Free Minds & Free Markets

NYC Targeting Strip Clubs By Going After Their Liquor Licenses

The World Famous Bada BingBadaBing/Facebook

In an industrial part of the Bronx known as Hunts Point, Giuliani-era zoning restrictions helped carve out a sort of mini red light district. But recently the city has been passive-aggressively targeting the area's strip clubs by going after their liquor licenses, according to The New York Times

The move is part of a broader citywide crackdown on the strip club industry: 

In the last several years, community leaders have found increasing success petitioning the State Liquor Authority to revoke the liquor licenses of numerous strip clubs in New York and deny the applications of new clubs. The opponents cite crime, noise or other quality-of-life issues, or highlight a club owner’s lack of qualifications or possible criminal ties.

In other words, community leaders are trumping up charges and relying on insinuations in order to use the state to shut down businesses of which they disapprove. It's an old trick, but apparently still an effective one (cities tend to be all too happy to find reasons to shut down strip clubs, anyway).

Bronx strip club "Mr Wedge" Google Maps

According to the Times, some clubs have continued to operate sans alcohol—which does, as a result of other bizarre strip club regulations, have the advantage of allowing dancers to be fully nude. "But the resulting loss of customers makes clear that the presence of alcohol is far more important than the absence of pasties," the Times notes cheekily.

Alcohol prohibition also zaps a major source of revenue for both clubs and dancers (who at many clubs rely on earning a percentage of the price of drinks that customers buy them). Bronx community leaders are, of course, delighted by this. “They can’t make any money if they don’t have a liquor license,” Rafael Salamanca, the district manager of Bronx Community Board 2, gloated to the Times

Going after their liquor licenses is easier in some cases than others, however. For clubs where violence and trouble haven't manifested, the city is seeking out increasingly obscure and technical reasons to deny or revoke alcohol privileges. The club Platinum Pleasures had its liquor license revoked because it failed to surrender it while temporarily shut down for construction and for receiving $126,880 from "an unidentified interest." The New York Supreme Court upheld the State Liquor Authority's decision to revoke the license last week (the building may now become a church).  

“I feel like we’re being censored,” said Jeff Levy, the executive director of the Association of Club Executives of New York, a trade and advocacy organization for the industry. “Just because the community board or legislators don’t like this type of entertainment doesn’t mean it’s wrong.”

Community group and politicans cite increased crime and other nuisances in areas surrounding adult entertainment venues. But research on the issue has been mixed. While studies funded by city governments and values groups do tend to find correlations between strip clubs and crime, numerous studies have also shown the opposite. For instance, a 2004 Florida study found "rates of nude and semi-nude businesses" in various counties were not associated to increased property crimes, violent crimes, or instances of rape.

University of California-Santa Barbara professor Daniel Linz, who has done substantial research on the issue, says there are problems with many of the studies that do purport to show huge crime increases in areas around sexually-oriented businesses. “Those studies that are scientifically credible demonstrate either no negative secondary effects associated with adult businesses or a reversal of the presumed negative effect," he told Salon in 2012. “We’ve done crime map after crime map after crime map of many cities and there just aren’t clusters of crime around [strip clubs]. Most crime in most cities tends to occur around high schools.” 

Photo Credit: Hobo Matt/Flickr

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • robc||

    Damn socons.

    In Louisville, it was the democrats who dumbed down the strip clubs. Not that the baptists minded or anything, but they didnt waste any effort on pushing for it.

  • Doctor Whom||

    Both Team Red and Team Blue have large "God and government" bases. Especially in big cities, being a "tax, spend, and regulate" Democratic politician doesn't mean you don't kowtow to the local megachurch pastor at every opportunity.

  • Zeb||

    Anyone who assumes that SoCons are only a phenomenon of the Republican party is not paying attention very well. Many reliably democratic ethnic groups are pretty socially conservative, for example.

  • Robert||

    It really isn't socons who are responsible for closing strip clubs, it's moderates: people who really aren't ideologic at all, but view this as a matter of "common sense", "good gov't", "property values", or some such. The socons are interested in more cutting-edge stuff; strip clubs are hardly even part of the culture war.

  • Andrew S.||

    With apologies to Epi, is there a way we can wall off New York City to keep it from infesting the rest of us? Or maybe we can turn it into a prison colony like Escape From New York.

  • ||

    Epi's in Seattle. Rhywun is in NYC, I think.

  • Rhywun||

    Yup and good, I hate working in NJ anyway.

  • VicRattlehead||

    NYC is a prison colony, the prisoners are just kept blissfully ignorant of it... for now

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    Call me Snake.

  • Warren's Strapon||

    You're shorter than I expected.

  • Zeb||

    New York has been run by horrible people for a long, long time and it still manages to be arguably the cultural and economic capital of the world. It seems that it will take a lot to fuck that up. Though the new guy is giving it a good try.

  • Dances-with-Trolls||

    Glad there cracking down on this finally. Prevalent stip clubbery has turned Portland, OR into an urban wasteland.

  • Doctor Whom||

    Also, causation goes only one way. Strip clubs never end up in an area because it's an urban wasteland.

  • ||

    Well, it's not like cities intentionally zone them into high crime areas. No, sirree, bob.

  • CE||

    You should see Arlington, Texas.

  • ~Knarf Yenrab~||

    In other words, community leaders are trumping up charges and relying on insinuations in order to use the state to shut down businesses of which they disapprove. It's an old trick, but apparently still an effective one (cities tend to be all too happy to find reasons to shut down strip clubs, anyway).

    A tried-and-true method that's well known in the Bible Belt. The difference between the American right and left is generally limited to whom they target, so I can only imagine how much of a pain it must be to operate a strip club in a hyperregulatory metropolitan area where both the GOP and Democrats despise you.

  • Brett L||

    "Working class people are enjoying and/or bettering themselves. We must crush this."

    That appears to be the entirety of NYC policy now.

  • UnCivilServant||

    "My peasants are trying to escape the manor!"

  • CE||

    Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.

    HL Mencken

  • VicRattlehead||

    They pulled this shit out in Oswego county NY, now we have only 1 strip club which is constantly being threatened even though it operates on a fucking Island in the middle of a creek with no neighbors save for the trailer park. They had to put up surveillance cameras all over their establishment just to prove they weren't running a brothel after several prostitution allegations were unfounded and dismissed.
    for some fucking reason titties being shown for dollars 40+ miles away from where the legislators live is causing them to lose sleep at night or something..
    NY sucks never move here

  • sarcasmic||

    A few years ago round here some guy opened a topless coffee shop. Dude purchased the building outright and never bothered to insure it. Someone burned it down. Haven't heard from him since.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Boobs are scary.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    First they came for the titty bars, and I did not speak out because I had the internet...

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Prevalent stip clubbery has turned Portland, OR into an urban wasteland.

    Based on my fairly limited experience, the girls in Portland strip clubs are in a league by themselves. Especially this one redhead.... I'll be back.

  • sarcasmic||

    Strip clubs never did anything for me. I mean, what's the point of being surrounded by jiggly bits that you can't touch?

  • ||

    You never have that problem at the gloryhole, on the other hand.

  • sarcasmic||

    That is correct. Unlike the titty bar, there was nothing around that I wanted to touch.

  • ||

    Wait, you've been to a gloryhole???

  • sarcasmic||

    Yeah. Don't you remember? You took me there.

  • sarcasmic||

    This might jog your memory.

  • sarcasmic||


  • sarcasmic||

    The guys I've known who went to those places a lot took Jimmy Soul's advice. Maybe they went to the club to rev-up their engine, so to speak.

  • Paul.||

    State goes after abortion clinics using health and safety regulations.

    Live by the regulatory state, die by the regulatory state.

  • Ayn Random Variation||

    Every time I go to Times Square I weep a little inside. I miss the old days. All the sin is gone, and they have freaking benches and bike paths on fucking Broadway like it's some pussy Oregon City.

  • Paul.||

    You too miss the flashers in trenchcoats.

  • sarcasmic||

    It's so cold out there right now they're reduced to describing themselves.

  • Paul.||

    *golf clap*

  • Rhywun||

    All the sin is gone

    It's easy to look fondly back at some aspect of the past with rosy glasses and forget that mostly it just really sucked.

  • Bramblyspam||

    Apparently we should zone strip clubs next to high schools, in order to reduce the crime rate!

  • postalmarksman||

  • chmercier||

    (Prog persona warning)

    I for one am glad our super-parents are taking care of this blight. The terrible business owning capitalist vampires are exploiting slave women in order to entertain the evil patriarchal rich while also keeping them enslaved in their social class.

    And don't let that "study" fool you - it is coming from the anti-science crowd. Of course there's more crime next to strip clubs - evil exploiters want to further subjugate the slave women. Just think about it. The teens who are angry at this try to rise up and vent their anger and resentment at their loss of agency. It's not crime. It's happy protest movement.

  • concerned cynic||

    California banned strip joints from having liquor licences 45 years ago.


Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online