Sarasota Club Wins Concessions in New Adult Law

SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. — The owner of Sarasota's only strip club managed to get the majority of proposed restrictions removed from a new adult ordinance passed Wednesday, but may still challenge it.

Ken Tatarow, owner of the Cheetah Lounge, has twice packed the Sarasota County Commission chambers with strippers and other supporters opposing the law, and is still concerned about a provision that remained intact requiring that dancers only perform on stages.

"That could be a major problem," Taratow told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. "But everything else I can live with."

At issue is what, exactly, the stage requirement mandates. Because table dances are one of the most profitable services offered at the Cheetah, Taratow said that small stages beside each table would make for an acceptable compromise.  

"I guess I'm confused about the stages, that will have to be clarified," Taratow said.

Restrictions that did get removed from the law included a ban on serving alcohol and a stipulation that would have required dancers to remain six feet from patrons. Still in place, however, is one requiring them to wear pasties and g-strings, as opposed to dancing fully nude, which was allowed up to now.

County commissioner Jon Thaxton proposed most of the relaxed provisions in the ordinance. "I think for Sarasota County to tout itself as one of the arts leaders in the United States, to cover up female breasts is inconsistent," he said.

Thaxton also noted that there are a number of public sculptures around the county of nude women.

The new law is a revision of one passed in 1996, from which the Cheetah was exempted until 2006. That year, Tatarow sued the county for imposing "a Byzantine framework of zoning, licensing and regulatory provisions."

County official said the revisions to the law are intended to provide a set of regulations that will stand a better chance of holding up in court.