Female dancers in nude silhouette and dancers showing too much of their real skin has exposed a Towson nightclub to a $500 fine.
The Baltimore County Board of Liquor License Commissioners imposed the fine yesterday against The Original Kaos, in a small shopping center off the 1500 block of E. Joppa Road. The club bills itself as a "sophisticated adult cabaret" and features dancers performing on several stages from noon to 2 a.m.
Board members heard testimony from police that on several occasions last autumn, dancers in the club removed their tops, leaving only their nipples covered by pasties. Liquor board rules prohibits female dancers from exposing the nipple area and lower portion of their breasts.
Police investigated the club after the liquor board received complaints from community leaders about the type of entertainment in Kaos.
Several community leaders told the board that they visited the club and witnessed dancers stripping behind a large screen. A light projected onto the screen revealed them in silhouette only.
"I couldn't be 100 percent certain, but to me it looked like the dancer was totally nude," testified Dr. John McCombe, president of the Loch Raven Village Community Association. Loch Raven Village is the closest residential neighborhood to the club.
Eugene J. Tovey, majority owner of Emerald City Inc., the corporation that owns The Original Kaos, admitted to the board that there were times when the dancers might have been nude behind the screen.
"We started featuring dancers in September and there were some start-up problems in moving to that kind of format," said Mr. Tovey. "The dancers are supposed to wear a nylon body stocking underneath the garments they take off and a few of the girls might have forgotten to put the body stockings on."
The owner also told the board that when the police notified him that a few of the dancers had removed their tops and exposed portions of the breasts, "we terminated their employment."
Testimony also came from police, Liquor Board inspectors and residents that dancers would move within a few inches of patrons who would tuck dollar bills into their garter belts for tips.
Liquor Board rules prohibit bar employees from accepting tips and patrons placing tips into any part of an employee's clothing or costume. Rules also require that dancers perform at least 6 feet from patrons.
Liquor Board chairman William R. Snyder ordered the owner to hire an architectural engineer to remodel the stages to make sure the performers can't get any closer than 6 feet from a customer.
After the hearing, Mr. Snyder said the board didn't find a violation the tipping rule because "I, for one, am not prepared to say that a garter belt is an article of clothing."
Mr. Snyder did commend the owners for trying to adhere to the Liquor Board rules, given the type of entertainment featured at the club.
But after the board's decision, Mr. Tovey stormed out of the hearing room, shouting that the decision was "outrageous."
Richard J. Reinhardt, the attorney representing the club, said he would appeal the board's ruling to the county Board of Appeals.
"The fine is excessive, and to order us to hire an engineer to remodel the place is ridiculous and expensive," said Mr. Reinhardt. "Kaos is a first-class operation. None of the testimony supports the board's decision."
Community leaders were surprised with the board's decision.
"We weren't expecting such a heavy penalty," said Wayne Skinner, president of the Towson-Loch Raven Community Council. "We want the club to operate within the Liquor Board rules."