In one sense, it was business as usual for a group of exotic dancers who protested outside Scottsdale City Hall — people stared at their figures.
On Monday though, the dancers from Scottsdale strip club Skin Cabaret wore white T-shirts with a message for the City Council: "Save Small Business."
They stationed themselves outside City Hall from 9 a.m. until the 5 p.m.
council meeting. The council was scheduled to consider tougher regulations for sexually oriented businesses, which threaten to close the city’s two topless nightclubs.
Skin Cabaret and Babe’s Cabaret have operated for years along Scottsdale Road. However, the council took a particular interest in the adult-entertainment business after Paradise Valley resident and X-rated cinema leading lady Jenna Jameson bought an interest in Babe’s earlier this year.
The dancers exercised their First Amendment right to free speech outside City Hall in shifts of eight and more throughout the day. They cheered when members of the City Council stopped by to take in the scene or when coworkers joined the demonstration.
Skin Cabaret dancer Teri Frantz said she just wanted to help council members understand that strippers are hardworking entertainers.
"I have respect and dignity," said the 41-year-old Tempe resident. She had been working as a bartender, but began stripping about a month ago when the end of a relationship changed her financial situation.
"I didn’t want someone having to support me. I needed to do what I needed to do — and I don’t feel bad about it," Frantz said.
Co-worker Melissa Marx, 28, said she put herself through the University of Phoenix and earned a master’s degree in business administration.
The Scottsdale resident said she is investing her earnings into a business that leases jet skis and motorcycles.
She has worked in office settings before, but prefers strip clubs. "I’m in an honest business where people leave feeling good, not cheated," she said.
Skin Cabaret general manager Bart Yerger argued that strip clubs are a vital part of the city’s tourism industry.
Business increases with baseball spring training, the Barrett-Jackson Classic Car Auction and the FBR Open golf tournament, among others, he said.
That may all be true. The protesters also raised a series of thought provoking questions on the backs of their T-shirts:
"What’s next? Scottsdale bars? Scottsdale restaurants? Scottsdale hotels? Scottsdale car dealers? This is the wrong message!"
Dancers taking off their clothes in nightclubs is one matter. But car dealers getting nude in glass-paneled buildings is quite another.