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'STRIPPER MOBILE' GRINDS TO A HALT

Police shut down the rolling billboard for strip club Deja Vu.
Published Mar. 12, 2010|Updated Mar. 12, 2010

Fans call it a brilliant marketing tool and a symbol of free speech.

Naysayers call it a skank tank and accident waiting to happen.

Love it or hate it, the stripper mobile created a buzz recently when it cruised Tampa party zones with not-quite-nude dancers bumping and grinding around a pole.

That ended a few weeks ago when police put the brakes on the roving billboard for Deja Vu, a nationwide strip-club chain with a location on Adamo Drive. Local authorities said there was a problem with the vehicle's registration out of Nevada.

Deja Vu officials in Tampa and Las Vegas have been working on the issue but, so far, haven't been able to resolve it. Once it is, the truck will get back on the road, said Eric "Ice" Terrell, general manager of the Tampa club. He hoped that would be this weekend or next.

The stripper mobile rolled through Ybor City, Channelside and SoHo on weekends from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. It looks like a delivery truck with see-through sides and a dance pole in back.

Not surprising in a town known for strip clubs and lap dances, the vehicle got a lot of notice and boosted business, Terrell said. The club's lawyer, Luke Lirot, said it didn't break the law since the dancers wore bikinis.

"I don't think it ever violated decency rules," said Lirot, a First Amendment lawyer well known for representing Mons Venus strip club owner Joe Redner. "It's simply a marketing tool. It's not meant to offend."

The stripper mobile began in Sin City last fall, cruising the strip to draw business to the Las Vegas Deja Vu. Then a county commissioner caught wind of it and vowed to shut it down, claiming it was unsafe and unseemly.

Rather than engage in a costly fight, club officials decided to be "good citizens" and parked the truck. They also didn't want to inflame lawmakers who approve the club's permits and licenses.

In Tampa, camps have lined up on both sides.

A recent discussion on Momslikeme.com, a site for sharing advice and stories, drew plenty of criticism from moms concerned about safety and the message the stripper mobile sends to children.

Others say the truck was unfairly targeted. Radio station 98Rock started an online petition, freethestripperbus.com, which has about 145 signatures.

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