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Council alarmed by exotic striptease

Savannah, Azure and other strippers from a Seattle talent agency may be dancing their way into controversy when they appear at a downtown Oak Harbor bar and restaurant next month.

Oak Harbor City Council members recently discussed their concerns about goings-on at P.W. Murphy’s. As a result, the city attorney is researching ways in which the city can more strictly regulate sexually oriented entertainment.

P.W. Murphy’s raised eyebrows among city leaders with their plans to host “Ultimate Dreamgirls exotic striptease” Sept. 14.

Matt Patton, manager at the establishment, said he’s researched the city code in regard to stripping and the dancers will comply. He said the “exotic striptease” will not include any actual nudity, which is prohibited under the bar’s cabaret license.

Friday, Patton was surprised to hear that city officials had concerns about the bar’s activities.

“I haven’t heard any complaints,” he said. “Nothing.”

Capt. Rick Wallace with the Oak Harbor Police said P.W. Murphy’s managers approached him Friday afternoon to ask whether their plans for a striptease show breaks city regulations.

“Their description of using pasties, in my opinion, would violate the city code,” he said, “since there would be substantial exposure of female breasts.”

The city codes states that “it is deemed to be against the peace, health or welfare of the city of Oak Harbor for any cabaret owner, manager or operator to knowingly permit or cause any female entertainer, waitress or other female employee to appear in any cabaret with one or more breasts fully or substantially exposed to public view or appear in a nude condition.”

The exotic striptease, if it occurs, will not be the first time that sexually-oriented entertainment has occurred at P.W. Murphy’s. A sign in front of the bar advertises wet T-shirt contests, along with a mechanical bull, each Wednesday night.

Also, Patton said a “male revue” of hunky exotic dancers earlier this year, as they have been doing for years.

It was popular, to say the least. “We were full,” he said. “Close to capacity.”

City Attorney Phil Bleyhl said he’s taking the opportunity, with the concern over P.W. Murphy’s, to take a broad look at the city’s regulations concerning adult entertainment. Years ago, the city placed a moratorium on sexually-oriented businesses — such as actual strip clubs or dirty book stores — within the city. But the moratorium has long since expired.

Bleyhl said a community cannot altogether ban topless bars or other sexually-oriented businesses since they are protected under state law. A community can, however, limit the zoning of places such businesses can locate.

Bleyhl suggested that industrial zones would be a good fit — such as the Goldie Road area — but the council will make the final decisions.

In addition to zoning, the council can also limit types of adult entertainment with business licenses or even criminal obscenity regulations.

In regard to P.W. Murphy’s, Bleyhl said he’s “looking at more intense regulations.” He said the council could choose to limit the sorts of activities that go on at bars, or maybe just in the Pioneer Way area that the council has targeted for revitalization.

“The council may want to look at the scope and nature of the cabaret ordinance,” he said.

Bleyhl said the council may choose to discuss the issue at the Sept. 6 meeting.

Meanwhile, Patton said the exotic striptease may or may not be a one-time event, depending on how popular the dancers are.

According to the advertisement for the event, the dancers are presented by westrip.com, a nationwide stripper agency that also goes by the name “Strippers 101.” The company mainly hires out strippers for private events, like bachelor parties, to many communities, including Oak Harbor (but not Coupeville).

The company’s Web site states that their “female entertainers are made up of some of the region’s top club dancers, models and adult film stars.”

You can reach Jessie Stensland at jstensland@whidbeynewstimes.com or 675-6611.

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