Religious zelots on Scottsdale City Council try to shut down Scottsdale topless bars
The Bird Boobs in Scottsdale
Attention, fight fans: The Bird would like to direct your attention to Scottsdale, where anxious strippers are gearing up for a battle that may prove epic. In this corner, the City of Scottsdale, armed with the best legal advice money can buy and a burning desire to save its citizens from bare breasts. In the other corner, billionaire porn star Jenna Jameson, who sports the best bosom money can buy.
Jameson, who's lived in the Valley since 2000, recently purchased a one-quarter interest in Babe's, a hot local strip club. She's hired happening designer Jeff Low -- the guy who designed Scottsdale's so-hot-it's-cool club SIX -- and word is, there are plans to relaunch the place as Club Jenna.
If Jameson's recent wins -- a best-selling autobiography; a Web site hawking everything from vibrators to hoodies; and (what else!) a reality TV show on the Playboy Channel -- are any indication, Club Jenna ought to be an instant smash. That is, if the Scottsdale City Council minds its own damn business.
Which doesn't seem likely. Last week, The Bird got a freshly printed copy of Scottsdale's opening salvo: a proposed ordinance that would (yikes!) ban liquor from any establishment with topless dancing.
The city already has a three-foot rule, keeping drooling customers far from the goods. Now it would be six feet. And although the general custom is for strip clubs that can't serve liquor to go all nude, the proposal would close that loophole, too.
So: No lap dances. No booze.
It's hard to imagine how any strip club could survive. In fact, it probably couldn't, according to Todd Borowsky. Borowsky owns Skin Cabaret, the other strip club in Scottsdale. He's been quietly doing business for three years, he says, without complaint from cops or citizens. But his prominent new neighbor has changed all that.
After Jameson's interest in Babe's was announced, cops began dropping by both strip clubs -- and not to party. Borowsky now faces seven criminal citations for red-tape infractions like not submitting a floor plan and not maintaining an employee log.
"Before Babe's sold, we had no problems whatsoever," Borowsky bleated to The Bird. "Now all of a sudden there are 15 articles in the newspaper, and council members are making comments -- this is 100 percent connected."
Naturally, City of Scottsdale spokesman Mike Phillips says this is all hooey. The city has been planning to update its strip club laws for some time, he swears.
Behind the scenes, though, are indications that this is no routine nightclub shakedown. Besides the draconian nature of Scottsdale's plan -- no liquor at a titty bar? -- there is the man behind the ordinance, rumored to be one Scott Bergthold, a household name to people who remove their blouses for money (or at least those who employ them).
For years, Bergthold ran the Community Defense Counsel, a nonprofit group based in Scottsdale devoted to -- surprise! -- closing down strip clubs. Now he's in Tennessee where, according to his Web site, he runs a law practice devoted to -- say it with me, now! -- closing down strip clubs.
Bergthold is a smart feller. Reached by phone, he knew without being told that The Bird was calling about "that Scottsdale matter." Then he said he didn't have time to talk anymore.
Phillips, the Scottsdale spokesman, doesn't know if Bergthold is involved in the ordinance, and he's quick to stress that the ordinance is only a list of various legally defensible "options," and that there's no pressure for the Scottsdale City Council to actually adopt any of them.
The council is expected to discuss the ordinance December 12. Members could approve it then, or they could take a tip from The Bird: Stall a little, you guys. Wait until the angry mob of horny heteros is distracted by stuff like football or the next Jenna Jameson video, and slip it through then.