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San Antonio strip club lawsuit

If you’re a lawyer representing strip clubs these days, you sure don’t lack for business.

More than a dozen strip clubs have sued the city of San Antonio over amendments to ordinances requiring entertainers to wear bikinis, claiming the changes are another heavy-handed attempt to shut the cabarets down.

The federal lawsuit resembles one at the center of a court battle almost 10 years ago when the city amended its human display ordinance to, among other things, bar nude dancing, set greater restrictions on lap dances and prohibit small, private and unsupervised VIP rooms in all strip clubs. It ended in a settlement.

Many of the topless clubs got around those restrictions, and greater regulation, by having entertainers wear pasties, while clubs that offered nude dancing challenged citations individually.

The ordinance pertaining to sexually oriented businesses and the human display ordinance were amended last year, with the changes meant at tightening technicalities.

The changes are set to take effect in the coming two months.

“They did a number of things, most of them were technical provisions, but of note, they changed the definition so if you are wearing less than a bikini you’re a sexually oriented business,” City Attorney Michael Bernard said. “It gets rid of this whole pasties thing.”

“The effect is to tighten up the definition of a sexually oriented business,” Bernard said. “If your business is sexually oriented, you are going to be sexually oriented under the law. Before, there were loopholes in which they avoided that.”

This sounds very similar to the original SOB ordinance in Houston that triggered a lawsuit that was finally resolved in the city’s favor more than a decade later, but a bit more restrictive. Houston has taken a somewhat different approach to policing its strip clubs these days, but it’s not out of the question that what happens in San Antonio could get imported here. So we may as well keep an eye on it.

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