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November 19, 1999 12:26pm
Strippers Protest Lapdance Ban
Source: Reuters
by: Robert Green

(TAMPA, FL) -- Hundreds of exotic dancers, some with children in tow, jammed a city council meeting until the early morning hours on Friday to protest a proposed ban on nude lap dances.

In a six-hour city council hearing that ended early on Friday morning, the women said the tentative ordinance requiring them to stay at least six feet away from customers and each other while dancing would sharply cut the money they earn to support themselves and their families.

``How are you going to support three kids making $7 an hour?'' asked dancer Jamie Gates, a mother of three.

Exotic dance clubs generally charge $20 for a lap dance that lasts a few minutes. Customers usually tip after the dances, which are also known as friction dances.

Ban supporters said lap dances, in which naked dancers rub against customers, promote prostitution and the transmission of sexual diseases and are bad for Tampa's image.

``We think Tampa's reputation as a wide-open city needs to end,'' said City Councilman Bob Buckhorn, author of the ban.

Neighboring cities have banned lap dances.

``It's conduct that unquestionably can be viewed as enhancing the transmission of disease,'' Assistant City Attorney Richard Fee said.

The seven-member council will not vote until they hold a second hearing on the ban in two weeks.

Among the plan's opponents were children of exotic dancers. ''I don't think anything my mom does hurts anyone,'' one young girl said.

The protest was organized by Joe Redner, the owner of Mons Venus, Tampa's best known strip club. He said the adult entertainment business contributes more than $100 million a year to Tampa's economy.

Redner, who was soundly defeated in his bid for Buckhorn's seat in March, has fought the city government for years over adult business restrictions.

The city council recently ruled that a Voyeur Dorm Internet site violated city zoning regulations by operating an adult business in a residential neighborhood. The Web site offered live, often nude, television pictures of six young women who share a house in Tampa. That ruling was being appealed in court.

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