traditional media wants to jack-up their ratings, where can they go for
some good titillation? They go straight to the strip clubs! What LA
strip club or dancer is showing up on TV or in print? Find out right here.
Who knows, you just might find some interesting news here too.
By DAN WHITCOMB
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A Las Vegas stripper accused of posting
photos of herself having sadomasochistic sex with a married political
cartoonist on the Internet after he ended their affair was ordered
Wednesday to stand trial on extortion and cyber-stalking charges.
Robin Kelly -- a self-described topless dancer named "Ruby
Tuesday," hair-stylist and former professional wrestler known as
"The Red Snapper" -- faces a possible eight years and four
months in prison if convicted on eight criminal counts.
Ventura County Superior Court Judge Roland Purnell ordered Kelly to
stand trial on charges of attempted extortion, stalking, witness
intimidation, violating a restraining order and making harassing
Ventura County Deputy District Attorney Tom Temple said Kelly, 43,
was the first defendant in the southern California community, which
borders Los Angeles County, to stand trial on charges of stalking over
"This is the first case of cyber-stalking that I'm aware of
that's been prosecuted by this office," Temple said.
Prosecutors say that Kelly, a former dancer at Snooky's topless club, had
a seven year extra-marital affair with Jim Day, a political cartoonist
for the Las Vegas Review Journal newspaper.
When Day broke off the affair, prosecutors charge, Kelly was unhappy
and blamed him for the loss of her apartment.
Prosecutors allege that after Kelly moved to the Los Angeles suburb
of Simi Valley earlier this year she set up a Web site called The
Politics of Jim Day that featured the two of them engaged in
sadomasochism and bondage as well as pictures of his house and car and
directions to his home.
Kelly was arrested in November and the web site has since been
dismantled by authorities.
Kelly also allegedly sent the material to Day's work and home, made
physical threats against the cartoonist and tried to choke his wife,
Purnell ordered Kelly to stand trial after two police officers
testified that her Web site and other activities "destroyed"
Day's reputation and led to him being ostracized at work.
Temple said Kelly could also face charges from Las Vegas prosecutors.
By FRED DICKEY
The Los Angeles Times
Through the plate glass separating prisoners from visitors, John
Patrick Sheridan talks about the secret he kept for a decade. He
explains how loyalty to a drinking buddy and a promise of $25,000 were
enough for him to murder someone. He describes how he planned the
killing and rehearsed it, and then pulled it off without a hitch. Yes,
he says, he was lucky for a first-time hit man. Lucky, that is, except
for one thing. He failed to consider the person who stepped forward 10
years later and fingered him, sending him to prison. That person was
In the autumn of 2001, Sheridan is being held in a cell in the Santa Ana
City Jail, awaiting his prison term for murder. He looks young for 39,
slim and handsome--thick black hair, almond eyes and the tawny skin that
is a blending of his Chinese and Irish genes. He is held in isolation 23
hours each day, left with only one hour to shave, shower, watch TV and
make phone calls. This is not punishment, though. It is the same
protection given to any snitch who would be in danger in the jail
Sheridan is an intelligent 10th-grade dropout from Agoura, a drug dealer
and a chronic user from age 11, a strip-club roustabout before he became
a contract killer. He can be a fun guy without a gun in his hand. He
punctuates sentences with a merry laugh and is disarmingly frank about
his life, including one particular night 12 years ago. John Sheridan was
in a place that made him uncomfortable. He had been there several times,
but had backed away on every occasion, lacking the resolve to pull the
trigger. This time he sat hunched down, obscured by darkness and a low
wall, sipping beer from a bottle and caressing the stubby barrel of his
Uzi automatic weapon. Every set of car lights that approached made him
tense. Could this be the one? But every car continued straight down
Carbon Canyon Road. Each time, Sheridan leaned back, knowing that the
car would eventually come.
The man Sheridan awaited was Horace "Big Mac" McKenna Jr., a
New Orleans native and a bodybuilder who stood 6-foot-6 and weighed
almost 300 pounds. At 46, McKenna was mean, tough and a bully. But he
liked animals, especially those that could eat humans, a species he was
not especially fond of.
As Sheridan waited, McKenna was lounging in the rear seat of a luxury
car gliding through Orange County. It was about 12:30 a.m. on March 9,
1989, still early for a sporting man, but he relaxed with the assurance
that comes with being big-time and uncontested.
Sheridan looked at his watch again and again. Could he pull the trigger
this time? Certain expectations had been created. Back in L.A., a scary
guy was waiting near a telephone for a call, and when it rang he
expected to be told: "It's done." A hit man is not without job
pressures. The news would reassure Michael Woods, 48, McKenna's partner
in three strip clubs--the Valley
Ball in Van Nuys and Bare
Elegance and Jet
Strip in Los Angeles.
The businesses had made both men wealthy, but that is about where the
similarity ended. Ruthless use of people had brought McKenna an
abundance of money and compliant men and women who feared him. His large
estate was filled with wonders: a mock boot hill, the facade of a
Western town, Arabian horses and exotic animals. He dressed pet monkeys
in tuxedos and even had a Bengal tiger. He also had a caiman, an
alligator-like animal, but it froze to death. He did all of this on a
reported gross annual income of $44,000. The man could stretch a dollar.
Compared to McKenna, Woods was as plain as a glass of milk. He lived in
a sedate but expensive house tucked away in Westlake Village, nothing at
all like McKenna's splashy 35-acre estate with its sprawling
Spanish-style house in Brea. The great gulf between the men's
personalities eventually drove them far apart. Trying to steal each
other blind probably didn't help.
The rift widened, witnesses would later say, when Woods hired David Amos
from England. Amos, then 21, was brought in as a club bouncer and he
promptly created an aura around himself. He was even reputed to have
been a British commando. The truth is, according to Amos' brother Tony,
that he never got out of boot camp. Amos, however, was nearly as big as
McKenna, just as buff and much younger. The older man took an instant
dislike to Woods' burly new enforcer, the witnesses say.
As McKenna sped through that early morning blackness in 1989, the sweet
deal he and Woods enjoyed was under attack from the Los Angeles County
district attorney and state tax authorities. The men had been accused of
skimming large chunks of cash from the nightly takes at the clubs. At
the same time, McKenna's drug-influenced behavior was becoming more
unpredictable and abusive. On at least one occasion, he and Woods
engaged in a shouting argument, and McKenna took a big swing at the
smaller man. Woods claimed that McKenna threatened to rape his
McKenna's car slowed and made the turn into his secluded driveway at
6200 Carbon Canyon Road. His driver was Bob Berg, an unaggressive
born-again Christian nicknamed "Bible Bob." The car stopped as
Berg began his entry routine, which involved getting out to open the
gate, driving through, then getting out again to close the gate.
When the interior light went on, McKenna pushed himself up to a sitting
position. As Berg got back in, Sheridan quietly slid the bolt on his Uzi
and stepped from his hiding place. The interior light clicked off.
Sheridan was alongside the passenger rear window, which was partially
open. He could see McKenna's dark form moving in the back seat. He
raised the gun and pulled the trigger. The 9-millimeter clip emptied
with the staccato sound of fingers sweeping across piano keys. The
window disintegrated. At least 20 bullets thudded into McKenna's torso.
Through the broken glass, Sheridan heard him say calmly, almost in
wonderment, "I've been shot." With that, the stunned but
unhurt Berg slammed the car into gear and shot up the hill. Sheridan
sprinted for his own car down the street.
Minutes later, after Sheridan put miles behind him, he pulled into a
7-Eleven parking lot and grabbed a pay phone. "That job you wanted
done? Well, it's done," he said. There was a pause, then a man with
a British accent answered. It was Amos, Woods' main man. "All
right. That's good," he replied.
John Patrick Sheridan, assassin, went out and got drunk.
McKenna's funeral drew a crowd of 300, a few no doubt wanting to make
sure he was dead. The coffin was draped in an American flag, and there
was a photo on an easel of McKenna on horseback. The spiffed-up monkeys
were not there. Mike Woods was not there. The congregation listened to a
priest trying to convince them that God's goodness was so vast that even
Big Mac's soul was not out of the running, a bet that Vegas oddsmakers
would have taken off the board.
As Sheridan talks on the other side of the jail glass, he struggles with
emotions that are at odds with the unsavory world he occupied. This new
language of "feelings" is foreign, and his vocabulary for
expressing them is small. He takes refuge in a gruff, Clint
Eastwood-style explanation: "I did what I did and I gotta pay the
The paradox of Sheridan's being behind bars is huge. He didn't have to
be here. He was virtually untouchable by the law because there were no
witnesses to the crime. As he says, "I didn't leave my wallet
behind." Certainly, the men who hired him weren't going to snitch.
So why is he here now? The answer rests with two things we admire,
family and God, and two things we do not, fear and hate.
Sheridan had long been a strip-club hanger-on, which is how he met Amos.
The two became drinking buddies. In 1988, Amos raised the subject of
murder. "We were friends, and he first asked if I knew anyone who
could take care of 'a difficult job.' He kept talking, and I figured out
what he was talking about and who was the target. I also knew he was
really asking me to take care of it." He pauses. "I told him
he was nuts."
Sheridan laughs at the recollection because, at the time, he was
snitching for Ventura County cops in an attempt to avoid prison. "I
was out on bail at the time on drug charges, and I was, like, going to
friends and saying, 'If there's anyone you don't like who's selling
drugs, let me know and I'll turn them in.' " When Amos approached
with the murder proposal, he unwittingly gave Sheridan a terrific
opportunity to improve his standing with police. "Man, if David
wasn't my friend, I had a murder for hire. I could have turned him in,
and I would have been home free."
But Sheridan didn't. He liked his friend, and could use the money.
Besides, he was hard into cocaine and alcohol, and his judgment did not
serve him that well--especially after Amos sold him on the idea that if
McKenna weren't killed, Amos himself would be "whacked" by Big
Mac. After considering it for more than three months, Sheridan went back
to Amos and said, "You know that job you were talking about? I can
get it done."
Whatever he was thinking--or not thinking--at the time, Sheridan had
signed on. However, he soon developed cold feet and approached a friend,
who tried without success to persuade the Hells Angels to do the deed.
When they declined, Sheridan felt trapped. Veiled comments by Amos
convinced him that if he didn't do the killing, he could be in danger
himself. So he bought the Uzi on the street for $1,200. ("So much
for gun control," he says with a laugh.)
For the murder, Sheridan says he was paid $25,000 and given a job at the
clubs. But in late 1989 he was sent to prison for two years on a cocaine
bust. After his release, he resumed his strip-club job and spent almost
a decade working in various manager roles. His salary at the clubs never
topped $3,000 a month--even though, he says without bitterness, he
watched Amos and Woods rake in hundreds of thousands of dollars, much of
it taken out of the till before taxes. He admits to having stolen some
Woods had made Amos a partner shortly after the killing as a payoff for
arranging the McKenna murder. For the next decade, the two men dominated
the L.A. strip club industry. They ran their clubs, raked in cash,
bought boats and expensive cars--a Humvee and Mercedes for Amos, a Lexus
and Mercedes for Woods. In the ultimate act of L.A. narcissism, they
even made two minor movies, produced by Woods and featuring Amos in
acting roles. Amos fancied himself an actor and liked to pal around with
fringe Hollywood types.
Sheridan's life was less exotic, although he had one thing that neither
Amos nor Woods claimed: a sense of guilt. About seven years after the
killing, Sheridan was told by an unsuspecting Bob Berg that as McKenna's
car sped up the driveway, the stricken man had said to his chauffeur,
"Tell my mom I love her." A cynic might say that Big Mac
should have talked about his mother more often. But for Sheridan,
hearing those words forced him to look at what he had done. He says he
cried, and guilt began to percolate. As time passed, he quietly began
grieving for McKenna's family and prayed for his victim, using words he
says will remain "between me and God."
He also was troubled when he saw the autopsy photos. "The guy
really was a mess," he says, shaking his head. He tries to put
himself into his victim's place, but his thinking is muddled. "I
certainly wouldn't appreciate anyone jumping out of the bushes and
taking me out. Mac didn't know what was happening, and all of a sudden
he was dying."
Woods and Amos were suspects immediately after the killing, but
investigators had no luck making a case. Eight years passed. Then, in
1997, the case drew the attention of Rick Morton, a 26-year veteran of
the Los Angeles Police Department who had joined the Orange County
district attorney's office three years before. Morton and his team
conducted interview after interview with dancers, cronies and club
employees. The answer to the question, "Who killed McKenna?"
was often the same: Woods, and maybe Amos. Even Woods' brother Richard
thought so. But as hard as Morton and his team worked, by 2000 they had
little new information.
They were about to get lucky.
When Sheridan heard about the Orange County investigation, he began to
worry--in ways Woods and Amos did not. All three had to fear the cops.
But Sheridan also had to watch over his shoulder for his bosses. It
wasn't hard to figure out why: He had left no biological evidence of the
crime and had destroyed the gun. There were no witnesses. He was home
free, and so were Woods and Amos--provided Sheridan kept quiet. As
Morton says, "The ultimate loss of control is the danger of someone
you don't trust being able to put you on death row."
Fearful that Sheridan might talk, Woods and Amos gave him another
$10,000. Even so, Sheridan believed he eventually would be
"whacked" by the partners. "One time, Mike invited me to
go to Lake Mead with him and David and go out on his boat." He
laughs merrily. "I wasn't that dumb." He believes that had the
situation continued, he would have had to kill Woods to save himself.
"Other than going to the cops, that was my only option."
Sheridan also had developed an interest in religion, and in February
2000 he went to a Catholic priest and unburdened himself about the
murder. He didn't stop there. He also went to the police and confessed.
Police wanted stronger evidence and persuaded Sheridan to wear a wire in
the hope that Amos would incriminate himself. From February to October
of 2000, Sheridan spent hours with Amos, using every opportunity to
discuss the murder and their respective roles. Sheridan couldn't use the
same tactic with Woods because Amos had been his sole contact on the
killing, and an approach to Woods at that point would have aroused
Wearing a wire was dangerous. If Amos checked for the device, Sheridan
might have found out very quickly what God thought of him. But the ploy
worked. On Oct. 26, 2000, police arrested Amos for murder and brought
him face to face with Sheridan. Shaken, Amos agreed to wear a wire for a
meeting with Woods. The next day, Woods and Amos had lunch
at Jerry's Famous Deli in Woodland Hills. Investigators listening to
the conversation heard Woods discussing ways to continue covering up the
killing. He was arrested immediately after leaving the restaurant.
An Orange County jury convicted Woods on Sept. 7 of first-degree murder.
He will be sentenced next month to life in prison without the
possibility of parole. Amos, for his cooperation, was allowed to plead
guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to 20 years.
Sheridan also was allowed to plead guilty to manslaughter for the
contract murder--a crime that could have earned him the death penalty.
He, too, has been sentenced to 20 years, of which he will have to serve
at least half. "I wasted my life," Sheridan says from his seat
beyond the glass. "I wasted my wife's life. I understand
that." Sheridan's wife, once a nude dancer, is now a born-again
Christian who, he says, supported his decision to step forward because
they both wanted to start over, free and clear of the strip-club life.
She has since moved to another state to try to hold her family together.
Asked how she is doing, he says, "Not well."
Visits with his kids are rare and painful because he is reminded of all
that he has thrown away. "When my 8-year-old girl asks when I'm
coming home, I have to tell her it'll be when she's in college."
The girl explains to people that her "daddy killed a bad guy."
Yet despite his new religion, Sheridan cultivates a hatred for Woods
that he says provided additional impetus for going to the police. By
doing so, he says, he prevented additional killings that Woods would
have commissioned, including his own.
He also resents Woods for being cheap, duplicitous and sexually using
the dancers. "Mike messed with me and messed with a lot of people
over a lot of years. I want Mike to have a long life so he can suffer.
If Mike had had the guts to kill me himself, he wouldn't be in the mess
he's in. I want him to think about that until the day he dies."
The time in prison will also give Sheridan time to think. He can
probably use all of it, for the odd truth is that Sheridan still can't
explain why he did it, why he agreed to coldly aim an assault weapon at
a fellow with whom he had no quarrel. Ask him the question a hundred
different ways, and he cannot provide a single satisfying answer.
Ultimately, an answer emerges: A screwed-up drug abuser committed murder
primarily because he was a screwed-up drug abuser.
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (AP) -- A state appeals court ruled that paying
two female entertainers to perform sex shows inside an adult club is not
The ruling issued Tuesday by the 4th District Court of Appeal marks the
first time that the court reviewed a case involving sexual conduct in
front of a paying audience classified as prostitution by prosecutors.
The court's decision also clears two managers and eight dancers at the Flesh Nightclub in San
Bernardino of prostitution, pimping and pandering charges.
Prosecutors filed the case because they alleged the sex acts witnessed
inside the club last year by undercover police officers was
prostitution. The officers posing as customers paid to watch the sex
Attorneys who represented the dancers and managers said the officers
were not involved in the sexual contact and paid only to watch the shows
inside a private room.
In a split opinion, two of the three justices agreed.
"We conclude that the definition of prostitution ... requires
sexual contact between the prostitute and the customer," wrote
Justices James D. Ward and Barton C. Gaut in their majority opinion.
"In this case, it is undisputed that there was no sexual contact
between the dancers and the officers. Without sexual contact, there can
be no prostitution."
Justice Betty A. Richli filed a dissenting opinion in favor of finding
the sex acts as illegal prostitution.
"I'm so delighted because I've said all along it was a misuse of
the law, and the city of San Bernardino should be spending its money
elsewhere," said Roger Jon Diamond, an attorney who represented the
strip club employees.
Prosecutors declined to comment on the appeals court ruling until they
had a chance to review it. It wasn't immediately known whether
prosecutors will appeal the case to the state Supreme Court.
The battle between city officials and the club has lasted for years.
City officials won a court injunction to close the club but later lost
the fight on appeal and the business reopened in 1999.
The ruling will be published that will make the case binding in all
state courts. It also creates a legal precedent that can be cited by
attorneys in other cases.
By STUART PFEIFER and JACK LEONARD, Times Staff Writers
The Los Angeles Times
A former CHP officer accused of ordering the slaying of a man who
co-owned several nude dance clubs with him was convicted of first-degree
murder Friday, 12 1/2 years after Horace "Big Mac" McKenna was
gunned down outside his Brea mansion.
Michael Woods, 59, dropped his head as the guilty verdict touched off
commotion in the Santa Ana courtroom. Woods' wife and two grown
daughters sobbed hysterically, prompting a bailiff to ask them to calm
The silver-haired Woods, sitting at the defense table, turned toward his
family and said softly, "Don't cry." At the back of the public
gallery, McKenna's 35-year-old son wiped away tears. The verdict capped
a two-week trial in which prosecutors accused Woods of paying his
bodyguard $50,000 to arrange the slaying in a bold attempt to win sole
control of the strip clubs he operated with McKenna.
Outside court, Michael McKenna said he was relieved that jurors had
finally ended the mystery into who was behind his father's death, long
considered one of Southern California's most sensational whodunits.
"It's like I can finally stop wondering now. My dad can now rest
and I can now rest," McKenna said. "To me, it's finally
The killing went unsolved until last year, when a longtime police
informant surfaced and told investigators with the Orange County
district attorney's office that he committed the crime--at the request
Organized crime investigators went undercover for nearly a year before
making arrests. On Friday, detectives said they were relieved to resolve
what had been a "cold case" for too many years.
"It was a long ordeal. I'm glad it's over for [McKenna's]
family," said district attorney's investigator Tom Stewart.
"The right thing was done."
But Woods' attorneys said they were disappointed and vowed to appeal,
saying their client was denied a fair trial.
They criticized prosecutors and Superior Court Judge Kazuharu Makino for
preventing them from cross-examining the alleged hit man. Had John
Patrick Sheridan been forced to testify, Woods' attorneys said, they
could have exposed inconsistencies in the case and proved that Woods had
nothing to do with the killing.
"It put us at a terrible disadvantage," said lawyer Richard
Hirsch. "To me, not being allowed to call him [as a witness] is a
miscarriage of justice."
Hirsch said Woods firmly believed the jury of seven men and five women
would acquit him.
"He's shocked by the verdict. He's very upset," the attorney
Woods faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the
possibility of parole. Jurors and prosecutors declined to comment on the
Woods and McKenna met in the 1960s while working as California Highway
Patrol motorcycle officers in Los Angeles. McKenna was forced out of the
CHP and Woods resigned his position in the 1970s, and the two became
business associates in several nude clubs, including Bare Elegance and
the New Jet Strip.
McKenna--a 300-pound bodybuilder--died after being hit by machine gun
fire as he sat in a chauffeured limousine outside a Brea estate that
housed a menagerie of exotic animals.
Prosecutors charged that Woods had grown tired of being bullied by his
flamboyant business partner and had asked his bodyguard, David Amos, to
arrange McKenna's murder.
During the trial, Amos testified that Woods believed McKenna had
threatened at one point to rape his daughters. In response to that
threat, Amos said, Woods asked him to hire a hit man, Sheridan.
Prosecutors let jurors hear a tape recording made last
year of Amos and Woods discussing the March 9, 1989, murder over lunch
at Jerry's Famous Deli in Studio City.
In the exchange, captured on a hidden device, Amos said he was worried
about Sheridan's loyalty because the hit man had complained he was never
paid as promised.
"Well, I hate to say this, but you're the one . . . you told me you
would take care of Johnny," Woods told Amos on the tape.
"I know," Amos responded. "I thought he forgot about it.
I mean, you said you'd do it, and I forgot to give it to him . . . I
mean he can't prove it's you."
"Yeah," Woods replied.
But defense attorneys argued at trial that it was Amos who wanted
McKenna dead, and that he had hatched the idea on his own and had paid a
hit man to commit the crime.
Both Amos and Sheridan have received consideration for their cooperation
with authorities in the case. They have agreed to plead guilty to
manslaughter and receive 20-year prison sentences.
By STUART PFEIFER, Times Staff Writer
The Los Angeles Times
They were the odd couple of the strip-club world, the brawny enforcer
who ruled with his fists and the brainy executive, nearly a foot
shorter, who handled the books.
Horace McKenna and Michael Woods ran a chain of popular Los Angeles
County strip clubs for more than a decade until one night in 1989, when
their partnership ended with machine-gun fire.
On Wednesday, an Orange County prosecutor told a Superior Court jury
that Woods turned against his longtime partner so he could take over the
clubs, paying his bodyguard to kill the man most people called "Big
Mac." That bodyguard, David Amos, is expected to be the
prosecution's star witness against Woods. Woods' lawyers presented a
sharply different version as the trial opened in Santa Ana. They contend
that Amos is the one who wanted McKenna dead, that he hatched the idea
on his own and paid a hit man to commit the crime.
"The responsibility, the plan and the scheme to kill Horace McKenna
rests squarely upon the shoulders of one person, David Amos," said
Woods' lawyer, Vicki Podberesky.
McKenna was arriving at his Brea hillside estate in a chauffeur-driven
limousine March 9, 1989, when a gunman emerged from the darkness and
shot him repeatedly with an Uzi.
The crime went unsolved for more than a decade until January 2000, when
a longtime police informant surfaced and told district attorney
investigators he committed the crime--at the request of Woods and Amos.
After a lengthy undercover investigation, authorities arrested Woods,
Amos and admitted hit man John Patrick Sheridan in October. At one point
in the investigation, Amos wore a hidden recording wire while discussing
the crime with Woods, the prosecutor said.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Bruce Moore said Woods paid Amos $50,000 and a 40%
stake in three strip clubs to kill McKenna, a 300-pound bodybuilder.
Amos in turn paid $25,000 to Sheridan, who actually committed the
killing, Moore said.
After the killing, Amos stepped into McKenna's role, helping Woods run
the clubs now known as Bare
Elegance, the New Jet
Strip and Valley Ball.
Amos and Woods also went into the movie business, producing two action
movies with striking similarities to the McKenna case. In one of them,
"Flipping," one gangster works secretly for the police,
gathering information for prosecutors, just as Amos did years later in
Both Amos and Sheridan have received consideration for their cooperation
in the case. They have agreed to plead guilty to manslaughter and
receive 20-year prison sentences after Woods' trial.
By ANNA GORMAN, Times Staff Writer
The Los Angeles Times
In a Corona case that could affect topless bars throughout
California, a state appeals board has ruled that a Department of
Alcoholic Beverage Control regulation restricting topless dancing
infringes on the dancers' constitutional rights.
The decision could make it more difficult for the department to suspend
or revoke licenses of topless bars.
The Alcoholic Beverage Control Appeals Board decided that the
regulation, forbidding women from touching parts of their bodies while
dancing topless, violated the 1st Amendment. In a decision made public
this week, panel members wrote that the regulation infringed on the
rights of expression of Angel's Sports Bar
owner Renee Vicary and her dancers. The decision means the department
can no longer discipline a licensed bar for permitting certain conduct
by topless dancers unless that dancing is considered lewd or obscene.
The board considers such issues separately.
Vicary's attorney, Roger Jon Diamond, called the Aug. 16 ruling a
victory for topless cabarets throughout the state.
"It's a weapon in the arsenal to stop the onslaught against
protected speech," said Diamond, who frequently represents adult
entertainment clubs. "It will make it much more difficult for
cities to try to go after these clubs because it says that this kind of
conduct is protected by the 1st Amendment."
Department May Appeal the Ruling
Diamond added that bars no longer have to be worried about the ABC
taking away their licenses if their dancers touch themselves while
The Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control has until next month to
decide whether to ask the state appellate court to review the case.
"The ball is in our court," said department spokesman Carl
DeWing. "We are just reviewing our options to decide whether we
intend to basically appeal."
He declined to comment specifically on the ruling.
Loyola law professor Karl Manheim said the ruling will affect the
department, but its effect on cities depends on how much they use the
ABC to "enforce their moral standards."
Cities trying to shut down topless and nude clubs sometimes call the
department to report possible violations.
Some city councils pass their own ordinances--ranging from zoning
regulations to rules prohibiting physical contact between dancers and
patrons--in an attempt to shut down bars, Manheim said.
Such measure are often too restrictive to hold up in court. "There
is a tendency of cities to go too far and try to regulate more than they
constitutionally can," he said. "That's when they get into
Manheim said California courts that are asked to make rulings on the
constitutionality of city ordinances will probably not pay that much
attention to the appeals board ruling.
Vicary has run Angels Sports Bar in Corona since 1992 and has provided
topless dancing since 1996, according to legal papers in the case.
State regulations prohibit bars from serving alcohol if they offer nude
dancing. But bars such as Vicary's can serve alcohol if their dancers
are topless and follow ABC regulations.
In 1999, department agents reported that seven women dancers had
violated one of those regulations: a rule prohibiting dancers from
touching, caressing or fondling themselves. The rule says those actions
are "deemed contrary to public welfare and morals."
'Expressive Element of the Dance'
In response to the reports, an administrative law judge in February 2000
suspended Vicary's license to sell alcohol.
Vicary appealed the decision to the board, which is made up of members
appointed by the governor. The appeals board determined that the
dancers' actions were part of the "expressive element of the
Peter Eliasberg, an ACLU staff attorney who has fought the ABC in a
previous case, said he believes the department should not be worrying
about what dancers are doing.
"The ABC should be in the business of regulating alcohol," he
said. "They shouldn't go beyond that."
By STUART PFEIFER and JACK LEONARD, Times Staff Writers
The Los Angeles Times
One of the accused masterminds in the 1989 machine-gun slaying of a
flamboyant Los Angeles strip-club owner has cut a deal with prosecutors
in which he will become a star prosecution witness in a trial set to
start next week.
British immigrant David Amos will receive a reduced sentence for his
testimony against Michael Woods, the man police say ordered the club
Authorities allege that Woods wanted Horace "Big Mac" McKenna
of Brea dead so he could take over his Los Angeles County strip-club
empire. Woods allegedly gave Amos the money to hire a hit man. After the
slaying, Woods became the clubs' majority owner, with Amos, his former
bodyguard, holding a stake, according to court documents. The 1989
ambush slaying of McKenna outside his Brea estate went unsolved until
last year when the triggerman confessed and agreed to help implicate
Amos and Woods.
Woods, Amos and confessed killer John Patrick Sheridan have been in jail
without bail since their arrests in October.
Prosecutors declined to comment on the case. But Woods' attorney, Vicki
Podberesky, said that in exchange for his testimony, Amos will receive a
sentence of 20 years, making him eligible for parole within 10 years.
With the deal, prosecutors will present testimony from two of the three
men accused in McKenna's murder, both saying that Woods planned the
killing. Still, Podberesky said Amos will not make a believable witness.
"We're going to prove he's not a credible witness," she said.
"The only people culpable for this murder are teaming up against my
In addition to Amos' and Sheridan's testimony, prosecutors are expected
to introduce a transcript
of a secretly recorded lunch conversation in October during which
Amos and Woods discussed the killing.
"If I take the fall for you, what are you going to do? . . . Are
you going to look after my family?" Amos asked, according to a
transcript of the conversation.
"Yes, Dave," Woods replied.
A few hours before the conversation, investigators with the district
attorney's office had arrested Amos and asked him to cooperate. Amos
declared he would not testify at Woods' trial but recently agreed to
cooperate, attorneys said.
Woods and McKenna worked together as California Highway Patrol
motorcycle officers in Los Angeles before becoming business associates
in several nude clubs around Southern California.
McKenna, a 6-foot-6 bodybuilder, was forced out of the CHP in the 1970s
and spent four years in federal prison for passing counterfeit money. He
was sent back to prison on a parole violation.
Despite his troubles, McKenna turned the strip clubs' profits into a
lavish lifestyle that included a 40-acre hilltop estate, where he housed
He died in a hail of machine-gun fire on March 9, 1989, as he sat in a
limousine outside his home.
By MONICA RODRIGUEZ
POMONA - A Los Angeles Superior Court judge has ruled the city must
issue a business license to an organization that wants to open a striptease club in
the eastern part of the city.
According to a tentative decision by Superior Court Judge Ernest M.
Hiroshige, the city must issue a business license to Advanced
Entertainment Inc. owned by Bill Dannels and Calvin Wong. The
businessmen want to open an adult cabaret in a converted warehouse at
1405 E. Mission Blvd.
City spokeswoman Lilia Rodriguez said Thursday the city had no
"We are not making any comments at this time because (the
matter) is still under litigation,'' Rodriguez said.
The lawyer representing Advanced Entertainment, Roger Jon Diamond, said his
client plans to open the adult cabaret on July 20.
"They are planning on opening whether they get the license or
not,'' Diamond said, adding his clients were pleased with the court
"They're ecstatic,'' Diamond said. "They are just appalled
at how much money the city politicians have spent - not from their
pockets, but from the taxpayers' pockets.''
According to the tentative decision made Monday by Hiroshige, a city
ordinance states city business license officials have 60 days in which
to grant adult businesses a permit unless the chief of police or
building officials give a reason for denial.
In the Advanced case, the city took about five months to issue the
denial, Diamond said. At that point, the businessmen where told the
facility could not open at the location because it would have been 1,248
feet from a school site.
City regulations prohibit adult entertainment venues within 1,250
feet of places such as schools and churches.
After the businessmen applied for the license, the school was moved
from the 200 block of East End Avenue to 1515 E. Third St., putting it
about 800 feet from the proposed club, Diamond said.
The courts have already ruled that if a school or church moves into
an area near an adult entertainment center, the latter's application
must be retained, he said.
Diamond said the location for the cabaret possesses no problems
because it's in the midst of an industrial zone.
"It's an ideal area because it's far away from any sensitive
use,'' Diamond said.
The fact that the cabaret will open near the school facility
shouldn't take the school district by surprise since they were
originally named as a defendant in the case to assure they were aware of
the situation, he said.
Bill Stelzner, spokesman for the Pomona Unified School District, said
the location at 1515 E. Third St. is an alternative education center run
by Pomona Alternative School.
Diamond said the school's lease on the property expired Sunday, but
Stelzner denied that.
"As far as we know, our intent is to continue using the site
through the end of the coming school year,'' he said.
The center is primarily used by students enrolled in independent
study programs, he said. Students, such as young parents or those who
are holding down jobs, complete academic work at home and then go to the
center to meet with faculty members for individual instruction, Stelzner
The site serves students in the eastern part of the district, he
said. Sites for such facilities are generally selected based on their
accessibility and proximity to transportation.
Monica Rodriguez can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
or by phone at (909) 483-9336.
By JEFF GOTTLIEB, Times Staff Writer
The Los Angeles Times
After her attorney threatened a lawsuit, a Cal State Fullerton
student who was kicked off the cross-country and track teams for working
as a stripper can rejoin the squad if she meets the usual eligibility
And that could be a more difficult hurdle than the ones she clears
during the steeplechase.
Coach John Elders told Leilani Rios in January 2000 that she had a
choice--quit stripping or stop running. Her part-time job at the Flamingo Theater in
Anaheim, he told her, violated the university's five-paragraph Athletics
Code of Conduct, which says, "Most importantly, [team members] give
everyone who sees them a positive image of Titan student-athletes.
Rios, 21, received a letter this week from Robert Palmer, vice
president of student services, inviting her back. University system
lawyers decided the constitutionally protected activity of stripping
would be a tough one to take on in court.
"While we believe our coaches should be the ones interpreting
the university's athletes code of conduct, our attorneys have advised us
that may not be possible," said CSUF spokeswoman Paula Selleck,
"especially when the activity is constitutionally protected, such
as exotic dancing."
According to Joseph Tacopina, Rios' attorney, Coach Elders has said
that stripping goes against his moral credo as a Christian. Elders could
not be reached for response.
"[Cal State Fullerton] tried to deflect the conduct of the coach
by citing this code of athletic conduct," Tacopina said.
But the university ultimately could prevail if Rios cannot regain her
Rios' husband, Wayne Hurtado, said that at the moment, his wife would
be ineligible because of academic problems that he says stemmed from her
being kicked off the team.
Rios, who could not be reached for comment, lacks sufficient credits
to maintain her eligibility under the standards of the National
Collegiate Athletic Assn., which governs intercollegiate sports.
"We have to go back with the school and the NCAA and see if we
can get that year credited back to her," said Hurtado, 31.
"Cal State Fullerton is admitting wrong by kicking her off the
team, so the NCAA should have no problem."
NCAA officials could not be reached late Friday.
Rios has about a C average, her attorney said.
But she could have another eligibility problem.
The notoriety over the dispute that has landed her on TV shows and in
newspaper and magazine articles, also has attracted the attention of
At present she can be observed on Playboy.com sans her running
uniform. Two weeks ago, her husband said, the magazine took photos for a
feature for which Rios was paid an undisclosed sum.
If Rios' pay from Playboy was related to her participation as an
athlete, it could be a violation of NCAA rules, said John Hauscarriague,
assistant athletic director for administration at UC Irvine.
Rios did not receive an athletic scholarship to compete at Cal State
Fullerton, and she was ranked in the middle of the university's
cross-country runners. She finished 60th in the Big West Conference
championships in 1999.
Tacopina said word of Rios' stripping job got around campus after
four members of the Cal State Fullerton baseball team at the Flamingo
Theater noticed her.
Tacopina said his client never used her college affiliation as part
of her act. The baseball players, he said, were wearing their hats and
one of them was wearing a school practice jersey. The athletes also were
drinking and stuffing money into the dancers' bikini bottoms, he said.
No baseball players have been disciplined.
Once the Rios situation went public, baseball coach George Horton
asked his players if any had gone to the Flamingo, spokeswoman Selleck
said. No one would admit visiting the theater.
The coach explained the behavior code to his team and told them that
going to strip clubs was inappropriate, Selleck said.
Rios has no plans to make stripping a career, Tacopina said, but is
using it to help finance her college education. Her husband of 15 months
is a foreman at a supermarket milk plant.
Hurtado said his wife works a couple of days a week, adding,
"She makes as much in a day as some people make in a week."
SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) - A topless dancer who got tipsy and had a car
accident can sue her club for encouraging her to drink with customers, a
Texas appeals court ruled on Thursday.
The court overturned a lower court decision forbidding the lawsuit,
which dancer Sarah Salazar filed after a 1998 traffic accident resulted
in her being charged with driving while intoxicated.
Salazar contended that she was impaired when she left work because
her employer, Giorgio's Mens Club in San Antonio, urged the dancers to
drink with customers so they would buy more drinks at inflated prices.
That alleged policy made the club liable for damages, the court
Forrest Welmaker, Salazar's attorney, said it may be difficult to
pursue the lawsuit because Giorgio's has gone out of business.
But, he said, the ruling might make topless clubs take better care of
``They need to be responsible and look after their dancers as closely
as they look after their patrons,'' Welmaker said.
By LARRY BORTSTEIN
The Orange County
An attorney for Leilani Rios is asking Cal State Fullerton athletic
officials to reinstate her to the school's cross country team more than
a year after the coach dismissed her because of her part-time job as an
exotic dancer at an Anaheim club.
In response, a CSF official has offered to discuss with Rios the
possibility that, if finances are the reason she works at the club, she
could receive assistance procuring a job on campus.
While the notoriety of her situation has resulted in several
appearances on national TV talk and news shows and an upcoming pictorial
in Playboy magazine, Rios, 21, who continues to take classes at CSF, is
at an impasse.
"All she wants is for the school to let her back on the team and
to issue a public apology," said Joseph Tacopina, a New York
attorney who specializes in civil rights cases.
He made those requests on Rios' behalf in a May 22 letter to CSF
athletic director John Easterbrook, asking that she be reinstated by
The letter stipulates that John Elders, who coaches the school's
track and cross country teams and identifies himself as a Christian,
dismissed Rios, a non-scholarship athlete, because her dancing at the
Flamingo Theater violated an "Athlete's Code of Conduct."
But, Tacopina's letter goes on, "It is Coach Elders who sets the
standards for membership on the team and that his everyday practice of
identifying himself as a Christian does not negate this."
Responding for CSF in a letter dated June 1, Robert L. Palmer, vice
president for student affairs, offered Rios help landing an on-campus
However, he said no determination on her possible reinstatement to
the cross country team could be considered until "the university
reviews its grading process for the spring 2001 semester."
Wayne Hurtado, Rios' husband, said his wife passed all her courses
during the semester.
"There's no question that she is academically eligible,"
He said he and Rios found Palmer's offer to help her find a job at
the school "insulting."
Said Hurtado: "Why should she work as a food server or in the
school library when she can earn better money doing something that's
Jane Jankowski, a spokeswoman for the NCAA, said the governing body
for intercollegiate athletics had no jurisdiction on the Rios matter
because Rios is not on scholarship.
"It's entirely a matter between her and the school,"`
Rios will appear Monday night on HBO's "Real Sports," with
KFI radio has announced it will hold a rally for Rios on June 23 at
the Flamingo Theater from 3-6 p.m.
By K. CONNIE KANG
The Los Angeles Times
To Philip and Sandy Young, proprietors of a Chinatown printing shop,
the mere mention of bringing nude dancing to their community is
"It will destroy our community," Sandy Young said. "You
never know what kind of people will come into Chinatown."
Chinatown-watchers cannot remember the last time the community got as
worked up or united as it has over a Nevada firm's effort to open what
it calls an "upscale" erotic dance club in the 200 block of
The fact that the firm lost its bid for zoning has done little to calm
residents. The would-be developer--a company with ties to two adult
clubs in North Hollywood--has gone to federal court to overturn the
In late March, the Los Angeles City Council, in a closed session, voted
10 to 0 to fight the lawsuit after about 500 people, including prominent
Chinese American leaders, packed the council chambers to express their
Speakers condemned the nude club as a slap at the Chinese American
"Would you allow this kind of joint to go next door to Canter's
Deli? No! Why? Because it would hurt and possibly destroy the very
special spirit of that delightful little neighborhood around Fairfax and
Beverly," said the Rev. Kenneth Yee, a pastor at Chinatown's First
Chinese Baptist Church, the largest Chinese church in the Western
"To let this joint into Chinatown would be to permit the attack of
an Ebola virus, injected into our very body," Yee said.
Cheuk Choi, principal of Castelar Elementary School, added that
"hundreds upon hundreds" of middle and high school students
are dropped off every school day at the corner of Alpine and Yale
streets, a block and a half from the proposed site.
"If the adult business is established, undesirable criminal
elements will surely follow suit," he said. "Who is going to
protect the children?"
Opponents have lobbied city officials and gathered more than 7,000
signatures in an effort to kill the project.
City officials denied a building permit to the club's promoter, 211
Alpine Street L.L.C., because an English-language school had been
approved in the same block. That, the city said, violated an ordinance
prohibiting adult entertainment within 500 feet of any religious
institution, school or public park, or within 1,000 feet of another
adult entertainment facility.
211 Alpine said the rejection was illegal because it had filed its
permit application more than a month before the school did. City
officials say the school completed the permit process before the nude
"Is it constitutional for a city to deny an adult business a
permit, where the only 'sensitive use' that would defeat that permit
application was not even in existence at the time the adult business
applied for its permit?" said G. Randall Garrou, one of the
attorneys representing 211 Alpine. The case is in the early stages with
no trial date set.
A principal of 211 Alpine L.L.C., Michael Criddle, is also listed as an
officer of Deja Vu
Showgirls and Deja Vu Venus
Faire, both in North Hollywood.
Hotelier Peter Kwong Jr., whose family owns Best Western Dragon Gate Inn
on North Hill Street, said the unified opposition is a departure from
"Chinatown has not been known to agree on anything--what with the
older and the younger generation disagreeing on everything--but this
issue has brought everybody together," he said.
At stake, opponents say, is nothing less than Chinatown's way of life.
"Chinese culture is family-oriented," said Philip Young,
inside his shop where his two children, Casey, 9, and Holly, 7, played,
their doting grandfather beside them.
After school, Casey and Holly, students at Castelar Elementary School a
block away, come "home" to the family business. Until it's
time for them to go to Confucius School, where they study Mandarin and
Cantonese, they play or do homework at the shop.
The overlap of work and play is a rhythm of life familiar to generations
of Chinatown immigrants, and one that they cherish.
"Chinatown is a lovely little lotus garden that has been
transplanted, slowly and delicately nurtured," said Yee.
Many believe the intrusion of adult entertainment would elicit shame,
especially among the elderly and women, causing them to shun the block,
hurting hundreds of businesses in the surrounding area.
"Can you imagine, how they would feel, when they walk down the
street here, and see a nude dancing club advertised?" asked Choi, a
Chinatown resident for 30 years.
The proposed project would not only destroy that special Chinatown
ambience, but also "knock down" all the "money, manpower
and sweat," the community has expended through a business
improvement district, said the Rev. Yee.
As printer Philip Young walked his two children to Confucius School, he
pointed to school buses letting out students at the corner of Alpine and
"We have a lot at stake," Young said. "As a community, we
have our moral standard. No matter what the outcome of the lawsuit, we
are going to be on their doorstep if they're going to try to come
By SUSAN CARPENTER
The Los Angeles Times
When Alicia Cadena strolls onto the stage of a club near LAX, wearing
her thigh-high vinyl go-go boots and neon-green hot pants, she expects
to make bank. Any self-respecting exotic dancer would after a
five-minute shimmy, swivel and strip routine that leaves no questions
about her ample anatomy.
For young women like Cadena, who make their money peeling away their
G-strings and teasing off their tops, stripping is a job--a job as real
as waitressing and one with some parallel compensation issues.
Strippers--like waitresses--are considered employees under federal
law, meaning they're owed an hourly wage and expected to pay taxes on
their earnings from tips. Most exotic dancers don't get to keep much of
the tip money that club patrons give them, though. That despite a new
California law that took effect Jan. 1, which says dancers are entitled
to keep 100% of cash tips from customers.
Many clubs continue to take as much as half of dancers' gratuities
and do not pay them an hourly wage. That has made exotic dance clubs a
hotbed for labor disputes in recent years.
It's a high-stakes game for everyone involved. The adult
entertainment industry is a multibillion-dollar-a-year business
involving about 3,000 exotic dance clubs and tens of thousands of
dancers nationally. Several thousands of those dancers are in
Nationwide, the courts have ruled in dozens of lawsuits and continue
to handle cases filed by dancers claiming unfair employment practices.
In California, the state Labor Commission has handled about 100
complaints from dancers in the last few years.
"I have witnessed other girls not even making $40 for one
night's shift," said Cadena, 32, who has been dancing seven years.
"That's not even minimum wage."
Cadena usually ends her work shift with $400 or more in cash--bills
she's collected from the stage floor at the end of her strip routines
and retrieved from her string bikini during private dances. Many dancers
are not as financially successful. After paying stage fees and tipping
club staff, they may leave with next to nothing.
"This is an industry that is going to have to be brought into
compliance kicking and dragging," said Miles Locker, chief counsel
for the state Labor Commission, the agency charged with enforcing AB 2509, the new law.
The new law amends Section 350 of the Labor Code, inserting new
language regarding dancers' tips. The amendment reads: "Any amounts
paid directly by a patron to a dancer . . . shall be deemed a
Supporting the change were dancers' lobbying groups and state
agencies that wanted to make clubs accountable for the mostly cash
income the clubs were taking in, according to Locker. "[These
clubs] are used to making lots of money off the dancers, and they don't
want that situation to change."
In fact, two dance clubs in San Diego contend the new law is
unconstitutional and filed suit against the Labor Commission in
February. The suit claims that the law treats the exotic dance club
industry differently than other industries and that it interferes with
the contracts clubs have with their dancers.
"[AB 2509] is just a way of trying to steal money from the
club," said George Mull, counsel for CB & DM Entertainment Inc.
and Jolar Cinema in San Diego, the two clubs that filed the suit.
Most clubs set fees for the services their dancers provide--such as a
lap dance in which the dancer straddles the customer and moves
provocatively for the length of one song. The customer pays the dancer,
and most clubs then take a 50% cut--their fair share, they say, for
providing the venue.
"It's ridiculous to look at this as a tip," said Mull.
"Most men that have gone to a club, if they asked a girl to come
over and do . . . table dances and at the end said, 'Here's $7,' she'd
say, 'No. The stated price is $20.' It's not a tip. You can't just
change the name of something and have it be different than what it
Whether that money is a tip or a fee is at the heart of the issue in
California. A larger issue nationally is whether the dancers should be
classified as employees.
The majority of dance clubs, in California and nationwide, consider
their dancers to be independent contractors or tenants, not employees.
As such, they do not pay their dancers by the hour or provide other
employee benefits, such as workers' compensation or disability. Many
clubs even charge them to perform.
A lawsuit filed by dancers says that Deja Vu, a national chain of
exotic clubs based in Lansing, Mich., charges a stage fee of $50 to $100
just to come to work, fines them for being late, chewing gum on stage or
failing to smile during performances. In addition, the suit says the
clubs require dancers to tip a minimum of $10 to each waitress,
bartender, deejay and parking attendant, to purchase a $10 "ladies
drink" during each shift, and takes a 40% cut of the money dancers
earn from lap dances.
"As soon as you walked in, you were in the negative," said
Cadena, who worked for Deja
Vu in North Hollywood in 1998 but now works at the Century Lounge near LAX,
one of a small number of area clubs that pay an hourly wage and grant
other employee benefits.
In December 1998, Cadena and a handful of other dancers filed eight
separate class-action lawsuits against various clubs where they are not
treated as employees--including Deja Vu, Bob's Classy Lady and Industrial Strip,
all clubs where Cadena had worked in North Hollywood in the '90s. Eleven
other lawsuits involving 30 clubs and potentially thousands of women are
pending on the same issue in California courts. But even if the dancers
win, there's no guarantee anything will change.
"They always rule in favor of the dancers. The laws are on the
book," said Johanna Breyer, co-founder of the Exotic Dancers
Alliance, an educational outreach group in San Francisco. "While
the courts are saying go ahead and pay these people and you can't do X,
Y and Z, they're still not complying with the laws and nobody's telling
them to do anything about it unless a dancer complains."
A former exotic dancer, Breyer filed a complaint with the state Labor
Commission against the Bijou Group and Mitchell Brothers'
O'Farrell Theater in San Francisco in 1993. She was also part of a
class-action lawsuit against the same theaters in 1994. In 1998, the
plaintiffs won a $2.85-million settlement for back wages and stage fees.
While that money was paid and the clubs' employment practices changed
as a result of the suit, some clubs that have lost in court defy the
court's orders, leaving it up to the dancers to seek compliance.
"It's an enforcement issue," said Breyer.
But there's only so much the Labor Commission can do.
"We're an agency that has limited resources, and there are an
awful lot of different types of employees who are in other industries
that are the victims of unlawful employment practices. We can't take our
field staff, who are trying to improve conditions in the garment
industry or among agricultural workers, and abandon those areas to focus
on another industry," Locker said. "We're doing the most we
In the absence of effective enforcement, the policing is left up to
the dancers, who are often afraid to complain because they fear they
will be blacklisted. "Unionization is one of the best ways to
ensure compliance because that way the workers are keeping the owners in
check," said Breyer.
Still, she admits it's a difficult task. Of the tens of thousands
throughout the country, only one club is unionized--dancers at the Lusty
Lady in San Francisco joined the Service Employees International Union
"I think it goes back to the fear and intimidation tactics of
the management," said Breyer, who is no longer a dancer but
continues to work on behalf of dancers as director of social services at
a health clinic for sex workers.
Cadena hasn't let that stop her. She continues to dance at a handful
of venues she describes as more dancer-friendly.
"The clubs have done wrong by not paying us minimum wage,"
said Cadena, who became an exotic dancer to help finance her college
education and is one semester short of earning her commercial music
degree. "We deserve it."
By MARY SCHUBERT
ARCADIA -- Citing lap dances and other violations, the city has revoked
the business permit of Golden
Eyes Gentlemen's Club, a decision that came a few days after the
nude bar had already closed its doors.
The action brings at least a temporary end to the controversial
establishment, which opened in January 2000 at 1580 Clark St., in an
industrial section on the south end of town.
Arcadia Police Department officers and Los Angeles County sheriff's
deputies made undercover visits to the dance club several times last
year to check whether the owners were complying with the terms of the
adult business regulatory permit that the city issued Golden Eyes in
Instead, authorities found numerous violations, according to the
ruling by city hearing officer Stephen Haberfeld, a retired judge.
"The adult business regulatory permit of Golden Eyes Gentlemen's
Club should be revoked," Haberfeld said in his recommendation,
issued on March 21.
In response, a three-member city panel -- the Business License Permit
and Review Board -- concurred with Haberfeld's recommendation, revoking
the permit last Wednesday.
That decision is final; under the Arcadia Municipal Code, businesses
have no option to appeal, said City Attorney Stephen Deitsch.
Plainclothes officers went to Golden Eyes numerous times in 2000,
documenting what they observed and experienced on March 4, March 17,
April 6, June 2 and Aug. 4.
Their accounts described graphic sexual contact between the naked
performers and the customers, including the undercover officers. The
women left the stage and went table to table, offering patrons topless
dances for $20 and nude dances for $40, police reported.
During the investigation, officers saw repeated instances of dancers
fondling the customers and/or themselves during lap dances -- thus
violating city rules that performers remain on the stage, keep at least
six feet away from the clientele and have no physical contact with the
"I think the city is not well served in hassling the club,
because it's located in the industrial section of the city, far from
so-called sensitive uses like schools and churches," said attorney
Roger Diamond, who represented two of the club owners, Frank
Bagheritarie and Amer Haddadin.
"You're talking about a remote place, far away from anything.
This was low-key, low-profile, out of the way -- so who could possibly
object to it?" Diamond said.
"After all, Arcadia allows horse racing and gambling. Gambling
hurts more families than nude dancing," he said. "What they're
doing here, in my opinion, is a violation of the First Amendment."
Golden Eyes recently came under new ownership, hiring attorney John
Weston, a First Amendment specialist, to represent them.
According to police accounts, a performer named Eve told an
undercover officer that "five dollars of each lap dance goes to the
club owner." Club disc jockeys continuously announced two-for-one
and three-for-one lap dance specials.
A manager walked around the club, "aware of lap dances,"
the police report said. "Every time a lap dance was given, the lap
dancer would contact a bouncer, who would note it on a clipboard."
Particularly notable was one Aug. 4 entry: "DJ announces welcome
to Arcadia Police and L.A. Sheriff's Department officers, who were
inside location. Customers continued to receive lap dances; observed
-- Mary Schubert can be reached at (626) 578-6300, Ext. 4456, or by
e-mail at email@example.com.
By MARLA JO FISHER and LARRY BORTSTEIN
The Orange County
Fullerton Leilani Rios believes that her love of running helped her
escape from a neighborhood where many girls end up as pregnant dropouts.
She ran her way onto the high school track team, and then to college,
eventually working her way onto the track team at California State
But the 21- year-old's athletic career ended abruptly last year when
her coach kicked her off the team because of her other career - working
as a stripper at an all-nude club in Anaheim to pay her way through
"He believes what I do is morally wrong," Rios said.
"He didn't want me representing his team."
Since the campus newspaper, the Daily Titan, and ESPN publicized her
story this month, Rios has become something of a campus celebrity.
"People are talking about it and we're doing some reaction
stories," said Daily Titan Managing Editor Vu Nguyen.
"Especially since it's Women's History Month."
Fullerton's head track coach, John Elders, said Rios' job violates
the university's code of conduct, which specifies that Titan athletes
should behave respectably, not cause disturbances or use foul language,
and "give everyone who sees them a positive image of Titan student-
And at nude clubs like the Anaheim's Flamingo Club, dancers
leave nothing to the imagination. Typically, their income is derived
from tips from appreciative customers.
"Working as a stripper wasn't the best way to represent the
university, the track team or me," Elders said.
But Rios believes she's the victim of a double standard: She said
Elders only found out about her other career after some Titan baseball
players - wearing CSUF hats and jerseys - came into the Flamingo while
she was stripping. The university's code of conduct specifies that
athletes, "when wearing something that associates themselves with
their teams ... act in a responsible and dignified manner."
Once the gossip got around, Rios said, the baseball players weren't
chastised for being in a strip club, but she was.
Rios said Elders called her into his office in January 2000 and gave
her an ultimatum: Give up stripping or you're off the team.
"At first, I asked him if there were any NCAA rules or Cal State
Fullerton rules that would kick me off, and he said, 'No, it's my rules.
I want to kick you off my team,'" Rios said. "But then, for
the ESPN interview, he brought out this code of conduct that he never
mentioned to me."
Rios, who is married, said she never represented herself as a Titan
athlete while working as an exotic dancer, and didn't tell people about
her job because they tended to judge her negatively.
Elders said he received permission from the school's athletic
director before deciding to remove Rios from the team. Director of
Athletics John Easterbrook said in a written statement, "Students
competing in intercollegiate athletics are held to a higher standard
than non-athletes. For the privilege of being on a team,
student-athletes relinquish rights that other students retain."
He did not return phone calls or e-mails.
The executive director of the New York-based Women's Sports
Foundation, which promotes gender equity in sports, agreed that coaches
generally have had broad authority to dismiss anyone from their teams
for anything except race, gender, religion or ethnicity.
However, Executive Director Donna Lopiano issued a written statement
arguing that Rios "should not have been kicked off the team because
she was in no way associating herself with the team when she was at the
club," and that the Titan ballplayers in the club should have
received equal treatment.
"Her behavior is perfectly legal and so is theirs," Lopiano
said. "But if the college considers stripping at a club to be a
serious offense, so it should be equally serious to engage in the
behavior of going to a strip club ... it shouldn't just be women that
are punished for behavior that obviously takes two to tango."
Rios, meanwhile, is still at the Flamingo three nights a week. She
declined to say how much she earns, but a popular stripper can earn $200
or more on a good night - and the hours are flexible.
A kinesiology major, Rios grew up in a tough neighborhood in San
Bernardino, the daughter of a truck driver and a homemaker, and said
she's the first person in her family to go to college. She hopes to
become a physical therapist after graduation.
Meanwhile, she is playing intramural soccer for fun and said she
still likes her coach, even after he fired her.
She has stopped running, saying it's no fun now that she's not on the
"If I could go back on the team, I would like to, but I think it
would be difficult with the coach," Rios said.
Register staff writer Fermin Leal Jr. contributed to this report.
By STUART PFEIFER
The Los Angeles Times
Orange County district attorney investigators watched the admitted
killer of a strip-club owner collect $3,000 for the hit last year, then
let him keep the money while he was working for them undercover, an
investigator testified Monday.
Lawyers for a suspect in the case were highly critical of the
authorities' actions, saying they should have seized the cash, not let a
suspected killer profit from murder.
"It's ludicrous," said Richard Hirsch, whose client,
Michael Woods, is accused of ordering the 1989 machine-gun slaying of
Horace "Big Mac" McKenna. Morton's testimony came during a
preliminary hearing at which Superior Court Judge Clay M. Smith ruled
there is enough evidence for the case against Woods to proceed to trial.
The accused hit man, John Patrick Sheridan, allegedly confessed last
year to killing McKenna but was released for nine months to work
undercover for authorities before they arrested him. Investigators
credit Sheridan's work for the arrests last year of Woods and a third
suspect, David Amos. Even if Sheridan is later convicted, he will not
have to return the money, which he has spent, according to the testimony
During the investigation, authorities said, they watched Amos make
the cash payment to Sheridan--a decade after the murder. They
photocopied the money and gave it back to Sheridan, district attorney
investigator Rick Morton said.
Morton said he does not know how Sheridan spent the money, and
authorities have no plans to collect it, even if Sheridan is convicted.
It is common for law enforcement agencies to pay their informants but
rare for them to let an admitted killer pocket money for a hit, legal
"Unbelievable," said Capistrano Beach lawyer Dean Steward,
who has worked dozens of cases with police informants. "That's far
worse than a straight payment. That smacks of participation in the crime
Morton defended authorities' actions in the case. He said Sheridan
was going to spend several days with Amos after the payment and his
cover would have been blown if he did not have the money.
"It's a very unorthodox thing we did," Morton said.
"But we did it and the bottom line is we got the people responsible
for it. So I can live with all the flak from the defense
The arrests in October of Woods, Amos and Sheridan capped one of
Orange County's most baffling murder mysteries. McKenna, a former
California Highway Patrol officer, was shot repeatedly as he arrived at
his gated Brea ranch in a chauffeur-driven limousine.
Woods is accused of ordering McKenna's killing so he could take over
a string of Los Angeles County strip bars the pair operated. Woods
allegedly paid $50,000 to Amos, who in turn is accused of giving $25,000
to Sheridan to carry out the killing. The $3,000 paid last year was part
of a bonus Amos had long promised Sheridan, investigators said.
Defense lawyers in the case have spent months criticizing
authorities' involvement with Sheridan, an ex-convict who allegedly said
he killed McKenna as a favor to Amos.
But Morton said that without Sheridan's cooperation, the killing
might still be unsolved. Sheridan allegedly recorded Amos discussing the
killing. Amos, confronted with that evidence, confessed and implicated
Woods, Morton said.
"There was a very big risk. It wasn't something that was taken
lightly," Morton said. "But it worked just as we hoped."
Amos and Sheridan, offered reduced sentences in exchange for
testifying against Woods, are awaiting preliminary hearings.
By TED SHAFFREY
The Los Angeles Times
BEVERLY HILLS--The owners of the city's only exotic dance club have
filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking financial damages from the
city, along with relief from its restrictions on adult entertainment
businesses, which they allege are discriminatory.
"Regulations [regarding exotic dance clubs] in Beverly Hills are
restrictive to the point of being prohibitive and that's
unconstitutional," said Roger Jon Diamond, attorney for the
Nevada-based company Deja Vu, which operates 55 adult entertainment
businesses across the country, including the Beverly Club on
Diamond, who has represented numerous adult entertainment business
owners throughout the region in similar disputes, filed the suit Feb.
It comes on the heels of a successful legal fight he brought on
behalf of Deja Vu against Beverly Hills in January, when a Los Angeles
Superior Court judge ordered the city to reduce the fee for an exotic
dancer's license from $1,100 to $100.
That issue arose after the Beverly Hills Police Department raided the
Beverly Club in November, giving tickets to six exotic dancers who
didn't have a city permit. Each of the dancers pleaded guilty to an
infraction and paid a fine.
Assistant City Atty. Terence Boga said the new lawsuit is "smoke
and mirrors," referring to a similar suit that Deja Vu filed in
federal court against the city in 1998. The suit was thrown out after
Deja Vu neglected to pursue the case.
"The city does not have a problem with Deja Vu where [it is]
now," Boga said, pointing out that the Beverly Club is within the
city's primary business triangle.
In 1998, the Beverly Hills City Council passed an ordinance that
requires exotic dancers to wear bikinis and prohibits them from being
within six feet of patrons.
The law was modeled after one passed in Newport Beach in the
mid-1990s that has withstood several legal challenges.
Numerous other cities in the area and across the country also have
passed laws limiting physical contact or requiring dancers to be
partially clothed. Some of the corresponding legal challenges have been
heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.
In 1998, Beverly Hills city officials required the Beverly Club,
which once featured topless dancing, to have dancers wear bikini tops
and outlawed lap dancing, a private tete-a-tete in which a dancer sits
in the lap of a patron, who pays extra for the one-on-one performance.
"The law is not the case that any city has to make an adult
business profitable," Boga said, adding that the exotic dancer
license fee was lowered simply to bring it in line with other permit
Adult entertainment businesses, protected under the shield of the 1st
Amendment, cannot be completely legislated out of existence by
While many cities have successfully found legal ways to inhibit their
operations by limiting hours, prohibiting alcohol or tightening zoning
laws, cities must allow the businesses.
The Beverly Club is not a member of the local chamber of commerce.
"We do feel that not every business is appropriate for the city
of Beverly Hills," said Lee Silver, president of the Beverly Hills
Chamber of Commerce.
Deja Vu owner Don Kruntz referred all questions to his attorneys, who
said Beverly Hills' laws are intended to put the Beverly Club out of
Deja Vu is seeking yet-to-be-determined damages from the city, said
Brad Shafer, the company's co-counsel.
"The requirement that dancers must wear a bikini are
draconian," he said. The regulations "are an across-the-board
attack on this type of business. It is impossible for my client to run a
profitable business in its present configuration, under these
The city now allows the club to be open from 8:30 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Shafer said since the dancers wear bikinis, the Beverly Club no
longer should be legally considered an adult entertainment business and
therefore should be allowed to operate during the day.
"They [city officials] know they cannot totally ban [adultentertainment]
businesses," Diamond said. "So they should just let this one
be, because no one can tell it's there," he said, referring to the
club's location below ground, with only a small sign at street level.
Diamond also said it is "bizarre" that the city is passing
laws restricting adult entertainment businesses since Playboy and Flynt
Publications, both publishers of adult entertainment material with a
worldwide reach, have corporate headquarters in Beverly Hills and are
prominent in the local community.
Councilman Les Bronte said he appreciates the irony, but that it
doesn't change how he thinks of exotic dance clubs.
"There's no market for this kind of business in Beverly
Hills," he said. "It's a wonder [it] can continue to stay in
business. It's not well-intended--[the Beverly Club] does not satisfy
those who are looking for legitimate entertainment."
San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies are searching for a man who
robbed the manager of a strip club Tuesday.
The man walked into the Spearmint Rhino
Gentlemen's Club, 571 N. Central Ave., in an unincorporated area near
Upland, and pointed a gun at the manager's head, Sheriff's Det. Cliff
No one else was in the club except for another employee who was in a
back room and didn't hear anything, Nash said
The manager laid down on the ground while the robber grabbed cash
from the cash register and ran, Nash said.
The club was open for a long weekend, and employees might not have
had a chance to drop off the profits at the bank, Nash said.
"That's something restaurants and liquor stores have to watch
out for," Nash said. "After a big weekend, if they haven't
made the bank run, they're vulnerable."
Deputies said the robber was African American, about 6 feet tall with
a medium build and a goatee, and was wearing a gray parka and jeans.
Montclair police are investigating the possibility that the same
suspect robbed an adult bookstore at 10543 Mills Ave. in Montclair on
At 9:45 p.m. a man entered the Apple Book Store and selected a video.
He walked to the counter and asked the cashier, "Do you see my
He grabbed money from the cash register and ran.
Anyone with information about the Upland robbery can call the Chino
Hills Sheriff's substation at 364-2000.
Anyone with information about the Montclair robbery can call the
Montclair Police Department at 621-5873.
By DAVID HALDANE
The Los Angeles Times
An exotic dancer and her employer were arrested Thursday in the
bludgeoning death of a San Clemente man at his apartment last month,
Elizabeth Nava, 26, of Irvine and Daniel Parra, 33, of Cerritos were
arrested about 8 a.m. at a mobile home park in Cottonwood, a small
community in Northern California's Shasta County, said Jim Amormino, a
spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff's Department.
"We received some information that they may be fleeing to that
area," Amormino said. "We gave a description of their
vehicle--a charcoal-colored Hyundai--to the Shasta County Sheriff's
Department, they observed it parked at the location, and our
investigators surrounded the place and took them into custody without
Both have been charged with murder in the death of Charles Ray
George, 54, Amormino said. George, an engineer at the San Onofre nuclear
power plant near San Clemente, died Jan. 30, a day after being found
unconscious in his apartment on El Camino Real.
Neighbors reported seeing a woman leaving the apartment after a loud
confrontation at 9 p.m. About 20 minutes later, witnesses said, a man
carrying a black flashlight was seen climbing the stairs. After smashing
George's windows several times, leaving baseball-size holes in the
glass, the man entered the apartment and apparently struck George
several times, police said.
Though investigators were not certain what motivated the attack, they
said at the time that the woman apparently was an adult entertainer
hired by George and that the man was working with her. Amormino
confirmed Thursday that Parra is the owner of LOL Entertainment, a
Bellflower-based service that provides exotic dancers, and that Nava
works for the company.
Both were being held at Shasta County Jail with bail set at $500,000
each. Amormino said the pair will be returned to Orange County within a
few days for arraignment.
By ANNA GORMAN
The Los Angeles Times
The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the city of Simi Valley's appeal
of a lower court ruling on the city's seven-year fight to regulate the
location of an adult business.
The high court's order Monday lets stand the 9th Circuit Court of
Appeals ruling that said Simi Valley violated the 1st Amendment rights
of a backer of an adult club by unreasonably denying him a zoning
After granting Philip Young permission to build a strip club in 1993,
the city revoked the permit based on a new ordinance regulating the
location of adult businesses. The new law prohibited the location of
adult clubs within 1,000 feet of any school, religious organization or
park and within 500 feet of residential areas.
Before Young could open his club, a Bible study group moved next door. A
nearby karate studio also disqualified Young from opening, city
Young's attorney, Roger Jon Diamond, said the U.S. Supreme Court's
denial to hear the case gives the "stamp of approval" to the
appellate decision and proves the city ordinance is unconstitutional.
His client looks forward to moving ahead with the project, Diamond said.
"We're very relieved. It's been a long battle."
Simi Valley attorneys said they were disappointed by the court's
decision. "We believed that our ordinance was valid and
constitutional," City Atty. David Hirsch said.
City officials will meet with the private attorney assigned to the case,
Hirsch said, so they can determine the city's options for regulating
adult businesses. It has since passed a new ordinance setting aside part
of the city's west end for strip clubs and adult bookstores.
The high court's decision may also affect the city of Los Angeles, which
filed a friend of the court brief with Simi Valley. Simi Valley's case
was remanded to the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles for further
proceedings, Diamond said.
By STUART PFEIFER, Times
The Los Angeles Times
Orange County and L.A. investigators are looking at various law
enforcement officers' connection to a suspect in the '89 slaying of a
strip-club owner in Brea.
Investigators from the Orange County district attorney's office are
working with prosecutors in Los Angeles to probe links between a suspect
in the 1989 slaying of a nude-dance-club owner and officers from several
law enforcement agencies.
Orange County officials gathered the information during a yearlong
undercover operation at several strip clubs in Los Angeles that led to
the arrest last month of three men on suspicion of killing club owner
Horace "Big Mac" McKenna outside his Brea estate.
"We have notified various police departments about the connection
between some of their officers and employees of the strip clubs,"
said Tori Richards, a spokeswoman for Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas.
"We will be sitting down with Los Angeles D.A. investigators to
give them more complete information that they may use to pursue any
Richards declined to say which agencies are involved, but sources
familiar with the case said investigators are looking at links between
members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Lennox station
and murder suspect Michael Woods.
After McKenna's slaying a decade ago, Woods took over management of two
strip clubs near the station, including one in Lennox.
According to court records, Woods donated more than $15,000 to police
departments and police charities in the 1990s--while he was a suspect in
the slaying of McKenna.
Woods' attorney highlighted these contributions in a court motion last
month requesting that his client be released on bail. According to the
motion, Woods donated $2,250 to the Los Angeles sheriff's youth
foundation, $1,000 to the Lennox station and $1,000 to the sheriff's
In addition, Woods made donations to charities that benefited the Los
Angeles Police Department and gave $2,400 to the California Highway
Patrol's foundation for families of officers slain in the line of duty.
CHP Sgt. Rhett Price, however, rejected the idea that Woods in any way
profited from his donations. Price said that the foundation is a private
entity not operated by the highway patrol and that Woods' contribution
"does not in any way suggest they are garnering any special
Although they don't know whether any crimes were committed, sources
said, investigators want to know whether Woods received favorable
treatment at his clubs in exchange for the donations.
Prosecutors charge that Woods and another strip-club manager, David
Amos, hired a hit man to kill McKenna in 1989 as part of Woods' campaign
to gain control of the New Jet Strip in Hawthorne, Bare Elegance in
Lennox and Valley Ball in the San Fernando Valley. Woods and McKenna
worked as CHP partners in the 1970s and later went into the nude-club
The case went cold for 11 years, until the alleged hit man agreed to
cooperate with authorities in January. The man then spent the next 10
months gathering evidence against Woods and Amos, including wearing a
hidden recording wire.
Woods, Amos and alleged hit man John Sheridan have pleaded not guilty.
Woods' attorney could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Word of the new probe comes in the midst of a Los Angeles police
investigation of a detective related to Amos. In a secretly recorded
conversation, Amos said that a relative who works as an LAPD detective
provided him with information about the McKenna investigation. The
detective is on active duty as the internal-affairs probe continues, an
LAPD spokesman said.
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