Stripper pole gets more attention than a voter poll at Toronto City Hall; * Watch the Video

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from – A woman in shiny leather shorts and tight top twirled on a stripper pole in a city hall committee room Thursday. Toronto councillors on the licensing committee watched with interest.

The performance by “Viviana” was part of a presentation by members of the adult entertainment industry asking for changes to bylaws they say are restrictive and exploitive.

Tim Lambrinos, executive director of the Adult Entertainment Association of Canada, said unclear rules permit authorities, usually male, to perform unnecessary licence inspection “raids” that can be intimidating.

“They get abused by the bylaw officers, and sometimes police, because the current laws are vague and are allowing these women to be mistakenly called into court,” he said in an interview after the presentation.

Lambrinos added that Toronto’s exotic dancer licences leave a trail that can prevent dancers from moving into other professions or entering college or university.

Councillors on the committee watched in apparent awe as Viviana, clad in gold heels and “patent leather for friction,” twirled her legs and spun, sometimes upside-down. They had only praise for her performance.

“Instead of being called a dancer, what I saw was a gymnast,” marvelled Gloria Lindsay Luby. She said she found the “highly unusual” performance — allowed to proceed on condition there was no disrobing — tasteful.

Lindsay Luby (Ward 4, Etobicoke Centre) added she’s concerned the licences stigmatize women, and “restrictive” rules need to be rethought.

“I used to dance in cages in my university days,” added Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker (Ward 38, Scarborough Centre), noting it was “go-go” back in the day.

“If some of these women weren’t working in these clubs, they’d be working for Cirque du Soleil,” he said, urging city staff to suggest changes to improve their lives. He wondered about helping them get a pension plan.

Councillor Anthony Perruzza observed: “The acrobatics today were done with style and grace — that (is) not something we’re used to.”

The committee unanimously approved Councillor Frances Nunziata’s request for staff to review adult entertainment parlour regulations

Lambrinos said Councillor Doug Holyday, who is not on the committee and wasn’t in the room, inspired the pole performance.

He was referring to a 2009 incident in which Holyday criticized colleagues Frank Di Giorgio, Cesar Palacio and Giorgio Mammoliti for meeting Lambrinos at the House of Lancaster strip club to discuss industry issues.

“Doug Holyday challenged me. He said, ‘If those people have anything to show we’ll do it at city hall,’ so that’s why we did it today,’” Lambrinos said.

Holyday actually told the Star’s Vanessa Lu at the time that such a meeting would have been more appropriate at a nearby civic centre.

On Thursday, Holyday, now the deputy mayor, took a dim view of the City Hall pole performance.

“I don’t think it’s necessary to come in and demonstrate what happens in a strip club,” he said. “It might be appropriate if she’s dancing like that in her workplace, but I don’t know if it’s appropriate here.”

*Watch the clip:–stripper-pole-gets-more-attention-than-a-voter-poll-at-toronto-city-hall?bn=1

from – An exotic dancer treated Toronto’s licensing and standards committee to an unexpected pole dance on Thursday as strippers urged the city to tweak its regulation of adult entertainment parlours.

Wearing black patent vinyl shorts and a white shirt, raven-haired Viviana, from Ecuador, effortlessly twirled and draped herself around the acrobatic equipment as operatic music played.

Tim Lambrinos, with the Adult Entertainment Association of Canada, believes women working in clubs across the city have waited long enough for the city to clarify a bylaw he says leaves them open to harassment.

“The minor technical amendments that we propose will eliminate the possibility of either police officers mis interpreting what a by-law is and taking advantage of the fact that they can haul these women into court,” he said. “These women are not considered to be a threat to national security.” The committee has asked staff to review the adult entertainment parlour regulations. The industry group wants the city to define the prohibited sexual contact more explicitly.

Nicole, 35, believes the changes will make her job easier, and erase some of the fears dancers have of licensing officers and police. “Police just comes in like we are criminals. No we are not,” said Nicole, from Eastern Europe, who said she is stopped two or three times a week by police, and has been propositioned by officers in the past. “I’m a single mother, I’m a widow, I have to support my family, simple. And I have a family back home, too. I came from a poor country, I came from poor family. That’s all.”

‘It wasn’t that distasteful, at least they didn’t use the structural poles that hold the building’

Mr. Lambrinos has taken politicians on strip club tours to help them understand the issues, including one attended by Councillors Giorgio Mammoliti, Frank Di Giorgio and Cesar Palacio in 2009. At the time, a newspaper reported that Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday said a meeting at a civic centre would have been a more appropriate place to talk about concerns. Mr. Lambrinos took that as a challenge and brought the performance to City Hall, much to Mr. Holyday’s dismay.

“You sound like you have no respect for the taxpayers, or the residents of Toronto, bringing that nonsense here,” the deputy mayor said after the meeting. “You should be ashamed of yourself.” He said the group could have done a better job for their cause by simply speaking to the committee.

“We asked permission and they said yes,” said Viviana, the performer. “I just think that nobody has to close their eyes.”

Councillor Cesar Palacio, who chairs the licensing committee, defended the performance as freedom of expression, and said he would have cut it off if he felt it veered into the inappropriate.

“It wasn’t that distasteful, at least they didn’t use the structural poles that hold the building,” he said. “I think overall it’s extremely important to have a fair review in terms of the industry. They do have rights like anyone else.”

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