By Hilary White

HAMBURG, Iowa, August 7, 2008 ( – Nude dancing in strip clubs is “artistic” even when performed by an under age girl, according to an Iowa judge in a ruling issued late last month. Fremont County Judge Timothy O’Grady called the strip club a “theatre” and agreed with the club owner who argued that the state’s indecency law does not apply to “theater, concert hall, art center, museum, or similar establishments.”

Hamburg, Iowa, a town of 1,200 just across the Missouri River from Nebraska, has one strip club. After the 17-year-old niece of the local Sherriff, Steven MacDonald, did a nude dance at the club, the owner, Clarence Judy, was charged with violating Iowa’s public indecent exposure law.

In a one-day trial on July 17, Judy’s lawyer said, “Dance has been considered one of the arts, as is sculpture, painting and anything else like that. What Clarence has is a club where people can come and perform.”

Fremont County Attorney Margaret Johnson responded that the case was straightforward: an underage girl danced naked at the club, which is illegal.

“Are you saying that minors can’t be protected? Can a group of 12-year-olds come down and go in and dance nude and it’s OK? I don’t think that’s what the Legislature had in mind when it made those additional provisions,” Johnson said.

The judge ruled, however, that prosecutors failed to prove that the strip club does not qualify as a theatre.

“Given the First Amendment implications of a statute that may limit expression, it is not the role of the Court to judge the taste or quality of the art represented at Shotgun Geniez when determining whether or not it is a theater,” he said.

The club has a “raised stage with specialized lighting” and “chairs and tables arranged for patrons to observe the stage presentations,” as well as “a separate dressing area” for “performers.”

“Shotgun Geniez is a facility for presentation of stage performances, and meets the definition of theatre,” he said.

This recent ruling serves as further evidence of the increasing mainstream acceptance of sexual “dancing.” Indeed, it is no longer unusual to find ads on the internet, in newspapers and magazines in Britain and North America offering lessons in lewd sexual dancing for housewives and young working women as an alternative to fitness classes.

Dance studios that offer classes in Tango, wedding and ballroom dancing now routinely offer pole dancing and strip dancing classes. A dance studio in Las Vegas advertises its pole dancing classes saying, “Strip away your inhibitions to a whole new FIT you! Learn new exotic dance moves on the floor to work up an incredible sweat and top it off with basic pole movements, tricks, and combinations for a work out you’ll have fun with.”