Decriminalize Prostitution Now Coalition
Your Tax Dollars Are Being Wasted Ruining Citizens Lives
Instead of fighting real crime


Phoenix City Council Proposes Further Restrictions on Sex of Consenting adults, proposing new restrictions on strip clubs and elimination of swing or sex clubs

For discussion of swing clubs see: swingclubs

The Phoenix City Council will soon vote on new more restrictive laws effecting strip clubs, swing clubs all in the "fight against prostitution" and of course somehow stop HIV and help neighborhoods!

We encourage Phoenix residents to write to the Council now objecting to yet another restriction on the sexual freedom of mutually consenting adults. Too often people are too silent until after it is too late, the law is passed and all they can do is complain. This is a good opportunity to start voicing our objections to restrictions while its getting media attention.

A Public letter from one Phoenix resident follows published with his permission. I encourage others to do the same.

STRIP CLUB LETTERS  (see end for swing club responses)


This is truly a bad week for all those in the Phoenix area who enjoy adult businesses. First the state mandated that all such businesses must close by one a.m., then the city proposes major crackdowns on all types of adult entertainment.

This is a plea urging all of you to think twice before imposing further regulations on adult entertainment. Too often the battle seems to be between owners and employees of cabarets and the "neighborhood activists" who oppose them. What about us ordinary citizens who like to visit topless bars and adult bookstores occasionally? We seem to be invisible and forgotten.

I regret to say in the current climate that I feel I must remain anonymous, but I imagine that I speak for many others. What are the problems facing American cities today? Street crime, drugs, gangs, traffic and pollution come quickly to mind. Here in Phoenix, we also suffer from excessive growth and development, straining the infrastructure but leaving islands of poverty and decay. Yet when public officials meet to solve our problems, what do they do?

The easy answer often seems to be a crackdown on those nasty topless dancers! Exotic dancers are such an easy target for politicians and police to attack. Unlike real criminals, they aren’t elusive and make no effort to flee. Everything they do is out in plain sight. They can’t fight back and don’t shoot at police. So whenever public officials want to reassure citizens that they are doing something to clean up the city and improve the quality of life, the answer is usually an attack on sexually related businesses.

The party line seems to be that something needs to be done to get control over the industry. What is not mentioned is how this industry is already heavily burdened by regulation, especially here in Arizona compared to other cities across the nation. Murders, drive-by shootings and burglaries happen on an hourly basis; many are never solved (including the one at my apartment). Yet our tax dollars are always hard at work regulating adult entertainment.

I have visited nude and topless clubs frequently over the past few years. I have never been propositioned by a dancer for sex outside the club, nor have I observed any prostitution taking place inside. I have occasionally had some fleeting contact with a dancer’s breast or thigh; while this may be beyond the letter of the law, it is not what people imagine when they’re told that rampant prostitution is taking place. Yet undercover officers are constantly entering these clubs, eagerly searching for evidence of even minor misconduct, such as failure of a topless dancer to apply sufficient coverings of latex over her nipples or a dancer brushing up too close to a customer for a few seconds. Despite this, we are told that the industry is out of control and even more strict regulations are needed.

The saddest thing is that the new rules will do little to ease the complaints of "neighborhood leaders." (Just who are neighborhood leaders and how a person qualifies as one is not clear to me anyway.) One woman was telling Channel 10 that she didn’t like things that occurred in her neighborhood near a topless bar. Excuse my stupidity, but how does making sure entertainers are 21, licensing dancers with background checks, etc. change what people, who may or may not be bar patrons, are doing in her neighborhood? Most of the clubs I visit are zoned in commercial or industrial districts anyway, so the impact on residential areas is bound to be slight even now.

Suppose a background check reveals an exotic dancer has been a prostitute. Shouldn’t we be glad that she is now earning her living legally by dancing? If she’s not allowed to dance at a cabaret, she may return to a street corner on Van Buren, or go on public assistance.

Usually licenses and clearance checks are required for high-level jobs that involve public health and safety or access to sensitive information. Being an exotic dancer requires no real training or education and is usually done by college students or by women at the low end of the social/economic spectrum. It’s difficult to imagine that cabaret dancing is such a crucial position that licensing and background checks are necessary.

I am not interested in swinger’s clubs, so I am not so familiar with what takes place there. The media coverage does not reveal why they are to be completely prohibited. Since it is fairly clear that the reasons given for all of these proposed crackdowns are not valid, and the new restrictions are not closely related to the concerns of community leaders, I can only conclude that the real issue is one of power.

In a large and diverse city such as Phoenix, it is reasonable that people will differ as to their moral viewpoints and values. What is clear is that those who have political power are using to impose their moral ideology on those who lack power, and using some vague concerns about community values as a justification.

So where will we be in a year? Assuming the city council passes these misguided rules, all of the urban problems will remain unsolved. Prostitutes will still be on the streets; neighborhoods will still face the usual woes of drugs and crime. A few adult businesses will have closed or relocated and some entertainers may have lost their jobs.

To me, the major difference will be that my quality of life will have declined. I will no longer be able to sit and chat for awhile with a lovely undressed woman, or cuddle with her for a few minutes during a lap dance or enjoy the intimacy of a private show. One other thing: I and others like me will remember who was responsible for this.

How many of you on the City Council have tried to find a parking space at Bourbon Street Circus or Le Girls on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday night? There are an awful lot of us out here. We don’t come and speak at meetings and most of us don’t write letters. But we live here; we pay taxes and we vote. At election time, we will remember who took away one of life’s pleasures.

There is another answer. Phoenix politicians can exercise bold political vision. Instead of adding yet more regulations, they could loosen things up. Cities such as Tampa and San Francisco allow full contact lap dances without restrictions and have seen no horrible effect on their quality of life. In fact, such activities probably add to the tourism draw for these cities. Why could not Phoenix take the same steps?

Copies of this letter will be sent to appropriate local media.


1. The people of the United States recognize sexual expression as a fundamental human right. Accordingly, any adult person has the right to engage in a sexual relationship with any other adult person, provided there is mutual consent. Neither Congress nor the states shall enact legislation prohibiting such relationships, nor may they seek to control the circumstances surrounding such relationships.

2. Because human sexual expression is a protected fundamental right, neither Congress nor the states shall enact legislation prohibiting any adult person from creating, producing, performing, receiving or viewing sexually explicit material, whether such material is presented for educational or entertainment purposes. Sexually explicit material may be presented in person, or through any media, including but not limited to books, magazines, films, videotapes, computer disks and computer transmissions.

3. All existing legislation, whether enacted by Congress or by any state, that is inconsistent with this article will become invalid upon the adoption of this article.

Replies about the new strip club proposals:

"I agree absolutely with your take on consensual contact between adults. It is almost election time and the city council and the state legislators want to ensure that they are doing what they believe the "good" people want them to do. They believe only the "good" people vote.

The state has seen fit to further restrict what businesses already licensed by the cities can do and the hours that they can operate. These businesses now have more restrictive rules (for that is what they are, rules. as the violation of which violates no individual's rights) than an establishment that sells liquor.

And i'm sure that I can state, without fear of contradiction, that persons under the effects of liquor have caused more pain, destruction, sorrow and destruction fo property than anyone under the "effect" of their local topless dancer."

Here is a relevant reply from a person that supports more restrictions:

"Your problem is that you think you know what is good for all of society - even if the majority of society disagrees with you. To a large portion of your society (probably well over 50%), what goes on in these bars is a crime and the people who commit these crimes are criminals - whether you want to believe so or not.

Our forefathers had an answer to your problem though - the ballot box. Get enough people to agree with you, and you can change the law. If you can't, then you either learn to live with it or find an area that has laws that you're more in agreement with."
Here is a reply to the above reply from the original writer:

That letter addresses the political side of the question but overlooks the legal, or more particularly, the constitutional side of things.

Our Constitution was written to ensure that certain fundamental rights and freedoms remained immune from public opinion, election results, or legislative actions. Thus, for example, even if the majority white people in a state voted in a majority of American Nazis into their legislature, the new legislature would still be prohibited from passing laws calling for an end to civil rights for blacks or jews. That is because it would violate the Constitution.

So to address the correspondent, the fact that over 50% of our society disaproves of nude dancing (an unproven assertion, by the way), would not allow it to be banned, provided nude dancing enjoys constitutional protection. Currently it does not look as if nude dancing enjoys much constitutional protection, which is among the reasons my proposed constitutional amendment is necessary (although it is unlikely to ever be passed in my lifetime).
Dave says: So true...we need to make people aware of these issues so they will get upset enough about how tax dollars are spent and how freedoms are being taken away to vote...or as we eventually propose signing initiatives to force sexual freedom issues to come to a vote.

I wonder however if the current Phx City Council really is interested in any dialog or facts since they have long
wanted to stamp out any adult activities they don't like.  With elections coming up they may be more interested in bragging about how they are doing something for the city - yet what they are really doing is horrendously harmful.

I represented a few hundred massage therapists via petitions etc. I presented before the Council a few years ago fighting the new massage laws. It seemed pointless and of course the new laws just made the problems worse.

I wonder if anyone gets to sit down and talk to council members rather than just give short speeches allowed at
meetings without much dialog of chance to discuss.

I have to be somewhat less public on this issue since I have clients that might get upset with some of my views.
That is why attacking adult freedoms is easier since while folks may support more freedoms they are reluctant to be too public about it in a society so obsessed with sexual denial in public but obviously doing something else in private.

Robert McGinley, founder of National Association of Swing Clubs says:
Whatever the actions of the swing clubs, Phoenix City Council, “neighborhood leaders,” or the “sex industry,” this city battle is representative of the sex hysteria that has obsessed America.

When, oh when, will we grow up!

Back To Phoenix Contents Page

Copyright 1998
All Rights Reserved.