Strippers

Occupational Licensing of Strippers Isn't Just Unnecessary, It's Dangerous

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Dreamgirls at Fox's/Facebook

We write a lot at Reason about the perils of occupational liscensing—how it serves as a barrier to entry for many otherwise qualified hair braiders or horse masseuses or costumed superheroes; how it's often based on little more than protectionism for those already in an industry; how it further bloats the regulatory state. Add another negative to the list: It can make people's private information a matter of official record, and thus fair game for public records requests. In some industries, such as those involving adult entertainment, you can see how this may get a little touchy. 

Dancers and managers at a Washington state strip club are now suing to stop their county from releasing their names, photos, and other identifying information to a man who has filed a public records request for it. The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Tacoma Tuesday, says the Pierce County Auditor's Office received a request from David A. Van Vleet for copies of all adult entertainment licenses on file for Dreamgirls at Fox's. Why does this man want identifying info on current and former dancers at the Tacoma-based strip club? Nobody knows. (I reached out to Van Vleet yesterday but haven't heard back.) But because strippers in most areas of Washington must obtain an "entertainer's license", their identities are a matter of public record.

Attorney Gilbert H. Levy acknowledged that the information was technically fair game under the state Public Records Act, but said the privacy and safety interests of strip club workers necessitates keeping their real names and identities confidential. "It's a unique occupation and it's a controversial occupation," Levy told CBS Seattle. "Some people like nude dancers, and other people for religious or for other philosophical reasons don't. There's some stigma attached to the occupation, and most dancers for personal privacy reasons and safety reasons, don't want the customers to know who they are outside of the club." 

In other words, it's entirely likely the person who wants this information is a crazy stalker or an anti-sex nutjob. Maybe both. Maybe merely a blackmailer or a 4chan-er. At any rate, it's hard to imagine many non-nefarious reasons for requesting personal information on a wide swath of individuals in a sensitive job. 

Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson told CBS it wasn't her office's job "to interpret what the requester's intentions might be." And that's legit. That's a key part of government transparency, in fact, that random administrators can't subjectively block public records requests. There's just no reason these women's identities should be a matter of public record in the first place. There's no reason city or county or state governments need a stripper database. 

This isn't the first time Pierce County, Washington, has faced a conundrum concerning stripper record requests. In 2013 a man who had been arrested for stalking and was serving time in jail for assault sought information on area strippers—hoping, he says, to proposition them about using his marketing expertise to become social media stars. According to Seattle-based Komo 4 News, the man, Robert Hill, received around 100 dancer files—including their names, addresses, and phone numbers—from the county before strip club workers sued to block him from receiving any more records. 

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70 responses to “Occupational Licensing of Strippers Isn't Just Unnecessary, It's Dangerous

  1. So let me get this straight. You want to force regulators and their police enforcers to pay to ogle exotic dancers like everyone else, instead of forcing their way backstage?

  2. The one thing I will say is I would like to be the one who issues the occupational.

    1. *this occupational license.

    2. I think there are t-shirts and hats that imply you have that job.

  3. My county licenses strippers as “cabaret dancers”. I stood in line with them getting fingerprinted for a pistol toting license

    1. God bless America. Besides the licensing part, anyway.

  4. Some people like nude dancers, and other people for religious or for other philosophical reasons pretend they don’t.

    fixed

    1. I was going to alter it to “Some people like nude dancers way too much […]”

  5. Vleet is the same type of kneeling tool that tries to out swingers (many of whom are professionals with careers making big bucks) by recording license plates at sex clubs or going underground on swing sites to gain access to privileged and discreet information.

    This type of person is truly malevolent in his/her intention to destroy people involved in non-traditional sexuality (which includes strippers since most strippers are treated like piles of rotten rat meat by the general public).

    1. Who is the pervert here, the people discreetly swapping wives or whatever with other consensual adults or the person hiding out in the bushes taking photos of license plates hoping to find out the sex lives of their neighbors?

      You could make an argument that the swingers or immoral by some standards. Morality aside, the guy in the bushes seems like a hell of a lot bigger deviant than the people going to the clubs.

      1. People discreetly swapping wives or whatever are interested in pleasure not the utter destruction of someone’s livelihood or social standing which is exactly what is going on here with Vleet’s request for personal information.

        All strippers have stripper pages and not a single stripper would be concerned about a pervert sitting in a dark room at home jizzing to them. He’s hurting them not one whit until he goes after their actual identities (against their will) which are not part of their occupation for very good social reasons. The lack of actual identity on the job is something of a protective social/self-defense barrier.

        The morality aspect here isn’t the issue. I don’t take issue with you rejecting alt-lifestyles on moral grounds as a religious man.

        1. You miss my point. I was doing the opposite of that. The point is that regardless of what you think of morality, the guy in the bushes is the threat and the person who is actually harming people and really more of a sexual deviant when you think about it.

          I made the statement “you could argue…” not to say they were immoral (that is not the debate here) but to say that even if you think they are, this guy is a lot worse.

          Sorry that wasn’t clear.

  6. There’s just no reason these women’s identities should be a matter of public record in the first place.

    DING DING DING DING DING!

    Winnah, winnah, chicken dinnah!

  7. What possible reason would there be to license strippers any more than licensing bartenders or any other trade you can’t do until you are 18?

    Just exactly what “quality control” is needed?

    1. Having been to a strip club before, quality control is def. needed at some of these places.

      1. This is true. But they still make money. So someone must like the quality.

        1. my def. of quality control is alcohol.

    2. Licenses are issued so they can be taken away. In this case I imagine it’s to take their license away if they get busted for prostitution or something.

      1. It’s to take their license away if they refuse to have sex with someone of the inner party on demand.

        1. That’s depressing. But probably true. Licensing schemes are just excuses for the State to have more leverage over the individual.

        2. That is, actually, what happened to some bikini baristas in SnoCo, WA, where I live.

          They weren’t licensed. But a Snohomish County sheriff’s dept. sergeant did indeed tell some of them to put out in exchange for not turning them in.

    3. Go ask your authoritarian conservative pals like Huckabee.

      1. Wassup Wiegel? Taking a break from sending letters drenched in your tears of sorrow to Wapo, begging forgiveness?

      2. I hate Huckabee, but the fundies would just ban stripping outright.

        Occupational licensing is prog prog prog all the way.

        “We can reform this activity if we just professionalize it and have the state provide some oversight.”

        Sorry, until recently (see: abortion clinics) that wasn’t even in the fundie handbook.

        1. And the only reason they are trying to regulate abortion clinics is because they can’t ban them. It really isn’t in the SOCON handbook.

          Allowing something and then regulating the shit out of it to allow the maximum amount of graft and corruption is like page 2 of the Prog handbook right after the instructions on how to properly call your opponents racist.

          1. “And the only reason they are trying to regulate abortion clinics is because they can’t ban them. It really isn’t in the SOCON handbook.”

            And because the Pro-Choice idiots failed to catch a certified ghoul with the minimal regulation that existed in PA. THAT’S ALL ON THE ABORTION INDUSTRY IN PENNSYLVANIA. They should have prosecuted Kermit Gosnell years ago, when the early complaints about his operation started coming in. For whatever reason, they didn’t. Now the Pro-Choice crowd is whining because Texas is tightening Abortion Clinic regulations. Sorry, folks, but when you drop the ball that badly, there are going to be consequences.

            1. Pretty much. Whenever an industry has a bad actor that goes undetected, the Progs are all about solving the problem with more regulation and policing, unless of course it is the abortion industry.

              It is kind of like incentives never matter and regulations never affect commerce, unless it involves abortion. Funny that.

            2. Well said. It’s like the microscope the NFL is under after the various crimes players have gotten caught committing (spousal and child abuse, murder, etc) recently which were handled ineptly by NFL brass.

      3. I know you are just a sockpuppet, but this is stupid even for you. Licensure rules for a state that went for Kerry, and Obama twice- and you want to blame conservatives?

    4. The only reason to do this is to make sure the state gets some of that untraceable cash the strippers earn in tips and don’t report on their tax returns.

      1. There is that and to let some deviant harass and feel up strippers trying to get their licenses.

    5. For slut-shaming purposes. I assume licenses are on the public record, so any stripper who gets licensed can have that fact follow her forever if she later wants to teach, get into politics, marry, etc. etc. etc.

      1. You hit the nail on the head. You know something like this will be used for political attack ads.

    6. Without a license you have no idea who is a legitimate exotic dancer! Clearly, only licensed professionals should be giving you boners for money. (//sarc)

    7. It’s because of THE SEX TRAFFICKING. Or so they say. Also because they say strippers may be engaging in prostitution. The whole thing is bullshit.

      1. OH, yeah, and probably so the state gets a cut too. The licenses cost $200 and have to be renewed yearly, I think.

        1. I think.

          That’s some mighty fine journalistic research, right there…

          #justyankingyourchain

    8. What possible reason would there be to license strippers any more than licensing bartenders or any other trade you can’t do until you are 18?

      Through licensing you gain insight into your populace. Licensing strippers has nothing to do with protecting them, quality control, or the money… it comes down to government and law enforcement having access to a list of people associated with a specific activity.

      Law enforcement particularly loves lists- they can be used for all sorts of purposes and licensing is yet one more way to get them what they need- credible identities attached to specific occupational data.

  8. Alt-alt text: “daaaaaaamn”

  9. If “we” “must” have “occupational licensing”, start with the legislators. Just because you were lucky/clever enough to get elected in no way qualifies you for office.

  10. Hey, push through legislation granting any stripper a concealed carry license and legally characterizing contacting them through their licensing information as assault.

    That should take care of a lot of the problem?…

    1. Concealed carry: Another thing that shouldn’t require a state issued permission slip.

  11. I assumed that the license system was designed to allow the state to revoke the license of any dancer who gets busted for prostitution.

    In other words, in order to enforce an unjustifiable law, the state thinks it needs to engage in an indefensible practice, that will expose young women to considerable risk. To, you know, protect them. Also for the children.

    1. And you could apply that logic to about anything. Who says waitresses or bartenders couldn’t and don’t work as hookers on the side? Clearly everyone needs to have a license to work so we can revoke it if they decide to be hookers.

      And how exactly does taking their stripper license away keep them from being hookers?

      1. Well, it stops them from being strippers any more if they get caught hooking. Which is likely to lead to them being forced to engage in prostitution full time, as opposed to part time, giving cops more opportunities to cadge freebies.

      2. By taking their license away and depriving them of means of making a legitimate income, then they’ll be less likely to engage in… wait, that doesn’t make any sense. Then again it’s government, so it doesn’t have to.

        1. Then again it’s government, so it doesn’t have to it’s forbidden to.

      3. “Clearly everyone needs to have a license to work so we can revoke it if they decide to be hookers”

        I literally lol’d.

        1. I aim to please.

          1. Dude’s startin’ his weekend out right… with an ENB lol.

  12. In other words, it’s entirely likely the person who wants this information is a crazy stalker or an anti-sex nutjob. Maybe both. Maybe merely a blackmailer or a 4chan-er. At any rate, it’s hard to imagine many non-nefarious reasons for requesting personal information on a wide swath of individuals in a sensitive job.

    Assume the worst. He undoubted wants to kidnap and dismember them all. Get him on the sex offender list and lock him up.

    1. Assume the worst.

      One of the Reason staff doing research on non-normative millennial women employees?

  13. Speaking of licensing bartenders, a friend of mine had a funny incident in NYC last night.

    The bartender, who was the only employee on premises at the time, said “fuck it” and walked out mid shift.

    Thats the kind of quality employee you get without a license.

    /sarc

    1. So the tabs and such were just sitting there? Wow. I really hope someone just jumped behind the bar and started mixing drinks and pouring beers.

      1. About 20 people there.

        I told my friend to pour himself another beer and if someone showed, then pay for it, but otherwise it was free.

        Not sure what others did. He was finishing up so didnt do anything. He said his favorite bartender showed up before he left though, so it was untended for about 30 minutes, I think.

      2. A large group (probably 15) of my friends gathered at a Chinese restaurant about an hour and a half before a concert. The Chinese place was next door to the El Rey, and we were going to see Sonic Youth. Fall 1996? So we assembled in the bar, but there was no bartender. A waitress came in and started to take drink orders. She could pour a beer. But when it came to mixed drinks… She attempted to make a martini, got frustrated, and freaked out a little bit. So, she asked me if I would like to play bartender until the bartender came in. I said, yes indeed, I would love to tend bar. As more people came into the bar, including some regulars, they wanted to know where the usual Chinese bartender was. We explained what was going on, and people were pretty amused with the situation. I was pouring drinks for over an hour, and collecting cash on the honor system. My friends and I were pretty well buzzed by showtime. We left the waitress an enormous tip.

  14. Maybe merely a blackmailer or a 4chan-er

    *sighs before placing his glasses on the table and pinching the bridge of his nose as his head begins to hurt*

    1. It’s the anonimus hacker colectiv! Don’t you know they’re all basement dwellers that hate women and worship Hitler??!

    2. Neologisms are a legitimate part of the English language tradition!

  15. Maybe the guy’s an organizer for the SEIU, or OFA.

  16. I thought the whole point of occupational licensing was to protect the public from dangerous and incompetent practitioners. One aspect that is frequently advanced as justification for occupational licensing is that customers can identify dangerous practitioners so that they can’t hide behind anonymity. So what’s wrong?

    1. You’re trolling, right?

      Please explain the threat to the public receiving a lap dance from a ‘dangerous or incompetent practitioner’ of that trade.

      1. Several thoughts come to mind …

      2. No, I was being sarcastic. Whoosh.

    2. I thought the whole point of occupational licensing was to protect the public from dangerous and incompetent practitioners.

      You thought… wrongly.

  17. There’s no way around it. ENB has good taste in butts.

    1. That isn’t her? *runs*

    2. More like Dream Girls at Fox’s does since the image is linked from their site.

  18. On the broader subject of occupational licensing and buttinskiism in general;

    I hereby suggest a ballot proposal, to wit, Occupation Licensing for Politicians. There is no exam, or licensing fee, but every time a politician runs for office, in addition to voting for or against him, the voters can mark their ballot to revoke his license. If he gets a more than 50% revoke vote, he must retire from “public service” for a minimum of five years. If he get a more than 75% revoke vote, he is given a hunting knife, and compass, and a cylinder of strike-anywhere matches, and a fifteen minute headstart.

    It wouldn’t pass, and if it did pass it wouldn’t work. But can you imagine the epidemic of leaping fantods among the political class if such a proposal got on the ballot?

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