The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Ordinance To Allow Liquor In Strip Clubs Tabled Because It Would Legalize Nudity

By Mae Rice in News on Apr 12, 2016 8:00PM

Photo via brh_images on Flickr

Last week, Chicagoist spoke with Ald. Emma Mitts (37th) about an ordinance she was sponsoring that would have allowed local strip clubs with topless dancers to obtain liquor licenses. Currently, Chicago strip clubs must either have dancers wear pasties, or offer topless dance and a BYOB policy (or completely dry premises).

When we spoke with Mitts, she was confident her ordinance would pass and enhance entertainment options in Chicago, making it "a world-class city." But before the ordinance went up for its scheduled final vote in City Council on Wednesday, Mitts withdrew her support, effectively tabling it. She explained to the Sun-Times Tuesday that she didn't realize the ordinance she was sponsoring would also allow full-frontal nudity in strip clubs.

"We [weren’t] trying to make it a nudity ordinance," she said. "I didn’t know the language had changed in it." Mitts said she believed an owner of one of the strip clubs she was working with on the ordinance had changed the wording.

As for her stance on nudity: "Put a G-string on," Mitts told the Tribune.

Previously, Mitts told Chicagoist she was sponsoring this ordinance because it allowed stronger regulation of drinking in strip clubs than the current BYOB arrangement. Mitts also noted that if the ordinance passed, strip clubs would donate $400,000 to domestic violence shelters and sexual assault prevention programs.

But this "community benefit agreement," as Mitts called it, only acknowledges the "established connection" between strip clubs and violence against women, Lynne Johnson of the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation told the Tribune. Johnson's organization stands against Mitts' tabled ordinance, which they argue would promote harassment and violence against women. Chicago's domestic violence shelters, likewise, don't want donations from strip clubs, the Sun-Times reports (though that's a very broad generalization).

Mitts plans to revise the ordinance and bring it back to City Council, though, with the full-frontal nudity components removed, according to the Sun-Times. Mitts is not the first to backtrack on a strip club ordinance like this one. Two years ago, a similar ordinance was tabled when its sponsor, Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd), withdrew his support, the Sun-Times notes. The most perplexing comment on this whole kerfuffle wasn't from Mitts, though, but from City Council Rules Committee Chairman Michelle Harris (8th).

“I’m a woman," Harris told the Sun-Times. "I’ve got children. I would not like to bare my parts, if I could say it like that. … It would be a horrible thing for me to sit up and say I’m 10,000 percent on board with other women doing it. I just think we live in a world of choice.”

She believes in choice... and thinks it should be illegal for women to do anything she wouldn't personally do? I have stared at this quote for 15 minutes, trying to understand its internal logic, and will probably stare at it more when I get off work, still confused.