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Little Red Barn Defies Ordinance

GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan — Local adult entertainment businesses are appealing a judge’s decision concerning a new city ordinance banning nude dancing in the city.

Sensations and Lady Godiva’s are appealing last month’s decision in which a federal judge ruled a new city ordinance prohibiting nude dancing could be enforced. The appeal was filed last week in the U.S. Court of Appeals and asks the court to reconsider a preliminary injunction.

Meanwhile, The Little Red Barn said it will ignore the portion of the ordinance banning dancers from coming within more than 6 feet of customers.

“Let ’em in. Have ’em arrest me,” said Herb Newhouse, owner of The Little Red Barn. “If I’m doing something wrong have them arrest me.”

Newhouse said the club’s dancers will also be doing lap dances and patrons will be allowed to sit at the bar.

The Little Red Barn has also jumped into the legal ring, filing a separate appeal in U.S. District Court.

Newhouse could face fine up to $500 per day, but says he doesn’t care. He and other strip club owners said they hope they’ll be able to outspend the city in court and have the ordinance overturned.

from The Grand Rapids Press: GRAND RAPIDS — Herb Newhouse has a question that police, city officials and others are free to find the answer to today: Will his dancers at the Little Red Barn Adult Theatre have clothes on or not?

“The doors will be open for all 24 hours of the day,” said Newhouse, owner of the 28th Street SE exotic dance club. “Anyone is welcome to come on down and find out what we’ll be doing.”

Newhouse says his female dancers will flout a controversial Grand Rapids ordinance that requires nude and semi-nude entertainers to stay at least 6 feet away from patrons. The ordinance, which Newhouse and Sensations owner Mark London are challenging in federal court, also restricts the time the peep shows can be open.

Newhouse, who has operated the club at 928 28th St. SE for 34 years, says he is losing $2,200 a day and cannot survive under the stringent rule that limits what his clientele can see.

“Compare a $500 fine (the maximum the city can impose for an ordinance violation) to $2,200,” Newhouse said. “I’m not a numbers guy, but it’s pretty easy to see where I’m coming from.”

He plans to tell his dancers to do business as usual, including performing lap dances.

Mayor George Heartwell says Newhouse can plan on seeing officers at the door of his business.

He says U.S. District Judge Robert Holmes Bell ruled suits filed by the strip club owners did not have a “substantial likelihood” of succeeding.

The city has asked Bell to toss the lawsuits out, a motion the judge plans to rule on by Oct. 20.

“We are intent on enforcing this ordinance, and any operator who violates its provisions will be subject to the penalty,” Heartwell said. “The court has determined that we are able to enforce it, and we will.”

The strip club ordinance is criticized by operators because the city’s side legal fight is being funded by private groups.

Judy Rose, president of the Black Hills Citizens for a Better Community and Dar Vander Ark, director of the Michigan Decency Action Council, have promised to raise money to pay the legal bills.

On Thursday, London said he will not violate the ordinance. Dancers at the London-owned Sensations, 3525 E. Mall Drive SE, have worn bikinis since the policy went into effect late last month.Advertisement

London also has slowed construction at his planned all-nude Showgirls Galleria on Market Avenue SW while the legal wrangling takes place. Rose and the city’s ordinance targeted him and hurt others, such as Newhouse, in the process, London said.

“Plain and simple, this is a bad ordinance brought by a body that should be upholding the right to do business,” London said. “They were coming after me, and Herb got caught as collateral damage.”

Newhouse and London question the necessity of the ordinance, partially aimed at cleaning up the secondary effects of exotic clubs.

“To me, if you don’t like it, all you have to do is not turn in to my parking lot,” Newhouse said. “If you’re an alcoholic and you want to go out to dinner and not be tempted by a drink, go somewhere they don’t serve alcohol. If you don’t like my business, don’t come.”


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