No tease: City wins court battle to reduce adult businesses

10 adult clubs in the city could face closure following appellate court decision

Inside Scores NYC (Credit: Scores)
Inside Scores NYC (Credit: Scores)

Two decades after Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s administration began a crackdown on smut, the city won a hard-fought court battle on Tuesday that will sharply reduce the number of strip clubs and other adult businesses.

New York’s Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the city in a decision that prevents strip clubs and adult business from operating within 500 feet of churches, schools and parks. Five of six appellate court judges ruled in favor of the ban, Crain’s reported.

A spokesman for the city’s Law Department praised the decision, saying it would “stem the widespread circumvention of zoning regulations intended to protect our quality of life.”

However, Erica Dubno, an attorney representing the adult industry, said her clients are considering whether to bring the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. They also may seek a stay of enforcement.

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In the 1990s, Dubno and the late free speech activist and lawyer Herald Price Fahringer won a court decision creating the so-called 60/40 rule, which allowed businesses to stay open if they restricted the amount of floor space devoted to adult material to 40 percent.

Several longtime clubs — Rick’s Caberet, Scores and the Hustler Club — won’t be impacted because they already possess special adult entertainment licenses. Only about eight clubs have the license, meaning around 10 clubs now face closure, according to Ed Anakar of Rick’s, which has three clubs in Manhattan. “Over the years we had the opportunity to open clubs that would operate under the 60/40 rule but we refrained because there has long been uncertainty [over] whether they would eventually be banned,” he said.

Now, clubs with licenses are poised to clean up, Anakar added. “If you have a market where there are 20 businesses and half go away, that’s going to be a boost for the remaining participants.”

Last month, Crain’s reported that the three buildings owned by Manhattan’s porno king, Richard Basciano, might now be in play following his death.

In 2013, The Real Deal found that a city law aimed at curbing erotic massage parlors mostly burdens health clubs. [Crain’s]E.B. Solomont