For those Advocate readers who have been staying abreast of this issue, I am pleasantly surprised to report this story from the “Naked City.”
PTs, our very own local neighborhood strip joint, has been told by the City to get dressed. PTs’ proprietor Nick Mehmeti must be wondering what the world is coming to. Alas, are Lake Highlanders now to be deprived of both pornography and a winning football team? And we call ourselves an “international” City!
You might recall that, back in the days when we occasionally blushed, the PTs location was known as White Rock Terrace, where there was dining and dancing (with clothes) until dawn. Sometime along in the 1970s, the hired help started shedding their uniforms and inhibitions and dancing on the tables, and the Lake Highlands aberration known as PTs has been promoting Hefner-family values in our neighborhood ever since.
Along about 1990, the City decided strip joints really probably shouldn’t be located next to parks, residential neighborhoods, churches and the Chamber of Commerce headquarters, so it passed an ordinance that prohibited joints from stripping within 1,000 feet of kids and families and pretty much anyone who still possessed a degree of modesty.
For the past 10 years, PTs has had to apply for – and has in fact received – a one-year exemption from the ordinance, perhaps because it has a great lunch buffet or is a terrific place for conversation, or some such reason that attempted to mask the absurdity of permitting a topless club to operate across the street from the White Rock Bike/Jogging Trail and next to a retirement community and an upper-income residential neighborhood.
Until this year.
At this year’s hearing to renew PTs’ annual exemption, the wall separating common sense from uncommon zoning came tumbling down. The City’s License and Appeal Board, for the first time ever, denied PTs’ application for examption.
Why? Timing. The local strip-joint cartel had been in federal court challenging the constitutionality of the City’s ordinance. The strippers lost. The City’s new-found confidence in its ordinance was displayed in the quality of presentation made by the City Attorney’s office at the hearing. They finally made the right arguments, and they made them effectively.
Second, the License and Appeal Board panel members seemed to consider the matter much more deliberately than past panels. Third, on just two random days, undercover police officers easily made 12 cases of lewd conduct against PTs employees inside the club (another grueling day at the office for our men in blue).
Fourth, PTs had to pay a $4,500 fine for serving alcohol to a minor. Fifth, neighborhood residents presented a petition with 120 signatures, asking that PTs’ application be denied. Sixth, enough people woke up and realized that the emperor – and PTs’ dancers – had no clothes.
Of course, it’s not over yet. PTs is suing the City, complaining that it has been stripped of its right to strip. To which I say once again: “Grow up, put on some clothes, act like you once had parents who taught you how to behave, and do something you can actually put on a resume.”