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Florida Taxes Would Increase On Strip Clubs, DVD Sales

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Cash-strapped lawmakers in Florida and around the country are thinking of raising taxes on adult magazines, strip clubs and other sex-themed products.

The sex industry may be about as recession-proof as any.

The parking lot at a popular strip club in Cape Canaveral was packed Friday night. A manager said business is booming.

If every patron in a strip club paid an extra $5, millions would flow into state coffers in Tallahassee. Of course, that money would come out of the pockets of dancers and others in the business.

“This is a bad idea,” one exotic dancer said. “It’s unfair.”

But two state legislators said new taxes on sex businesses should be considered. That could include sexually oriented Web sites and shops that sell sex toys and DVDs.

“It’s OK with me,” said topless club manager Frank Sieni.

“Me, too,” said customer Dustin Pope.

Other states are considering the idea, too.

Texas has what’s nicknamed a “pole tax” — $5 for every customer at a strip club.

It’s a vast untapped source of revenue in Florida — one that could be as reliable as taxes on drinking and smoking.

“Our business is always good,” Sieni said. “People need someplace to go.”

There’s no formal proposal in Florida for a “skin tax,” but legislators are talking about it.

One barrier to such a tax is that opponents would try to overturn it on grounds it could violate free speech rights.

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