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Because of a Stallion in a Pink Bikini, Bill to regulate Mississippi strip clubs goes to Governor

JACKSON, Miss. — Outrage over a 20-foot, anatomically correct stallion outside a strip club in rural northern Mississippi could lead to a new law allowing counties to regulate such establishments.

The Senate on Friday sent Gov. Haley Barbour [pictured] a bill that would give Mississippi’s 82 counties the option to write rules and regulations for strip clubs that try to open in rural, unincorporated areas.

The bill was filed in response to a strip club called The Pony that opened about three years ago in Lowndes County, bringing with it the shiny silver stallion that locals say is wearing a pink bikini.

The Pony sits just off U.S. 45 outside West Point – a highway frequently used by sports fans traveling from Tupelo down to Mississippi State University games in Starkville.

Rep. Gary Chism, R-Columbus, said he’d receive numerous complaints from residents about The Pony’s horse.

“Since I’ve filed the bill, I’ve gotten a lot of telephone calls and encouragement from pastors and others. But really what started it all was that bikini on that stallion,” Chism said.

The legislation will not affect The Pony because the law wouldn’t be retroactive. But it is intended to give county supervisors the flexibility they need to limit such establishments if they choose, Chism said.

No one at the club immediately responded to a call from The Associated Press seeking comment.

The discussion on the bill Friday was brief, but a few comments drew snickers in the Senate chamber.

“Are y’all abreast of what’s going on in my county over there?” said Sen. Terry Brown, R-Columbus, whose district includes Lowndes County.

Only three Mississippi counties – coastal Harrison, Hancock and Jackson – have specific state laws allowing them to regulate strip clubs, said Sen. John Horhn, D-Jackson, who presented the broader bill to the chamber.

The bill states any county’s board of supervisors is “empowered to promulgate, adopt and enforce ordinances which are necessary and reasonable for the regulation of establishments where public displays of nudity are present.” It’s not mandatory for any county to adopt ordinances.

Barbour spokesman Dan Turner said the governor would review the bill.

“If it does what it seems to do on the surface, he’ll sign it,” Turner said.

Lowndes County Supervisor Leroy Brooks said most counties don’t have zoning ordinances.

“Certainly, we need something on the books in case somebody gets too outlandish,” Brooks said.

But Brooks said he’s told residents that The Pony is a legal establishment and has the right to operate whether or not there’s an issue of morality.

“I don’t drink, but I’m not trying to close down bars,” said Brooks, who inspected the club after receiving calls from residents. “The place was clean. They had security guards. I wasn’t really interested in looking at the women, but they looked OK.”

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