Elyria Strip Joint Sues Over New Licensing Law

You never know if this stripper was once convicted of drunk and disorderly, thus putting us all at risk.
2007 was hardly a good year for Ohio’s strippers. They lost their fight with lawmakers to preserve the ancient art of the lap dance. Worse, they’re not supposed to get naked after midnight, just when our wallets start getting heavy. Still, things could be worse – like in Elyria, where they pretty much are. Last year city council passed a law requiring adult businesses and their employees to be licensed, like a taxi driver or your barber. Besides the obvious shakedown – $200 per club, $50 per employee – Elyria wants its police department to conduct background checks before anyone takes a single spin on the pole. It’s a reasonable precaution. Customers have the right to know whether that stripper ever had a DUI in 2001. With a record like that, who knows when she going to recklessly spin off the stage, taking out the entire Elyria Chamber of Commerce. Unfortunately, one thing strippers love – even more than stilettos and a strobe – is a good constitutional throwdown. Right before Christmas, Bugsy’s Speakeasy filed suit in federal court. We suspect its argument will have something to do with how hard it’s going to be to hang a photo ID off your thong. But it turns out Bugsy’s has an unlikely ally in all this: Pete Shilling, Elyria’s law director. Rather than shutter the club – which the new law permits him to do – he’s allowing it to stay open until the suit’s resolved. It’s business, he says. Bugsy’s has been open for nearly a generation, and in that time police have reported few problems, which probably leads to natural questions about whether Elyria really needs a licensing law. But “that’s all it’s over,” says Shilling, “the question of licensing.” – Jason Nedley