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Strip Club Lap Dances OK’d at Babes and Skin Cabaret in Scottsdale

Arizona- Scottsdale’s two strip clubs can allow topless dancers to perform lap dances for their customers, a decision that concludes a nearly two-year odyssey that featured arguably the world’s biggest porn star, police raids, a referendum and discussions of anatomy more common to locker rooms than city council chambers.

The Scottsdale City Council unanimously approved a new ordinance Tuesday that clarifies what will be allowed within Babe’s Cabaret and Skin Cabaret; specifically that there will be no distance requirement between seminude dancers and patrons as long as the strippers are wearing pasties and a thong g-string.

It also sets limits on the amount of touching between stripper and patron, and requires all activity to be viewed from a manager’s station either by the manager or closed circuit video.

Representatives from Babe’s, which is partially owned by adult film mogul Jenna Jameson, and Skin, which is owned by Todd Borowsky, have been meeting with city lawyers for the past six months, but the two sides only came to a final agreement in the hours before the council vote.

The council, which in December 2005 unanimously approved new rules that would have banned lap dances, changed their mind primarily because of a September referendum when 52 percent of Scottsdale voters sided with the clubs and overturned the new rules.

“Lesson No. 1 is the electorate said we overregulated and Lesson No. 2 is the electorate said we didn’t consult with the businesses … and (the new ordinance) solves both those problems and is consistent with what the voters told us to do,” Councilman Bob Littlefield said.

Scottsdale Mayor Mary Manross, who was the driving force behind changing the regulations in 2005 and, as a councilwoman drafting the original sexually oriented business ordinance in 1993, supported the new regulations but said she would have preferred other options.

“I’m going to support this because the best message we can send is a united council,” Manross said.

The new ordinance, which also affects Zorba’s Adult Shop, goes into effect in 30 days. However, the clubs and adult bookstore have six months to comply.

“In the end you see a city council responding to voters,” said Paul Cambria, an attorney representing Babe’s Cabaret. “That’s something that doesn’t happen every day and is commendable.”

The new Zorba’s regulations require a manager’s station to have a view of the entire building, including into viewing booth interiors. Zorba’s, which also sells adult merchandise, would have to shut down its private viewing booths or remodel.

These regulations were first approved in 2005, but Zorba’s has not complied, arguing that a 1995 court settlement with Scottsdale makes them exempt. A Zorba’s attorney has declined comment on this latest proposal.

“We are discussing the issue with them and will bring the issue back at a later time if necessary,” Scottsdale City Attorney Deborah Robberson said.

The strip club controversy started with the August 2005 announcement of Jameson’s new ownership interest in Babe’s Cabaret, 2011 N. Scottsdale Road. A short time later, police investigators cited dancers and managers at Babe’s and Skin, 1137 N. Scottsdale Road, for violating lap dancing and other rules. Some plea agreements have been reached, while some of the charges against the strippers are still pending. Scottsdale then hired an out-of-state attorney that specialized in taking on strip clubs.

In December 2005, the council voted to adopt the changes that would have forced the clubs to remove seating and ban lap dancing by creating a distance requirement for seminude dancers. The clubs then gathered enough signatures to force a referendum. During last year’s campaign, the clubs vastly outspent their opponents, which included the Center for Arizona Policy and an affiliation of churches and concerned residents.

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