Ohio judge gives exotic-dancing service the go-ahead to sue city

Friday, March 13, 1998

CINCINNATI (AP) — The city has lost a round in its fight with an exotic-dancing service.

U.S. district court Judge Sandra Beckwith ruled on Thursday that Greyson Currence and Dallas Reed, owners of Extasy Entertainment, can proceed with their lawsuit against the city.

They sued in August, challenging an ordinance that says adult businesses must locate in areas zoned for heavy industrial use. They also challenged another ordinance creating a licensing approval and fee process for owners and employees of sexually oriented businesses.

The lawsuit, filed by attorney Scott Greenwood, alleges that the zoning ordinance represents prior restraint.

“I’m very pleased with the decision because it now means that we can move the case forward and get the sexually oriented businesses laws invalidated,” Greenwood said.

The city has argued that Extasy’s nude dancing is not constitutionally protected because it occurs in the home rather than in a public place.

The downtown business takes calls and dispatches dancers to people’s homes. The dancers perform nude, semi-nude or in bikinis.

“These are bachelor parties, bachelorette parties and birthdays. In fact, the police have been known to book these activities,” Greenwood said. “If the city can regulate activities in your own home, then none of us have the First Amendment freedoms we take for granted.”

Beckwith found the city’s argument to be without merit.

“The city’s argument backfires on itself,” she wrote. “It seems to this court that the fact that the nude dancing occurs in the privacy of the customer’s home calls for more First Amendment protection, rather than less.”

Others are monitoring the case, including attorneys for Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt, who opened a bookstore in Cincinnati that sells adult publications and, more recently, adult videos.

H. Louis Sirkin, a First Amendment attorney who is representing Flynt, said the city is on shaky ground, as seen in its arguments concerning constitutional protections at home.

“It’s just silliness,” he said. “It goes to really show how they have this feeling that they can do whatever they want to do and say whatever they want to say.”