Moral Sex

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

Some cities have heeded White's thinking. Others have not.
An example of the latter is a City of Scottsdale law that defined a striptease performer as someone "who appears in various degrees of undress . . . and employs body motions, including but not limited to torso gyrations, bumps and grinds, or gesticulations."

City prosecutors in 1987 charged topless dancer Teresa Tina Western with breaking that law during a performance at a Scottsdale nightclub. Specifically, she was charged with violating a provision that stated: "Striptease performers shall not pass their hands over their bodies or the body of any other person . . . in such a manner that the hands touch the body at any point, or engage in any motions simulating a sex act. Bumps and grinds shall not be made adjacent to a curtain or any other object, thing or person, nor from a reclining or horizontal position."

Western was convicted of the misdemeanor, and appealed, claiming the laws were vague and overbroad. The Arizona Supreme Court agreed with her.

"Obviously, some body motions make one a striptease performer, but others do not. . . ." Justice Stanley Feldman wrote in 1991. "This defendant is easy game--a topless dancer in a bar. Would the police as easily enter the municipal auditorium (assuming, like many, it served either food or alcohol before performance or at intermission) and seize the soprano playing Salome, perhaps arresting the rest of the cast, the orchestra, and the producer as accomplices?"

Western's case now is before the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Though there are untold appellate cases about topless clubs, adult bookstores and other obscenity issues, New Times found nothing on point involving swingers' clubs.

"Once again, Arizona may be stepping into uncharted legal waters," says attorney Christopher Kaup. "We haven't found anything specifically on swingers' clubs, either. Maybe it's because most cities don't focus on them because they generally don't cause many problems."

John Nelson, chairman of the city council's Ethics and Public Safety, faced Willian "Billie" Marcus, co-owner of the west Phoenix swingers' club Guys and Dolls.

It was October 28. The four proposed new sex laws had been conceived in Nelson's subcommittee, and he now presided over the first of three hearings designed to take public comment before the full council voted.

Few were in attendance as Marcus scolded Nelson from the podium.
"We've repeatedly asked for documentation, any form of proof, that these type of clubs are detrimental to the community," Marcus said. "We have received none. Therefore, we must conclude that these proposed ordinances are based solely on moral prejudice, not reality."

Nelson grunted noncommittally. Marcus continued:
"Have you even done a comparative analysis between adult social clubs and nearby bars, in terms of police calls and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases? Do you have anything concrete to offer?"

The councilman responded briefly, "I think the Factual Reports on this issue are available in the city clerk's office."

Those reports definitively establish the following:
* Swingers' clubs run racy advertisements in sex-oriented magazines.
* Consenting adults do have sex inside swingers' clubs, and many of them practice unprotected sex.

Most of the report on swingers' clubs consists of salacious advertisements and puffy write-ups culled from Playtime magazine, a Valley monthly that covers the local sex scene.

A Playtime advertorial placed in the record is titled "Discretions: A Disneyland for Big Kids."

"Ten years ago, a place like this would be extremely rare," it reads. "Now it's extremely commonplace. Maybe in ten years they'll be ubiquitous, like Circle Ks. Because people like to fuck, that's what they do, and once you remove the guilt and religious dogma, the thang is wide open, baby."

Another cheesily seductive advertisement, this one for the west Phoenix swingers' club Encounters, shows a photo of three vixens cuddled in a hot tub below the words "LETS PARTY [sic]."

How the Playtime copy bolstered the city's case is debatable. After all, sex does sell, whether it's toothpaste or a swingers' club. But brushing with a new, improved brand of winterfresh gel doesn't ensure a moment of passion.

Neither, it turns out, does an evening inside a swingers' club, despite what city councilmembers may suspect.

Says District 4 councilman Phil Gordon, "I believe that the owners--not the patrons who are being victimized by the owners--who are charging people to engage in sex, how does this person differ from a pimp?"

That's easy, say swingers' club owners. They aren't guaranteeing their patrons sex.

"When it comes to what actually goes on inside a place like this," says Billie Marcus of Guys and Dolls, "those people on the city council are as ignorant as a box of rocks."

What actually is going on inside her club, a few days before the council's December 9 vote, is this:

The heavy-metal anthem "You Shook Me All Night Long" blares in the background. About 30 people are inside, but the only one doing any shaking for everyone to see is a Glendale woman in her 30s.

The self-described homemaker slides naked down a pole on a small stage, as her husband stands at the bar. Two men and a woman--all clothed--kneel below her on a carpeted step. As the song climaxes, the woman observer crawls onto the stage and presses her face between the housewife's thighs for a few seconds.

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