The Annotated Gospel According to Regas Christou
Anyone who knows Denver’s foul-mouthed, hyper-educated, perennially controversial nightclub king knows that he’s a storyteller. But whether you think he’s as fabulous as he claims to be—or merely a very entertaining fabulist—the one thing everyone can agree on is that the guy just can’t seem to keep his mouth shut.
Regas book VI
There’s a concerted effort to ruin me.
Christou’s paranoia runs deep. In 2009, he opened City Hall, an open-air amphitheater at 11th and Broadway, hoping to lure bands—and an older, more affluent crowd—interested in a more intimate outdoor concert experience than Red Rocks. Almost immediately, he ran into trouble. Neighborhood groups were concerned about the noise from an outdoor venue, and according to Christou, the city got involved. “A person from city government told me that if I didn’t give my liquor license back to the city, they would put me out of business,” he tells me. “It was a very big guy.” When I ask him for a name, he refuses, saying only, “He is in the mayor’s inner circle.” During a later interview, he surrendered the person’s initials, and finally his name: David Fine, the city attorney.
This past summer, when the city requested permits to allow another company to show evening movies in Civic Center Park, Christou was incensed. “The city is bending over backward for amplified movies at Civic Center, but they haven’t been waiting for four years like me,” he argues in his apples-to-oranges logic. (Movies don’t exactly create the same noise levels as live bands.) “Why are they doing it? Because the city is going to make $100,000 more in taxes? We pay more than that in taxes: We have 250 employees!"
He sees the same double standard when the media attacks his clubs. Four days after the Darrent Williams shooting, the Post published a story titled “SoCo Illuminated: Shooting casts harsh light on area’s controversial club scene,” quoting neighbors critical of Christou. “How do you blame me for the Bronco guy when he goes into Standard and gets into an argument and then gets killed two hours later?” he wonders. “The same thing happens in Larimer Square and nothing was written. Know how big that story was?” He takes my notebook and folds a piece of paper into the size of a business card. “It was this big.”
After the Williams shooting, police chief Gerald Whitman explained the security ban to the Post. “[Christou] lost the right to hire any police,” he said. “It’s not a right. It’s probably a matter of the violence in the clubs.” Naturally, Christou has a different take. “If the police were [working security] at Standard, I’m not sure if Darrent Williams would be dead,” he says. “But because they were not there, he is dead.”
Last July, after the Arby’s parking lot shooting, police spokesman Sonny Jackson told the Post that, “There had been an incident in the nightclub—we know someone had a gun in there.” Christou denies this. “I have the tape,” he says. “I could prove that what the police said wasn’t correct. The real truth is that the guy never came out of the club with the gun.” I ask to see the tape. Christou refuses. “Go to them and ask them to prove what they say,” he says. “I don’t want you to say that you have a video. I want them to tell you the truth.”
Denver district attorney Mitch Morrissey actually confirmed Christou’s argument in a July report, which clarifies that the shooter got the gun from his car. However, Morrissey also laid into Christou, intimating that his nightclubs are a menace: “Club Vinyl, 1082 Broadway, and the surrounding area continue to consume police resources responding to criminal conduct inside and outside the establishment. This is presenting a significant recurring threat to both officers and citizens.”
“Their job is to serve and protect, not harass and intimidate,” Christou counters, pointing to the recent, controversial videotape that showed a Denver police officer beating a man in LoDo. (City safety manager Ron Perea resigned after the video went public.) “It’s nothing new. It’s just the invention of cell phones and cameras,” Christou says. “The police shot an 11-year-old boy with special needs! They used a ladder to climb up to an apartment and shot an old man in his bed! And nobody goes to jail. And none of you reporters ever pursued the story! They shot a kid 26 times and people who did it faced no consequences.” Christou won’t quite call it an organized conspiracy—rather, it’s just that everyone is out to get him, for their own reasons. And he’s the only one willing to tell it like it is. “There are always two sides of the story,” he says. “The police department side and the truth.”