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Council hears pros, cons of outlawing nudity at clubs

SHARE Council hears pros, cons of outlawing nudity at clubs

SOUTH SALT LAKE — While some residents urged the City Council to cleanse their community of negative impacts caused by all-nude strip clubs, the "juice bar" supporters warned that outlawing the clubs could create more problems than just a promised lawsuit.

More than 100 people attended a two-hour hearing Wednesday night about a proposed ordinance that would outlaw full nudity in strip bars. The City Council tabled a decision on the ordinance after the hearing and will study it further during a March 14 work session.

Under the proposed ordinance, the all-nude clubs, which currently cannot serve alcohol, would have to cover their dancers with "pasties" and G-strings. But doing so would allow the clubs to start serving alcohol, which club owners said would lead to a wide range of problems.

American Bush owner Hal Cannon, who is a South Salt Lake resident and an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said that since his club opened 10 years ago he has had very few problems associated with his business. One of the biggest reasons may be the lack of alcohol, he said.

"Making the girls wear three inches of clothing and allowing alcohol seems to do very little," he said. "If I had wanted to open a bar and deal with the issues associated with alcohol consumption, I would have done that a long time ago."

Speakers who supported the new ordinance said that strip clubs contributed nothing but the moral and physical degradation of a community, and that leaders should aggressively do anything possible to close the establishments — and residents should offer their full support.

Others said that any assertion by the clubs' owners, attorneys or clients that the clubs have only minimal side effects was wrong. Attempts to quantify the ill effects, such as the crime rate surrounding the clubs, did not accurately reflect the real damage. These clubs, they said, degrade women and fuel sexual addictions that can lead to serious physical crimes elsewhere.

While the supporters spoke of the negative impacts, opponents of the ordinance talked about the benefits of the clubs. Many of the dancers, they said, support children — often as single mothers — or attend college with their income. Additionally, the clubs can provide a social outlet that has helped people gain confidence or recover from the loss of a loved one.

E-mail: jloftin@desnews.com