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Nudity issue participants are clothed in absurdity

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© St. Petersburg Times,
published June 10, 2001

If Pasco deputies in the war against getting naked for money ever have flashbacks, it won't be because they did the flashing, or so says a detective on the front lines.

Yet another salvo has been fired in the decades-long war in Pasco County between people who like to pay to see other people naked, and people who don't want them to, or at least want them to do it somewhere away from them.

The latest move, undercover (so to speak) deputies say, is for the employees in lingerie modeling studios to ask customers to drop their pants before the models drop anything that might get them in trouble.

Maybe they're onto something.

"May I see your driver's license and registration please, sir?"

"Sure officer, would you mind dropping your pants -- wow, nice Speedo!"

If they ever stop trying to regulate adult businesses, I'm going to be losing a lot of material.

A little history here.

Pasco had at least one full-nudity and two topless joints when I moved here in 1973. The full-nudity place was a combination strip joint and pancake house where the off-duty cops sometimes outnumbered the other customers.

The owner of that establishment moved to Peru to dig in Inca ruins after he became convinced he had discovered the Inca secret of the universe while building a sewage treatment plant for a trailer park.

After that we had Jugs'N'Suds, two topless hamburger stands which advertised that they would have topless curb service and then canceled the curb service after they got a million bucks or so in free publicity. I spent a substantial portion of two marriages trying to persuade wives that they really did have good hamburgers and that was the only reason some of my colleagues and I ever frequented the places.

And, about that time, then-Sheriff John Short put deputy Scott Phillips under-out-of-cover in Lake Como, a nudist facility, to ferret out people who were sharing minuscule amounts of marijuana with each other. Short then invited every media outlet in the area for the resulting raid, which turned up one marijuana plant and some vitamin-C capsules.

And the war still rages on.

They tried to outlaw liquor sales in nude bars; the owners said they would open juice bars. And they had hours-long arguments in court over what a breast is and over how what gauge of mesh on a net bra would impart the degree of opaqueness acceptable to horny customers and uptight lawmakers at the same time.

They raided places, tried people on minor charges and, as you can see, had little success in coming up with workable ordinances.

The "You show me yours, I'll show you mine," trick has been around a while. One deputy six years ago tried using an artificial penis to fool a model into thinking he was exposing himself. The jury acquitted the model.

And that particular stunt works both ways. A Clearwater cop friend of mine says that hookers there will routinely pull up their shirts when they solicit business, to show nervous prospective customers that they are not police officers wired for sound.

I'm not entirely unsympathetic to the Hudson residents who would rather see the business move somewhere else, an industrial park for instance. Frankly, I think the industrial park idea (some adult businesses already have moved to such locations) isn't a bad one and see nothing wrong with forming adult entertainment zones.

Of course, when one business did move into such a location, the vigilantes began picketing and writing down license numbers of customers.

A little calmness on both sides wouldn't hurt.

Be patient. We'll get it solved.

* * *

On the brighter side: Using one of his token example families while speaking in Tampa the other day, Dubya referred to a married couple saying, and I quote, "He's a hardworking man, and so is she."

Does anti-same-sex-marriage activist David Caton know about this couple?

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