Moral Sex

City Hall Puritans crack down on sex businesses. Expect the courts to decide if the new laws are constitutional.

My local officials have stated that there is absolutely no correlation between the activities of these businesses and any of the sex crimes. I agree that we think a lot of gross, awful, nasty things occur at these businesses. But I don't think it translates into people committing rape, murder and mayhem.

--Representative Roberta Voss, a Glendale Republican, speaking at the Legislature last March

"Yo, man, you need a rock?"
The cocaine dealer outside the Blue Moon Restaurant and Lounge has the eyes of a panicked horse as he approaches two men leaving the all-nude cabaret on East Van Buren at 29th Street.

The pair wave off the drug dealer, who shuffles toward the sidewalk, muttering. The men cross a gravel parking lot to their car. Three young hookers swarm the vehicle.

"Where you going?" asks one.
"Just cruising around," the driver replies, hastily keying the lock. A second prostitute approaches the car's passenger side.

"Can I talk to you for a second?"
"What's up?" asks the passenger, as he takes his seat in the car.
She kneels between his open car door and its interior.

"Did you like watching those ladies in there shaking their asses? Did it get you hard?"

She grabs the passenger's crotch.
"Oooh, I guess not. I can get you hard."
"Thanks," he sputters, reaching to close his door. "Have a good evening."
The hooker's warm smile turns to ice, and she walks away.

Drug dealers and whores have haunted East Van Buren for longer than the Blue Moon. Still, the scene outside the club at 2 a.m. was a sex-business foe's wet dream--a living example of "secondary effects."

But there also were no police in sight. A patrol car would have scattered the "secondary effects," at least temporarily, to other locations.

Inside the Blue Moon, a gaunt man collects a cover charge of $10. The small, round tables and booths along the walls are filled.

Most of the 70 or so men packing the cabaret are Latinos in urban cowboy garb--dressy jeans, boots, colorful Western shirts, hats. A dozen strippers are on duty, and they're having a lousy night.

A dancer with big auburn hair and a trail-worn smile says the Blue Moon halted its private-room dances after the council passed the new laws. That's where the money was, she complains, and her earnings have been cut in half.

"Hey, you," a short, shrill dancer exclaims in Spanish at a man in a white hat. "Stop playing with yourself! Come back here with me!"

The man rises sheepishly and ambles after her. The stripper leads him toward a dark section of the club designated for table dances. There, a beefy, stern-faced man--an employee of Blue Moon--watches three dancers writhe naked for customers who sit stonily in their chairs.

"Hurry up!" the stripper orders her mark. She rolls her hands in feigned exasperation. "I'm so horny! I can't wait!"

The man steps up his gait as other customers roll with laughter.
Table dances at the Blue Moon cost a minimum of $10, plus tips, which are negotiated in advance. "The more you tip," a stripper promises, "the sexier the dance."

The dancers take turns on the cabaret's stage, which is a platform with a gold pole in front of a smudged, wall-length mirror. Each performs a three-song program--the first one in their floor costume, the second topless, and the third one nude.

A funky jukebox with a slim selection of Eighties power ballads and sugary Mexican pop songs serves as a sound system. Each song cuts off after four minutes, whether it's over or not. Between each dance, the strippers must descend a set of stairs, select their next song, and return to the stage.

A sturdy blonde with dark roots strides onto the stage in a black gown. Her first song, Bon Jovi's "I'll Be There for You," ends abruptly during the last chorus.

Twenty men line the platform's perimeter, the best seats in the house. But they're being stingy. No one has tipped her yet. Not a cent.

The dancer angrily clambers down the stairs and punches in the same Bon Jovi tune. She reascends the stage, and peels down her dress to expose her breasts.

Still no tips. The blonde removes her clothes after cranking up her third and final song. But she won't dance. Instead, she sits with her legs together, arms covering her breasts, and picks at her finger tips.

The men just stare at her. It's a standoff.
Three guys finally toss a crumpled dollar each onto the stage. One of them makes a parting-the-sea gesture with his hands.

"That costs more than a dollar," she says, refusing to spread her legs.
The man puts two more dollars at her feet. Squatting on her haunches now, the stripper widens her legs to expose her vagina. The man leans forward to get a better look, then settles back in his chair and nods.

The song cuts off. The blonde gives her audience a middle finger as she leaves the stage.

I'd like to move this along so we can all get on with our holiday shopping. Now, I would ask us all to be constructive as we move through these discussions. There's always differences of opinions on these things, and I would ask specifically that you don't applaud when you hear somebody say something that you like. And I won't let anybody boo. That way, we can move through this in a professional and constructive manner and really respect the process that we're really so proud of in America, which is the public process, which made this country so great.

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