Showdown Over Strippers

Discussion in 'Chit Chat' started by Optionpro007, Jun 21, 2010.

  1. * U.S. NEWS
    * JUNE 21, 2010

    Showdown Over Strippers
    As Missouri Weighs Curbs on Clubs, Opponents Stress It's a Job in Tough Times


    KANSAS CITY, Mo.—The Show Me state is headed for a showdown over a move to rein in the adult-entertainment industry at a time when every job counts—even those of strippers.

    Last month, the Republican-controlled legislature passed one of the nation's toughest state laws aimed at strip clubs and other adult-entertainment venues. It would ban nude dancing and the serving of alcohol in adult cabarets, force strip clubs to close at midnight and forbid seminude dancers to touch patrons.

    Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat who counts job creation among his top priorities, must decide whether to sign or veto the bill. His spokesman said Mr. Nixon was still studying the measure. After July 10, it would become law automatically, and opponents promise a legal battle if that happens.

    Proponents say they aim to set minimum standards for an industry that they claim demeans women and contributes to prostitution and related social ills.

    "You've got very vulnerable people who are being coerced into being the fodder for some of these places," said state Sen. Matt Bartle, the main champion of the bill, who has been pushing regulation of the industry for nearly a decade.

    Club owners and dancers say that the venues rarely attract crime, and that the new rules would be so strict that hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars in state revenue could be lost at a time when Missouri's economy is struggling to recover from the recession.

    Mr. Nixon last week announced $301 million of budget cuts because of falling revenue and proposed a special legislative session to discuss measures to support Missouri's auto industry.

    The new legislation "was written to close us down," said Dick Snow, owner of an all-nude cabaret called Bazooka's Showgirls in a former warehouse district in Kansas City, Mo., that is now a popular arts area.

    He said he and a partner have invested nearly $2 million in the club since the mid-1990s and employ about 135 people.

    With a three-story atrium at the entrance and state-of-the-art lighting and sound, Bazooka's does about 60% of its business after midnight, Mr. Snow said. His dancers earn most of their money not on stage but from socializing and providing customers with "booth dances" that would be illegal under the new law because they usually involve touching.

    During these tough economic times, Mr. Snow said, crimping a legal business that backers claim employs about 3,000 people and brings in some $4.5 million of state sales taxes "makes no sense."
    The Big Cover-Up

    Missouri's adult-entertainment law would

    * Prohibit nudity at all times.
    * Restrict seminudity to stage areas at least six feet away from patrons.
    * Prohibit seminude employees from touching patrons or their clothing.
    * Require adult entertainment clubs to close at midnight.
    * Ban alcohol from the clubs.
    * Require areas of adult video stores to be visible from the counter, except rest rooms.
    * Ban new clubs or video stored from being located within 1,000 feet of schools, churches, parks or homes.

    Angelina Spencer, executive director of the Association of Club Executives, said her Washington-based lobbying group has been fighting similar legislation in jurisdictions around the country, but the Missouri bill was among the most comprehensive and potentially damaging.

    Dick Bryant, a Kansas City, Mo., lawyer who represents the industry, warned the governor to expect a vigorous legal challenge.

    Scott Bergthold, a Chattanooga, Tenn., lawyer who developed model legislation that the Missouri bill drew from, said the bill's provisions have been tested in the courts.

    "Missouri is on good ground," he said. The bill doesn't prohibit viewing erotic material but "does eliminate the conditions that facilitate illicit sexual behavior and other secondary effects," such as the sale of drugs, Mr. Bergthold said.

    Mr. Bartle, a Republican, said he became interested in regulating the industry about eight years ago, when he noticed a surge in sexually explicit signs popping up on Missouri highways. He pushed through a law targeting those signs only to have it struck down in federal court on free-speech grounds.

    In 2005, Mr. Bartle attached a broader bill regulating the industry to an anti-drunk driving measure. The adult-entertainment section of the final bill was rejected in state court because it wasn't deemed relevant enough to the underlying legislation.

    The lawmaker's efforts gained momentum in 2008 with the well-publicized case of a Kansas City, Kan., man who pleaded guilty to taking his 14-year-old stepdaughter to a Missouri club called Erotic City, where he arranged for men to have sex with her.

    Still, the latest bill didn't pass until the final days of the legislative session last month.

    "It's had a very tortured history," said Mr. Bartle, attributing part of the delay to opposition within his own party at key points.

    Advocates for women say the adult-entertainment industry can be harmful to women, but also can help them stabilize their lives.

    "One of the ironies is that, for many young women, it is the way that they can support themselves, maintain custody of their children or escape an abusive relationship," said Colleen Coble, chief executive of the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.

    Ashlie Sheets, who has been dancing at Bazooka's and other clubs for six years, is one such woman. The 24-year-old single mother of three said she suffered from bipolar disorder and received about $900 a month in government disability checks. By dancing two to three weeks a month at the club, she earns another $700—the maximum she can bring in while maintaining her benefits.

    Recently, she included pictures of her children in a package of information another dancer sent to the governor, including a video message in which Ms. Sheets told Mr. Nixon how important it was that she keep her job.

    "I feel safe here," Ms. Sheets said. "It's really going to mess up a lot of people's lives if the law completely passes."

    Write to Joe Barrett at
  2. This would help cut our dependence on foreign oil, people driving to clubs, wasting energy on lights, music, air conditioning (woo wee it's hot in dem dere clubs).

    On the flip side, perhaps the gov could pay people not to dance, increase bene's, serioulsy we need to think outside the box.
  3. This is a major blow to Rennick the pimp's business model..... :D