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Inside Vegas - Steve Miller

Steve Miller is a former Las Vegas City Councilman. In 1991, the readers of the Las Vegas Review Journal voted him the "Most Effective Public Official" in Southern Nevada. Visit his website at:

18 Year Old Strippers in Vegas Bars

INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
June 2, 2003

In August 2002, Clark County Nevada, the county in which Las Vegas is located, passed a series of new laws that included one to ban the employment of teenagers as strippers in topless bars. However, because the city of Las Vegas is a separate municipality within the county and is governed by a different set of rules, Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman ignored pleas from police and county officials to adapt a uniform code.

When asked about the current city code regarding teenagers stripping in topless bars, Mayor Goodman said, "Our ordinance is perfect." The Mayor also made the following amazing statements: "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," said the mayor.

He made these statements in the face of numerous front page stories and media reports describing beatings, prostitution, robberies, and a wrongful death at one of the city's foremost topless bars, a bar that does not share a sister bar in the county and therefore stands to benefit the most from the county's new ordinance.

Lets take at look at the laws Goodman calls "perfect" and see if they allow teenagers to hustle champagne and lap dances in the lounge seating area, or go behind closed doors in private VIP rooms in our city’s topless bars?

Las Vegas Municipal Code--6.35.100--Erotic dance establishment regulations states:

"(E) No patron under the age of twenty-one shall be admitted to an alcoholic erotic dance establishment. (H) Dancing shall take place within an area which is visible immediately upon entrance to the establishment premises…. Dance areas must not be obscured by any curtain or door that restricts view from one of the above-described areas. Patrons will not be allowed to enter private rooms with dancers. (I) No dancer shall fondle or caress any patron, and no patron shall fondle or caress any dancer."

Every VIP room in the city is "private," has doors, and allows patrons to enter with teenage dancers. This recently written law indicates that such rooms are in direct violation of 6.35.100.

Then there’s Las Vegas Municipal Code-10.56.010--Saloons and similar places--Presence--Performer permits:

"It shall be unlawful for any person under the age of twenty-one years to visit, frequent, be present in or loiter around any saloon, gambling house, barroom, cigar store or house of ill fame; provided, however, that a minor or minors under proper adult supervision may entertain or perform in lounges upon the securing of a permit from the Sheriff of the Metropolitan Police Department or his designee. Said permit shall allow a minor or minors in such lounge only while in the act of entertaining or performing in the presence of said adult supervisor."

This is the main law that the city clubs most rely on to protect their "right" to have teen strippers. It was written in 1911 when prostitution was legal in Las Vegas. It requires that after a minor stops "entertaining" or "performing," they must leave the "lounge." Today, teens are illegally required by club owners to solicit drinks and lap dances from patrons in the lounge area. Teens certainly cannot be considered as "entertaining" or "performing" when they are hustling money off-stage in open violation of LVMC 10.56.010. Furthermore, who are these "adult supervisors" who let teens mingle with the crowd - then vanish into the VIP room? Perhaps, this law is "perfect" because it is so antiquated that it stopped being enforced in the city limits decades ago.

Then there is state law NRS 202.060 - Saloonkeeper allowing minor to remain in establishment:

"Any proprietor, keeper or manager of a saloon or resort where spirituous, malt or fermented liquors or wines are 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."

When saloonkeepers allow teenage strippers to step down from the stage, "remain" in the establishment where alcohol is being sold and solicit sale of drinks or a lap dance, this law is also being violated.

"We're an adult community, an adult playland," Goodman said. "Let's not pretend to be something we're not."

We’re not a city of lawlessness. To do what he proposes violates existing city ordinances.

Then the Mayor said, "When you're 18, you're allowed to die for your country, so why can't some young lady or young man perform?"

Good point, but why are 18 year old males prohibited from sitting in the audience? If he feels so strongly about their rights, then shouldn't all 18 years olds should be allowed  in topless bars whether they strip or not? His proposal discriminates against underage males who would like to sit at the bar and see 18 year old girls "perform." You can't have it both ways!

AGE is the ONLY issue I am concerned with. The current city laws make it perfectly clear that teenage dancers are (1) not allowed behind closed doors with patrons, and (2) not allowed to mingle with the crowd (loiter) to solicit lap dances and sell champagne after they leave the stage. The "perfect" law either needs to be drastically changed to accommodate minors, or the prohibition against VIP rooms needs to be enforced.

Under existing Nevada city, county, and state laws, teenagers presently have no place in topless and bottomless bars hustling drinks or trying to "make a living" in VIP rooms behind closed doors. Even without the laws, our youth deserve better during their formative years..

Mayor Goodman should either change ALL the laws, or enforce the existing ones equally between the city and county - period! To not do so is an invitation for a Writ of Mandamus to compel the City of Las Vegas to enforce its own ordinances. If a motion for a Writ of Mandamus is filed, taxpayers should not be forced to pay expensive private attorneys to defend Mayor Goodman's  friends in the trade.

No wonder they call this Sin City!

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