Z Bone Zone
Z Bone's Media Bites For 1999
When the 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.

Tampa Bans Nude Lap Dances
December 3, 1999

TAMPA, Fla. (Reuters) — The Tampa City Council voted to ban nude "lap dancing" at strip clubs after a raucous 13-hour meeting that lasted until early Friday morning.

The seven-member council unanimously approved an ordinance that would require dancers to stay at least 6 feet away from customers and each other while performing. Violators could be fined up to $1,000 or get six months in jail and clubs with repeated violations could be shut down.

Tampa Mayor Dick Greco signed the ordinance into law as soon as it passed, making it effective immediately. More than 1,000 people attended the meeting to speak for or against the ordinance, including many dancers who said say they could not support themselves and their children if it became law.

The clubs have been charging $20 for a three-minute "lap dance" by a nude dancer who rubs her body against a male customer. Joe Redner, owner of the Mons Venus, Tampa's best known strip club, said he would appeal the law in court, but similar restrictions in neighboring Florida cities including St. Petersburg and Clearwater have been upheld. "It stinks!" Redner told the council members before the vote. He and dozens of dancers walked out just before the vote was taken.

The size of the crowd forced the meeting, which began Thursday afternoon, to be moved from City Hall to the convention center. Supporters of the ban said lap dancing promoted prostitution and the spread of sexual diseases and was bad for the city's image.

"Our city will be a better place for it (the ordinance). Our reputation won't be based on porn," said council member Bob Buckhorn, the chief sponsor of the ban. Redner said none of his dancers had ever been convicted of prostitution in the 15 years his club had offered lap dancing. He said there were already enough laws against prostitution that could be used without banning lap dancing. "I am profoundly proud of my dancers," Redner said.


Lap-Dance Liberty Fighter
December 2, 1999

Kathy Braidhill
California Law Week/Cal Law
Law News Network
Full Story Link

Roger Jon Diamond is intent on protecting the skin trade's right to arouse.

Angela's thong bikini leaves so little to the imagination that her customer never really looks her in the eye. He is instructed to sit on a couch and keep his hands by his sides. To throbbing disco music, she dances in front of him, rolling her hips, and then mounts him, kneeling, making contact with his lap and rubbing her barely covered bosom on his face.

The next night, an undercover cop who had filmed the private dance using a tiny, hidden video camera arrested Angela, six other employees, and two club managers of the Sahara Theater in Anaheim on charges of prostitution and unlawful touching.

After showing jurors the videotape of the dancers, prosecutors argued that it was simply bikini-clad prostitution. Bump and grind notwithstanding, the dancer's erotic undulations are an expression of her First Amendment rights in a theatrical performance, said Santa Monica attorney Roger Jon Diamond, even if there's an audience of only one.

Though Diamond lost at trial, he won at the Second District Court of Appeal when the justices compared the lap dancer's performance to the sexy choreography of the hit movie Dirty Dancing. Jeffrey Goldfarb of Rutan & Tucker, who is handling the appeals for Anaheim, has petitioned the state Supreme Court to hear the case. He says the appeal court's ruling was contrary to existing law and opinions and would "create a hole in prostitution laws you can drive a truck through."

As counsel to skin merchants for the past 30 years, Diamond fights for the right of lap dancers to slither and shimmy under the aegis of the First Amendment. He has battled on behalf of the adult entertainment industry across the United States, convincing bedroom communities they can't seal their borders to topless and nude clubs. It has worked well for him, judging from his response to a question on his win-loss record. After a thoughtful silence, he says, "I'm trying to think of when I've lost."

At any rate, there's not much Diamond hasn't seen, at least in the way of creative legal arguments against the adult industry. Anaheim argued that an adult club next to the freeway would mar the city's family image as the home of Disneyland. Simi Valley suggested that a church might be built near the proposed site of an adult club and La Habra declared that a proposed adult cabaret would draw so much traffic, the owner would have to obtain a special traffic permit and pay a $256,000 fee. In all three cases, the appellate courts ruled the cities' zoning and traffic restrictions were overzealous and improper.

Diamond quickly sees through the arguments cast by municipalities desperate to stave off the adult industry, and has offered his own fanciful arguments in response.

Diamond once argued that an adult video store owner didn't know that a particularly offensive video was on his shelves and said it must have gotten there by being returned in error by some customer. In the lap dancing trial, he hired as expert witnesses a Los Angeles Times dance critic, a dance professor and a professional dancer, who kicked over the court reporter's stand when he executed a pirouette for jurors. After hearing the critic's testimony that dancing can be erotic, one juror said after the trial that she was canceling her subscription.

But when it comes to his defense posture, Diamond minces no words. "They absolutely don't want [the clubs] at all," Diamond says about the cities. "It's like they did not want the blacks to integrate the universities -- they give the same excuses: 'property values will go down, the standards will go down.' ...

"[The clubs] are very unpopular, but they should just give them a permit and get on with it," he continues, his voice rising higher and increasing in volume. "They cannot totally ban them. This is America!"

At 58, Diamond's wild enthusiasm, untamed, wiry hair and perennially mussed sartorial style conjures an absent-minded professor more than a lawyer who has successfully argued cases before the state Supreme Court for about as long as he's been practicing. But Diamond's ebullient rants are not confined to the business of pasties and thongs.

While Diamond has made his career paving the way for some of society's unseemly elements, he's expended substantial pro bono time trying to uphold the virtue of other societal institutions. For 20 years Diamond successfully fought off-shore oil drilling; he helped get the state's first propositions to ban indoor smoking on the ballot in 1978 and 1980; he wrote the Clean Environment Act, which was voted down in 1972; and he argued for the right to gather signatures for political propositions at shopping malls all the way to the state Supreme Court.

Diamond adopted his strident environmentalism long before it was trendy, practicing the kind of in-your-face activism that defines his personality and informs his legal work. At one time, he packed a water pistol to extinguish offensive cigarettes and, in the days before smoke-free theaters, he would stand in front of the screen, announce he was the manager, and decree that no smoking was allowed, until one night when a friend recognized him and yelled, "Roger! Sit down!"

Diamond's most notable and lengthy battle was with Armand Hammer's Occidental Petroleum Corp. over its quest to drill for oil along the coast. His victory over Hammer's dream team of lawyers earned him the moniker "No Oil Roger" and a reputation for perseverance against overwhelming odds.

"He's just one of the most unique people I've ever met because he does things differently," says Nancy Markel, one of 20 directors on the board of No Oil, a nonprofit organization fighting the drilling. "We would have lost if he hadn't been so unpredictable about what he would come up with in the law, obscure interpretations of the law. He threw off all the legal giants [Occidental] hired. They'd be there in their $3,000 suits and he'd come in with beat-up shoes and his beat-up briefcase -- that's the way he's always been."

A native of West Los Angeles, Diamond has both an undergraduate (1964) and a law degree from UCLA (1966). His first job was with Graham & James in Los Angeles. His love of sports and hatred of his alma mater's crosstown rival, USC, culminated in the filing of his first class action in 1968. After purchasing season tickets to USC -- just to see the Notre Dame and Oregon games and have a shot at Rose Bowl tickets -- he was notified there were no more Rose Bowl tickets for first-time season-ticket holders. He says his first thought was, "Oh my God, I have a great class action. And what better practice for filing a class action lawsuit than to sue USC?"

He won and saw USC play Ohio State in the Rose Bowl. The case has been used for years by UCLA professors to teach contracts. "It was weird -- O.J. Simpson played in that game," Diamond says. "I didn't really want to go because I don't like USC. It wasn't a great game."

In his next, decidedly more ambitious, class action, Diamond followed what he considered his duty to fight air pollution. In February 1969, he sued 294 smog-, soot- and smoke-producing companies, such as General Motors, Texaco and Union Carbide, personally plopping the fat complaints on the desks of the company presidents in their L.A. offices. Diamond remembers serving one bigwig at his desk "with a big picture of his company behind him with a big smokestack and smoke billowing out of it and he was sitting there smoking a cigar. I nailed him!"

Diamond quit Graham & James the day he filed the smog suit, but not with the idea of pursuing environmental law. The newspapers saw the suit and Diamond got screaming front-page headlines and -- at the tender age of 26 and newly solo -- found himself facing down a who's who of lawyers from O'Melveny & Myers, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher and every other major corporate practice in Southern California. "I wasn't intimidated," Diamond says. "It was a moral imperative. I just felt it was not right of them to be polluting the air and this was a serious attempt to solve the problem," he says. "I'd been involved in the Clean Air Council, a nonprofit. The political process wasn't working."

The case was dismissed on a demurrer, and although there was never much chance of success, Diamond pursued it merely to do the right thing, says attorney Gerald Chaleff, a longtime criminal defense lawyer and president of the Los Angeles Police Commission. He's known Diamond since they both played Little League. "Obviously, Roger was ahead of his time," Chaleff says. "Roger is Roger. He loves what he's doing. He'll be practicing on the day he dies."

Diamond continued his quixotic crusades -- to ban smoking, get lead out of gasoline, and halt the building of nuclear power plants. He helped write the state's Political Reform Act that established the Fair Political Practices Commission; ran -- unsuccessfully -- for state Assembly; and sued a shopping center when they threw him out for gathering signatures for one of his many ballot initiatives. At the time, he was married with one daughter and his wife was pregnant with their second child.

Looking for a way to pay the bills, Diamond's secretary ran across an ad in the L.A. Free Press for an "adventurous attorney" needed to "fight an injustice." An adult bookstore owner in East Los Angeles was being prosecuted for misdemeanor battery after shoving a high school girl out of his store. Diamond took the case.

"I'd just left a law firm and I needed a paying client," Diamond says. His first trial, the case wound up before a jury on Nov. 13, 1969. The verdict came back the next day -- not guilty -- but Diamond had to be in San Bernardino County for the signature-gathering case. The owners of the shopping center had just lost a case in which workers won the right to picket the shopping center on the grounds that it was their place of employment. When Diamond sued, asserting the right to gather signatures, the shopping center's owners were combat-ready, with a hand-picked legal team from across the country.

"Boy, did I go into the frying pan," Diamond recalls. "They had the president of the bar association and lawyers there from Chicago and Texas. And I showed up with my top button unbuttoned, like I normally do, and the judge says, Mr. Diamond, fix your top button. I wasn't the best dressed."

The signature-gathering case ping-ponged around the appellate courts and the state Supreme Court as Diamond won -- then lost. But the case set the legal stage for the precedent-setting Robins v. Pruneyard, which required shopping centers to allow the collection of signatures for a political petition.

In the meantime, the adult bookstore case took Diamond to the state Supreme Court when the county denied an operating license to Diamond's client because of a prior obscenity conviction. The court found that First Amendment rights can't be revoked based on prior conduct and launched Diamond's career in the adult industry, which now comprises about half of his caseload. The other half is criminal defense.

Despite his impassioned arguments, he keeps the clients at arm's length. "I don't go to adult places. I don't hang out with these people," he says. "Lawyers represent all kinds of people. I fight hard for all my clients, whether they deserve it or not."

Diamond's clients appreciate his dedication to their rights. "You can kill someone -- you can commit murder -- and every single lawyer will want to defend you," says Bill Gammoh, the owner of the Pelican and the Funtease theaters. "But if it deals with nudity, it's like you're a disease, no one wants to take your case.

"Roger, he's the man," Gammoh continues. "When it comes to adult entertainment, he is the Godfather."

With a client list including the Funtease, the Dancing Bare and the Flesh Club, his arguments in defense of his clients allow Diamond to execute a full legal monty on constitutional issues. The First Amendment doesn't just protect "core" speech, such as political commentary, it also protects artistic expression in movies, plays, music, art and theater, the latter being Diamond's bread and butter.

Prosecutors and municipalities regularly argue that the Founding Fathers did not have striptease and lap dancing in mind when they proposed protecting speech in the First Amendment.

"If a performer gets on stage and shoots someone, it can't be excused because it's in the context of a dance," Diamond says. "Sexual speech is on the periphery of the First Amendment but it's still constitutionally protected. It's like saying you're a little bit pregnant. You're either pregnant or you're not."

The distinction challengers often raise in fighting Diamond's clients is the performers' intent of sexual arousal, but it's a distinction without a difference, says Erwin Chemerinsky, a USC law professor specializing in First Amendment issues.

"Dancing is protected by the First Amendment and the fact that dancing may cause sexual arousal doesn't make it less so just by itself," he says, adding that the framers could not have predicted the content of television, radio, movies and the Internet any more than lap dancing.

Goldfarb, the appellate attorney, says he has "disagreed strenuously" with Diamond in a handful of hard-fought cases. "I've dealt with a lot of attorneys I've thought less of," he says. "He's very genuine; he's a true believer -- Roger very much believes there is a conspiracy of some Moral Majority types and it's frustrating to hear that over and over again.

"I don't see the First Amendment as elastic as he does. It can't be stretched and contorted to cover ... paid masturbation without ultimately harming the First Amendment."

Diamond says the only difference between sexual speech and political speech is that "more people are interested in sexual speech than political speech -- just look at the sheer number of people who frequent these businesses and populate adult commerce."

One of his pet peeves is the cynicism of local politicians who, instead of tackling tougher societal problems, try to score public opinion points by fighting to shutter a perfectly legal adult bookstore or theater.

"But there are no political points in cleaning up the environment," Diamond says, his voice rising to a courtroom crescendo. "We have a serious pollution problem. We can't swim in the ocean now, there's such a high bacterial count." Uh-oh, Roger's on another roll, launching into a diatribe on the dangers of another environmental menace.

"I went to the Santa Monica City Council to protest the dog park and I was shouted down," he says. "I think it's ludicrous to have domestic dogs in a city -- I realize some people pick up their poo, but not everybody does. Forty years from now, they'll see it's an issue."

Well, maybe....

Kathy Braidhill is a free-lance writer in Pasadena.


Nude Dancing Takes Center Stage at Supreme Court
November 11, 1999

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a courtroom session far more colorful than most, the Supreme Court toured the far reaches of free-speech law Wednesday as it pondered anew what constitutional protections cloak nude dancing.

"Nude entertainment has become a significant staple of the American scene ... 3,000 adult clubs nationwide," lawyer John Weston contended as he attacked a public-indecency ordinance in Erie, Pennsylvania, that required women who work as barroom dancers to wear at least pasties and a G-string.

Some justices voiced doubts. Justice Stephen G. Breyer suggested that some forms of nude dancing "have as much to do with expression as turning a mouse loose in a house. You are intending to get a reaction, not to express something."

The nation's highest court ruled in 1991 that nude dancing is a form of expression within the First Amendment's "outer perimeters" and entitled to protection from government censorship. But that 5-4 decision also allowed Indiana to ban all barroom-style nude dancing under a state law generally prohibiting public nudity.

Weston, representing the owner of a now-closed bar that featured nude dancers, argued that the 1994 Erie ordinance was aimed specifically at such establishments, and not at public nudity. That makes a constitutional difference, he said.

"Erie's only concern ... was the notion of adult entertainment," Weston said. "Erie was unusually candid (regarding) their content-based motives."

Justice David H. Souter seemed to agree when he said the ordinance "as applied ... is not covering all nudity" and may be guilty of making content-based distinctions.

But city lawyer Gregory Karle said the "content-neutral" ordinance sought only to impose the same restrictions as those the Supreme Court approved in 1991. "The ordinance is no more restrictive than necessary," he said.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court did not see things that way. It voted 4-3 to strike down Erie's ordinance last year after calling the splintered 1991 ruling a "hodgepodge of opinions" that offered little guidance.

Karle, urging the ordinance's reinstatement, called the state court ruling "in clear error."

The courtroom session was lively.

Justice Antonin Scalia wondered aloud whether the ordinance would be enforced against someone appearing in public while "in the buff."

Karle tried to distance himself from his previous assurance to a Pennsylvania judge that the ordinance would not be used to censor such productions as "Equus" and "Hair."

But Justice Anthony M. Kennedy leaned forward and told him, "I think your answer is getting worse."

Scalia and Justice John Paul Stevens held a brief discussion about "lap-dancing," and, as time was expiring, Karle told Stevens that the Pennsylvania law only bans public nudity if it is intended to sexually arouse someone other than the nudist's spouse.

"Would the state statute cover walking down the street in the nude?" Stevens asked.

If intended to sexually arouse someone, Karle responded.

So, Stevens asked, is it legal to walk around naked everywhere in Pennsylvania except Erie "just to sunbathe as much as possible?"

Karle's response did nothing to debunk that interpretation of Pennsylvania's law.

The court is to decide the case by late June, but may not reach its merits. Weston's client, 72-year-old Nick Panos, has sold his old club Kandyland to a new owner, who moved the operation to a new address under a new name, Kandy's Dinner Theatre.

Panos' departure from the scene may make the dispute legally moot, but the court last June denied his attempt to have them declare just that.

The case is Erie vs. PAP's A.M., 98-1161.


Adult Businesses Determined to Run in Anaheim
November 7, 1999

Los Angeles Times

Anaheim has become the front line in the legal war between California communities and adult businesses. And while recent court decisions have dealt blows to the city's get-tough effort, neither side is backing down.

The city, home to Disneyland and known as a family vacation paradise, has five nude cabarets and topless bars--more than any other community in Orange County. All have opened within the last eight years.

Orange County, experts say, has been particularly inhospitable grounds for adult entertainers, with many communities enacting tough regulations even though they don't have any businesses operating.

But few cities in the state have been as aggressive as Anaheim in crafting laws that restrict the location and operation of adult businesses. In the process, the city has became a laboratory to test the legal limits, and the results are being watched closely by other cities.

In September, the state Supreme Court let stand a ruling that allowed an adult theater to operate despite city ordinances that prohibit such businesses within 100 feet of freeways or within 400 feet of residential zones.

A day later, the 4th District Court of Appeal threw out convictions against seven Anaheim lap dancers who were charged with violating the city's no-touch rule, a misdemeanor.

In the case of the convicted lap dancers, the justices said Anaheim went too far by criminalizing touching between dancers and patrons. Many cities have distance restrictions between performers and customers.

Newport Beach, for example, successfully closed a nude theater in 1997 when it broke the no-touching regulation.

Cities can regulate the behavior by revoking licenses but not jail people who violate the ordinance, the justices ruled.

Anaheim is the first known city in the state to criminally prosecute a violation of municipal regulations on adult-oriented businesses. Despite the legal setback, City Atty. Jack White said, the city will appeal to the Supreme Court.

"I don't want the businesses to think that it is a free-for-all,' he said. "The courts are always moving the parameters, but it won't diminish our resolve to protect the citizens. . . . It is not over yet."

Courts have historically upheld cities' rights to regulate the time, place and manner of adult business operations.

Cities may put reasonable restrictions on where such businesses can be located and prohibit certain types of behavior.

On the other hand, operators of such businesses have consistently fought many of the regulations, arguing they infringe on their First Amendment rights because erotic entertainment is protected speech. Where the lines can be drawn has not always been clear.

"This area of the law is evolving, and frankly it is a very unsettled area," said Lois Jeffrey, city attorney for Tustin, which has no adult businesses but has regulatory ordinances nonetheless.

Jeffrey and other city attorneys say ordinances have to be constantly updated in light of court rulings. But the recent decisions have confounded some.

Bob Hargreaves, with the League of California Cities, said the rulings are so specific to the facts in the Anaheim cases that it is unclear how they will affect challenges to regulations in other cities.

But because they offer potential legal ammunition for attorneys representing the businesses, he said, the rulings could prove problematic for cities.

"There are always gray areas," he said. "Cities have become more sophisticated in their regulation and have tested the limits, and sometimes we win and sometimes we lose."

* * *

Anaheim has experienced a dramatic upsurge of adult businesses in recent years. The five cabarets in the city account for nearly half of a dozen or so such venues in all of Orange County.

The preponderance of resorts and convention areas attracts tourists, who make up a great portion of the clientele at adult establishments, the experts said.

The city's resort district is now undergoing a multimillion-dollar face lift, and Disneyland is expanding its landmark theme park.

"Anaheim is going through an expansion period right now. There are more tourists, more adults visiting the city," said H. Eric Schockman, a professor of public policy at USC. "It is a boom cycle for adult businesses."

The adult entertainment industry hailed the Anaheim court rulings as historical victories, and the attorney who represented the theater operator has already vowed to use the zoning case to advocate for other clients who were "unfairly" denied permits.

"The cities don't want to regulate, they just want to put them out of business," said Jeffrey J. Douglas, executive director of the Free Speech Coalition, an adult industry trade group.

"They get to proclaim they are pro-family, even if they lose."

Roger Diamond, the lawyer who represented the dancers and also the theater owner in the zoning case, maintains that Anaheim's aggressive stance is more about politics than public morality.

"It gets people all worked up and the politicians know that," Diamond said.

In the Anaheim zoning case, the city denied Badi Abrahim "Bill" Gammoh a permit to open a nude theater near the Riverside Freeway and La Palma Avenue.

The leased property was within 400 feet of a vacant lot zoned residential and therefore against existing city code.

* * *

After Gammoh applied for the permit, the city passed additional ordinances, including one that prohibited adult businesses within 100 feet of a freeway. Anaheim argued such establishments so close to major thoroughfares tainted the city's image. Gammoh sued.

"They think this business is a nuclear reactor and it is going to kill everybody in the town," Gammoh said, adding he still plans to open his establishment in the near future.

The appellate court sided with Gammoh.

"Gammoh is not proposing to construct a huge billboard . . . 'Come to Gammoh's Flesh Emporium,' " the justices wrote. "The application was about whether he could operate his business behind closed doors."

The court also ruled that Anaheim should have used discretion in deciding whether Gammoh's Funtease theater would be too close to a residential zone.

It was unreasonable to believe that a residence would be built in the isolated vacant lot near an industrial area, the justices said.

The court of appeals rulings have upset residents and officials in Anaheim, who said their goal is to keep the city safe for families to live and visit.

"These judges have to live somewhere," said Bop Zemel, a former council member who helped pass many of the ordinances restricting adult businesses.

"I am sure that they don't want their kids to be walking near these businesses. . . . Anaheim should be known for something else than having more adult-oriented businesses than other cities in the county."


Daryl Hannah Strips at Crazy Girls
November 3, 1999


"I WANT TO KNOW what it feels like to take your clothes off in public!" That's what dishy Daryl Hannah confided to a dancer at the L.A. strip club Crazy Girls, where she's researching her role as a stripper for the flick "Dancing at the Blue Iguana."

The sexy "Splash" star has also taken a plunge into the sea of love -- romancing a hunky young "Blue Iguana" crew member named Tim Quinn.

"Daryl met Tim on the set and they clicked," a pal revealed.

"Now they're inseparable, constantly kissing and cuddling.

"Daryl is 38 and Tim's in his 20s. But she loves his energy and zest for life. She told me, 'I've never been happier!'"

And she's having the time of her life practicing her moves at Crazy Girls.

"Daryl chose to rehearse at Crazy Girls because it's a plush club that attracts a lot of celebrities," a dancer revealed.

"She's working with a beautiful blonde Australian girl named Castle -- and she couldn't wait to show off the moves Castle taught her.

"One night Daryl came wiggling onstage in a tight white minidress and platform shoes with soles so high she could barely walk.

"She swung around a pole in the middle of the floor, sank to her knees and writhed around in a suggestive dance.

"Then she stood up, unzipped her dress and slowly wriggled out of it.

"She was left wearing nothing but a skimpy white bra and matching panties.

"The crowd went wild, throwing dollar bills at her.

"Laughing out loud, Daryl scooped them up. Then she left to a standing ovation.

"She giggled, 'Can you imagine the feeling of power you get when you have 100 men lusting over your nearly naked body?' "


Burbank Acts to Discourage Nude Dancing
October 12, 1999

Los Angeles Times

BURBANK — When the owners of the new Sun Valley strip joint Southern Comfort began looking for a location for their club earlier this year, they decided to check out neighboring Burbank. They didn't get far.

"There was thought of going to Burbank," Manager Denny Biliks said. "But everybody agreed that it's a tough place to get into." It just got tougher.

Bolstered by a string of recent court decisions, Burbank adopted a handful of strict operating standards on adult businesses that seek to make this city a bad business proposition for so-called adult establishments.

"The businesses can be here, but the rules are tight," Burbank Councilman Bob Kramer said. "Legally, we can't keep them out."

In Glendale, longstanding rules have also kept the flesh business at a distance.

A state-of-the-art ordinance passed by the Burbank Council on Sept. 14 restricts club hours from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., imposes a 10-foot distance between nude dancers and customers, precludes closed booths, where dancers give lap dances, and prohibits direct touching or tipping.

The city attorney's office recommended the ordinance to limit the "negative impacts" of strip clubs, namely prostitution and drug dealing, on surrounding neighborhoods.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that nude dancing is protected under the First Ammendment, but lower courts have allowed cities to impose a variety of restrictive measures that determine how and when they can operate.

"Burbank is primarily a residential community," said Assistant City Attorney Juli Scott, who oversaw the drafting of the ordinance. "The impacts are greater (in residential areas) than in places where you've got train tracks."

There are no nude clubs in Burbank, only two massage parlors fall into the adult-business classification, but city planners took a flurry of phone inquiries from club owners earlier this year about the city's zoning laws, Associate Planner Dawn Robinson said.

Glendale has successfully kept adult businesses out of that city through zoning.

In Glendale, adult businesses are restricted to a 12-block downtown area by a city ordinance. They can't be closer than 450 feet from churches, schools, parks and residential areas.

"That's the only way you can beat those pornography lawyers," Glendale Mayor Ginger Bremberg said. "Neither Glendale or Burbank need that kind of garbage in our cities."

Glendale has been able to keep nude dancing out of the city with high downtown rents, Bremberg said.

"It's worked so far," she said.

To provide the legal expertise while Burbank's ordinance was being drafted, the city hired Los Angeles attorney Deborah Fox, who has represented several cities in cases where restrictions were challenged by adult clubs.

Fox cited several recent court decisions that have given cities the backing to tighten their adult-business rules.

In December 1998, a state Court of Appeal upheld a Newport Beach law requiring pasties and g-strings.

Around the same time, the federal Ninth Circuit Court ruling upheld an ordinance, in Kent, Washington, requiring the 10-foot buffer.

In that ruling, the court said the buffer "reduces the opportunity for prostitution and drug dealing."

Fox said she supports statewide implementation of the restrictions.

"It would be wise for cities across the board to have the same types of laws," Fox said. "Then clubs wouldn't have to appeal to the lowest common denominator."

While Fox said the provisions of the Burbank ordinance are all court tested, an ordinance by the city of Anaheim prohibiting direct touching was recently dismissed by a state Court of Appeals.

On Sept. 30, the court overturned the criminal convictions of seven nude dancers from that city's Sahara Theater.

Attoneys who represent adult clubs haven't been shy about suing cities who attempt to ban lap dances and other forms of physical contact.

Unlike other cities, Burbank can easily implement its restrictions because they were enacted before any clubs were in business in the city.

"If there was a club in Burbank, there would be a dogfight," Biliks said.

Southern Comfort, which opened about six months ago, may be in Sun Valley but the club has dropped ad leaflets throughout Burbank advertising it as a city club.

The leaflets inaccurately identify the club's Penrose Street address as being inside Burbank city limits.

"People don't know where Sun Valley is," Manager John Kang said. "They think it's a ski resort."

Now that Burbank's ordinance has passed, the planning staff is working to tighten zoning laws, Robinson said.

The objective, Robinson said, is for the city to use all legal means available to isolate the clubs from schools and homes.


Appellate Court Stands Up For Lap Dancers
October 1, 1999

Orange County Register

ANAHEIM — A lap dancer's gyrations and D.H. Lawrence's narrations.

Both can be protected activities under the law, according to a state appeals-court decision announced Thursday that deals a major setback to Anaheim's efforts to regulate lap dancing at adult nightclubs.

Prostitution convictions against seven Sahara Theater lap dancers and two club managers were thrown out in the ruling.

Additional convictions for violating a city ordinance regulating just how close dancers can come to patrons were also tossed out.

"Lap dancing won a major victory today," said Roger Diamond, a Santa Monica-based lawyer for the theater.

"The city should give it up and should spend their resources preventing drive-by shootings, murders and gang activity and should stop going into adult theaters," Diamond said.

In its 3-0 ruling, the 4th District Court of Appeal said "the city of Anaheim, in its own zeal to discourage disfavored entertainment forms, has crossed the line between regulation and criminalization."

Such dancing, when it does not include skin-to-skin contact, "is entitled to the same protection as a D.H. Lawrence novel, a painting by Goya, a Fellini movie, or one of the Bard's plays," the court's 21-page ruling said.

Assistant City Attorney Pat Ahle said his office is reviewing the ruling and hasn't decided whether to appeal to the state Supreme Court.

* * *

ANAHEIM — Sahara Theatre managers hope a court ruling throwing out convictions against some of its dancers will mean the return of many former customers.

Undercover police videotaping the exotic dancers interacting with customers helped drive many regulars away, but Michael DeRoma, Sahara's day-shift manager sees better days ahead.

"We are extremely happy," DeRoma said. "We hope to see many of our customers come back. Sahara's is still the happiest place to be."

Since November 1996, the city had won 33 convictions for prostitution, and 31 convictions for violations of a 1993 "no touching" ordinance at the city's three nude and two seminude clubs within the city limits.

But Anaheim city attorneys declined to speculate on how Thursday's court ruling would affect future enforcement against adult clubs.

Attorneys representing two adult theaters — the Flamingo and Sahara theaters — aren't so gun shy: The way they see it, the courts are saying the lap dances should continue without criminal prosecutions.

Officials can regulate lap-dancing clubs, but the use of criminal sanctions for violations of a "sex-oriented business permit" is pre-empted by the state, the 4th District Court of Appeal ruled.

As part of their enforcement efforts, police go into the adult clubs and secretly videotape the interaction between the exotic dancers and customers to document violations.

Jurors convicted seven exotic dancers and two managers of the Sahara Theatre after one such 1997 videotaping.

The women, who were skimpily dressed, were arrested for violating a city code prohibiting erotic touching between entertainers and patrons.

The city also pursued and won convictions for prostitution, saying while there was no sexual intercourse, there was sexual gratification. And because there was an exchange of money, the act fit the definition of prostitution.

The appellate court reversed the convictions, ordered the code violations thrown out and said a new trial must be held on the prostitution charges.

The court said a lower-court judge failed to instruct the jury that it could consider exotic dancing as a form of expression protected under the First Amendment.

Sahara attorney Roger Jon Diamond said that decision, coupled with previous court rulings in two other cases favoring adult theaters, "I would hope the city would stop using its tax money in fighting these silly fights."

"We are obviously disappointed with the decision," said Anaheim Assistant City Attorney Pat Ahle.

Randy Garrou, a Los Angeles attorney who is defending the Flamingo Theater against a city effort to revoke its sexually oriented business permit, said the ruling is good news for his case.


Naked Cities No More
September 17, 1999

Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

The right to dance nude in front of paying strangers may be protected by the Constitution--a 1st Amendment protection confirmed by the Supreme Court--but that hasn't stopped communities across Southern California from trying to find creative ways to legislate topless bars and clubs out of existence.

For some cities the effort has often been a delicate legal dance, and some have had their hands slapped by judges for trampling the rights of club owners.

But now, emboldened by recent court decisions, more cities are aggressively seeking to restrict what goes on inside the dozens of darkened lounges that dot industrial districts across the Southland.

Los Angeles, which has regulated strip clubs through zoning for more than 20 years, is drafting an ordinance that would forbid nude dancers from accepting tips from patrons and prohibit physical contact between patrons and dancers.

Advocates of adult entertainment say the ordinance would close many of the city's nude bars.

"There's no doubt that they're trying to put them out of business," said Jeffrey Douglas, an attorney with the Free Speech Coalition, an adult entertainment trade organization. "These businesses exist highly regulated already. Further regulation is utterly unnecessary."

But Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski, who proposed the ordinance, disagrees.
"Right now these businesses are not heavily regulated, that's the problem," she said. "But we have to move very cautiously in how we control them."

Passing Legal Muster

Since 1977, Los Angeles has required that adult businesses be separated from one another by at least 1,000 feet, and operate at least 500 feet from a religious institution, school or residence.

The Spearmint Rhino club met these requirements, and in February the club gained permission from the Police Permit Review Panel to open in Van Nuys, foiling a two-year battle by residents.

State regulations prohibit bars featuring full nudity from serving alcohol, leading these businesses to operate as "nude juice bars."

Like many such bars, Spearmint Rhino bills itself as a "gentlemen's club," with fully nude dancers, lap dancing and tipping by patrons. (Lap dancing is a private tete-a-tete in which the stripper sits in the lap of a patron, who pays extra for the one-on-one performance.)

The emerging Los Angeles ordinance, which officials expect to be completed by year's end, is modeled after laws in two cities that so far have passed legal muster.

A Kent, Wash., law requires at least 10 feet between patrons and dancers, who may perform only on elevated platforms, and forbids dancers from accepting tips directly from patrons. A U.S. Court of Appeal upheld the ordinance last December.

That same month, a California appellate court upheld Newport Beach's law requiring a minimum of six feet between dancers and patrons and prohibiting dancers from receiving tips. The court ruled that "the city could reasonably conclude that separating entertainers from customers reduces the opportunity for prostitution and drug dealing."

Newport Beach officials had shut down the city's only adult business, the Mermaid bar, when investigators discovered violations of the six-foot rule.

The club took the city to court and lost, then appealed. The state appellate court said the City Council had ample evidence of violations when it revoked the Mermaid's business permit.

"A few other cities have asked us for our ordinance," said Robin Clauson, an assistant city attorney in Newport Beach.

Los Angeles has about 45 licensed adult businesses, including book and video stores, according to a Police Commission spokesman. There is room for further regulation without threat of court appeal, said Deborah Sanchez, the deputy city attorney drafting the ordinance.

"This has been a long time coming," Sanchez said. "There are things we can do to regulate this industry. The trend to do so started because a couple of [cities] did it and won in court. We're starting to see a precedent in the courts that cities do have rights."

Recently, Los Angeles City Councilman Hal Bernson proposed that the city spend $175,000 for a study of adult businesses that could be used to justify even harsher zoning restrictions.

He and other council members had previously proposed new rules, including a system of conditional permits and a measure that would double the minimum distance adult businesses must be from schools, parks and residential neighborhoods. The city attorney has not yet issued an opinion on the constitutionality of such rules.

Higher Profile for Nude Bars
"The resurgence in regulating [adult businesses] is because for years they were out of sight, out of mind," said H. Eric Schockman, a professor of urban politics at USC who helped write Los Angeles' charter reform. "Now they've become too sightful and people are sensing they don't comport with their neighborhoods."

Nude bars are more visible than a few years ago because there are more of them, and they advertise regularly in publications and on billboards, Schockman said.

"It's not that society is more puritanical, but this is the kind of thing you don't want your daughter to see on the way to school," he said.

Owners of more than a dozen nude juice bars refused comment, including the owner of the Van Nuys Spearmint Rhino and a spokesman at the company's headquarters in the City of Industry.

The manager of one Los Angeles club, who asked that his name not be used, said the Police Department vice squad randomly patrols nude bars and keeps them clean and law-abiding.

"Those political types should be more concerned with crime on the streets," he said. "These are adult men who come here, a lot of them are businessmen and family men."

Nonetheless, a growing number of Southland cities are on the attack against what they consider to be a blight, with the potential to bring prostitution and drug problems to their neighborhoods.

Long Beach passed an ordinance earlier this year prohibiting new clubs from having nude dancing or physical contact between dancers and patrons. An existing adults-only club, however, was allowed to continue operating because it opened before the new law took effect.

Glendale's only adult business, a bookstore, opened in the mid-1980s, but closed in the early '90s--and officials vow to do everything in their power to keep others out.

The roughly 40-square-mile city restricts adult businesses to the 12-block downtown commercial area and requires that they be at least 450 feet from churches, schools, parks and residential zones and 700 feet from other adult businesses.

"Almost no one can meet our zoning requirements," said Glendale Mayor Ginger Bremberg. "The word has gotten around about how tough we are, so no one has even tried it lately."

Tiny San Fernando also has succeeded through rigid zoning. "There's maybe one or two locations in the whole city zoned for that type of business and we're very unlikely to get one," said Milan Garrison, associate city planner.

But in Arcadia, officials were forced to allow a strip club after being threatened with a lawsuit over the city's 11-year-old law requiring a 750-foot distance from houses--effectively banning all adult businesses.

Officials granted a permit to open the club in a corner of Arcadia detached from the rest of the city, but not without restrictions.

"We're not happy about it, but we were allowed to apply performance standards and that's important," said Donna Butler of the city's planning department.

That means the club, which has not yet opened, must maintain a minimum distance of six feet between strippers and the audience and forbid patrons from placing tips on dancers' costumes.

Court action forced Simi Valley to adopt an ordinance that allows adult-oriented businesses on an 85-acre strip of industrial land.

The City Council adopted the law after a federal court ruled in 1997 that the previous ordinance was so strict it violated the 1st Amendment rights of a man trying to open a club.

Simi Valley appealed the case in April and a decision is pending in federal court, said City Atty. David Hirsch.

Beverly Hills officials spent two years researching the issue before passing an ordinance in 1998.

The city, which previously had no laws regulating adult businesses, now requires any business that "offers its patrons products, merchandise, services or entertainment characterized by an emphasis upon specified sexual activities, or the exposure of specified anatomical areas" to obtain a business permit and locate within a commercial district.

A distance of 300 feet between adult entertainment businesses and parks, religious institutions, schools or other adult businesses also is required, and strip clubs ban direct tipping by patrons and require a minimum of six feet between erotic entertainers and patrons.

"These rules aren't designed to deter crime, like the politicians say," said Douglas, the Free Speech Coalition attorney, whose clients include nude dancers and club owners. "They're clearly designed to hurt business."

Community Involvement

Santa Clarita recently adopted its first ordinance to regulate adult entertainment. The city's only adult business, a book and novelty store, will have to relocate.

"It's a pretty strict ordinance," said Santa Clarita Planning Manager Vince Bertoni. "We had a lot of involvement from the community. Council chambers were packed with people who wanted an even stricter ordinance."

The strategy of some cities, however, runs counter to the trend of increased regulation.

In the wake of the Simi Valley suit, a councilwoman from neighboring Thousand Oaks--proud to be free of salacious adult entertainment--proposed drafting an ordinance to govern such businesses.

But the majority of her fellow council members shot her proposal down, contending that an ordinance on the books is as good as an invitation to anyone wanting to open an adult business.

"We don't have one and there's nothing being drafted or proposed," said Nancy Schreiner, a Thousand Oaks assistant city attorney.

* * *

Dealing With Adult Businesses
Here is how some Southern California cities have attempted to curb adult businesses, especially nude juice bars, which are strip clubs with full nudity where alcohol is banned under state law:

Arcadia--Requires a minimum distance of six feet between strippers and the audience, and forbids patrons to place tips on the dancers' costumes.

Glendale--Limits adult businesses to the 12-block downtown commercial area, and requires that they be at least 450 feet from churches, schools, parks and residential zones and 700 feet from other adult businesses.

Los Angeles--Requires that businesses be at least 1,000 feet apart and 500 feet from religious institutions, schools or residences.

Newport Beach--Requires a minimum of six feet between dancers and patrons and forbids dancers to accept tips.

San Fernando--Requires that adult businesses operate at least 1,000 feet from one another, 500 feet from residences and 1,000 feet from schools, churches or parks.

Santa Clarita--Requires 1,000 feet between adult businesses and schools, parks or religious institutions.

Simi Valley--Limits businesses to an industrial strip, requires that they be 500 feet apart and forbids contact between dancers and patrons.
Source: City officials


Mount Holyoke Lecturer Teaches Stripping
August 6, 1999

Associated Press

SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. — They are learning to take it off, all off, at one of the nation's oldest women's colleges.

A how-to class in striptease by Russian literature lecturer proved so popular at Mount Holyoke College last year that she plans to offer it again this September.

Susan Scotto, who stripped in clubs in Oakland while getting her doctorate at UC Berkeley, said she considers exotic dancing an art form that pleases both the dancer and the viewer.

"I don't see any way how an exchange of pleasure is something to be condemned," she told the Union-News in Springfield.

"Someone in any form of work can feel exploited. It's all a state of mind."

Reached at home, them other of two, whose husband also teaches Russian at Mount Holyoke, declined to elaborate on her comments to the newspaper, but said she stood by her statements.

"Everything in the article is accurate," she told told the Associated Press. "I just don't want any more publicity."

College President Joanne Creighton did not return numerous telephone messages, but she issued a brief statement Wednesday saying she did not feel it was appropriate to comment on what Scotto does aside from her job as a lecturer in Russian.

"Her course on exotic dancing is not part of the college's curriculum nor does Professor Scotto receive any pay for this noncredit class," the statement said.

Scotto said her informal class, which was publicized through campus e-mail, attracted 65 students last year and the college allowed her to use one of its dance studios both semesters.

Often professors offer outside classes and lectures and Scotto's attracted little faculty attention, said Sally Sutherland, associate dean of faculty.

"We know a number of things about Susan, including that she has danced for a long time and still does so semiprofessionally," Sutherland said. "When the students asked her to help them and the college provided her with a dance studio a number of folks said, "That's interesting' and went on to other things."

If Scotto had proposed it as a credit course the faculty would probably have said no, Sutherland said.

Still, she said, she did not feel the class ran counter to the college's feminist traditions.

"Where else but a women's college could provide a safe and secure place to explore the boundaries of an art form that slides over into pornography and exploitation," she said. "A dance studio is one thing, but there is a different world out there."

Salley J. Lemaire, executive director of the alumnae association at the 162-year-old woman's school, said she had not received any calls or complaints from graduates about the class.

"I'm not sure if I will," she said. "I usually do if they are really concerned."

Scotto said she shows her students clips from movies featuring strippers, teaches them some basic bump-and-grind moves and supplies them with props, including feather boas, scarves, fans and high heels.

"It was sort of fun," said Patty McCarthy, a sophomore, who said she would consider taking the class again this fall.

Her aim was not to create professional exotic dancers, Scotto said, but she went with several as they made their debut at the Castaway Lounge, a bar in rural Whately that features strippers.

"They're going to do it anyway," Scotto said. "I thought at least I can teach them to do it right."


La Habra Nude Club Owners Given Jail Time for Violations
June 4, 1999

Orange County Register

LA HABRA — Owners of the city's only nude dance club were found in contempt of court and handed a 10-day jail sentence Thursday for allowing dancers to touch patrons while performing. Pelican Theater owners Bill Gammoh and Bassam Moussa were handcuffed in court and immediately booked into Orange County Jail to begin serving their sentences.

The ruling by Superior Court Judge H. Warren Siegel followed five hours of testimony from undercover officers, club dancers and security guards.

Gammoh and Moussa, witnesses said, failed to comply with a Feb. 11 court order that required them to abide by all city codes, including prohibiting performances — nude or clothed — within six feet of patrons.

Four undercover investigators from the La Habra, Fullerton and Anaheim police departments and the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Department testified that they were subjected to violations during investigations from March 5 to May 15.

"There was a lot of touching," said Anaheim police Detective Brad Wagner, who added that he saw both owners in the Imperial Highway club at the time of several violations.

Three club dancers testified that they were instructed to stay six feet from patrons while nude and at least six inches away during clothed private dances. Any touching, they said, was incidental.

Siegel said club owners were mandated to keep dancers at least six feet from patrons during any performance. "It's clear there have been significant violations," he said.

The city and the Pelican have been at odds since La Habra denied the owners an operating permit in 1995. A court order allowed the club to open Dec. 7, 1998.

"It took us 48 months to open and we've spent all we have and borrowed more on this club," Gammoh said before the sentencing. "We're just businessmen trying to survive — not criminals."

The Pelican will be allowed to stay open, but will be monitored further for compliance, said Liora Forman, an attorney for La Habra.

Click here for the entire Pelican Theater article including time line by Eric Carpenter.


Lawsuit Threatened Over Banned Nude Dance Club
April 14, 1999

From Los Angeles Times

LONG BEACH — Would-be developers of an adults-only club have vowed to take the city to court now that officials have prohibited them from employing nude dancers.

The City Council last week approved an entertainment permit for the controversial club, Flamingo, but said the permit would prohibit nude dancing and physical contact between the dancers and patrons.

Council members said they were acting on the authority of a local ordinance that bans such activities. The ordinance took effect Jan. 1.

The owners of the proposed club, Max Ahmadi and Vasken Tatarian, say they will fight the decision in court. The men, who own a nude dancing club in Anaheim, say their club should be given a permit for nude dancing and "couch dancing," because they applied for the necessary permits more than a year ago, prior to the ordinance.

Their lawyer, Robert Talmo, said the city should have acted on their applications sooner. Earlier in the process, the men won zoning approval for the proposed club.

City officials, however, say they stand on solid ground when it comes to the nude dancing ban.

Assistant City Atty. Heather Mahood said the new city ordinance is similar to a Newport Beach law that was upheld by a state appeals court in December.

Although the ordinance bans nudity citywide, an existing adults-only club, Angels, can continue to operate in Long Beach because it existed before the new law.

Mahood said the city would not grandfather Flamingo in because the developers had not obtained an entertainment permit when the ordinance took effect.


Last Dance in Los Angeles?
March 14, 1999

Los Angeles Times

Dressed only in a bikini and high heels, Kara stepped onto the three-foot stage of the 4-Play Club in West Los Angeles last week. Halfway through a Michael Jackson song, the only thing left on her gyrating body were the high heels.

The men, and a few women, gathered around the stage bathed in red light, hypnotically tossed one- and five-dollar bills onto the platform.

"This is just for my ego," explained 25-year-old Kara, who wouldn't give her last name. "I make my real money on the lap dances. And it's good money. I make more than my dad." Kara charges $30 for a lap dance, when she "dances" on a sitting patron in a semi-private booth for the length of one song. Wearing only a bikini, she comes into physical contact with whomever her customer is. A $5 or $10 tip is customary, and when the club is busy, she may perform five or more of these an hour, quickly recouping the $22 fee per shift she pays 4-Play management to dance at the venue.

If a new law the Los Angeles City Council is considering passes, Kara might have to find a new line of work.

An ordinance could come before the city's Public Safety Committee by the end of this month and might end up on the City Council agenda by mid-April. The proposed law is similar to ones passed recently in Newport Beach and Kent, Wash.

The proposed law would ban physical contact between dancers and patrons, would prohibit dancers from accepting tips and would require dancers to perform on an elevated platform at least 10 feet away from patrons.

The fully nude dance clubs cited by the council motion are often called "nude juice bars" because they don't serve alcohol. If a club serves alcohol, the dancers can strip down only to the waist, though physical contact and tipping are normal in these clubs as well, according to Brian Williams of the city attorney's office. It is unclear at this point whether the legislation would also apply to topless-only clubs that sell alcohol, said Williams.

The city is home to roughly two dozen "nude juice bars" and topless clubs, clustered in Hollywood, West Los Angeles and the LAX area.

"These clubs are proliferating in Los Angeles," said Eleventh District City Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski, the main force behind the proposed law. She said the clubs diminish the quality of the communities where they open by setting the stage for prostitution, drug use and public drunkenness.

"Children walking to school should not have to see the words 'full nude lap dances' on their way," said Miscikowski, adding that similar ordinances have stood up to legal challenges.

Miscikowski, who tried unsuccessfully to pass a similar law last year, said the law has the backing of local groups such as the Westside Residents Association and the Japanese Citizens League.

She contends that although the nude clubs are legal, they can be outlawed if they are found to be a detriment to the surrounding community, a point of view shared by some who live or work near the clubs.

"This is perversion for profit," said Mars Webster, owner of a business on Olympic Boulevard in West Los Angeles.

Others do not support Miscikowski's sentiments.

"My customers and I love to be surrounded by beautiful women," said 4-Play owner Oliver Bendig. "Is that a crime?" Crystal Paine, one of the dancers at Bendig's club, gathered 51 signatures in opposition to the proposal.

"Dancers are not drug-addicted, ill-intentioned prostitutes," Paine writes in the petition. "We are affording ourselves a lifestyle that may not be in our reach if not for this type of employment. Drugs and lewd behavior are not tolerated, and as far as prostitution is concerned, well, that is a whole different profession." Attorney Roger Jon Diamond, who represents several Westside nude clubs, said outlawing them would be tantamount to outlawing fun.

"This is Los Angeles, a major metropolitan area, and there's room for everybody," said Diamond. "This reminds me of the Taliban government in Afghanistan where women have to stay home and cover their feet. Lonely men like to look at naked women: that's America and there's nothing wrong with it." Diamond says laws already prohibit nude clubs from opening within 500 feet of churches, schools and residential areas, and also prohibit clubs from being within 500 feet of each other.

Councilman Michael Feuer, who sits on the Public Safety Committee where the proposal will go next, said he supports its intent.

"These clubs are trying to circumvent the city's land-use authority," said Feuer. "I support an exploration of whether or not we can control them and I think there is evidence to suggest these clubs promote off-site prostitution." Police seem to have mixed feelings on the issue.

West L.A. Division Senior Lead Officer Phillip Enbody said problems outside "nude juice bars" include people parking in the lots of adjacent businesses, drinking in their cars before they enter the club and littering the area with beer cans.

Meanwhile, some Westside exotic dancers are getting nervous.

"If I can't give lap dances or accept tips, I may as well work at McDonald's," said Annabell, who like many exotic dancers, wouldn't give her last name because she wants to conceal her occupation from other aspects of her life.

Annabell, who recently came out of a four-year stint in the Army, says she is paying for cosmetology school with what she makes at the club.

"I'd hate to lose my job," she said.


'Strip': Problematic More Than Political
March 5, 1999

Los Angeles Times

Raelle Tucker conceived "Will Strip for Food," at the Glaxa Studios, to confront negative images that are "ingrained so deeply into popular culture that most women who work in the sex industry are forced to conceal their jobs from relatives, business acquaintances, friends, even lovers," according to the program notes.

Created and presented by women who have worked as strippers, this overlong and problematic piece may find the writers' sociopolitical intentions perversely overshadowed by its flashing fannies, brazenly displayed crotches and bare breasts. The variety of birthday suits is the production's strong suit--not its unfocused, heavy polemics.

One suspects that at least some theatergoers aren't there just for cultural enlightenment, but the writers don't acknowledge this possibility, as in the humorous approach of the unabashedly nudie musical, "Naked Boys Singing!"

Director John DiFusco's lascivious staging gives us five distinct voices--a Southern belle (Beth Bates) who bolstered her self-esteem during her divorce by getting breast implants; a young actress (Christina Bebes) who feels the goddess in all women; a UCLA drama grad (Sera Gamble) who has learned how to walk in 7-inch platform stilettos and properly shave her bikini line; a Mormon (Angie Gibbs) now ready to hand up her G-string; and a free spirit (Tucker) who was brutally raped by her first boyfriend when she was 12.

The women talk about their anger as men become "walking ATM machines" and their eventual understanding that these men are needy, repressed, "confused beings"--which gives the women a degree of power. They rail against the strip club management, gasp at the good money nights and grouse about those self-image-destroying bad money nights.

The performers do their solo strip routines, but the dancing isn't sensually erotic.

Joe DeSantis' fittingly tawdry set includes a pole, used to great effect by Tucker.

* "Will Strip for Food," Glaxa Studios, 3707 Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. Ends March 13. $15. Running time: 2 hours, 40 minutes.


Restrictions Urged for Nude Club
February 3, 1999

By PATRICK MCGREEVY, Times Staff Writer
Los Angeles Times

With a panel set today to approve a nude juice bar on Oxnard Street, a council member and dozens of residents called for additional restrictions to control what they fear will be adverse effects in their Van Nuys neighborhood.

Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski said she will ask the Police Permit Review Panel to delay a decision 30 days to give neighbors more time to organize their case against the Spearmint Rhino at 15004 Oxnard St.

Opening a second front in the political battle, Miscikowski also proposed an ordinance Tuesday requiring juice bars (which do not serve alcohol) to prohibit dancers from having physical contact with patrons.

The ordinance would also prohibit dancers from accepting tips from patrons and require nude dancers to perform on elevated platforms at least 10 feet from patrons.

Mike Gray, manager of the club that has advertised its opening for Thursday, said restrictions on contact would hurt the club. He declined to elaborate.

The ordinance would apply to all nude clubs, which Miscikowski said are opening all over the city. Three similar clubs have opened in West Los Angeles, she said.

Seconded by Councilman Joel Wachs, the motion was inspired by court decisions upholding similar ordinances in Newport Beach and Kent, Wash., Miscikowski said.

"This will help control the adverse effects of these kinds of adult entertainment businesses in our neighborhoods," Miscikowski said. "These effects include introducing an element not conducive to the quality of life that we want to encourage on our schools and playgrounds."

Gray said should the council pass such an ordinance, it would be fought in court.

"Of course it would be challenged," Gray said. "We're operating within our 1st Amendment rights."

"We are very upscale. We have a good business operation," he said.

Miscikowski said she wants to eliminate "lap dancing" and "table dancing," practices in which dancers perform in close proximity to patrons.

Miscikowski said an appellate court on Dec. 30 upheld the Newport Beach ordinance, determining "the city could reasonably conclude that separating entertainers from customers reduces the opportunity for prostitution and drug dealing."

The court ruled the restriction is "no more than necessary, for the message of the erotic dance is not lessened by allowing customers to look but not touch."

Al Bales, who lives on Lemona Avenue near the club, said 200 residents and business owners have signed petitions opposing the police permit.

"We've got a lot of kids in our neighborhood and we're concerned about the bad influence of having to go by that business," Bales said.

The concern is heightened by the fact that another adult business--Ero's Station--last year opened two blocks from the site of the Spearmint Rhino club.

Ken Ferber, a spokesman for the police panel, said Gray has complied with all zoning regulations for entertainment businesses. The panel has the authority to impose some restrictions, but Ferber declined to state what if any would be proposed.

Neighbors want limited operating hours, armed guards and a ban on club patrons using Lemona Avenue.

Miscikowski earlier proposed a ban on adult businesses within 1,000 feet of residences, doubling the current restriction. The Spearmint Rhino club is just beyond the current 500-foot limit.

Gray said he is hopeful the police panel will approve the permit today. He said he believes the panel cannot delay a vote for a hearing because a 30-day public comment period has ended.


Topless Dancers Win Fight Over Job Status
December 31, 1998

The Orange County Register

LABOR: A S.B. County jury rules they are regular employees, not independent contractors.

Two topless dancers have won their lawsuit against club owners who improperly classified them as independent contractors and charged them stage fees to perform, a practice that is widespread in California's topless and nude clubs.

Attorneys for defendants Tom and Marla Green, who own Fantasy Theatre in Colton, plan to appeal. Like many adult cabaret owners, they prefer the current system to one that would make dancers their employees.

The employee-independent contractor issue is so muddled in so many industries that the case might end up before the state Supreme Court, said Steve Jamieson, the Greens' attorney.

A jury in San Bernardino Superior Court last week found that the dancers were, in fact, employees when they worked at the Fantasy Theatre. The jury awarded Virginia Pritchett $37,510 and Katherine Cox Keith $17,106 for unpaid minimum wages, overtime, the return of stage fees and the cost of required costumes. Other damages could be added by Judge A. Rex Victor, said the plaintiffs' attorney, Ellen Greenstone.

Dancers typically are charged a fee to perform, from $20 to $100 a shift, the lawsuit said. They keep their tips but are not paid a wage. On a bad shift, Pritchett said, dancers end up paying to work because of the stage fee.

"I hope this will stop the scams that these companies are running, trying to turn employees into independent contractors," said Pritchett, who has also worked in Orange County. "This has been going on for years. I've worked in a lot of Orange County clubs, and some are still doing this same thing."

Michael C. Ross, a lobbyist for California's adult-entertainment industry, said there have been a number of recent cases, with "more industry victories than losses." But owners are keeping watch on developments, he said.


News -- 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000

Copyright 1995-2001 Sevenel Corporation. All Rights Reserved.