Business at Jerome Sapperstein's Sparrows Point tavern was so bad late last December that he decided to try a daring innovation on Sundays -- nude female dancers.
And he told the Baltimore County liquor board yesterday that he thought it would be OK with the board as long as he didn't sell alcoholic beverages during the performances at Jerry's Tavern in the 2100 block of Sparrows Point Road.
It was definitely not OK, and the board fined him $1,000.
According to testimony, for several Sundays in December and January, Jerry's staff sold $15 admission tickets, sold ice in cups for those who brought their own liquor, and even helped an allegedly thirsty undercover liquor board investigator by sending an employee up the block for a six-pack from another bar.
The two board inspectors who attended the show Jan. 12 reported that the dancers removed all their clothes except for garter belts, climbed up on the horseshoe-shaped bar, then sprawled in various positions, spending the most time before customers who placed money in their garters.
Mr. Sapperstein told the board he didn't know that the Sunday business he created was a near duplicate of Body Talk, the notorious Randallstown strip club that created a two-year uproar in 1990-91.
Body Talk's days ended with passage of a law barring nude dancing under any circumstances.
F. Vernon Boozer, Mr. Sapperstein's attorney, who also serves in the state Senate, said his client halted the dance shows, closed his tavern for several weeks and fired all his employees in January after he received a certified letter from William R. Snyder, liquor board chairman, ordering him to bar all nude dancing at the tavern.
Mr. Sapperstein said yesterday that the entertainment was his former manager's idea.
Mr. Sapperstein said that his main income is derived from his cigarette vending machine business and that he spent little time at the bar.
The board ordered his liquor license suspended for two weeks, and imposed a $1,000 fine.
The board allowed the two weeks the bar was closed voluntarily to satisfy the license suspension.
In other action, the board fined the owners of George's Liquors, in the 2100 block of Merritt Ave. in Dundalk, $500 and ordered its license suspended for three days for repeatedly selling to minors.
In addition to selling beer to an undercover county police cadet Feb. 3 for the second time in one year, owners In Sook Hwang and her husband, Ho Min Jung, sold everything from beer to 190-proof grain alcohol and "Mad Dog" fortified wine this spring to a collection of Dundalk teens who yesterday paraded before the liquor board.
One 17-year old girl who bought grain alcohol for some friends said she stopped by George's one Friday night in April and used a poor rendition of a phony Pennsylvania driver's license to buy the liquor.
Mrs. Hwang became so upset during the hearing that she fainted and was taken to Greater Baltimore Medical Center by county ambulance for treatment.
She suffered a similar spell after the February police cadet incident, county vice detectives testified.
Mr. Snyder praised North Point police Officer Charles R. Coyle, who spent hours outside George's in March, April and May catching juveniles with liquor and teaching the Hwangs how to distinguish real licenses from fakes.
There have been no further incidents there since June, Officer Coyle said.