Emergency law bars liquor at two striptease clubs

April 06, 1991|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Baltimore County Bureau of The Sun

An emergency bill was signed into law yesterday that prohibits patrons of two nightclubs in Essex and Rockdale from eyeing naked women and boozing it up at the same time.

Gov. William Donald Schaefer signed the bill banning anyone from bringing liquor into either Charlotte's Fiesta Bar in the 10000 block of Pulaski Highway in Essex or Body Talk, a club in the 8100 block of Liberty Road that features billiard tables and naked women.

The bill prohibits the consumption of liquor at either place and specifies fines of up to $5,000 for any violations.

Delegate Richard Rynd, D-Baltimore County, one of the bill's co-sponsors, said the measure was intended to curb disorderly behavior at both nightclubs and shut them down if they failed to comply.

He said he drafted the legislation in February after he received more than 150 letters from Body Talk neighbors who complained about disorderly behavior.

Since last summer, neighbors have flooded state and county officials with complaints about club patrons who were urinating on lawns, parking illegally or awakening them at night by shouting obscenities. About 100 neighbors turned out last August for a County Council hearing on a bill aimed at shutting down the operation, which opened last May at the site of a former pool hall.

"The law is intended to send a message, and that message is that the Liberty Road area is not going to be a dumping ground for these kinds of operations," Mr. Rynd said.

He said he discussed the legislation with Delegate E. Farrell Maddox, D-Baltimore County, who agreed that the bill might reduce problems with disorderly patrons around Charlotte's, a striptease club that goes back to the 1970s.

A copy of the law was sent yesterday to county police, who said they would begin enforcing it immediately.

Sgt. Stephen R. Doarnberger, a police spokesman, said police delivered a copy of the law to Body Talk yesterday afternoon and planned to deliver a copy to Charlotte's last night when it opened.

Officers will not be posted at the clubs' doors but will enforce the law on a complaint basis, being dispatched whenever police are notified of a violation, Sergeant Doarnberger said.

jTC "We're also going to have undercover officers from [the] vice [squad] going in periodically to make sure the law's being followed," Sergeant Doarnberger said.

Ella White Campbell, president of the Liberty Road Community Council, said community volunteers would keep watch round-the-clock on Body Talk.

"We have to keep watching because the minute we close our eyes, the same old shenanigans will start going on again," she said.

The operators of Charlotte's were unavailable yesterday, but an attorney for Body Talk said the club would abide by the law and bar alcohol from the premises.

At the club yesterday afternoon, a half-dozen patrons paid the $10 admission to get into Body Talk and play pool, amid throbbing disco music and two or three naked women. The only beverages evident were two Pepsi cans on the ticket table near the entrance.

Harold I. Glaser, the attorney for Body Talk owner Dominic Stenti, said yesterday it was too early to say if he would try to have the law reversed in court.

Mr. Stenti has been cited in District Court for various building code and zoning code violations filed by county officials.

But Mr. Glaser appealed those convictions last month, saying that nude dancing was a form of free speech protected by the U.S. Constitution and that the citations violated Mr. Stenti's constitutional rights.

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