Local leaders told strip clubs are way out of line

Memphis strip clubs may be among the most vulgar in the country. Now some say the Bluff City has a reputation of being the Sex City.

At a special meeting Thursday, some city and county leaders got a sneak peek at an ongoing review of Memphis area strip clubs. Consultants told them that Memphis has some of the worst activity going on at strip clubs in the country.

"This is so disturbing." Shelby County Commissioner Joyce Avery is talking about a new study in the works. She and others heard the first of it this week.

"It was very graphic," she says, "and quite frankly, it was a little embarrassing to me to be sitting around a table with people i've known for several years and... It was just shocking."

Consultants have been going into the clubs undercover.
They say 25-30% of exotic dancers are taking it all off, breaking the law and that the contact between the dancers and the customers is out of control.

"Detroit would probably be the most comparable city that we've seen. And the extent of content between performers and customers in Memphis was far greater," says Eric Kelly of Duncan Planning.

Avery says, "They told us that Shelby County or Memphis was getting a reputation as being the sex city. Around the country? Around the country."

Consultant Eric Kelly says police are frustrated. They fine the clubs. The clubs pay the fines. It becomes the cost of doing business.

"The problem is that there are so many illicit activities going on there and they're so laxly regulated," says County Commissioner Julian Bolton.

Bolton says local leaders will spend the summer writing new laws to clean up the city's sexually oriented businesses.

These consultants will be wrapping up their report and producing their full presentation in July. It will include a recommendation for new legislation to better regulate these clubs.