Detroit City Council have approved further repression of the city's 31 topless clubs. They have banned VIP rooms and lap dancing, but still allow the clubs to serve booze.
The council also voted unanimously to pass new zoning regulations limiting where new clubs could open.
The action comes one day after more than 500 people attended a 3.5 hour public hearing on the issue. The majority backed tougher regulations, which included the alcohol prohibition and opaque pasties that the council has abandoned. The
watering-down of the rules infuriated religious nutters.
The Reverend Nutter Marvin Winans, pastor of Perfecting Church who led the fight for tougher rules, promised to continue the battle: Detroit deserves better, said Winans, who added he had no specific plans for a next step. The people are
going to have the last word.
Strip club owners and employees said the crackdown would cripple their business, but after the vote, Larry Kaplan of the Association of Club Executives said they would do our best to live within the restrictions.
During the debate, Assistant Police Chief Ralph Godbee warned an alcohol ban at topless clubs could drive the behavior underground, creating more blind pigs. He added it would be harder for police to make sure underage girls aren't dancing at the
blind pigs. Licensed clubs could lose their liquor license for certain violations.
The new rules would ban VIP rooms, require most employees get licenses from the city and limit dancers to 18-inch tall stages, which essentially bans lap dancing. The rules also ban touching, even when dancers are clothed.
Other changes include:
All employees would have to get licenses and pass background checks except bathroom attendants, valets and repair and delivery workers. The city has yet to determine the cost of the licenses.
Employees couldn't get licenses if they have certain criminal convictions, including sexual or drug related crimes.
New clubs have to be at least 1,000 feet from another club, house, park, school or church.
Owners of a Detroit strip club have gone to court to thwart recently enacted city ordinances that ban lap dancing, VIP rooms and touching, among other things.
An attorney for the Penthouse Club filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court today, claiming the ordinances are unconstitutional breaches of the club's free speech rights.
The lawsuit seeks a preliminary injunction, as well as a permanent resolution in the club's favor.
In February, the City Council approved the ordinances that affect the city's 31 topless clubs. It bans so-called VIP rooms and lap dancing, but still allows the clubs to serve alcohol. The measure passed 6-3 and followed a vocal public
hearing which attracted more than 500 people.
In addition to the ban on VIP rooms, the new rules would require most employees get licenses from the city and limit dancers to 18-inch tall stages, which essentially bans lap dancing. The rules also ban touching, even when dancers are clothed.
Also new clubs have to be at least 1,000 feet from another club, house, park, school or church.