On Strip Measure, the Sides Are Four Feet Apart

Déjà Vu is among the clubs backing a referendum to reject a Seattle ordinance that would effectively ban lap dances.
Déjà Vu is among the clubs backing a referendum to reject a Seattle ordinance that would effectively ban lap dances. (By Blaine Harden -- The Washington Post)

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By Blaine Harden
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 7, 2006

SEATTLE -- Voters here Tuesday have an opportunity rare in a democratic society:

To decide in a referendum whether lonely guys can continue to stuff $20 bills in the G-strings of hot young women.

One such woman, whose nom de lap dance is Asia, performs six nights a week at Déjà Vu, a downtown club across the street from the city's famous Pike Place Market, where during daylight hours burly men in rubber pants toss around salmon to entertain tourists.

Asia comes to work after the salmon have been packed away and entertains without benefit of pants. She is 22 years old, with eight-inch stiletto heels, sparkly false eyelashes and a tanning-parlor tan (it being cold, dark and wet this time of year in Seattle).

She makes about $48,000 a year, performing 20 or so lap dances a night for software writers, college kids and the occasional fisherman. It is a good living, she says, for a single mom with a 4-year-old daughter.

Like many of her fellow dancers, though, Asia is planning to leave town, if voters endorse a city ordinance that would bleach much of the lust and most of the lucre out of lap dancing.

Its provisions include:

· The four-foot rule. A performer and her patron must stay at least four feet apart.

· The library rule. Lights must be turned up to the brightness of a typical office.

· The cash-in-a-cup rule. A patron cannot give money directly to a dancer or wiggle it into her underwear.

These rules, if approved by voters, come on top of a daunting matrix of strip-club regulations. Among other things, they forbid the drinking of alcohol and the smoking of tobacco and allow strippers to be nude only when they are on a stage that is six feet away from patrons and 18 inches high.

"We already have enough rules," said Asia, her sparkly eyelashes flaring in the club's black light. "The four-foot rule will mean I can't make a living. Who is going to pay $20 to stand four feet away and watch me dance? No one."

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© 2006 The Washington Post Company

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