Courts & Crime

First, let's assume these reporters were on assignment . . .

KANSAS CITY — Nine months after Missouri toughened restrictions on the state’s adult businesses, at least two local strip clubs are taking advantage of authorities’ lax enforcement of their X-rated entertainment.

Kansas City Star reporters recently observed more than a dozen female dancers at Bazooka’s and Temptations whose entire breasts were visible. Although state law allows such “semi-nude” exposure, clubs that “regularly” offer it must close at midnight.

Both downtown clubs, however, remained open and admitted customers well past that closing deadline.

Some dancers also appeared on stages less than six feet from patrons, another violation of the statute. Reporters saw chairs lining the elevated stages in both clubs, placing some customers only inches from performers.

But Dick Bryant, a lawyer for Kansas City’s adult entertainment industry, said the clubs are following the law, in part because he claimed the dancers only appear to be topless. The exposed breasts, he said, are actually covered by a thin layer of opaque latex.

“Once they’re covered, none of the rest of the law applies,” Bryant argued.

He also said clubs are observing other parts of the new law, including rules that prohibit full nudity and semi-nude dancers from touching customers. The Star found those regulations — as well as those involving the sale of alcohol — were being followed.

Authorities said that, while the courts are deciding the constitutionality of the law, no Kansas City clubs have been cited for violations.

Police and regulators acknowledged that confusion over who’s responsible for enforcement — and the legal debate over the law itself — has led them to back off from prosecuting clubs that may be breaking the rules. The law does not specify which agency is responsible for enforcement.

“The state statute is not yet clarified (or) enforceable,” Kansas City Police Department spokesman Capt. Steve Young said in an email statement.

That posture has angered those who helped write the law, which they contend is aimed at reducing crime and poverty related to the adult entertainment industry.

“I would be disappointed that law enforcement is letting them get away with this,” said Phillip Cosby of the American Family Association of Kansas and Missouri, an anti-pornography group that helped write the legislation. “What is the resolve of law enforcement in upholding the law?”

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