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Seattle Cracks Down on Sex Shows

October 04, 2005|From Associated Press

SEATTLE — The City Council on Monday approved some of the strictest adult-entertainment regulations of any major city in the country, voting 5 to 4 to require that dancers stay 4 feet from patrons.

That means no lap dances and no folding dollar bills into G-strings. In addition, the clubs must maintain at least parking-garage brightness throughout the premises and can have no private rooms. Dancers will no longer be allowed to take money directly from customers; instead, customers will put the money in a tip jar.

"For the most part, the attraction's gone," said Gil Levy, a lawyer for Rick's adult nightclub in Seattle. "It will make the clubs less fun."

The legislation was requested by Mayor Greg Nickels. The mayor's office said the restrictions were needed to prevent a rash of cabarets from opening after a federal judge struck down the city's 17-year moratorium on new strip clubs.

Technically, Seattle already had a ban on dancers and patrons "touching" in clubs. But officials and police said that the rule was ignored and that dancers routinely gave lap dances.

Several officers submitted testimony about witnessing acts of prostitution or near-prostitution in the clubs, but said that because the clubs were dark, it was sometimes hard to prove the no-touching rule was being violated without buying a lap dance.

"It is somewhat offensive, as taxpayers, to be paying our vice department for lap dances," said Kelly Meinig, a Seattle resident who supported the legislation.

Those who opposed the rules suggested a better way to regulate strip clubs would be through zoning, to keep them away from schools, churches and homes. Seattle has no zoning rules governing adult entertainment.

Furthermore, they said, the rules are unbecoming of a city that prides itself on being liberal and tolerant.

"Without being prudes, we can be prudent," said Councilman Nick Licata.

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