Porn star Jameson takes fight over club to ballot box
Lesley Wright The Arizona Republic Dec. 14, 2005 12:00 AM
SCOTTSDALE - Adult-film actress Jenna Jameson jumped angrily into Scottsdale politics Tuesday, launching a referendum drive to overturn Scottsdale's tough new regulations for sexually oriented businesses.
Jameson, who was the star attraction of Monday's City Council meeting, said the city only started cracking down because of her plans to breathe new life into Babe's Cabaret.
"The mayor and her council members used my fame to generate publicity that panders to the religious right wing, without regard to the rights of the majority of our citizens who simply want to enjoy adult entertainment," she said.
Jameson also blasted Scott Bergthold, the attorney associated with the Christian-based Alliance Defense Fund who drafted the regulations, calling him a "religious zealot" who aims to "take away freedoms of expression and choice for consenting adults."
Jameson and other supporters will need to collect 3,384 signatures from registered Scottsdale voters by Jan. 11 to force the issue onto a ballot. The earliest possible election date would be May 16, City Clerk Carolyn Jagger said.
City attorneys and elected officials were prepared for legal challenges to the regulations. Jameson's challenge will take it from the courts to the ballot box.
City Councilman Bob Littlefield, who faces re-election on March 14, said that he is comfortable with his position.
"I think we did the right thing," he said. "I will be more than happy to defend it."
Technically, few of the regulations adopted Monday are new. The old ordinance contained many of the same restrictions, but the city could not enforce them because they were unclear and not defensible in court.
That will change March 13, when the ordinance takes effect.
Bye-bye, lap dances. Also forbidden will be the discreet placement of a tip "on the person or the clothing of an employee."
Most dire, Skin and Babe's - soon to be called Club Jenna - will have to install barriers that put a 4-foot buffer between patrons and dancers.
"By putting the 4-foot rule in effect, we will lose all of our girls to the Phoenix clubs," Skin owner Todd Borowsky said.
The small size of both clubs would make it impossible to install the barrier and still carry on business, the owners said.
Jameson had only to sit in the middle of the second row of the council chamber to make a splash. About 200 people, including a bevy of exotic dancers wearing "Save Small Business" T-shirts and carrying pickets, filled the hall and congregated around the front of the building during the six-hour meeting.
"I'm afraid we're going to lose our jobs," Skin entertainer Candy Rosales said. "I like working in Scottsdale. It's the place to be. Everybody in the world knows where Scottsdale is."
A reputation as a pornography mecca is exactly what city leaders feared when they hired Bergthold with a $6,000 contract. The two-year contract also pays $200 per hour for Bergthold's consulting time, up to $20,000 plus expenses to help update the city's 1993 regulations for strip clubs.
Bergthold said the city has the right to regulate strip clubs to control "adverse secondary effects" such as property crimes, public lewdness, prostitution and the spread of diseases.
The attorney also maintained that the city did not have to prove the secondary effects exist locally because the ordinance is aimed at preventing or abating problems in the future.
Mayor Mary Manross said the city had the right and responsibility to make sure the ordinance was clear, enforceable and defensible in court.
"We are not here to close down a business or to prevent First Amendment expression," she said.