Feature Articles

December 1999

King Of The Tampa Strip Clubs

By Scott M. Deitche

Over the years Tampa has become a mecca of strip clubs and adult businesses, generating tens of millions in profits for owners and dancers alike. The most visible icon of the club scene is Joe Redner, a former client who opened up arguably the most famous strip bar in the South, Mons Venus.

Redner has been a major figure in the strip club scene for years, and has become a local celebrity. Before his adult businesses, however, he was merely a client in some of the strip bars, until he was given the opportunity to own one by a convicted felon who couldn't have his name on the license. That man was a mob-connected former cop, and close confidant of top mobsters in Tampa. His name was Pasquale "Pat" Matassini.

Pat was born on April 15, 1928 in Tampa. His early years were uneventful, but by the late 1940's, he was seen in the company of some top mob guys in town, as well as some up and comers, including Joe Bedami. On the evening of June 10, 1950, just days after the shotgun murder of rackets kingpin James Lumia, a police officer responded to a call about a robbery in progress at the Park Theater. He pulled up and saw two young men fleeing the scene. Soon after, police arrested Joe Bedami and Matassini. Pat broke down under police questioning and confessed. He also implicated one of the notorious Cacciatores, Joe.

Feeling that robbery was probably not a good career, Matassini went into law enforcement for a while, but left in the 1960's and started working around the strip clubs. In 1968, he bought a kitschy space ship and plopped it atop a bland building on Dale Mabry highway, and named the place 2001 Odyssey, no doubt after the popular Kubrick film.

After opening the club, however, Pat fell back in with the mob. Joe Bedami went missing in August of 1968, but his son, Joe Jr. was preparing for a role in the underworld, and teamed up with Matassini for a few ventures. One of those was the distribution of counterfeit money. Along with Bedami and Jack Edwards, a former professional football player were indicted for attempting to distribute more than $1 million in counterfeit bills.

Matassini enlisted the help of Henry Gonzalez, a prominent Tampa attorney, who made his fame and fortune representing the elite of the Tampa mob, including Santo and Henry Trafficante. Bedami was acquitted in the case, but Matassini was found guilty in 1976, and sentenced to three years in prison. Soon after, Pat's son, Leo, was arrested for cocaine distribution along with Vito Lauro, son of Pasquale and Salvatore Lauro, two New York mafioso.

The intervening years saw little form Pat. He had some legal trouble in getting his civil rights back as a result of his felon status (he wanted to get a gun license), and he also bought a controlling interest in the Godfather Lounge, a successful bar built on a parcel of land owned by Santo Trafficante Jr.

In 1992, Pat's name came under scrutiny by the Key Bank investigation. Locla prosecutors were looking at the bank as a place where many members of the Tampa Mafia laundered their money. Pat , an associate,not a made guy, was supected dof having some illegal relationships, enabling him to get sweetheart financial deals.

A wiretap of bank officials revealed some interesting conversations about Pat. "He has some sort of relationship with the bank, and if he ever loses it, where the fuck is he gonna get another one." Fortunately for Pat, and other mob-connected suspects, a series of amateurish blunders by the prosecutors doomed the case, and charges were dropped against all the defendants.

Pat Matassini died on May 1, 1999, after his third bypass surgery. His funeral was a well-attended event, with over 350 people crowded into a small funeral home in north Tampa. Joe Redner was there, along with Joe Bedami Jr., and Frank Albano, a longtime made guy in the crime family. Driving past 2001, the strip bar owned by Matassini, a sign outside read "We'll Miss You Pat".

� 1999

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