Deja Vu All Over Again – Louisville Goes Prude

PT's May Not Survive after the city starts enforcing its Nudity ordinance

When the National Farm Machinery Show arrives in town next week, some good ‘ole boys are in for a rude awakening.

Because the traditional trek to Trixie’s may not be happening, and if it does, the boys won’t be getting their usual peek at a womsn’s ta-ta’s at the same time hoisting a cold beer. And if it’s still open, Trixie’s will be closing its doors at the early hour of 1 a.m.

That’s because the city is scheduled to start enforcing its No Nudity ordinance tomorrow.  It effectively puts 25 local businesses employing more than 300 tax-paying citizens out of work. Passed in 2004, the city has been waging an expensive war in court with the businesses for seven years.

Frank Mascagni, the attorney who represents the businesses, and has won countless legal battles (including a $140,000 judgment the city paid) with city government over this issue, says the businesses have few options. You can’t get city officials to listen, but Mascagni says incidences of crime and police runs at adult entertainment operations are less frequent than other bars. Doesn’t matter to the prudes running the show at City Hall.

“The economic impact is in the millions of dollars,” Mascagni said. “These businesses can see if they can be profitable without nudity and try selling Cokes and water. Or they can try another business, relocate or close.”

Mascagni is full of colorful language about the idiocy of the new law, and is holding on to a faint hope that the case will be taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court, which would delay the city’s action.  That’s not likely to happen.

And Mascagni said it’s unlikely the business owners will continue to operate as adult entertainment licensees.

The 2004 ordinance reads like this:  “…prohibit nudity at all establishments with only semi-nudity being allowed; prohibit alcohol on premises that have semi-nude dancing and require a 500-foot buffer from an establishment serving alcohol with existing legal businesses being allowed to continue to operate through state law as a non-conforming use; create a uniform hours of operation for adult entertainment businesses (9 a.m. to 1 a.m); and rewrite about 25 percent of the existing adult entertainment regulations to ensure that they withstand a court challenge.”

The bill’s sponsors — Hal Heiner, Julie Raque Adams (both now off the Council), Bob Henderson and Madonna Flood — aren’t backing off from their belief in the measure. Henderson said this to WHAS-TV last week:  “I think the community spoke, and we don’t want some of those things that were happening. We don’t want that. We don’t want it.”

That kind of nonsensical comment is revealing of Henderson, but the real disappointment is that pro-business forces in this city have made not a sound about the loss of 300 jobs and shuttering of 25 thriving local businesses. Not the new Mayor, Greg Fischer. Nothing from Greater Louisville Inc., not from the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

If you don’t think recruiting conventions to a city without adult entertainment will be challenging, you don’t know human nature.  Just ask a cab driver where the most requested locations are for out-of-town guests. And let’s see how much grumbling you’ll hear from conventioneers when it’s time to renew their commitment to the city.