Gov. William Donald Schaefer signed into law today a bill designed to immediately cut off the flow of alcoholic beverages to the controversial Body Talk billiards club in Baltimore County, which features nude dancing. The effect could be to put it out of business.
County police have indicated they will begin enforcing the law at once.
The law, which is aimed at making life difficult for the Rockdale establishment, would prohibit Body Talk patrons from bringing alcoholic beverages with them to watch the nude dancing. The club has no liquor license.
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 said he planned to fax a copy of the new law to county police and 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.
E. Jay Miller, county police spokesman, said the department had not seen the legislation yet but would "certainly react immediately" after the governor signed it.
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 complained about rowdy and drunken patrons, some of whom urinated in public.
Dominic Stenti, the owner of Body Talk, could not be reached for comment.
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.
According to Rynd, the new law closes a loophole in state law that prohibits total nude dancing in establishments with liquor licenses. Because Body Talk doesn't have a liquor license, it has been able to feature nude dancing. Customers bring their own liquor.