A substitute ordinance changing nudity rules and allowing strip clubs to serve alcohol will be introduced by License Committee Chair Emma Mitts (37) in Wednesday’s Council meeting, following her move to defer and publish a previous version of the same ordinance at April’s Council meeting. The previous D&P of the strip club ordinance, which included Zoning Chair Danny Solis (25), allows Mitts to force an up or down vote on her latest substitute, which has gone through a number of revisions in the last month.
Under Ald. Mitts’ most recent substitution circulated on paper yesterday, strip clubs would be allowed to purchase a two-year $75,000 license for the privilege of serving alcohol and having their dancers perform topless. Excruciatingly specific language in the substitute would allow use of only g-strings in clubs that serve alcohol. Current zoning code bans alcohol, but allows BYOB (bring your own bottle), and dancers are required to cover parts of their breasts and buttocks.
“The problem is they bring their own bottle,” Ald. Mitts told reporters yesterday. “What is that? That means you can drink [there]. Why not regulate them…license that establishment, get some money for that liquor license.”
But opponents of the changes charge that selling more alcohol in the clubs will only fuel violence against the dancers.
“The level of nudity in the strip clubs is not the source of our opposition. It’s the introduction of alcohol,” said Lynne Johnson, Policy Director of Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (CAASE).
“As the night wears on, the patrons are getting drunker and drunker, [the dancers] are getting hit, slapped, called names. Many are in back rooms and no one can hear them because the music is so loud and they have very few people to protect them,” Johnson said at a press conference yesterday morning attended by Alds. Patrick Daley Thompson (11), Toni Foulkes (16), Matt O’Shea (19), Michele Smith (43) and James Cappleman (46).
According to the new version of the ordinance, all revenue derived from the new “live adult sub-use license” fee will be set aside in a special fund to support services for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking.
“Domestic violence providers are not interested in cash resulting from strip clubs. Allowing sexual exploitation in return from cash from strip clubs is not OK,” said Johnson.