End the War on Strip Clubs

Pole-Dancer-Silhouette-psd15803Strip clubs are like fire houses and auto repair shops. No one wants to live next to one, but everyone is happy one is there when they need it.

Here in New York City, strip clubs have been regulated nearly to death, and the bell tolls for many of the survivors today. According to the New York Times community groups throughout the city have waged a war of attrition against strip clubs by petitioning the state liquor authority to take away the nudie bars’ liquor licenses and deny new strip club applicants the right to sell alcohol. That has been shuttering numerous strip clubs throughout the five boroughs.

It’s a sad commentary on society that strip clubs fail when they lose their liquor licenses. Topless women should trump alcohol. If you are a man who can’t enjoy the sight of a topless woman without a drink in your hand, you are either a deeply troubled closeted homosexual or a deeply troubled drunkard. But the lack of a liquor license is a revenue killer for the clubs, which makes a larger share of its money on alcohol than on the entertainment.

It also bestows an extra level of apprehension on the part of a customer considering going to a club. Strip clubs are sleazy places as it is, one that can’t get a liquor license will lose even non-drinking clientele.

The Giuliani administration started this foolishness with zoning restrictions on strip clubs that drove many to either move or go out of business. The new rules instituted by Giuliani limited the distance a strip club could be from a school or church. I’ll wager a lap dance at the Clermont Lounge that churches do more brain damage and aid in more sexual deviance than strip clubs.

I am not a frequent visitor to strip clubs. They are overpriced and your time and energies are better spent on trying to see a woman naked for free and privately. But there are some occasions where strip clubs are appropriate. A bachelor party without a stripper is like a wedding without a bride (Yes, I know that many gay weddings don’t have brides, but I guarantee you that plenty of gay bachelor parties have strippers).

There are certain times when the strip club is the logical place to go, when it is OK to live life at its most honest and primal and to do so without apology. It is nice to be in an environment where it is polite to stare at women’s breasts.

But even if you despise strip clubs and wish they would all fall into the sea, you must at least recognize their right to exist. I don’t like that there are Starbucks on every other street corner. I think that our neighborhoods would be better if we started putting the zoning crunch on the churches rather than the strip clubs. Churches don’t pay taxes like strip clubs do. But things I don’t like have the right to exist.

Banishing strip clubs is not only puritanically foolish and extremist, it is wantonly cruel towards people who earn their living there. Even ignoring the argument of what kind of mouth-breathing reactionary hates the idea of looking at naked women, what kind of heartless jackass wants to throw hundreds of people out of work out of some smug self-satisfied sense of righteousness?

End the war on strip clubs.

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