SAN ANTONIO, Texas (CN) – Semi-nude dancers must trade their pasties for bikini tops if they want to avoid licensing requirements in San Antonio, Texas, a federal judge ruled.
Earlier this year, 13 adult clubs took aim in a federal complaint against a new San Antonio ordinance that they say violates the free-speech rights of exotic dancers.
The city passed the ordinance with the stated aim of curbing the crime, falling property values and other negative effects that such clubs allegedly bring to the community.
Faced with either dressing their dancers in less revealing bikini tops or complying with the requirements that apply to sexually oriented businesses, the clubs sought an injunction from the court.
Chief U.S. District Judge Fred Biery spared no double entendre in an eight-page order denying the clubs such relief Monday.
Referring to the lawsuit as “The Case of the Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Bikini Top v. The (More) Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Pastie,” Biery noted that the clubs “seek an erection of a constitutional wall separating themselves from the regulatory power of city government.”
The clubs previously slid by with dance hall licenses by dressing their dancers in g-strings and pasties, the order explains.
“The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has determined it is not a First Amendment violation to require gentlemen’s clubs to decide whether they want to be licensed and offer dancers wearing pasties or performing topless or, alternatively, to be free of licensing requirements, building and zoning regulations in the ordinance by offering dancers who wear slightly more fabric, i.e., a bikini top,” Biery wrote. “This court must follow Fifth Circuit precedent.”
Overall, the clubs failed to meet the four requirements to secure a preliminary injunction, the judge found.
“To bare, or not to bare, that is the question,” Biery wrote, applying his own twist to the words of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.” “While the court finds these businesses to be nefarious magnets of mischief, the court doubts several square inches of fabric will stanch the flow of violence and other secondary effects emanating from these businesses. Indeed, this case exposes the underbelly of America’s Romanesque passion for entertainment, sex and money, sought to be covered with constitutional prophylaxis. Alcohol, drugs, testosterone, guns and knives are more likely the causative agents than the female breast, proving once again that humans are a peculiar lot. But case law does not require causation between nudity and naughtiness.”
Biery gave a more straitlaced explanation of his ruling in a 21-page appendix “for those interested in a lengthy exposition, those who wish to appeal and those who suffer from insomnia.”
Taking one more stab at wordplay, Biery concluded: “Should the parties choose to string this case out to trial on the merits, the court encourages reasonable discovery intercourse as they navigate the peaks and valleys of litigation, perhaps to reach a happy ending.”
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