Houston Strip Clubs Lose Long Battle

HOUSTON - A legal battle fought by Houston's topless clubs for 11 years recently ended against their favor when the United States Supreme Court refused to hear their case challenging the city's ordinance restricting their distance from schools, churches and daycare centers.

In an attempt to counteract the defeat, the clubs are considering having dancers simply cover their nipples during their performances, according to Bloomberg.com.

"The city of Houston will win the battle and lose the war because they won't be able to regulate us once we move to latex pasties," said Eric Langan, CEO of major chain Rick's Cabaret International Inc.

In fact, Langan thinks this development may counteract the city's original intent in passing the measure. "Any ice house can now compete with us just by throwing a girl on the bar in a bikini or pasties without being subject to any additional regulation," Langan said. "I think we're going to see a lot more clubs putting dancers on stage."

Of course, the ordinance may still take its toll on Houston's topless bar market, which ranks as the third largest in the country behind New York and Las Vegas according to Angelina Spencer of the Association of Club Executives.

This ordinance contains no grandfather clause allowing businesses that existed before its passage to remain, and if said businesses want to relocate to a permissible area, the cost of doing so falls on them.

Langan estimated that 38 clubs in the city employing 6,000 people would be affected by the ordinance. Among them is The Men's Club, a 26,000-square-foot facility employing 400 people and having drawn a documented 100,000 customers during the year 2006.

Commented Spencer, "Politics is a dirtier game than any lap dance I've ever witnessed. A bad precedent like this, which is so restrictive, opens up the doors for this to take place across the country."