Decriminalize Prostitution Now Coalition
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Letter from Speaker at Hearing #3 Who Proposed different Types Of Adult Cabaret's

To: Councilman John Nelson
Phoenix City Council
200 W. Washington St.
Phoenix, AZ 85003       

November 19, 1998

Dear Councilman Nelson:

As you might recall, I was one of the persons who spoke against the proposed ordinances to regulate sexually oriented businesses at the meeting up in Deer Valley. I want to thank you for taking the time to hold meetings in order to hear a great diversity of opinions from the people that you have the duty of representing. At the meeting, I wanted to make my points quickly, so I will explain in a little more detail what I was getting at regarding the so-called "adult cabarets," or as Al Bundy would say, "nudie bars."

My proposal was not only to not pass this current proposal, but also to repeal all of the other attempts to over-regulate this industry that have been passed since around 1992. I am not arguing for a completely laissez-faire atmosphere in these clubs, and I don’t disagree with having stricter controls in place where alcohol is served. What I feel should be prohibited are actual sex acts between entertainers and patrons, between entertainers, or by an entertainer alone. By sex act, I am not limiting it to President Clinton’s definition, but I think current definitions, which are included in prostitution statutes, are altogether too broad. To give more detail, I would ban any intercourse, oral sex, anal sex or masturbation from occurring on the premises. To further this, I actually would agree with the proposal of barring any private dances taking place out of sight of the manager or where a law enforcement person could not observe it.

On the other hand, it is just plain harassment to prohibit dancers from giving their butt an occasional slap or their breasts an occasional squeeze or caress. Of course I am not saying a dancer should lie on stage for two songs while utilizing a device requiring batteries! That would be an actual sex act, masturbation; however, that is not the same as an occasional rub of her breasts or genitals in order to convey an erotic message and display her body effectively. This is common activity at nudie bars all over the country, and is only barred by people who hate strip clubs and seek to have them go away completely. Similarly, there is no reason to prohibit customers from tipping exotic dancers in their garters, waistbands, or between their breasts. I would not object greatly to having the dancers wear a bikini bottom or g-string when giving a lap dance, but there is no reason for prohibiting mutual caressing of the legs, back and chest of the entertainer and customer. I am aware that many jurisdictions around the country ban all or most of this contact, but you know as well as I that this is common practice at strip clubs, and in fact is legal in some states and/or cities. When I started going to clubs in 1992, things were not quite as loose as what I’m recommending in this letter, but all of the above could be had as long as some discretion was followed, and there were hardly any restrictions on tipping or self-touch.

As I said before, if possible, I would allow whichever club has the best record of complying with the law to operate on the terms I have laid out above, as a test case. We both know of two or three little dives that have gone beyond even what I believe should be legal, and they should not be rewarded for their lack of respect for the law. Police should monitor what happens in this club closely, to see that nothing more than customers getting an occasional boob in the face or the chance to caress a dancer while she bounces around in his lap is taking place. Additionally, city officials should note what happens in the areas surrounding the club permitted this more liberal operation, to see if any genuine threats to neighborhoods are occurring. Last, both the city and the club should publicize this step. City officials should note whether the club that is permitted to offer full contact lap dances does more business than usual or than other strip clubs. That should be quite informative, especially to politicians. If the flow of customers is substantial, that shows people are voting with their dollars in favor of this type of entertainment. I am not arguing that anything people wish to pay money for, such as crystal-meth or sex with children, should be legal, but you will recall the remarks made by Lex Byers at the meeting. I’m sure you would agree that the demographic profile he offered of the average strip club patron is the type of person that most cities welcome as citizens and that most government leaders would not wish to displease needlessly.

The person who said that people will keep going to these despite further restrictions is correct. We men like to see attractive women remove their clothing and display their sensuous bodies, particularly since, unlike Europe, we don’t ordinarily have topless and nude beaches and other recreation areas. What bothers me, though, is that neither this city nor any other has seriously attempted to justify all the regulations on nude or erotic entertainment. The lengthy reports of crime were a joke. They merely related events that typically occur in strip clubs, which for some reason have been prohibited. What you need to justify is why even those laws are necessary in the first place. Why is it a threat to public health and safety for a topless or nude dancer to caress and fondle her own body erotically in the hopes of generating a few more tips? What is the harm in allowing full contact lap dances, particularly in clubs that do not serve alcohol? For what it’s worth, in Texas nude clubs cannot serve alcohol but customers can bring in their own. Many states have no problem with alcohol and nudity. I know that this is off topic, but I just raise it to show how narrow-minded our government officials appear here.

You will also recall my proposal that private room entertainers should be licensed as escorts, or my preference, licensed sexual providers. I want to expand that concept so that any cabaret that desires to have a completely private area could do so, but would have to be licensed additionally as an incall escort or sexual provider agency. While I vehemently oppose licensing topless or nude dancers, I have no problem with licensing escorts or sexual providers. Any entertainer at a club that provided a special private room who wished to wished to perform in the private room would have to become a licensed sexual provider. I have refrained from mentioning any specific businesses by name, but since it’s not in Phoenix, and not affected by you, I will discuss Fantasy Island, which is located in an unincorporated part of Tempe, as an example. They offer private room interaction downstairs, and have a nude cabaret, called Showgirls, upstairs. Dancers at the cabaret are available for private shows downstairs. They also have recently added a massage place, so they are becoming a one-stop shopping complex for adult entertainment. Such places may become the wave of the future; in fact, some Phoenix businesses now are offering multiple options, such as a cabaret with private dances as well as an adult bookstore.
I remain confused by the fact that policies even among nude clubs in Phoenix are presently so variable. Contrary to some of the literature at the meeting, I don’t believe any nude clubs make dancers wear pasties while performing personal dances, not even latex, which is worn at the topless clubs. Some clubs do not allow any tipping at all on stage, others still allow customers to tip a totally nude dancer between her breasts, while others are in between these extremes. I am not mentioning any businesses by name, because I don’t wish to encourage further crackdowns, but just to highlight that there seems much confusion as to what is or is not currently allowed, especially since aspects of the laws passed over the past 4-5 years remain blocked by litigation.

Contrary to the literature made available at the meetings,there is no reason to believe that these new laws will lead to anything but more confusion and litigation. If there are problems with enforcing the old ones, what could possibly lead one to believe that the same problems will affect the new ones? Think seriously about all you have heard before kow-towing to the bullies of the religious right, who enjoy using government to enact their own agendas. Copies of this will go to other people involved in this struggle.

        Bob McCormack

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