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Is strip club’s sign too risqué for Reno?

Naked girls without the mess or fuss at

Reno, Nevada- from – Young women in bikinis are shown sliding down a pole on the new electronic sign on the Wild Orchid strip club on South Virginia Street. People on the street also get a close-up of a gyrating belly.

“If you like strip clubs, you don’t have a problem,” Kamy Keshmiri, Wild Orchid owner, said of his new sign. “If you don’t like strip clubs, then you have a major problem.”

The electronic sign, showing the same video every 60 seconds, is at the corner of California Avenue and Virginia Street on the Wild Orchid/Ponderosa Hotel property.

“MTV shows way more— way more — than my signs will ever show,” Keshmiri said. “The reality is, if you expect us to show what we do inside, that’s like giving it away for free.”

The sign is perfectly legal as the girls are clothed, said Claudia Hanson, Reno city planning manager who granted the permit.
“We can’t control copy,” she said. “It’s a freedom of speech issue.”

If the sign should become a traffic hazard, that would be another story, Hanson said.

“We would have to work with the owner,” she said.

Initially, the sign caused some motorists to slow down and get a good look at the sign, infuriating motorists who didn’t get through the traffic light at the corner. Virginia and California is an important corner in Reno. It’s on the southern edge of the city’s financial district, and it also is the entrance to the emerging California Avenue shopping district.

The Reno Sparks Chamber of Commerce moved into the former bank building at the northwest corner of the intersection a month ago.

Fred Boyd, interim Chamber executive director, said he was well aware of the Wild Orchid club before making the move. But he said he did not know the electronic sign — which likely will be seen by company officials inquiring about moving to Reno on site visits — was coming.

Boyd said he has called City Hall several times.

“I asked if they followed the zoning rules,” he said. “There may not be anything we can do.”

A few hundred feet away in the California business district, Noel Freeman, co-owner of Freeman’s Specialty Hot Dogs, doesn’t like the sign either. “It’s disgusting,” she said, while managing the store and her little girl. “I can’t believe Reno would let them do that.”

When the Wild Orchid applied for new lights in front of the business, she said she went to City Council to protest.

“I’m sure they had to go to a city meeting,” she said. “It’s crazy.”

Others on Virginia Street said the sign is no big deal. The first version that ran during a week of testing was actually a Wild Orchid television commercial that also featured girls pole-dancing.

Brennan O’Keefe, a mechanic for College Cyclery across the street from Wild Orchid, said he didn’t have an issue with it.

“They weren’t naked,” he said of the dancers.

David Medina, owner of Michael’s Deli, said the sign doesn’t create a problem for his business, which closes by 4 p.m.

The Wild Orchid sign is located on Wild Orchid property and promotes the business. Such electronic signs are legal and have appeared elsewhere on Virginia Street.

Electronic billboards, however, which advertise a business other than that on the property, are currently illegal. A decision on whether to legalize them in some areas of the city might come before the City Council in the next few months, Hanson said.

“We are working with Scenic Nevada and the billboard industry to look at what might be appropriate if they are allowed in the city,” Hanson said of the planning department.


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