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The Naked City

A strong head nod to Jeff Gerritt at the Detroit Free Press for a good common-sense column the other day on the clash between strip club owners in Detroit and the City Council.

I really don't see the point of these proposed "crackdowns," other than to offer morality theater to the popular religious figures who show up at council meetings to bemoan the sinfulness of it all. Yes, 33 nudie bars in a city this size is a bit much -- but I also think that suggests a pretty big market for them. And since the clubs are not only legal but also the source of hundreds of paying jobs and millions in tax revenues for the city, where's the logic in trying to drive them out of town (especially when it's not like you'll put them out of business)?

Further, if you've grown up in this city like I have and know anything about the strippers here, you know good and well that adult nightclub money does not stop at the city coffers. Much of the tips and salaries earned by the dancers (and DJs and barmaids and bouncers) also flows into small businesses around metro Detroit, including restaurants, corner stores, nightclubs, car dealerships, gas stations, barbershops and hair salons, day-care centers, kids' clothiers, insurance agencies and, goodness knows, landlords. Should I also mention church "love offerings?"

Now, I know the "values" crowd finds stripping immoral so perhaps these folks don't care about the economic arguments. And although I think it's ridiculous to deem stripping "wrong," I will admit that, as a father of two girls, I'm with Chris Rock on what a dad's obligations are with regard to the pole. But frankly, his admonition is about how we men want to measure ourselves. What do our artificial yardsticks have to do with the economic realities faced by poor and working-class moms raising kids alone in a city and state posting record unemployment numbers? And why should the fact that stripping is not the option I'd choose for my children mean that another consenting adult can't have the right to choose for herself? (I mean, I'm also determined to keep my kids out of the GOP.)

I don't mind the regulation of strip clubs. There are already more than enough ordinances -- many of them superfluous -- to cover any crime you could imagine in or around a strip bar. And let's keep it real: Many of these are almost never enforced anyway.

So yeah, I see little point in hounding strippers just to appease disapproving preachers. I mean, it's not like anybody is asking the ministers for taxes on their churches or anything.

As far as I'm concerned, if they're willing to devote more time to worthwhile issues, like preserving school funding, they should even keep those love offerings.

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  • 1

    Well said. Heck, even Utah has strip clubs. The way to fight legal strip clubs is to cultivate better options and support them with the dollars wasted on trying to ban "sin". Even then, "sinners" will find a way to "sin". History makes this indisputable.

    Mr. Gerritt's column is right on. Banning strip clubs will only shove more of the business (and tax revenue) underground into extremely dangerous environments.

  • 2

    Elsewhere in Time's opining on Detroit, the concept of metro-ism received a nod. Perhaps you might want to consider it further.

    In any metro area, an economic and social hierarchy will self-establish. Certain areas will come to be high-valued, well-kept, orderly. If they welcome industry, it will be neat, and it may well have more-educated, better-paid employees. Areas like this go to great lengths...via zoning, social pressure, extra-legal policing and building inspections, keep out businesses, activities, housing types that they think would decrease property values, raise crime levels, threaten the social order.

    Somewhere else in the metro area will be the opposite end of the scale...the dumping ground for social ills. The homeless will live there. Only the oldest and least clean industries will want to be there. Property values will plummet, those who can move elsewhere will do so, service businesses will follow them.

    One of the business categories that gravitates toward this latter locale is the sex business. Whether it's display or contact services, it's unwelcome in the fancy neighborhoods, and around the better businesses.

    Parts of the City of Detroit were Metro Detroit's locale for social ills well before the mid 60s. That status has served the suburbs very well...some of their citizens can find what they want a short drive away, then head back home. But it hasn't served Detroit nearly as well.

    If your argument regarding economic benefits were valid, we would expect to see an upside by now, wouldn't we? But all that we see is the corrosive result of concentrating all of the metro area's social ills in the City.

    Change has to start somewhere. One of the steps in fixing Detroit's socioeconomic toxicity must be its resolve to cease being a dumping ground for the entire metro area's seedier appetites. It's time to set higher standards for the City of Detroit, and let the Metro area figure out where else the social ills should go.

  • 3


    While I personally agree that such establishments do in fact bring an increased number of those that have as you say a "seedier appetite", they are still consumers contributing to the economy. Beyond that, who are we to judge others? Each person has the ability to determine what they believe to appropriate and inappropriate on their own activity.

    “Change has to start somewhere. One of the steps in fixing Detroit's socioeconomic toxicity must be its resolve to cease being a dumping ground for the entire metro area's seedier appetites. It's time to set higher standards for the City of Detroit, and let the Metro area figure out where else the social ills should go.”

    I agree that change must start some place, and that place is in the homes and schools where the future adults of this world are raised. It is at a young age that a person begins to form their own morals and ethical views, largely influenced by those around them on a regular basis, which at that age should be parents and those in their schools. It is here that change must start, where each person can on their own as intelligent human beings form their own opinions on such practices as stripping and learn not to judge those that partake in such activities, but rather make a personal choice to not partake.
    People today must stop pointing fingers and look to them self for change. Nobody is perfect, but everybody has a great deal to contribute to society….”don't be a vacuum, be a fountain.”

  • 4

    Good piece Darrell.

  • 5

    [...] of stuff is concentrated.) I'd rather we work on bringing in more of these kinds of businesses, instead of on running out the handful of places some ministers find morally [...]

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