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Lap-dancing ban concept wins council approval

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LOS ANGELES, California (Reuters) -- The Los Angeles City Council moved a step closer Wednesday to a ban on lap dancing, as demurely dressed strippers opposed to the measure clashed in public with civic leaders who favor it.

The council agreed in concept with an ordinance that would require dancers at the city's strip clubs to stay at least 6 feet away from patrons, but did not actually pass the proposal.

Instead, the measure was sent to two committees for more study and could come back to the full council in 30 days.

Although the council embraced the measure in principle, attorney John Weston, who represents adult clubs, called Wednesday's action "a victory for due process and good government."

Opponents of the measure argued it is fraught with constitutional problems and would devastate an industry that employs thousands of people.

But residents have complained that strip clubs have become breeding grounds for prostitution, furtive sex acts, excessive noise and streets littered with trash and condoms in areas near their homes.

The ordinance would require erotic dancers to perform on elevated platforms or stages at least 30 inches above the audience and prohibit touching of any kind between performers and customers. It also would make permits for operating an adult entertainment club subject to annual renewal by the city's police commission.

Among those testifying against the measure were two conservatively dressed women who said their livelihood as strippers was threatened.

"All my pursuits have been funded by dancing," said Bambi Ann Hazard, who described herself as an aspiring actress who belongs to the Screen Actors Guild. "There are thousands of women employed by this industry. ... Most of these women are single mothers with little kids. This is the only way they have to put food on the table."

But advocates of the lap-dancing ban denied they were out to shut down the adult entertainment industry. Said one: "Gyspy Rose Lee was the most famous stripper and she stayed far away from her customers."

Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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