Stripped Down

July 27, 1993

The owners of the Good Guys Bar & Grill on Route 1 in North Laurel would have you think of their establishment as a combination sports restaurant/keno palace/pool hall for the more discerning gentleman of Howard County.

Oh, yeah. There's this one other attraction: Nearly buck-naked women doing the old bump-and-grind a mere six feet from the customers.

And speaking of time-honored dance moves, the Good Guys owners have resorted to one of a legalistic bent to keep their business alive.

Other suburban strip-club owners have tried this shuffle in the past. Two in the Baltimore County communities of Randallstown and Sparrows Point did it within the past couple years. It goes like this: Because state law prohibits nude dancing in public places where alcohol is sold, a club owner can simply drop his liquor license and re-label his establishment a private club. Customers can then bring their own booze and the dancers can bare all.

That was the strategy just adopted by the Good Guys owners, though they compromised with local officials by agreeing the dancers would wear G-strings. The owners could have kept their liquor license as long as the dancers covered their private parts, but they decided to relinquish the license rather than risk a fat fine just because someone's G-string slipped one night when an undercover vice cop happened to be perched in the front row.

North Laurel community leaders, including county and state politicians, aren't happy with the compromise that lets Good Guys survive. They want to see it closed, claiming a strip club doesn't belong in the suburbs, especially now that a commercial revitalization has begun on Route 1.

One Howard state delegate has vowed to introduce a bill next year to end nude dancing at Good Guys. Meanwhile, the owners hint at a court proceeding that would enable them to operate legally as a private club with nude strippers.

But the prospects look bad for Good Guys. The club is likely to wilt under the same community and legal pressures that closed the two Baltimore County businesses and have thwarted the spread and start-up of strip joints in Harford and Anne Arundel counties too. Even Baltimore's notorious Block is being whittled away by city officials who envision better uses for the properties.

Granted, as Good Guys' growing clientele attests, the need for such entertainment isn't likely to fade away. However, the opposition to it, in city and suburb alike, appears to be growing.

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