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Original Article

Tougher strip club rules are approved
By Ryan Gabrielson, Tribune
December 12, 2005

A crowd of strippers, club owners, their lawyers and Scottsdale residents packed City Hall on Monday night and largely spoke out against tougher regulations proposed for the citys topless bars.

But shortly before 11 p.m., the City Council voted unanimously in favor of revisions to Scottsdales Sexually Oriented Business ordinance that requires strippers to keep four feet between themselves and club patrons and outlawed all-nude dancing at the citys two strip clubs.

More than 100 people attended the meeting, including adult film mogul Jenna Jameson, whose purchase of a share of Babes Cabaret earlier this year ignited much of the public debate over how to regulate strip clubs.

The City Council had considered including a ban on the sale and consumption of alcohol.

That proposal, club owners argued, would have driven them out of business.

As Jameson, wearing a black business suit and hair in a ponytail, entered the council chambers with her bodyguards and business partners themselves top adult-film executives dozens seated in the main gathering area strained their necks to catch a glimpse of her.

Jameson did not speak, but let her lawyers do the talking against the proposal.

"Were not here to close down a business," Mayor Mary Manross said, responding to allegations that the ordinance change was designed to eradicate Scottsdales two topless bars. "Were here just to regulate a business . . . thats what responsible communities do."

Councilwoman Betty Drake and the strip clubs representatives questioned why the businesses were not involved in the discussion of what the changes to the ordinance should include.

Scott Bergthold, a Tennessee-based attorney who specializes in drafting strict regulations of adult businesses, argued that the council does not need evidence that Scottsdales clubs are causing problems to tighten its ordinance.

All it needs, he said, is evidence that they have brought crime to other communities.

But Bergthold contended that most crime statistics are not reliable as they relate to strip clubs, because they often do not create a victim.

"People do not call the police if theyre in a back room (with a stripper)," Bergthold said, referring to prostitution.

The city hired Bergthold in August to assist Scottsdale in altering its ordinance.

"Weve all witnessed and seen some terrible things," said L. Arocha, a south Scottsdale resident and Babes neighbor. Other nearby residents, however, contended that Scottsdale was creating an issue where there was none before.

"It appears pretty transparent and pretty plain to me that the City Council has an agenda," said Johnny Miller, a Scottsdale resident and owner of Papago Brewing Co.

Monday morning about two dozen strippers protested in front of City Hall, calling the regulations overbearing.

As the council meeting dragged late into the evening Monday, a handful of the dancers sat outside beneath a tent set up by the city, watching the proceedings and eating pizza.

During the meeting, the council slogged through more mundane issues, such as event funding, for more than two hours as the crowd stirred with impatience. A hearing on the strip club ordinance finally began at 7:30 p.m.

Contact Ryan Gabrielson by email, or phone (480)-970-2341