A scantily clad male dancer at Chippendales shimmied his way into police custody over the weekend when he was arrested by Los Angeles vice officers on suspicion of performing a lewd act.
Bernard Tavis, 23, was arrested shortly before 10 p.m. Saturday after his performance at the popular Westside nightclub, which features male strippers. Tavis was booked and released without bail, according to officers at the Los Angeles Police Department's Pacific Station.
Police Lt. Fred Nixon said Tavis allegedly showed more of himself to the 120 female patrons than is allowed by law.
"After stripping to his G-string, he continued doing so to the point where he was exposing himself," Nixon said in an interview at the club Sunday afternoon. "He was the only dancer observed to be in violation of the law and that's why he was the only one arrested."
Sitting against a backdrop of male pinup posters a few feet from Nixon on Sunday, Tavis denied the charge. He said he was just a victim of police harassment.
"I've been doing the exact same thing since I started my act about a year ago," Tavis said. "They're saying that I opened my brief, but it's just not true. And when they came to arrest me, they barely let me put my pants on. I had no idea why they wanted to arrest me.
"Maybe they just singled me out because of the audience response to my act. I'm kind of like the rock star of the show."
The arrest was the latest in a series of problems for the nightclub, which the Los Angeles Fire Department has tried to close for repeated overcrowding violations.
However, a Superior Court judge ruled this month that the club can stay open while a lawsuit opposing the closing is pending.
Nightclub officials have accused the city of singling Chippendale's out for harassment. Owner Steve Banerjee said earlier this month that the Police Commission wanted to close the club one month after it opened. When that failed "it became a vendetta for them," he said. Banerjee said he hopes to end the battles with the city by moving to another club.