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 Dave McKibben
LA Times Staff
City officials call it bureaucratic fine-tuning -- a proposed ordinance
banning close contact between topless dancers and customers at two Lake
Forest strip clubs.
But to the dancers, bouncers and managers at
Captain Cream, a
freeway-close adult club in the south Orange County community, the
ordinance could be a business killer.
"The idea is not regulation but elimination," said Les Hawthorne, the
club's chief operating officer. "They hope the regulations would restrict
the way we do our business so that they would eventually eliminate us."
The proposed ordinance would ban physical contact between entertainers and
customers, such as the practice of dancers sauntering through the largely
male crowd, collecting tips. It would also prohibit performers from
getting within six feet of a patron, a rule that threatens such club
staples as "table dances."
Lake Forest officials say the ordinance, which comes before the City
Council on Jan. 21, is not meant to put Captain Cream or the
Library, a second Lake
Forest club, out of business. The intent, they say, is to eliminate
activity that could lead to "secondary effects," such as prostitution or
Management at the Library wouldn't comment, saying it would see how such
rules work out.
Dancers at Captain Cream say the city is creating a double standard.
"Are you not allowed to tip the pizza delivery guy by handing him money
anymore?" said Nikki, 32, a single mother who has danced at Captain Cream
for two years. "Let's make it the same for everybody."
After her stage performance on a recent afternoon, Nikki strolled by the
tables in the dimly lighted club, slipping dollar-bill tips inside her
skimpy Santa suit and thanking the patrons, some of them loyal regulars.
Once the ordinance took effect, patrons would be asked to drop their tips
in a jar at least six feet from the stage. "It'll take the fun out of it
for the customers," Nikki said. "And it'll take the personal touch out of
it for us."
The dancers say the freedom to mingle with customers is what allows them
to make a living in a job paid by tips only.
"I think the city is wrong," said Shoni, 37, who says she has a writing
degree from Northwestern University and, like Nikki, prefers to use only
her first name. "We're being singled out for the way we make our living."
Said Hawthorne, "It's like paying to go into a baseball game and then
watching the game on a monitor."
The club started as a quiet Christian teen dance establishment, but was
eventually turned into a bikini bar where scantily clad women wrestled in
pits of shaving cream.
Later, a former club operator and his ex-wife, a stripper, did away with
shaving-cream wrestling and transformed Captain Cream into one of Southern
California's most widely known topless clubs.
One regular, downing a beer on an afternoon at Captain Cream, said the
proposed ordinance shouldn't have a big effect there.
"This is a low-contact strip club anyway," he said. "Those tips they
collect after the dances are almost like a tax. They come around and
almost everybody gives them a dollar."
The ordinance would also require each dancer to be licensed before working
in such establishments as Captain Cream and the Library, which is one
offramp away on the San Diego Freeway.
"I think that's discriminating," said Shoni, one of more than 100 dancers
employed by Captain Cream. She said the ordinance presupposes that erotic
dancing is decadent and leads to crime.
"I don't see it as shameful," she said. "It's been an important part of
most cultures over the years."
Lake Forest Mayor Richard T. Dixon insists that "we did not initiate this
ordinance to close up anyone's business."
Nevertheless, city officials say they hope to discourage other adult
establishments from opening in Lake Forest, a quiet master-planned
community of 60,000.
In drafting the ordinance, the city reviewed court cases and studied the
effects of similar ordinances elsewhere. In 1999, Anaheim's no-touch rule
at several nude clubs was struck down by an appeals court, which ruled
that the ordinance went too far by criminalizing such actions. Lake Forest
officials, though, say their proposed rules are legally sound.
"By eliminating direct contact, studies show that secondary effects are
reduced," said Mark Pulone, Lake Forest's assistant city manager.
"We're simply trying to eliminate problems that might occur in the
The Orange County Sheriff's Department said the neighborhood around
Captain Cream gets, on average, the most police calls in the city. But Jon
Fleischman, a department spokesman, said it's unclear what impact the new
ordinance might have on law enforcement.
Hawthorne said the concern that physical contact between dancers and
customers at his club might lead to prostitution or drug activity is
off-target. "Just because people come together for adult entertainment
doesn't mean they're interested in prostitution and drugs," he said. "The
concept is that anybody who comes here is so low that they would only be
interested in those things.
"The fact is that nobody here wants to get in trouble. The girls are here
to earn a living.... It's like a Cheers in Lake Forest."
Nikki said she'll simply adapt if the ordinance passes. "I guess I'll just
have to get used to a tip jar."
By Mariel Garza
Dailey News Staff
TARZANA -- The
Frisky Kitty strip club has filed a $100 million lawsuit against City
Councilman Dennis Zine, saying he is harassing the club's owners in his
role as a reserve police officer.
The claim is based on two impromptu visits the west San Fernando Valley
councilman made in October to point out alleged vice problems at the
location -- once with a police sergeant and a Daily News reporter, another
time when he drove through the parking lot with Police Chief William
Zine said the lawsuit has no merit, and that it represents simple
intimidation tactics as the club fights the city's effort to shut it down.
"No, we're not harassing them, honestly," Zine said. "If they think
they're going to intimidate me, they have another thing coming."
The Frisky Kitty proprietors view the attention as harassment, alleging
Zine as a reserve officer abused his authority. The club's lawyer, Larry
G. Noe, was unavailable for comment Monday.
"The officers of the Los Angeles Police Department and Defendant Zine
under color of law, without a search warrant, without permission, and
without probable cause entered the premises ... and conducted an illegal
search of the premises," the complaint alleges.
Zine and his companions went so far to look behind the bar, in
refrigerators and cabinets for contraband, and then quizzed the staff and
patrons with "inappropriate" questions, the complaint alleges.
Later, in front of a reporter, Zine accused the business of conducting
prostitution and of illegally selling alcohol -- all of which damaged the
club's reputation, the suit alleges.
Zine denies any wrongdoing. He said he went into the business one time
for a standard bar check. On the second occasion, Zine said, he cruised
through the parking lot on a Halloween patrol with Bratton.
The city has battled the club since 1999, when the Frisky Kitty evolved
from a bikini bar into a strip club. For the past two years, the city has
been embroiled in a separate court challenge based on the city's refusal
to issue the club a permit.
So far, the courts have favored the Frisky Kitty. Another hearing is
scheduled for Jan. 31, according to the lawyer for that case, Roger Jon
The $100 million complaint against Zine was originally filed Nov. 1,
according to the City Attorney's Office. It was refiled with amendments
Friday, and the city has until January to respond. --Mariel Garza
By Debbie Pfeiffer Trunnell
San Gabriel Valley
Tribune Staff Writer
PICO RIVERA -- Clothing can keep coming off at the
A federal judge has refused to lift a preliminary injunction he issued
in March that stopped city officials from shutting down the only strip
club to ever open in this city.
U.S. District Court Judge Dickran Tevrizian refused to remove the
injunction during a hearing Monday on a motion filed by the city's
He also ruled that two new ordinances the city passed earlier this year
cannot be retroactively applied to the Imperial Showgirls club on Slauson
Boulevard. Those laws restrict where in the city an adult businesses can
legally open and establish operating rules for such places.
Rather than rule on the issues raised by the two ordinances, Tevrizian
decided those items should be argued during a trial expected to begin in
March or April 2003 in a lawsuit filed against the city by the club's
Brothers LeRoy and Glenn Smith are suing Pico Rivera, claiming city
officials violated their constitutional right to free speech by trying to
force their club to shut down at its current location and reopen in a
Although Tevrizian essentially put an end to any efforts by city
officials to enforce the two ordinances at the Imperial Showgirls, the
laws would still apply to any new adult businesses that might want to open
in Pico Rivera, said Jamie Casso, an attorney for the city.
"Both of the ordinances are now in effect,' he said. "The only issue
before the judge is do these issues apply to Showgirls. It's just another
part in the litigation, which is more like a marathon than a 100-yard
Any new adult business coming into Pico Rivera still would have to be
located at least 150 feet from any schools, churches or homes, according
to the ordinance City Council members passed in April.
Any new strip clubs that open still must abide by the rules set forth
in the second ordinance, which deals with operating standards. Among those
rules: Patrons must keep a certain distance from strippers, cannot tip
them directly and cannot receive lap dances.
City officials worked hard to come up with new rules for where a strip
club can open, forming a special committee that met several times before
its members finally agreed on the new law's language. The council approved
the ordinance in October.
"We are obviously disappointed,' said Mayor Gregory Salcido, who served
on the committee.
Attorney Roger Jon Diamond, who represents the Smith brothers, said the
city should drop all efforts to shut down the strip club.
"The city should stop wasting taxpayer money,' he said.
Debbie Pfeiffer Trunnell can be reached at (562) 698-0955, Ext.
3028, or by e-mail at email@example.com .
By Patrick McGreevy
LA Times Staff
Los Angeles city officials said Thursday that they have received hundreds
of calls and letters from businesses protesting substantial increases in
fees for permits issued by the LAPD.
Some of those critics charge that city politicians are attempting to tax
controversial businesses out of Los Angeles.
"They want us gone," said Paul Cole, a licensed gun dealer who owns the
Target Range business in Van Nuys. "They don't want gun dealers in Los
Angeles. This is how they are doing it."
Cole said he is considering ending gun sales at his business after being
notified that his annual firearms vendor license is increasing 1,242% from
$149 to $2,000, while each salesman permit goes from $149 to $400.
Increases are being imposed on 15 kinds of police permits, affecting 2,595
businesses and individuals. The permits include those for game arcades,
auto parks, cafes with live entertainment, dance halls, firearms vendors,
massage technicians, towing companies and pawnbrokers.
"It's unbelievably outrageous," pawnshop owner Igor Shekhtman said of the
increase in the annual pawnbroker permit from $124 to $2,000.
He said his Loma Pawn Shop in downtown Los Angeles already pays a $3,000
fee for a state license.
Pawnbrokers received a letter from the Police Commission that said the
higher fee, which was due Dec. 31, was meant to cover the "city cost of
regulating this type of business activity."
Police conduct extensive background checks on all pawnbrokers and
routinely review lists of items pawned in stores to look for stolen goods.
At the Great Greek Restaurant in Sherman Oaks, manager Dionisi
Araklisianos said the 130% increase in the permit fee for cafes with live
entertainment is excessive.
In total, the fee increases are expected to generate $1.7 million annually
in additional revenue for the city.
The Los Angeles Police Commission, which issues the permits, has received
hundreds of complaints about the fees, said Lt. Debra Kirk, commanding
officer of the Commission Investigation Division.
The city administrative office recommended the fee hikes last year. Kirk
said the commission supported only three increases -- for the massage
industry, carnivals, and solicitors for police and firefighter
She said that some firms soliciting for police organizations are
fraudulent, while vice officers must constantly watch for illegal activity
in the massage industry.
But the commission was overruled by the City Council, which unanimously
approved the package on Sept. 25, 2001.
"We thought it would have a negative impact on business in the city," Kirk
City Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski defended the increases, saying that
many of the permit fees had not been changed for a decade.
"Although people are seeing a significant leap in the fees, it's been a
long time since they were looked at," Miscikowski said.
As chairwoman of the council's Public Safety Committee, Miscikowski said
she was satisfied that the higher fees were necessary to recover the
city's cost of ensuring that businesses operate "on the up and up."
"These are activities where if they weren't properly permitted and
controlled, sometimes things could go awry and lead to criminal activity,"
The Police Department only charges fees for businesses that require police
responses or oversight, such as massage parlors and arcades.
Officers do extensive background checks on all permit applicants, and keep
track of items pawned and guns sold. The city also incurs costs when a
disciplinary hearing is held for a permit-holder.
"We would be putting the city in an awkward position if we did not recover
our costs," Councilman Nick Pacheco said.
Raisa Trakhtenberg said she was upset that her pawnshop was not notified
until last month of the fee increase, more than a year after the fact.
"They should have let us know a year ago so we would have time to
respond," she said,
Some of those who received the letter, dated Nov. 13, are suspicious that
it was timed to arrive just after the vote for San Fernando Valley and
Hollywood secession. Secession leaders said it appeared that the city did
not want to create controversy before the secession vote.
They said the same appears true of a letter sent to 151,000 people that
said they may owe business taxes to the city.
That letter also has caused City Hall to be inundated with complaining
calls, many from people who operate small-business ventures from their
homes and resent being asked to pay taxes on meager earnings.
From LA Times
LAS VEGAS -- Worried that excessive contact between topless or nude lap
dancers and their customers breeds prostitution, Clark County
commissioners on Wednesday adopted an ordinance that strictly limits what
parts of a dancer's body can touch a patron and that outlaws putting tip
money behind a dancer's G-string.
The new ordinance, which affects 20 clubs near the Strip and in outlying
neighborhoods of the county, replaces a 1994 law that had outright banned
exotic dancers from performing up close and-personal for individual
patrons, frequently in curtained rooms. The law had gone unenforced
because strip clubs had successfully challenged its constitutionality.
"These restrictions will still allow people to come here and have fun,"
said County Commissioner Yvonne Atkinson Gates. "But many of the
activities that had been going on were prostitution, or close to it."
The new law defines which parts of a patron's body the dancer cannot
touch, and which parts of her body are off-limits to customer contact. But
Atkinson Gates, who initially wanted a 6-foot separation between dancer
and patron, supported the final draft, which allows the dancer to slide
down a patron's leg as long as she doesn't touch his groin or his feet.
Officials said the restrictions were needed because an 18-month undercover
vice operation resulted in 63 arrests of 52 dancers on prostitution
Casino executives have grown increasingly frustrated that a growing number
of conventioneers and others are abandoning the Strip in favor of
strippers, and they hope the restrictions will temper the clubs'
Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman welcomed the crackdown—so customers would
visit the strip clubs in his jurisdiction. "In my city, as long as no law
is broken, anything goes," he said. "That's what Las Vegas is all about.
That's what makes us mythical."
By ADRIENNE PACKER, Las Vegas Sun
A Clark County commissioner's proposed law to tighten restrictions on
lap dances could strip the allure from the Las Vegas indulgence popular
with strip club patrons ranging from businessmen to rowdy bachelors.
Technically, lap dances are illegal under county law, but the law is so
vague that it is rarely enforced, Commissioner Yvonne Atkinson Gates said.
Atkinson Gates wants to impose stringent, enforceable guidelines on lap
dancing -- an activity in which a topless or nude dancer gyrates and rubs
against a paying customer, usually for the length of a song.
"You're not supposed to lap dance," Atkinson Gates said. "Now what
we're doing is saying if you lap dance, there are certain things you can
do and cannot do."
The proposed law prohibits patrons from using any part of their body to
make contact with a dancer's breasts or genitals. It also bans lap dancing
in closed, private rooms.
The proposal would also do away with common tipping methods in strip
clubs -- stuffing dollar bills in G-strings.
Some critics say a law that limits contact between dancers and
customers would effectively end lap dancing in the county and devastate
strip clubs financially.
"It would hurt our business tremendously," said an official at Strip
Tease Cabaret, who would not give his name. "We pay very high taxes to
stay open and we need lap dances to support us."
Lap dances, which generally cost a customer at least $20, are the main
source of income for strippers. Strip Tease officials fear dancers would
move to strip clubs within the city limits if the proposed county
But Atkinson Gates and Las Vegas officials said the city is working on
an identical ordinance to be introduced in August.
Pete Eliades, owner of the Olympic Garden, said he is not bothered by
Atkinson Gates' proposal. Eliades said his clubs are "not houses of
prostitution" and that he expects men and women to respect each other
during the dances.
"They're not there for the touching," Eliades said. "But sometimes it
happens. It's sometimes hard to separate a man and a woman; it's so
Atkinson Gates acknowledged her ordinance contradicts Las Vegas' image
as a mecca for strippers and their fans.
A flurry of adult entertainment establishments has proliferated here in
recent years, establishing Las Vegas as one of the nation's strip club
For some, adult entertainment and lap dances provided a sense of
normalcy and patriotism during the economic downturn after the Sept. 11
Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman urged "all able-bodied constituents to go
out and have a lap dance" to help the sagging economy after Sept. 11.
Eliades claimed he was following President Bush's plea to "move
forward" when he bought the Sporting House fitness club in November with
designs to convert it into a topless club.
But Atkinson Gates emphasized that adult clubs have privileged licenses
and should comply with the law.
"Just because we've been portrayed this way doesn't mean we should
adhere to the portrayal," she said.
Atkinson Gates said because the law against lap dances hasn't been
enforced, the type of dancing has escalated to the point that dancers and
patrons practically engage in sex acts along stages, cocktail tables or in
booths. It is so common few club owners are aware it's illegal.
"No one is saying you can't have it; you can have it, but with limits,"
Atkinson Gates said. "We're not taking the fun out if it, we're trying to
do a better job of regulating it."
Clark County Business License Director Ardel Jorgenson agreed that over
the years the county's antiquated regulations allowed activities inside
gentlemen's clubs to become increasingly risque.
"Twenty years ago most topless dancing took place on a stage and the
dancer-patron contact was the tipping," Jorgenson said. "The contact has
gone from tipping to full lap-dancing where there is tremendous contact."
The ordinance will be introduced Tuesday and commissioners will vote on
the law after a public hearing scheduled for July 31. However if
commissioners pass the new law, the issue of enforcing the ordinance could
prove difficult. As the law stands, Metro Police typically won't blow the
whistle unless the act becomes prostitution.
Metro spokesman Sgt. Chris Darcy said lap dancing in some clubs borders
on prostitution because it's a popular one-on-one encounter.
"Prostitution is going to occur when you have sexual gratification for
a fee," Darcy said. "Anytime during a lap dance when you have sexual
gratification through contact it starts encroaching on prostitution, and
we'll make an arrest. We'll address that specific issue."
By RICK ORLOV,
Daily News Staff Writer
RESEDA -- City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo and Councilman Dennis Zine
announced on Monday an agreement with a Reseda property owner to
permanently halt its lease for bikini or strip clubs.
"This has been a problem for this community for years," Delgadillo said
during a news conference in front of the former
7238 Reseda Blvd.
"Today, the people of Reseda take back part of their neighborhood. Our
message is clear: Businesses that disobey zoning laws, promote lewd
conduct and facilitate prostitution are not welcome in Reseda or any part
of Los Angeles."
Zine said he had been pushing for months to see the club closed.
"This is a great way to celebrate our one year in office," Zine said.
"It's been a good collaboration between the neighborhood prosecutor, the
community and the Los Angeles Police Department to keep blight like this
out of the neighborhood."
Delgadillo said the property owner agreed to stop leasing the site to
Showgirls because of complaints and violations cited by police after the
location was used for nude dancing last year, in violation of its police
permit that allowed only bikini-clad dancers.
By MONTE MORIN, LA
Times Staff Writer
She was a popular stripper who had saved enough money in tips to open her
own nude club. He was a high-rolling entrepreneur who didn't think twice
about riding in his town's Fourth of July parade surrounded by dancers
from his topless club.
Together, they transformed a quiet Christian dance club in Lake Forest
into one of Southern California's most popular strip clubs. They planned a
chain of elite clubs that they hoped would bring exotic dancing into the
But what seemed a recipe for riches may end in federal prison for the
pair. Connye G. Morgan, 60, pleaded guilty this year to tax fraud charges.
Mark A. Bailey, 52, was convicted in May of hiding from the IRS more than
$700,000 in strip-club door charges, cocktail tabs and tips skimmed from
Prosecutors said the two went to elaborate lengths to hide the sources of
their money, stashing $300,000 in cash in a safety deposit box and
claiming their Century City club was financed by former Lakers star Magic
Johnson and Lakers owner Jerry Buss. Both denied involvement in the club.
Bailey's attorney said his client is innocent and will appeal the verdict.
The saga began in the late 1980s, when Bailey met Morgan at a strip club
near Los Angeles International Airport. The two quickly began dating,
according to court records and interviews.
A stripper who performed well into her 40s, Morgan saved enough money in
tips to open a teen dance club called Jagg in Lake Forest. The club
catered to Christian teens--youths who whiled away weekends sipping soft
drinks and gyrating under flashing lights. The place made little money
because pastors would ask to bring groups in free of charge.
Bailey, who had worked previously as a computer-systems engineer, had
grander plans for the venue. He convinced Morgan to convert it into
bikini bar where patrons downed beer and mixed drinks as scantily clad
women wrestled in pits of shaving cream.
Under the business name Jagg Inc., Captain Creams later went topless and
business started booming. The club earned a reputation as one of the
busiest and most discreet in Southern California. Customers who used
credit cards to buy drinks and dances were billed under the name of Jagg
Restaurant and Bar, instead of Captain Creams.
"We were making a lot of money in those days," said one of the club's
former dancers. "There weren't a lot of other clubs in Orange County, so
we were very busy."
Once, in a demonstration of the club's largess, Bailey offered $65,000 to
an Irvine couple who lacked the money to complete their castle-style home,
which was facing demolition because of city code problems. Bailey also
offered the services of his dancers, who took up hammers and saws to help
out. The plan backfired when the couple sued Bailey, alleging the
construction work was unsuitable.
Bailey told reporters at the time that he helped out of sympathy, noting
that he too faced zoning obstacles when trying to expand his empire.
While Captain Creams raked in profits, Bailey and Morgan settled in a
well-to-do section of Laguna Niguel. A profile in a local newspaper
portrayed Bailey as a successful businessman and popular neighbor, who
built a gym in his house where his dancers worked out.
Flush with success, the couple made plans to open satellite clubs in
Century City and Corona. Assistant U.S. Atty. Jean Kawahara charged that
Bailey had skimmed profits from Captain Creams to finance the new clubs,
and that he failed to report this "skimmed" income on his 1992, 1994 and
1995 tax returns.
The cash, according to prosecutors, came from door fees, cocktails and the
strippers. Club policy at the time required that dancers, who were
classified as independent contractors, pay the owners $1 for every lap
dance they performed. That could amount to hundreds of dollars an evening,
according to dancers.
At Bailey's trial, prosecutors charged that Bailey and his former lawyer
hid these profits by depositing the money in bank accounts small enough to
avoid IRS reporting requirements and in safety deposit boxes.
By using this unreported cash, prosecutors said Jagg opened an exotic
dance club in Century City in 1992. The club, Bailey's 20/20, was at the
former Playboy Club. Bailey reportedly boasted that Magic Johnson and
other celebrities had supplied cash for the operation.
Two years later, Bailey and Morgan opened a club in Corona, using more
unreported profits, prosectors said. In this case, prosecutors said that
Bailey's lawyer, Alan Curtis, hid $300,000 in profits in a safety deposit
box before eventually paying the club's lease with it. Curtis has since
pleaded guilty to conspiracy and testified against Bailey at trial.
Eventually, the operation began to crumble.
In 1997, Bailey filed for bankruptcy protection. Two years later, Jagg was
sued by the owners of the Corona strip club property, who alleged Jagg
failed to make payments on the property. A judge ordered that Jagg pay the
plaintiff $1.6 million.
Morgan and Bailey separated in 1999.
Bailey, according to court documents, moved to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico,
where he began operating an exotic dance club and represented a firm that
sells waste water treatment systems.
By that time, however, IRS investigators had begun examining his books,
after they were tipped off by bank employees. Bailey was arrested in April
2001, after stepping off a plane at LAX. He had returned from Mexico to
visit his parents in Beverly Hills.
Morgan, through a spokesperson, said Bailey had tricked her into signing a
false tax return.
"She had no idea what was happening," said Les Hawthorne, Jagg's current
chief operating officer. "Even people you love can do you wrong. She was
guilty of felony trusting."
Jurors took one day to deliberate before finding Bailey guilty. Bailey's
lawyer said he is confident the conviction will be overturned on appeal,
claiming Morgan hid the cash.
The appeal is based on the defense being unable to compel Morgan to
testify on his behalf, although the prosecution could call her as a
witness. Prosecutors never exercised that option, and Morgan invoked her
5th Amendment right against self-incrimination when Bailey's lawyer called
her to the stand.
"If we were able to have her testify she would have absolved my client,"
attorney Roger Diamond said. "She
was the source of all the unreported cash. She owned the business and he
did not. They weren't married and, therefore, they had no property in
Despite the fall of Bailey's would-be strip-club empire, the original
club, Captain Creams, continues to operate in Lake Forest. And Hawthorne
said business is good.
"Things are the way they were intended to be now. Everything is good,
clean entertainment," he said.
Oceanside -- The city has closed escrow on its purchase of the downtown
Playgirl Club, a strip joint popular for four decades with off-duty
Marines from Camp Pendleton.
The city bought the property for $1.5 million as part of a redevelopment
program. As part of the agreement, the former owner has agreed not to open
a similar establishment anywhere in the city.
By JAMES BURGER,
Californian staff writer
The Silver Rhino strip club won't be built at Buck Owens Boulevard and
Gulf Street, and there won't be a lawsuit against the city over a
months-long battle to put it there.
But the Santa Monica lawyer who is representing club developer John
Stevens, a Porterville welder, said he would like to see the project built
somewhere in the city.
"We would hope that, at some point, the Stevenses would be allowed to
choose a location and continue with their project," said Roger Jon
Diamond, who has been a strong defender of the First Amendment rights of
the adult industry.
Stevens, and his father, Bob, proposed a 220-seat "gentlemen's club" on
Buck Owens in March.
Community opposition developed and City Council members vowed to stop
City Attorney Bart Thiltgen ruled that approving a building permit for
the club would violate city ordinances.
Development Services Director Jack Hardisty turned Stevens' permit
request down -- although he admitted that his staff and city zoning maps
had told Stevens he could build on Buck Owens Boulevard.
The maps were inaccurate, Thiltgen said, containing a defunct zoning
designation for a nearby mobile home park on Gulf Street.
The incorrect zoning maps showed the park as industrial property when
it was actually residential land.
Bakersfield ordinances prevent any strip club from being built within
1,500 feet of residential property.
The Silver Rhino property was too close to the trailer park.
Stevens filed an appeal of Hardisty's decision on April 19 and asked
that it be reviewed by the Bakersfield Planning Commission.
The appeal document charged the denial was "an arbitrary and unlawful
constitutional restraint on the freedom of speech protected under the
United States and California constitutions."
The commission was due to hear the appeal tonight. But the appeal was
withdrawn by Diamond.
"We have received a letter from their attorney saying they are
officially withdrawing their appeal," Thiltgen said.
The letter didn't say why the appeal was being withdrawn and neither
Thiltgen said the appeal cannot be refiled because the time period for
filing an appeal has elapsed.
Reached Wednesday, Stevens said his lawyer is handling the dispute over
"I don't know what's going on really," he said. "I don't plan to be
down there" at the planning commission meeting.
City records show that Diamond is his lawyer. Diamond confirmed it
Diamond, who has championed environmental law and fair political
practices in his 30-year career, is also one of the nation's most
prominent defenders of the First Amendment rights of the adult industry.
"Is your neighborhood homeowners' association up in arms about your
plans to have bikini-clad waitresses in your supper club?," wrote the
National Law Journal last year. "Have we got the attorney for you."
The Journal said Diamond is "perhaps the nation's best-known defender
of adult bookstores, strip joints and other X-rated clients whose First
Amendment rights may or may not be at risk under local ordinances."
He said the decision to withdraw the appeal was not based on anything
the city of Bakersfield did.
"There will be no lawsuit with respect to the current project," he
But he said he hopes leaders of the city of Bakersfield can separate
their religious beliefs from their duty as government officials.
"The last time I checked, the Taliban was not in control of
Bakersfield," he said. "If religious fanatics like the Taliban have taken
control in Bakersfield, I'd like to know about it."
Stevens would not identify Diamond as his lawyer.
"I'm not supposed to," he said.
But Stevens said his lawyer contacted him after being sent copies of
stories on the Silver Rhino club that appeared in The Californian.
Diamond said he and Stevens feel the same way about the Bakersfield
"He believes, as I do, that most Americans believe in freedom of choice
and most Americans are against government censorship," Diamond said.
WASHINGTON -- A divided Supreme Court upheld today a Los Angeles zoning
ordinance that bars operation of more than one adult entertainment
business at a single location.
The 5-4 ruling was a victory for Los Angeles, which defended its ordinance
prohibiting the operation of adult businesses that both sell adult
products and contain facilities to view adult movies or videos.
A federal judge in California and a U.S. appeals court said the ordinance
violated free-speech rights because the city had failed to study and
provide adequate evidence of negative effects from the combinations, such
as an adult bookstore with an adult arcade, in the same location.
The justices reversed the appeals court's ruling.
Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said for the majority that Los Angeles may
rely on its 1977 study, conducted six years before the adoption of the
ordinance at issue, to show the ban on multiple-use adult businesses
served the city's interest in reducing crime.
The case involved Alameda Books Inc. and Highland Books Inc., two adult
businesses that rent and sell sexually oriented products, including
videotapes. They both provide booths where customers can view videotapes
for a fee.
In 1995, a city building inspector found that Alameda was operating both
as an adult bookstore and arcade in the same building in violation of the
1983 zoning ordinance.
The city in 1978 adopted an ordinance that prohibits the establishment of
an adult business within 1,000 feet of another such business or within 500
feet of a religious institution, school or public park.
The regulations followed the study that found a connection between
concentrations of adult businesses and increases in crimes, such as
prostitution, robberies and assaults.
The city amended the ordinance in 1983 to prohibit so-called "multiple
use" adult businesses, but did not document the harm from such
combinations, relying instead on laws from other jurisdictions and the
Justices John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen
Breyer dissented. Souter said the 1977 study provides no support to
justify the 1983 ordinance.
From LA Times
The former owner of a Lake Forest strip club was convicted this week
of tax evasion for allegedly skimming $700,000 in cash from dancers' tips
between 1992 and 1994.
Mark Bailey, 52, of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, was an executive of a
company that operated
Captain Cream, an exotic dance club. Prosecutors accused him of taking
the cash from strippers and not declaring it as company income. He used
some of the money to open a club in Century City, authorities said.
While attempting to start an exotic club in Corona, Bailey allegedly
gave $310,000 in cash to his former lawyer to place in a safe deposit box.
The lawyer then used the cash to pay bills. Bailey, a former Laguna Niguel
resident, was convicted Wednesday in Los Angeles federal court.
By DAN MORAIN, LA
Times Staff Writer
SACRAMENTO -- Gov. Gray Davis hasn't raised $43 million since taking
office by turning down many donors. But he's doing exactly that, returning
a $10,000 contribution from an Upland firm that owns three Southern
California strip joints.
The governor's campaign aides made the decision Saturday after The Times
asked about the donation from Manta Management Inc.
Campaign spokesman Roger Salazar said the contribution, dated April 3 and
made when Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-New York) was in California to
help Davis raise money, "didn't pass the smell test." Salazar said that
Davis has a campaign worker who vets all donations, and that the governor
has returned other checks, but usually before the campaign cashes them.
Such decisions are made without a public announcement. In this instance,
the check simply slipped past the screener, Salazar said.
Manta owns three clubs, including the
Flesh Club in San
Bernardino, where city officials won a court order barring topless acts in
the mid-1990s, only to have it lifted in 1999.
Then, in 2000, police made several prostitution-related arrests at the
Flesh Club after undercover investigators paid women working at the club
to perform sex acts on one another.
In October, a state Court of Appeal threw out the charges, concluding that
prostitution only applies when the person being paid actually performs
with the person making the payment.
"For better or worse," the appellate court said, "our society has
developed a tolerance for a wide variety of exchanges of sex for money....
As objectionable as the performances are in this case, we are loath to
find a public policy requirement that the acts be criminalized under
Roger Jon Diamond, the
Santa Monica lawyer who represents Manta and arranged for the donation,
said that despite the governor's decision to return the money, he still
plans to support Davis' reelection.
"I respect whatever decision they're making," he said. "There was nothing
Diamond said he had asked that Manta's owner, Randy Welty, make the
donation as a "favor," and that he and Welty support Davis because of his
Diamond said that he has known the governor for years, but that Welty and
Davis have no connection and Welty didn't attend the dinner.
"It never dawned on me there would be a problem," Diamond said.
Jeff Flint, a spokesman for Davis' Republican challenger, Bill Simon Jr.,
used the opportunity to criticize Davis' fund-raising, and noted that the
governor likely would not have returned the money if The Times had not
questioned its source.
"While he's at it, he ought to return the nearly $200,000 he took from
Enron and Arthur Andersen," Flint said.
Davis has rejected calls from Republicans to return money from Enron
Corp., the bankrupt energy trader, and its accounting firm, Arthur
But the governor said he no longer takes money from many firms directly
involved in last year's energy crisis. He also has made a practice of
refusing tobacco industry money.
The Democratic incumbent does, however, accept donations from a range of
other industries with business before the state, from oil and
telecommunications firms to gambling and alcohol interests.
By DEBBIE PFEIFFER TRUNNELL, SGV Tribune Staff Writer
PICO RIVERA -- City officials are appealing a U.S. District Court
judge's ruling that allowed a strip club to reopen earlier this month in
Officials filed the appeal Friday with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal
in Los Angeles, Public Information Manager Bob Spencer said, adding it
will take 60 to 90 days for the matter to get on the court's calendar.
"We understand the constitutional right of the club to operate," he
said. "But we don't believe the shopping center it opened in is a suitable
venue, because many of the businesses there attract kids."
City officials plan to hire a legal team to deal with the issue, and
Mayor Gregory Salcido said the cost of a potential legal battle won't be
determined until those lawyers are hired.
an all-nude dancing club at 9329 Slauson Ave., was shut down by the city
when it first opened in early January because it was operating without
permits and within 1,000 feet of a school and church.
The club appealed the city's action, and Feb. 19 Judge Dickran
Tevrizian ordered that the business be permitted to operate. The club
opened March 1.
Roger Jon Diamond,
attorney for club owners LeRoy and Glenn Smith, said the appeal is a waste
of taxpayers' money, adding he doesn't see a legal basis for overturning
"This is being done for political reasons," he said. "I would instead
prefer to work with the mayor to resolve this, and I want the people of
Pico Rivera to know we are sympathetic to them and want to work with
But it won't be easy getting the support of the city's residents,
hundreds of whom have waged a daily protest in front of the club.
The Rev. Richard Ochoa, who spearheaded the protests, said he supports
the city's latest legal effort.
"I think it's a step in the right direction, because we need to do
everything possible to overturn that decision," he said. "If we all keep
fighting the good fight, we will win."
-- Debbie Pfeiffer Trunnell can be reached at (562) 698-0955, Ext.
3028, or by e-mail at
By MANUEL GAMIZ, JR.,
LA Times Staff Writer
Pico Rivera residents and owners of the city's first strip club squared
off again Monday when the club was allowed to open after acquiring all of
its permits and licenses.
Leaning against the bar of the
Imperial Showgirls as
customers began to wander inside, owner Glenn Smith, 48, said he was "just
glad to be open."
Outside, a group of about 300 angry residents and city officials booed
every person who walked into the club in the 9300 block of Slauson Avenue.
An hour after dancers took the stage, city officials started planning for
the future. At a meeting Monday, the City Council voted unanimously to
impose a moratorium on future adult businesses and corrected a zoning
loophole that allowed Imperial Showgirls to operate in a shopping area.
The moratorium on new adult businesses will remain in effect for at
least a year, pending a zoning study by the planning and building
department, which would then recommend permanent regulations.
"We had our hands tied on this one," said Bob Spencer, the city's
spokesman. "It is their constitutional right to be here. We just want to
make sure that it is run in a safe manner."
After receiving its certificate of maximum occupancy Monday, the club
was allowed to keep its doors open, ending a two-month legal battle with
The Imperial Showgirls strip club had opened quietly in January. Its
location still bears the marquee of a previous business, a billiard
Residents learned about the nude-dancing club when police shut it down
a few days after its Jan. 7 opening because it was operating without
permits and within a city zone that did not allow adult-oriented
The club's closure was temporary. In a Feb. 19 ruling, U.S. District
Judge Dickran Tevrizian said the club could open because it was
unconstitutional to not allow a business to operate.
He also voided the city's zoning ordinance.
Tevrizian also ruled that the club owners had 10 days to get licenses
On Friday, the club opened briefly, but owners Glenn and LeRoy Smith
agreed to close until Monday because they were missing a permit.
The Smiths have been in the adult entertainment industry for about 20
years, own an Imperial Showgirls strip club in Anaheim and are involved
with other adult establishments. They bought the 5,000-square-foot Pico
Rivera property late last year.
Friday's planned opening was also accompanied by an "unwelcoming
committee" of about 300 residents, religious leaders and city officials,
including Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-Norwalk), who protested along Slauson
"Pico Rivera is a safe city, and it is a good city," said the Rev.
Richard Ochoa, whose church is just a few blocks away from the strip club.
"This is going to increase crime in our city."
The Smiths are eager to start doing business in the area and say they
are not looking to hurt the religiously conservative, working-class
"This is an adult-oriented business, and it is aimed toward adults,"
said Glenn Smith.
"You have to be mature about it."
Still, locals are worried.
"It's scary," said Elaine Duarte, a 32-year-old bartender who works
less than a block away. "I won't feel safe working here late at night."
By MANUEL GAMIZ JR.,
LA Times Staff Writer
The Imperial Showgirls
strip club's opening was not as grand as its owners, LeRoy and Glenn
Smith, hoped it would be.
One dancer briefly performed for a lone customer before the doors of Pico
Rivera's first adult business closed soon after opening at 5:30 p.m.
Friday while several hundreds protested outside.
The owners agreed to shut down for the night to comply with the Los
Angeles County fire inspectors' safety code. They anticipate reopening
Monday after an inspection is conducted. "This is our 1st Amendment right
to be here," said Glenn Smith, 48. "The same way it is their 1st Amendment
right to protest."
The club, which still has the marquee of the previous business, is not
welcomed in the city, even though a federal court judge ruled Feb. 19 that
it could stay.
The club first opened Jan. 7 but shut down three days later because city
officials discovered that it was operating without permits and within a
city zone that did not allow adult-oriented businesses.
In the February ruling, U.S. District Judge Dickran Tevrizian said the
club could open because it was unconstitutional to not allow a business to
operate and voided the city zoning ordinance.
The judge also ruled that the club owners had 10 days to receive all
proper licenses and permits.
On Friday, Pico Rivera Councilman David Armenta said the club does not
have the required permits, prompting a call to the county fire inspectors.
Roger Jon Diamond, the
Smiths' attorney, said building plans have been filed, a health inspection
was made, and only one more inspection needs to be made. The inspection to
receive a certificate of occupancy will be done Monday, he said.
"We've done everything to get this place opened," Diamond said. "But every
city does the same thing when you open up a strip club."
The full-nude, 18-and-over club will have security guards and will not
serve alcohol. It is not the first time the Smiths have ventured into the
adult entertainment industry. The brothers own another Imperial Showgirls
in Anaheim and are involved with other adult establishments.
Late last year, the Smiths purchased the Pico Rivera property, which was
once a billiard hall in the 9300 block of Slauson Avenue.
"Americans have choices," said Diamond, a legal expert in adult-oriented
business. "Some choose to watch artistic, erotic striptease dancing and
some do not."
Throughout Friday, about 300 people marched and shouted outside the club.
Some protesters brought their children.
"We don't need a strip club," shouted 16-year-old Carina Farias,
encouraging passing motorists to honk their horns. "This is only going to
City officials, religious leaders and residents, calling themselves "the
unwelcoming committee," protested along Slauson. They vowed to picket and
protest every day until the club is run out of town.
Joining residents at Friday's protests were Rep. Grace Napolitano
(D-Norwalk) and 58th Assembly District candidate Chuck Fuentes.
"This will not be a successful business endeavor for the owners," Fuentes
said. "We will picket until they are gone."
Sammie Ramirez, 42, skipped work so she and her 18-year-old son, Louis,
could attend the protest.
"Just over there is a McDonald's play area," said Ramirez as she held a
sign reading "No Nudes." "The owners do not care about the residents of
By STUART PFEIFER, LA
Times Staff Writer
An Orange County judge Tuesday sentenced a former California Highway
Patrol officer to 25 years to life in prison for ordering the murder of
his business partner in 1989, a crime solved more than a decade later when
the hit man confessed.
A jury convicted Michael Woods of first-degree murder last year for paying
$50,000 to have his partner in a string of Los Angeles County strip clubs
Superior Court Judge Kazuharu Makino declined to give Woods the maximum
sentence, life in prison without parole, saying he thought it was out of
line with the 20-year sentence the confessed hit man received. The
investigation into the slaying of Horace "Big Mac" McKenna, a bodybuilder
and former CHP officer, stalled for more than a decade until the
triggerman confessed and agreed to work undercover for investigators.
After a 10-month investigation, detectives arrested Woods, his new
business partner, David Amos, and detailed the duo's alleged arrangement
with John Sheridan, the gunman. Both Amos and Sheridan received 20-year
Judge Makino said he reduced Woods' sentence to bring a sense of equity to
the case. Sheridan, who admitted using an Uzi machine gun to kill McKenna,
might have received the death penalty if not for the agreement with
prosecutors, the judge noted.
'Who Do You Give the Break to?'
Woods' lawyers were highly critical of the investigators' arrangement with
Sheridan, who was allowed to remain out of custody for nearly a year while
helping build a case against Woods and Amos. They contended during the
trial that Amos and Sheridan lied about Woods' involvement to get
"It's the old case of who do you give the break to? It's my opinion they
gave it to the worst person, a sociopath killer who I believe would not
hesitate to kill again," said Woods' attorney, Richard Hirsch.
With credit for good behavior, Woods, 59, will be eligible to apply for
parole in about 12 years. Amos and Sheridan are eligible for parole in
less than 10 years.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Bruce Moore said he was satisfied with the sentence,
but declined further comment.
During the trial, Moore argued that Woods wanted McKenna dead so he could
gain control of the strip clubs both men operated. Woods and McKenna met
while assigned to the Highway Patrol's West Los Angeles division in the
Amos testified at the trial that Woods paid him $50,000 to arrange
McKenna's murder. Amos said he paid Sheridan $25,000 to commit the
After McKenna's death, Amos became 40% owner of Woods' strip clubs.
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