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New Orleans Strip Clubs Could Be In Peril

NEW ORLEANS — Several strip clubs could be forced to take a hands-off approach if one lawmaker has his way.

Sen. John Smith, a Republican from Leesville, introduced the legislation.

The Louisiana Family Forum, the lobbying group behind the bill, said the strip clubs bring crime. But not everyone agrees.

Bourbon Street is known for its gentlemen’s clubs. Girls come from as far away as Houston to dance for money.

“An average tonight will be $1,200, and if I get someone who wants me to sit with them a long time, maybe $1,500,” said one exotic dancer known as “Charlie.”

But a proposed Louisiana bill hopes to rein in risqué behavior.

The bill calls for a 6-foot buffer between dancers and customers at all times. Violations would result in up to $500 in fines and 90 days in jail.

“Oh, that’s a good idea,” one Bourbon Street tourist said. “They don’t need to be too close.”

“Oh, that kind of legislation would hurt them,” said another man. “Us guys, we like to sit up close, because that’s where all the action is at. Six feet away, what’s the point?”

Off-camera, dancers agreed, saying it would hurt business.

Clubs can keep their customers, at least for now. The bill was recently voted down.

Rep. Danny Martiny voted against it, saying the state law was too broad and would be difficult to impose locally.

“It’s next to impossible to draft a law that has teeth in it that’s going to apply to every situation,” he said. “And if you only draft one, the problem you run into is, in other areas of the state where they may have a completely different issue to deal with, it may not be covered by the statute.”

Sources told WDSU that the bill will be reintroduced in the future on a parish-by-parish level. If it is, Martiny said he has a suggestion.

“I think it’s got to be meaningful, be tightly drawn and strictly enforced, and that’s how you stop it,” Martiny said.

Off-camera, gentlemen’s club owners said they think the Louisiana Family Forum is trying to shut down businesses that generate tax revenue for New Orleans.

Last year, Ohio passed a similar law, resulting in a 30 to 80 percent drop in revenue for club operators.

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