Wednesday, April 28, 1999

Seminude dancers still goal of club owner


One idea: Suing Middletown

BY JANET C. WETZEL
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MIDDLETOWN — Recently rebuffed by the Ohio Supreme Court, the owner of the Pinkk Panther Show Club is not giving up on her goal to win a city permit to operate as an adult entertainment club with seminude dancers.

        The attorney for Janet Napier, owner of the club at 124 Charles St., said Tuesday the Supreme Court's recent decision not to hear the club's appeal is not the last word.

        “It's not over yet,” said Timothy Evans of Hamilton. “I'm meeting with my client to determine if and when we want to go to the next step.”

        That next step, Mr. Evans said, would be filing a lawsuit against the city. He envisions “a full-blown evidentiary hearing on the constitutionality of the city's ordinance, which does not allow adult entertainment within 500 feet of residences.”

        The lounge is still in business and has a liquor license.

        “The question is how they have to be attired when they dance,” Mr. Evans said. “They cannot wear pasties and G-strings. They have to wear ... a bikini.”

        Battles over adult entertainment establishments have been raging in area communities for years, including a recent case in Hamilton involving Diamonds Cabaret, which opened on the city's west side early this month. Within days, 10 dancers were accused of violating a city ordinance that prohibits unlawful “exposure, counseling and exemption.”

        The club's manager also received four citations under an ordinance that regulates estab lishments offering live dancing performances.

        Bristol's Show Club and Revue, which opened about six years ago near the Butler-Warren county line, was the first adult club of its kind in the area. The club at Ohio 63 and Interstate 75 has about 95 female performers who dance partly nude.

        Middletown Law Director Les Landen said he's surprised the owner of Pinkk Panther is considering pursuing the case. He said he's confident the city's ordinance would withstand a court challenge.

        “That's certainly their choice to do that if they want to,” he said. “We think the ordinance is a constitutional exercise of our municipal power.”

        The case centers around a March 1997 decision by Middletown Police Chief Bill Becker to deny Ms. Napier a permit to operate an adult entertainment establishment. The city said it would violate a city code that says such businesses cannot operate within 500 feet of residences.

        Ms. Napier appealed to the Butler County Common Pleas Court, claiming the city ordinance was unconstitutional. The court upheld the city's decision. On Dec. 14, 1998, the Ohio 12th District Court of Appeals in Middletown affirmed that ruling.

        Ms. Napier appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court on Jan. 27, and the justices decided April 21 not to hear the case.

        Ms. Napier could not be reached for comment.

        Patty Haskins, spokeswoman for the Division of Liquor Control, Ohio Department of Commerce, said the liquor permit was transferred to Ms. Napier on Oct. 3, 1996. There have been no violations, she said.

       



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