Tit for Tat
COMMENTARY by Steve Miller
November 29, 2002

"There's no prostitution taking place, and if there was, they should arrest them, not make some big fuss as to what some 18-year-old girl is doing to make a living." "I think anything that's legal should be here."  "When you're 18, you're allowed to die for your country, so why can't some young lady or young man perform?" - Mayor Oscar Goodman

The rumor on the street is that several owners of county-based adult businesses are putting oodles of cash on the line to change county laws to allow anything sexual - sans fellatio or penetration - to go on in their county based T&A bars.

They were inspired by Mayor Oscar B. Goodman who divulged that his brand of Downtown Redevelopment is to turn parts of the city into another Block 16; the infamous nightlife and red-light district of the early 1900s centered on what was the "anything goes" block between Ogden and Stewart, and First and Second Streets. However, local people with family values find Oscar's plan just as unsuitable today as it was in 1906.

Speculation is that some bar owners are counting on outgoing Commissioners Erin Kenny and Dario Herrera to go to work for the adult industry before and after leaving office December 31. With their help, it is speculated that two mega-gentleman's clubs in the county could go bottomless if a law is passed allowing clubs in excess of 20,000 square feet to drop their G-strings. After January when at least two new Commissioners are sworn in, the law could find backers.

This law, if passed, would hurt smaller venues such as Club Paradise and others - something that would please certain M-1 (industrial) zoned club owners who have always envied the Club Paradise's H-1 (Hotel/Casino) zoned location, gourmet restaurant, and proximity to the Hard Rock.

But there's a tit for tat, so to speak. Mike Galardi of Jaguars on Desert Inn Road, a road that is “contiguous” to the city limits, is reportedly interested in having his mega-club annexed into the city where the laws are not enforced.

I am told that he wants to take advantage of Oscar's Sin City dream in the event the county persists in strengthening its laws. The city limits jog over to D.I. Road for a few blocks between the tracks and Valley View Blvd. in Councilman Mike McDonald’s Ward One, however, McDonald does favors for Rick Rizzolo, Galardi’s biggest competitor, and would have to stay clear of the issue.

To back up the annexation possibilities, NRS 268.580 says: "(1.) The governing body of any city may extend the corporate limits of the city to include any territory which meets the general standards of subsection 2…(2.) The total area proposed to be annexed must meet the following standards: (a) It must be contiguous to the annexing city's boundaries at the time the annexation proceedings are instituted...The owners of record of…parcels of land within the territory sign a petition requesting the governing body to annex the territory to the municipality."

Sapphire, the new 40,000 square foot mega-gentleman's club set to open on December 13 is just outside the city limits on Industrial Road and would qualify for annexation. It sits just on the other side of the Union Pacific tracks from the city's boundaries and is therefore also "contiguous to the annexing city's boundry."

Mr. Galardi, or Pete Eliadis, Sapphire's owner,  need only sign a petition and let Oscar do the rest. The annexation theory is being called "a carrot" because of its effect on certain County Commissioners who do not want the city to gain Jaguars' and Sapphire's tax generating potential and may therefore reconsider relaxing their more restrictive laws. But, I’ve been told there’s more to the bargain.

If Jaguars and Sapphire are to remain in the county, they reportedly want a new ordinance passed to allow them to go bottomless in order to counterbalance Oscar’s "I think anything that's legal should be here" offer. So, in the best tradition of Nevada politics, a compromise may be in the works.

Metro will find it impossible to enforce separate city and county laws if adult businesses are divided into the following four proposed categories: (1.) Anything goes within the city limits except fellatio or penetration, (2.) County based liquor clubs in excess of 20,000 square feet go bottomless, (3.) Juice bars stay bottomless, and (4.) County based liquor clubs under 20,000 square feet remain topless only.

If bifurcated laws are found to be impractical, then heavy campaign contributing adult club owners can get together with the city and county and draw up one uniform ordinance that can be enforced equitably - or the entire matter can be dropped and Metro Police told to tread lightly on certain favored properties. It all depends on how acrimonious the owners become toward one another and how much infighting the politicians will tolerate.

Of course, this won’t appease some greedy owners who want to unfairly capture their competitor's clientele.

If varying standards are enacted, Metro will have to set up a new enforcement unit. Male officers will be equipped with plastic protective cups so their private parts won't get chaffed from checking lap dance distance in the county while ignoring the clubs inside the old - or new - city limits where lap dances will be the least of their worries.

And then there's the most important part: eighteen-year-olds. I'm told that without them, our revived Sin City image would go away along with tens-of-thousands of conventioneers. They say the Britney Spears and Christina Agulara lookalikes and wannabes are the real gold mines. The club owners and the mayor have no qualms about letting teenagers burn away their most formative years grinding old men's laps in private rooms. In other words, teen dancers bring in BIG bucks!

There's one small detail being overlooked. NRS 202.060 clearly states: "Any proprietor, keeper or manager of a saloon or resort where (liquor) is sold, who shall, knowingly, allow or permit any person under the age of 21 years to remain therein shall be punished by a fine of not more than $500."

If the campaign contributor adult club owners and their City Council and County Commission cronies can't find common ground, someone with family values might just file a Writ of Mandamus in Federal Court to require enforcement of the long-ignored state law. If this happens, the female teenage gold mines may be forced to leave the saloon or resort after they get off stage, i.e., no more teens hustling $400 bottles of bubbly or vanishing into VIP rooms with horney senior citizens. Or, the law may be changed to allow ALL 18 year olds - including males - to hang out inside the topless bars, something only females are presently allowed to do.

Oscar did say "When you're 18, you're allowed to die for your country, so why can't some young lady or young man perform?" Did he also mean teenage boys should be allowed in the audience? You can't have it both ways!

Las Vegas can still be Sin City, but it doesn’t need to be a city of lawlessness.

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Copyright © Steve Miller
Steve Miller writes syndicated columns on organized crime and political corruption in
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