Benjamin, Aaronson, Edinger & Patanzo, P.A.

The national ACE meeting

Last month Daniel Aaronson attended the Gentlemen’s Club Exposition in Las Vegas, Nevada. In addition to the many beautiful women that attend the event along with the Trade Show there are many important legal and industry related seminars and meetings. One of the most informative this year was the national Ace Meeting.

At that meeting it was discussed that ICE of the Immigration and Naturalization Service has targeted adult clubs as one of the sources of illegal human trafficking. Their belief is that numerous undocumented women and girls dance at clubs and are even forced into prostitution as literally indentured servants. Due to this belief adult dance clubs are now on the radar and are being targeted through ICE inspection, including the demanding of documentation of all dancers at various clubs to prove their legality in this country. If the harassment was not enough, it is reported that they have threatened criminal prosecution against club’s management for undocumented workers dancing at the club.

It now, appears that ICE might be willing to work with any clubs that sign on with them in a partnership style relationship, thereby heading off the potential demands for documentation and hopefully showing good faith and thereby stopping criminal prosecutions. Whether your club wants to avail itself of this arrangement or not, is totally up to the individual club. However, this is just one small example of the true value of ACE and of banding together as an industry. Whether it’s joining ACE nationality or on the local state level it is now becoming insane not to be part of a unified organization.

As to the individual State Chapters, Daniel Aaronson had the opportunity to attend the New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Florida State Organization meetings. Although some of the problems in each of the State’s were common to those nationally, each state has its unique problems and faces its unique hurdles to keep the industry going and free from government intrusion. Sadly, by and large each state meeting was attended by only a fraction of the clubs that exist in each state. There seems to be a general feeling that the big clubs or the chains will fight the fight and foot the bill which is not the case. Some states do not even have clubs that are part of chains and some of the big club chains are fighting so many fights that they can’t be counted on to fight every fight.

There also were two legal panels that all the attendees had the option of hearing. Daniel Aaronson was the moderator of one of the panels where Attorney Steve Swander from Texas spoke on the “poll tax” or “head tax” which has been proposed in several states. These taxes are based upon the club having to pay a certain amount of money for every patron that comes in the door. Although Mr. Swander and other attorneys have been quite successful so far in staving off these taxes, these taxes are just another example why we must ban together at least on the state level. Jennifer Kingsley from Ohio another fine attorney also spoke. Her topic was on the CCV Citizen’s for Community Values. For those of you who do not know, this is an organization that is no friend to the First Amendment or to Adult Entertainment and in the guise of family values has been successful in Ohio in getting Draconian Laws passed against adult entertainment. Their mission is to spread their beliefs and therefore these Draconian Laws throughout the Country and to a state near you. Attorney John Weston from California spoke about how to be involved with your community as a club owner, how to generate good will within the community and lastly what do to if in fact that community turns on you and passes ordinances designed to put you out of business or to harm your club. One cannot put a value on being thought as part of the community as opposed to being just that strip club owner.

Lastly, Daniel Aaronson spoke on how the Pennsylvania and New Jersey Associations successfully stopped repressive legislation in New Jersey as well as saving a little club in a small township in Pennsylvania. Both examples showed how these chapters with their ear to the ground were able to step in and defend the First Amendment and Adult Entertainment. With the amount of money that is made in the Adult Entertainment Industry we cannot understand how and why every club does not either belong to ACE nationally or to a State Chapter. And if a State Chapter does not exist how anybody could stand by and not try to found one with the assistance of ACE nationally. If each club just donated a small percentage of its income to that State Chapter, laws that have the potential of putting you out of business would never see the light of day and if they did could be fought.

Speaking about fighting, this month after waiting four years two cases were ruled on by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. In the case of New Albany DVD, LLC v. City of New Albany, Indiana the court ruled that the City had not produced sufficient evidence of adverse secondary effects to justify its ordinance against a takeout only adult bookstore. The Court further ruled that the City’s argument that thieves were attracted to patrons of adult bookstores and therefore there were adverse secondary effects was not justified under the First Amendment as it would give thieves the right to suppress First Amendment expression. The Court further discounted the City’s argument that adult bookstores caused litter different then other bookstores or establishments. In the case of Annex Books, Inc. v. City of Indianapolis, Indiana the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the Indianapolis Ordinance due to the fact that the City’s justification through its studies pertained to establishments that offered live sex shows and private viewing booths and other live entertainment. The Court noted that three of the four plaintiffs’ in the suit did not offer live entertainment or private viewing and were simple video outlets. Therefore the studies did not apply to their types of establishments. This decision holds the government’s feet to the fire by requiring the government to produce studies that actually are analogous to the businesses that they are trying to regulate. Using a broad brush stroke to equate any type of adverse secondary effect caused by any type of adult business to be used to show adverse secondary effects on another type adult business was not acceptable. These cases show as much as any cases that if we are organized to fight and ready for the fight we can win fights. It is up to all of you to become organized so that fights can be won.

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