Ex-drug baron's sexy show

James Samson is married to Calendar Girls director Jacqui Le Prou.
James Samson is married to Calendar Girls director Jacqui Le Prou.

A former drug baron with a rich criminal history plans to open a steakhouse in Christchurch featuring live burlesque shows.

James Samson, married to Calendar Girls director Jacqui Le Prou, and two business partners have applied to the Christchurch City Council for a liquor licence for a proposed new venue called Cotton Club & Butchery in Papanui.

Samson was named on the application by B L Group 2013, despite police earlier raising concerns about the 39-year-old's involvement with Calendar Girls in Wellington.

The strip club is now in receivership and Le Prou has withdrawn its application for a liquor licence.

Cotton Club & Butchery will be a high-class restaurant and entertainment venue showcasing jazz bands and burlesque dancers, its liquor licence application says. It plans to sell alcohol from 7am to 11pm.

The site on Harewood Rd was previously home to the controversial nightclub Club 22 and has a capacity of about 400 people. Samson is the largest shareholder of the company.

Residents in the area plan to oppose the liquor licence.

Inspector Peter Cooper said it was too early to say if police would oppose the application.

In the company's application, Samson disclosed his criminal history, which includes convictions for unlawful possession of a firearm, methamphetamine supply and manufacture, and perverting the course of justice.

It says he will take a "behind the scenes role in administration, marketing, stock management and the like" while his two business partners, Miriam Wells and Jonathan Mould, take a more hands-on approach. Neither has any criminal convictions.

Samson told The Press yesterday Cotton Club & Butchery would operate as a steakhouse and needed a liquor licence.

"I mean a steak and a beer is like bacon and eggs isn't it, they go together," he said.

"What happened in Wellington is unfortunate and it's a great shame that some in the police can't move on in life like I have."

In February, a High Court judge revoked the licence of Calendar Girls in Wellington after police raised concerns, including Samson's involvement in the club.

Samson, who spent five years in jail on methamphetamine charges, was viewed as "a highly unsuitable individual to be involved in any licensed premise," police said in a report to the District Licensing Authority.

Samson said his previous criminal activity was a thing of the past.

"I was charged and convicted a decade ago so why on earth are some cops still interested in me? Shouldn't they be focusing their resources on people that are up to mischief today?

"I've run successful bars and nightclubs before so if I'm not suitable to run a suburban steakhouse 10 years after my last scrape with the law then something's gone wrong with the system."

Margaret Howley, from the St James Avenue Residents' Association, said a burlesque club was "absolutely not what Papanui needs".

"I'm aware of the subtle differences between strip and burlesque, but the initial response from residents is that they are not impressed at all," she said.

She feared a burlesque club could "attract the wrong sort of person" to the area.

"I wouldn't be surprised if prostitutes set themselves up in the neighbouring car park."

The site is still owned by Gary Boote, whose daughter Olivia Boote managed Club 22. Club 22 closed indefinitely after the Liquor Licensing Authority last year refused to renew its licence because of non-compliance with the Sale of Liquor Act.

Objections to the Cotton Club & Butchery's liquor licence must be filed by August 7.

The Press