The West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce convened a meeting today of gay bar owners with representatives of the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control to address what the bar owners see as confusing enforcement by ABC of regulations barring lewd conduct in bars.
In addition to the ABC representatives, the meeting was attended by deputies of WeHo City Council members John D’Amico, John Duran and Jeffrey Prang and employees engaged in code compliance and economic development. Also attending was a representative of state Assemblymember Richard Bloom, whose 50th assembly district includes West Hollywood.
Genevieve Morrill, president of the chamber, said the bar owners present, all of whom have go go dancers at their establishments, expressed concerns about the process the ABC uses to alert them to violations of its regulations. Morrill said in one instance a bar owner wasn’t notified until eight months after the alleged violation. Penalties can include closing a bar for 30 days, which has a significant impact on its revenue, or revoking its liquor license, which effectively puts it out of business. In addition ABC can levy fines.
Morrill said questions also were raised about the relevance of ABC’s lewd conduct regulations, which were written 43 years ago. She noted that the regulations bar a patron from touching a topless female dancer but also bar touching a topless male dancer. She said the chamber’s goal is to get clarity from ABC about its process for notification of violations and, eventually, to work with other cities to consider changes to the lewd conduct regulations that reflect current moral standards.
Sexual conduct at West Hollywood gay bars has been a major issue this year, with several facing lawsuits by employees alleging that they allowed patrons to engage in lewd conduct with them. One of those bars, Mickys, which is located at 8857 Santa Monica Blvd. at Larrabee, also has been fined $23,000 in recent years by ABC for actions “contrary to public welfare or morals.”
Matthew Krupnick, a lawyer who filed a suit against West Hollywood Boys Town Inc (W.H.B.T Inc.), the owner of Micky’s, provided WEHOville in May with photos of strippers at Mickys performing in the nude, displaying their penises and masturbating in front of patrons. Other photos showed a stripper walking around with semen on his face and chest, a patron using his finger to penetrate a stripper’s anus, a ring toss game involving a man’s penis and employees pouring shots of liquor down a stripper’s back while a patron licked it from the stripper’s buttocks.
In the suit filed against Kahuna Restaurant Group, owner of Fiesta Cantina, Jordan Shannon, a former bartender, alleged that Michael Bazera, one of the Kahuna owners, sexually harassed him. Kahuna has been fined $9,000 for various violations of ABC regulations.
Krupnick, who is gay, defended the lawsuits, saying “gay establishments should be held to the same level of accountability as any other establishment. Any company that breaks the law with regards to their employees has got to be held accountable.”
The lawsuits, however, stirred outrage in West Hollywood’s gay community, with many gay residents posting on WEHOville.com that such sexual behavior should be accepted at gay bars.
David Sakamoto, staff counsel for ABC’s Southern District, which includes West Hollywood, refused to discuss the meeting at which his representative were present.
As I said before, I’ve never been to Mickey’s, but what I fear is that WeHo is about to be made to be about as bland as Encino. I have been to gay clubs in New Orleans, Atlanta, Dallas, San Juan and Montreal, and what is described in this article that goes on at Mickey’s is standard fare at bars in those cities. How is it that those cities can handle this issue, and we can’t? I believe in freedom; the freedom for businesses to operate in the way they choose, and in the freedom to choose not to participate… Read more »
Voyeur used to feature topless dancers and hell the City is home to “the Body Shop” and many other full on straight nude parlors.
Actually, at Miss Kitty’s Parlour (it was on S.M. Blvd by Wilcox) I DID see topless women walking around. They were on staff, in costumes, and did have pasties over the nips. There were stage shows behind a shadow curtain that were full on nude. There was naked Twister game played by customers. They had contests on the stage that occasionally included “best dick” in which customers competed. They had a porno room (several screens playing porno) in which there was ALL kinds of sex going on. At their Mardi Gras parties, …… well, ….. unbelievable! The beginning of the… Read more »
Equal rights = equal rules. Some of us that did not want to be part of their club or have to live by their rules. Most of which were written generations ago founded in puritan obsession of sex between adults for pleasure. We rate movies for sexual content why not bars/clubs?
Did you ever make it to Miss Kitty’s Parlour on a Friday night? It’s gone, apparently because of dwindling interest, but they had quite a long run, and Mickey’s has nothing on what they had going on there.
I didn’t say they were walking around topless. In fact, I’ve never seen any woman walking around topless at a club. I said I had seen bare breasts, but it was because I was in the right place at the right time to see it. I wasn’t describing a public orgy. I was talking about discreet playing around. You’re reading an awful lot into what I wrote that wasn’t there.
Please. I’ve never seen a gogo dancer at a straight club walking around with semen on their face. That’s unsanitary and not acceptable in any place that serves food and beverages. Get a grip guys. @BlueEyedBoy, I’d really like to know which straight club you were in that featured “lots” of girls walking around topless. That sounds like nonsense a gay guy who’s never been to straight club or bar would float. In thirteen years of going to straight bars all over the city I’ve never seen anything close — do you actually know anything about girls? Or are you… Read more »
I think the conduct inside the bars should be no business of the ABC. Take the issue out of their hands and devolve it to the City Council
Snarkygal, have you been to some of these straight clubs?! I don’t want to name them, because I don’t want to get them in trouble, but I’ve seen EXACTLY the same behavior in many of them that is described in this article that happens at Mickey’s. That’s why I was so surprised when I read the article that this was a problem. At one of these straight clubs just a few months ago, some girls were offering sexual favors to guys if those guys would grope other guys. These were girls who are apparently turned on by boy-on-boy action. I… Read more »
Various parties involved on different sides of these ‘issues’ and exactly the same type of shady and slimy characters: The innocents are just as dirty as the guilty; it;s all varyinbg shades of black.
I’d like to thank Genevieve Morril & WeHoVille.com for getting accurate information out there to the Gay Bars who have become targets for the ABC. Community standards should be set & policed by the community, not the state of CA.
Wehoville, what the hell does the ABC Gogo crackdown have to do with a collection of sexual harassment lawsuits brought on by some nasty queen? I don’t get the relevance? Personally, I love Gogo boys and I don’t think that the ABC should have anything to do with bar conduct like groping or tipping or any other bar behavior for that matter. What’s next? They start telling bars what nights they should promote.