink outside, he said, “Fuck you, you can shove it up your ass,” Lazorchack says. He then threw down the glass near the door. It shattered.
Lazorchack spent the next several minutes doing chores—-having a busboy clean up the mess and retrieving a t-shirt for a bachelor party that was going on that night. Within about 20 minutes, Lazorchack says, she heard a “rumbling noise. An unhappy noise.” She had just made an announcement about the bachelor party. “It wasn’t the happy noise I was looking for,” she says. “It was loud. It was scared.” When Lazorchack looked up, she saw the front of the bar consumed in flames. It was wall-to-wall fire, she says.
Lazorchack called 911. She saw everyone tumbling toward the exit. She could see people, but couldn’t make them out through “the black and the flames and the smoke.” But she could hear them. “You could hear them screaming,” she says.
She told 911 the address of the club, then exited the building to the alley. She retrieved a flashlight from her car and went back to the club to try to help people. A man in a military uniform stopped her from going back into the club, she says. She heard screaming people, burning and crackling. That’s when she saw Vladimir Djordjevic, a manager of the club.
She could see his face, she says, but every other part of him was consumed in flames, “like a frame . . . a frame of fire.” He was exiting the building. He looked charred from “head to toe,” says Lazorchack. The only clothing that was left was “in the bathing suit area.” He kept his arms out from his sides so he wouldn’t touch his own burned body. His skin was “charred, burned, glistening, black,” she says. Clothing parts were “dripping” off his body.
Outside, it was chilly. “We were all cold,” she says. “Half of us didn’t have any clothes on.”
When she approached Djordjevic, he told her to stay calm. He told her not to touch him. She asked him how it happened. Lazorchack says he replied, “I saw that man coming back with a can, and a tried to stop him.”
Once Djordjevic was transferred to a stretcher and put in an ambulance, Lazorchack assessed the damage to the club. “Everybody was standing around, crying and shaking,” she says. “I had a lot of naked employees that needed clothing.” Other employees had “cuts and bruises from falling down stairs and over tables.” Inside, the club was “burnt down.” Everything was black. TV’s were melted. The ATM was melted, too. “There was a gas can on the floor,” Lazorchack says.
One year later, many of the dancers who were working at the time of the fire have now left. “Gabriella is gone,” Lazorchack says. “Golden is gone. Royale is gone. Star is gone.”
I’ll have more on the trial when it resumes later this afternoon.