Saturday, May 26, 2018
Opinion

A horror for art patrons: Strippers forced to cover up

Let us discuss artistic expression.

Yes, this is a column about a South Florida strip club undergoing an existential crisis.

The strippers at Solid Gold in Broward County are being forced to dance while wearing clothing. That's like making Wynton Marsalis play the trumpet without using his mouth.

Like I said, an existential crisis. Not to mention tough for business.

"The competition for gentlemen's clubs is significant," said the club's lawyer, Luke Lirot, who is based in Clearwater. "And you can't compete with other clubs if your dancers aren't displaying anything more than you can see on the beach."

The "gentlemen" he speaks of are guys who come to leer at women as they remove all their clothing while dancing. But for the purposes of this legal dispute, let's just think of these guys as interpretive dance critics who are there to appreciate the deeper meaning of a nude woman with legs akimbo hanging upside down from a brass pole like a plucked chicken.

It's all about the metaphors.

These guys may look like run-of-the-mill lounge lizards, but they're art aficionados. And their cultural enrichment outings have been put in jeopardy by the Broward County city of Oakland Park, which has started requiring strippers to keep some clothes on while maintaining a 6-foot buffer zone between the dancers and patrons.

The dancers are not allowed to expose their entire buttocks or reveal the outer lower quadrant of each breast. "It hinders the ability to convey the erotic messages that the dancers are trying to convey," Lirot explained.

As a communication device, a thong-covered posterior is a faint, indecipherable instrument when compared to a fully exposed soliloquy of the cheeks. And when it comes to breast quadrants, an artist needs to have all four for full-range messaging.

It's also obvious that all sorts of communication opportunities can happen within that 6-foot no-go zone. After all, how can one fully interpret the grinding poverty of the working poor through a lapless lap dance?

The club's restrictive new rules went into effect this month when its 11-year contract with the city to operate an adult entertainment business expired, and the city refused to allow the club to continue under the existing rules. The club sued the city, but a federal judge failed to grant an emergency motion that would have kept it running as a strip club until its lawsuit is resolved.

So, for the time being, there's a limit on the full palette of interpretive dancing at the club.

And to get the strippers back to stripping again, the club's lawyer is claiming that the city's anti-stripping regulations are an unconstitutional infringement on the dancers' First Amendment rights to explore their full artistic expression. "If there were no difference between the artistic expression of nude entertainment and the artistic expression of semi-nude entertainment, then there would be no controversy between the parties," Lirot wrote in a court brief.

There's quite a body of case law on the subject.

In 1991, the U.S. Supreme Court tackled the First Amendment rights of strippers performing at the Kitty Kat Lounge in South Bend, Ind. The lounge sued because the strippers had to at least wear pasties and g-strings during their performances. A divided court ruled in that case (Barnes vs. Glen Theatre) that the anti-nudity law wasn't unconstitutional, but that nude dancing was a form of expressive activity that could be considered protected speech.

Or as Justice Byron White put it: "The sight of a fully clothed, or even a partially clothed dancer, generally will have a far different impact on a spectator than that of a nude dancer, even if the same dance is performed. The nudity is itself an expressive component of the dance, not merely incidental conduct."

So for you guys who are still going to Solid Gold during these less expressive times, it may help the club's cause if you look and behave more artsy.

Try wearing a beret or an ascot. And after the show, congratulate the dancers on their interpretations.

You may have to shout, seeing as how you'll be 6 feet away.

Frank Cerabino is a columnist for the Palm Beach Post.

Comments
Editorial: Welcome Bayshore changes still can’t stop bad judgment

Editorial: Welcome Bayshore changes still can’t stop bad judgment

It’s human nature in following any tragedy to imagine: How could this have been prevented? On that score, the city of Tampa responded appropriately to the deaths this week of a mother and her toddler whom police say were hit by a teenage driver racin...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Editorial: Filling Rocky Point lagoon to build townhomes is an empty-headed idea

Editorial: Filling Rocky Point lagoon to build townhomes is an empty-headed idea

One of the worst ideas in a long time in the field of urban planning received a blessing this month when the Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission approved a land-use change for a project that calls for filling three acres of water insi...
Published: 05/25/18
Editorial: Searching for the real Adam Putnam

Editorial: Searching for the real Adam Putnam

Send out an Amber Alert for Adam Putnam. The red-haired, affable fellow who has served capably as a state legislator, member of Congress and agriculture commissioner is missing. In his place is a far-right caricature who has branded himself as a prou...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Column: Going viral: The good, the bad, and the food for thought

Column: Going viral: The good, the bad, and the food for thought

More than 25 million. That’s how many people saw my joke on Twitter."I once taught an 8 a.m. college class. So many grandparents died that semester. I then moved my class to 3 p.m. No more deaths. And that, my friends, is how I save lives."I expected...
Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18
Editorial: A strong economic case for restoring voting rights for felons

Editorial: A strong economic case for restoring voting rights for felons

Floridians are paying a steep price for a system that makes it as difficult as possible for people who leave prison to reintegrate into civic life. Gov. Rick Scott’s clemency process isn’t just archaic and cruel — it also wastes enormous public resou...
Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18
Editorial: Trump right to cancel North Korea talks on nuclear weapons

Editorial: Trump right to cancel North Korea talks on nuclear weapons

Regardless of the reason, the cancellation of the U.S.-North Korea summit to address Pyonyang’s nuclear program is hardly the worst possible outcome of this high-stakes diplomatic gamble. President Donald Trump was unprepared, North Korea’s Kim Jong ...
Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18

NFL kneels before the altar of profits

The owners of the 32 National Football League teams sent a wrongheaded and, frankly, un-American message to their players Wednesday: Expressing your opinion during the national anthem is no longer permitted."A club will be fined by the League if its ...
Published: 05/24/18
Column: 30-something and still living at home? You’ve got lots (and lots) of company.

Column: 30-something and still living at home? You’ve got lots (and lots) of company.

A 30-year-old upstate New York man was ordered to leave his parents’ house by a state Supreme Court Justice this week after rebuffing several attempts by his parents to get him to move out.The case of Michael Rotondo has made national and internation...
Published: 05/24/18
Column: Woman’s poem on Meghan Markle’s mom — and all single moms — goes viral

Column: Woman’s poem on Meghan Markle’s mom — and all single moms — goes viral

On the morning that Meghan Markle married Prince Harry, Lesle Honore sat in bed in front of her TV on Chicago’s South Side, 4,000 miles from the royal spectacle at Windsor Castle, and wrote a poem on her phone.It was inspired by the sight of Markle a...
Published: 05/24/18
Joe Henderson: With chaos the norm on Interstate 4, back roads are looking more inviting

Joe Henderson: With chaos the norm on Interstate 4, back roads are looking more inviting

In the past couple of months, I have had to travel about 25 miles from the bucolic burg of Brandon to Lakeland several times.I take Interstate 4 because it is the most direct route.I may have to rethink that strategy, though, especially with Memorial...
Published: 05/24/18