DES MOINES, Iowa - Iowa doesn't have any all-nude strip clubs — but it does have performing arts centers where women dance naked.(I call bullshit here. -Rob)
However, the loophole in the state's public indecent exposure law that allows nude dancing at "art centers" is under attack in the small community of Hamburg, a town of 1,200 just across the Missouri River from Nebraska.
The case pending before a Fremont County judge effects only one business in Hamburg, but if he agrees with the prosecutor, it could eventually threaten the legal standing of nude dancing clubs across the state.
District Judge Timothy O'Grady heard arguments in a one-day trial on July 17 and took the case under advisement.
It all began on July 21, 2007, when a 17-year-old niece of Sheriff Steven MacDonald climbed up on stage at Shotgun Geniez in Hamburg and stripped off her clothing. Owner Clarence Judy was charged with violating Iowa's public indecent exposure law.
Judy responded that the law doesn't apply to a "theater, concert hall, art center, museum, or similar establishments" devoted to the arts or theatrical performances.
"Dance has been considered one of the arts, as is sculpture, painting and anything else like that. What Clarence has is a club where people can come and perform," said his lawyer, Michael Murphy.
Murphy noted that the club has a gallery selling collectible posters and other art, and it provides patrons with sketch pads.
Nonsense, said Fremont County Attorney Margaret Johnson, an underage girl danced naked at the club, and that's illegal.
"Are you saying that minors can't be protected? Can a group of 12-year-olds come down and go in and dance nude and it's OK? I don't think that's what the Legislature had in mind when it made those additional provisions," Johnson said.
Johnson said the intent of the law is to allow movies in a theater where there's brief nudity or for an art gallery displaying paintings of nudes.
Murphy said Judy bans anyone under 18 from entering the five-year-old business. The problem, he said, was "a group of girls snuck in a 17-year-old."
"While she was there, she felt like dancing so she got up and danced on the stage and then she took her clothes off. Trouble with that is she's the sheriff's niece," he said.
Johnson denied that the teen's relation to the sheriff was connected to the charges filed against Judy.
Her parents were absolutely appalled with the situation," Johnson said.
The sheriff declined to comment. There was no comment from his niece, whose name wasn't given.
As part of his defense during trial, Murphy cited a 1998 ruling that found nude dancing is a form of art. In that case, the owner of the Southern Comfort Free Threatre for the Performing Arts in Davenport was charged under the public indecent exposure law for allowing nude dancing. A judge found owner not guilty.
The current case deals only with Judy and Shotgun Geniez, but there could be an appeal if either side loses.
Johnson said that would take it to the Iowa Court of Appeals and perhaps the Iowa Supreme Court. That would make it a statewide case that could affect dozens of other clubs in the state.
For not having any all-nude strip clubs, Des Moines has some of the best I've seen.
The problem here isn't that nudity is or is not allowed, the problem is that an underage girl got naked in a public place, and now they're trying to use that to chunk down on strip clubs overall.
Shotgun Geniez is for all intents and purposes a strip club. There is no strip club in existence that I know of that in any way encourages their patrons to get naked. To be fair, I haven't been to every strip club in existence, but the ones that I have been to understand that they're under some intense scrutiny, and tend to have very tight reins on the things that happen in the club.
If the seventeen-year-old girl started getting naked at Der Waffle Hut, do you think that a hue and cry would go up over the horrible influence of Waffle Huts all across Iowa?
My prediction is that the case will either be dismissed or the club owner will be found not guilty. The prosecution missed the mark in charging the club owner with the public indecency law; the issue at hand is the one of having a minor in the 18-and-over establishment, not the nudity. Taking the indecency law in hints at a bit of prosecutorial activism, as in the prosecutor wants to make a name for herself in fighting the whole concept of commercial erotic entertainment.
That particular part of Iowa-- where Iowa, Nebraska, and Missouri all come together is kind of a weird mix: big- bible-thumping conservatism, rednecks, bikers, and farmers. Heavy on the bible-thumping morality. Yet the location can draw in customers from Lincoln, Omaha, St. Joseph, and a number of other places around the area, as well as interstate traffic. And it's likely that it's the top taxpaying business in Hamburg.
Incidentally, I've seen a naked seventeen-year-old girl. They look an awful lot like naked eighteen-year-old girls.
OMAHA, Neb. - Humane society workers have found 117 cats, a raccoon and a rabbit in a north Omaha house. The discovery came Wednesday after Council Bluffs, Iowa, police caught the 54-year-old woman who lives at the house reportedly stealing cat food. Officials say she smelled like cat urine.
It isn't the first time the woman has been in trouble for having too many cats. At one time the humane society pulled more than 200 cats from her house.
Many of the cats taken Wednesday were sick and the floor was covered in feces. Some of the cats were dead.
The woman faces possible citations for cruelty to animals and other charges.
With 117 cats, it would be difficult to not smell like cat urine.
I hate hearing stuff like this. Having a good heart is one thing, and wanting to take care of strays and so on, but there's a reasonable limit (that's a hell of a lot smaller than 117) for one person-- or one house-- to manage. Figgure that you should have as a minimum one more litterbox than you do cats, and they need to be separated hopefully into individual rooms or you will end up with cat piss everywhere.
That this isn't the first time this has happened with the same woman indicates to me that she needs some mental evaluation.