[Ed. note: This post is by ARNIE BECKER, one of the finalists in ATL Idol, the "reality blogging" competition that will determine ATL's next editor. It is marked with Arnie Becker's avatar (at right).]
Fremont County judge Timothy O’Grady has been called on to determine the legal difference, in Iowa, between a strip club and a performing arts center. In Iowa strip clubs are illegal, however, there is a loophole which exempts performing art centers, theaters and concert halls from some state obscenity laws — including nude dancing.
As reported by the Associated Press:
The case pending before a Fremont County judge effects only one business in Hamburg, but if he agrees with the prosecutor, it could eventually threaten the legal standing of nude dancing clubs across the state.
Clarence Judy, owner of the establishment Shotgun Geniez Plaza “Hamburg Theater for the Performing Arts” (WARNING, art aside, the site is NFWS), is facing three charges of public indecent exposure involving a minor.
The facts of the case, as reported in the Omaha World-Herald, are as follows:
The charges were brought in connection with a July 21, 2007, incident. A 17-year-old Hamburg girl, the niece of Fremont County Sheriff Steve MacDonald, danced nude onstage at the club.
It was a typical summer night, the Hamburg High School graduate testified Thursday. She and four girlfriends were drinking at a friend’s house when they decided to meet up with three boys at Shotgun Geniez. She had already had six drinks when she got there. As the group of eight walked in, two of them proffered their driver’s licenses, but Judy, who was working the door, did not ask for the identification of the underage girl, several people testified Thursday.
Once inside, the girl said she drank another beer – given to her by a “stripper” – and then lay down on the stage with a dollar in her bra. The dancer pulled the girl’s shirt and her bra up, exposing her breasts, before taking the dollar.
Later, a dancer pulled the girl onstage, where she helped her disrobe. She danced to one song while fully nude.
She put her clothes back on and drank another beer given to her by a dancer, she said. Later, she took the stage and danced nude again.
Judy has argued that his establishment is not a strip club because it has posters and prints on the wall, offers its patrons sketch pads, and only charges for parking or entry onto the property.
Judge O’Grady is expected to make his ruling on the “sketch pad defense” sometime this week.
Now would probably be a good time for Mr. Judy to take his establishment’s listing off of the Iowa Strip Clubs website (WARNING again, NFWS). Probably just an oversite – like letting a 17 year old inebriated girl walk into his “art center” on a typical summer night.