In exchange for cut in fines, Body Talk closes club doors

May 03, 1991|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Baltimore County Bureau of The Sun

After a year of community protests, court fines and laws enacted to shut it down, a striptease club in Rockdale closed its doors for good this week -- almost two months earlier than planned.

Dominic Stenti, owner of Body Talk, reached an agreement with the county law office in which he would pay a reduced fine in exchange for immediately closing his club in the 8100 block of Liberty Road.

Mr. Stenti had been under court order to stop the nude dancing at the club by July 10.

H. Emslie Parks, county attorney, said he would recommend that Mr. Stenti pay $6,000 in fines. The deal is subject to approval by Baltimore County Circuit Judge James T. Smith Jr., he said.

Mr. Stenti removed the pool tables and other equipment from the club Monday, and work crews could be seen in the club this week cleaning up the interior.

The owner of the building, Alfred Bucci, said that the club would be converted back to the "family pool hall" it used to be but that Mr. Stenti would not be involved in the operation.

Mr. Stenti was convicted April 25 of violating a new state law aimed at the club that prohibited customers from bringing in alcohol. The club has no liquor license.

Judge Smith also rejected Mr. Stenti's appeal of a previous conviction for violating building codes, because he had failed to obtain a permit last May when he converted his pool hall into a private club featuring striptease.

Mr. Stenti was fined $10,000 for liquor and building code violations.

Mr. Stenti tried for the past year to argue before the County Council and the courts that he had a constitutional right to operate the club, which charged patrons $10 for memberships that entitled them to play pool and watch naked women dance.

But the operation led to a flood of protests from the surrounding residential community about loud noise, litter and disturbances by drunken patrons.

That sparked county and state laws curbing the operation and a legal battle with the county that led to a series of fines.

The outcry prompted the council to pass legislation last summer that effectively ordered the operation to shut down within a year. The law banned striptease clubs that operated without liquor licenses within 1,000 feet of a home, church, park, child-care center or school.

The General Assembly also passed an emergency law in the 1991 session that prohibited patrons from bringing alcohol to clubs that featured nude dancing but did not have a liquor license.

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