Armed with a brand new law, Baltimore County police today warned Body Talk owner Dominic Stenti that he may no longer allow patrons to bring in alcoholic beverages while they watch nude dancing at the billiards club.
E. Jay Miller, county police spokesman, said officers gave Stenti a copy of the new law, which Gov. William Donald Schaefer signed this morning, and told the Body Talk owner his operation would be watched.
"We'll be out there tonight," said Miller. "It's a misdemeanor, so officers will have to observe the violation. If it's performed in our presence, we can make an arrest."
The maximum penalty for violating the law is a fine of $1,000 per day.
Stenti, who declined to comment today, referred calls to Harold I. Glaser, his attorney, who could not be reached for comment.
The law, which is aimed at making life difficult for the Rockdale establishment, prohibits private clubs that feature nude dancing from allowing patrons to bring their own alcohol.
While the law was aimed at Body Talk, it also could affect a similar club on Pulaski Highway called Charlotte's. Like Body Talk, Charlotte's features nude dancing and has no liquor license, but allows patrons to bring in liquor.
"We're going to warn them also," Miller, the police spokesman, said.
A woman at Charlotte's, who identified herself as an employee but who declined to give her name, said she hadn't heard about the new law, but offered, "I don't see anything wrong with nude dancing. You're born with no clothes on."
At today's bill-signing ceremony in the State House, Del. Richard Rynd, D-Balto. Co., who sponsored the bill, described Body Talk as "a place that's doing the worst possible thing to a neighborhood."
Rynd faxed police the new law to urge them to begin enforcement. The bill was classified as emergency legislation so that it would take effect as soon as the governor signed it. It required a three-fifths vote each from the House and Senate.
Rynd sought the legislation after he received numerous complaints from Liberty Road-area residents upset with Body Talk. The residents said the club is too close to private residences and they complained about rowdy and drunken patrons, some of whom urinated in public.
Stenti, who opened the club last May, has so far successfully fended off the county's efforts to shut him down.
He has appealed several District Court convictions of building code and zoning violations to Circuit Court and has paid more than $15,000 in fines.
One of the newer wrinkles to the case came last week when Harold I. Glaser, one of Stenti's attorneys, filed a motion contending that the nude dancing at Body Talk is a protected form of free expression under the First Amendment.