Ban On 'Obscene' Shows Is Proposed For Howard

October 30, 1991|By Michael J. Clark | Michael J. Clark,Staff writer

A North Laurel bar and grill where scantily clad women prance to rock and roll music and whirl suggestively around brass poles has prompted a Howard County delegate to introduce a bill to ban "obscene" liveperformances.

Delegate John S. Morgan, R-13B, said he pre-filed the bill after complaints from several constituents about performancesat Good Guys Bar and Grill on U.S. 1. The bill would make Howard County the fourth jurisdiction covered by a state obscenity law that nowapplies to Anne Arundel, Wicomico and Worcester counties.

Donna Thewes, who lives in a development behind the bar, said sheand several other residents who complained were "concerned because it backs up to the residential neighborhood and feel it does not attract the best of clientele."

"We have worked hard to clean up our neighborhood and make it a family-oriented community, and this takes usback a step," she said.

But Thomas M. Meachum, an attorney for Good Guys, which opened in August, said Morgan's bill would not apply to Good Guys.

"There is nothing obscene about it," Meachum said. Hedescribed the dancers as bikini-clad women who "move around in an athletic fashion on a platform during lunch and dinner."

The county liquor inspector "has been out there and has cleared the attire, and the county's liquor laws prohibit lewd behavior," he said. "The delegate's bill absolutely would not apply to this type of operation."

Officer Michael J. Sherman, the county liquor inspector, said he found "no evidence of obscenity" at Good Guys, which he said is the only establishment in Howard County where scantily clad dancers perform.

"From what I have seen so far, they are following the liquor board's regulations."

The regulations require performers to cover their breasts and lower torso, and prohibit customers from touching performers or putting money in their bikini bottoms or tops, he said.

ButMorgan said "the principle behind the bill is still strong and needed."

"It is far more important to have a general standard on the books than one that is simply enforced by the liquor inspector," he said. "My belief is that they (Good Guys) would be far more careful in the way they perform, if it were on the books."

Morgan said he believed an obscenity law including Howard County "is necessary for the state to step up and make sure our families and suburban life is not threatened. If they want it in Baltimore City, that is their problem, but it does not belong in the county."

Under the delegate's proposed legislation, violators would be guilty of a misdemeanor and could be sentenced to one year in jail and fined $1,000 for a first offense. Subsequent convictions could result in a $5,000 fine and prison term of up to three years.

Good Guys patrons dine and drink while watching the dancers, whose performances include sexually suggestive poses.

At a recent performance, a woman wearing cowboy boots and a brief two-piece outfit danced under strobe lights and a whirling disco ball, gyrating her upper and lower torso and bending over several times to wag her posterior. When dollar bills were wrapped around one offour brass poles at corners of the platform, she sauntered over and gathered up the money in her cleavage.

Under state law, obscenity is that which appeals to a prurient interest in sex, is patently offensive, affronts community standards and is utterly devoid of all redeeming social value, Morgan said.

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