|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, 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.
California Law Week/Cal Law
Law News Network
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
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
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
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
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
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."
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,
"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
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
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
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
By DANIEL YI
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
"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
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"
"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
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
By PAUL CLINTON
Los Angeles Times
BURBANK When the owners of the new Sun Valley strip joint
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
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
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
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
By FELIX SANCHEZ
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,"
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
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
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
By IRENE GARCIA
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
"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
"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."
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
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
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
By TRUDY TYNAN
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
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
"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
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
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
"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
By ERIC CARPENTER
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.
"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.
here for the entire Pelican Theater article including time line by Eric
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
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
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
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
By TED SHAFFREY
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
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
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
"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
By JANA J. MONJI
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
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
Joe DeSantis' fittingly tawdry set includes a pole, used to great effect
* "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
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
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
Seconded by Councilman Joel Wachs, the motion was inspired by court decisions
upholding similar ordinances in Newport Beach and Kent, Wash., Miscikowski
"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
"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
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
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
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
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
By MICHELE HIMMELBERG
The Orange County Register
LABOR: A S.B. County jury rules they are regular employees, not independent
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
"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.
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