The Missouri Legislature Gets Outsmarted by...Strip Clubs?!

Post date: Feb 9, 2012 6:48:04 PM

Strip clubs (yes, I know there are more "PC" names) and their employees are not usually given credit for being intelligent and/or creative. This stereotype is a little strange since the common excuse given by females for working at said businesses is that dancing helps them "pay for school." Nevertheless, Bazooka's in Kansas City has to be given a little bit of credit for their recent plan to circumvent the Missouri laws regulating -- and effectively shutting down -- strip clubs.

Here is the relevant portion of the Missouri statute in question (with the unnecessary portions removed):

Section 573.531

3. No person shall knowingly or intentionally, in a sexually oriented business, appear in a state of nudity.

4. No employee shall knowingly or intentionally, in a sexually oriented business, appear in a semi-nude condition unless the employee, while semi-nude, shall be and remain on a fixed stage at least six feet from all patrons and at least eighteen inches from the floor in a room of at least six hundred square feet.

5. No employee, who appears in a semi-nude condition in a sexually oriented business, shall knowingly or intentionally touch a patron or the clothing of a patron in a sexually oriented business.

6. A sexually oriented business, which exhibits on the premises, through any mechanical or electronic image-producing device, a film, video cassette, digital video disc, or other video reproduction, characterized by an emphasis on the display of specified sexual activities or specified anatomical areas shall comply with the following requirements:

(1) The interior of the premises shall be configured in such a manner that there is an unobstructed view from an operator's station of every area of the premises, including the interior of each viewing room but excluding restrooms, to which any patron is permitted access for any purpose;

(2) An operator's station shall not exceed thirty-two square feet of floor area;

(3) If the premises has two or more operator's stations designated, the interior of the premises shall be configured in such a manner that there is an unobstructed view of each area of the premises to which any patron is permitted access for any purpose from at least one of the operator's stations;

(4) The view required under this subsection shall be by direct line of sight from the operator's station;

(5) It is the duty of the operator to ensure that at least one employee is on duty and situated in an operator's station at all times that any patron is on the portion of the premises monitored by such operator station; and

(6) It shall be the duty of the operator and of any employees present on the premises to ensure that the view area specified in this subsection remains unobstructed by any doors, curtains, walls, merchandise, display racks, or other materials or enclosures at all times that any patron is present on the premises.

8. No operator shall allow or permit a sexually oriented business to be or remain open between the hours of 12:00 midnight and 6:00 a.m. on any day.

Subsections 3, 4, and 5 have led to the destruction of the traditional Missouri strip club. These provisions have effectively made lap dances illegal and further prevent complete nudity on stage -- the two main attractions at a strip club.

Realizing that their business was in serious jeopardy, Bazooka's -- a prominent Kansas City strip club -- found a loophole. What they have started doing is filming the "dancers" performing nude when there are no patrons in the business. Then, when it comes time to entertain the paying customers during business hours, the video containing nudity is displayed on a screen next to the stage where the same dancer is performing, but not completely nude (as that would be illegal). Bazooka's has legal support for this strategy based on subsection 6, above.

Well played, Bazooka's.

To gain a better understanding of the situation you might want to check out this VIDEO from KCTV5.

For the most part, it seems like Bazooka's has some pretty solid support for their idea. The part about them operating past midnight, however, seems a little flimsy as subsection 8, above, clearly states that a sexually oriented business shall not remain open between 12:00 and 6:00.

According to Section 573.528, a "sexually oriented business" is defined as:

(15) "Sexually oriented business", an adult bookstore or adult video store, an adult cabaret, an adult motion picture theater, a semi-nude model studio, or a sexual encounter center;

To me, even the "new" Bazooka's could arguably fall under the definition of "sexually oriented business." It will be interesting to see what happens.