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Cheetah's in Kearny Mesa thrives with lap dancing

Toni Atkins and Jim Madaffer get money from their allies

Cheetahs
Cheetahs

The Reverend Dr. Ted McIlvenna settles his massive frame into a large, overstuffed couch and invites a visitor to join him for a discussion about nude dancing, morality, the First Amendment, and political corruption in San Diego. The way he describes it, the city is ground zero in a national battle between a rabid right-wing fundamentalist Christian anti-nude dancing group from the Midwest and McIlvenna, a gruff, 70-something veteran of the sexual revolution who runs a San Francisco sexology school and is the proud owner of what is reputed to be the largest collection of erotica, pornography, and sex research in the world.

A little more than a year ago, the San Diego City Council passed a new law banning lap dancing and various other forms of what McIlvenna considers artistic expression at the city's strip clubs. Since then, those in the local nude-dancing industry say, business has plunged sharply at many of the clubs, with one prominent exception: Cheetahs, a flashy strip joint in Kearny Mesa, its parking lot regularly packed with Jaguars, Cadillacs, Corvettes, and Porsches. Cheetahs appears to have prospered while other clubs claim to be struggling. And that, some say, raises questions about whether something is rotten at city hall.

McIlvenna, a retired Methodist minister, runs the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality. He says he was invited down to San Diego to study the strip club scene here by one of his board members, Harry Mohney. It is not exactly an accident that Mohney, who lives in a mansion up the coast in Carlsbad near La Costa resort, happens to be one of the key figures in the national Deja Vu chain, which is involved in five San Diego County strip joints and many others around the country. Mohney, called the Howard Hughes of the American porn scene by some industry insiders, has provided a well-appointed office for McIlvenna's study in Deja Vu's regional headquarters on the second story of a former bank building at the corner of Midway and Rosecrans. The rich brown carpet and heavy drapes are left over from the bankers' days; the walls are decorated with X-rated movie posters from the 1970s, on loan from McIlvenna's personal stash.

Ted McIlvenna

McIlvenna's school offers a master's in "public health in sexology," and he has recruited a corps of eager young students, many of them women, from the Bay Area to come to San Diego to study what he considers the peculiarly repressive habits of the locals, especially when it comes to the practice of striptease and the erotic arts. On a recent visit to check up on the study's progress, McIlvenna, a heavyset, grandfatherly type whose appearance belies his role as the inventor of Erogel, a sexual lubricant designed to protect against HIV, and a potent aphrodisiac he calls Vigorex Forte, recounts the string of obstacles he says have been placed in his way by city hall.

"I began to have serious questions about selective enforcement right from the moment I got here," McIlvenna says. "I wrote a letter to the city attorney's office and asked them if they would do a dialogue about the study. They said they didn't want to dialogue with us. A few days later, I got a call from this 'morality' group in the Midwest asking what I was doing here. There's something very, very strange going on."

At first, McIlvenna says, he wanted to start a "studio" in some of the Deja Vu clubs here, where dancers could practice their art and the students could conduct their research without being hassled by the vice squad. That way, he says, vice would be required to park their guns at the door before entering the establishment and wouldn't jeopardize his students' safety. "There are exemptions in the law for schools running studios in the clubs, but the police said no. Wouldn't even discuss it. Said, 'Sue us if you don't like it.' They refuse to honor the law unless a judge tells them to. That was all politically motivated. It just fed my suspicions about what has transpired behind closed doors in this fair city."

Instead of the studio, McIlvenna switched gears and instructed his students to discreetly conduct sex and lifestyle surveys among the dancers and their customers. "I decided to put the interns into those establishments." They fanned out with clipboards and long survey forms with questions such as, 'Counting your partner, with how many people of the same sex have you had sexual contact?' and 'During the past year, how often have you masturbated to orgasm?'

"We've been doing extensive sex profiles on all the dancers and in-depth studies of the patrons. At no point in any of this has Harry Mohney tried to influence us, by the way," says McIlvenna. "It was a lot more complicated than we thought it would be. The city didn't want anything to do with the study; they tried to block us at every turn. They didn't want us to find out the truth, that there isn't any prostitution problem, that these clubs don't disrupt neighborhoods. I suddenly understood that there might be selective enforcement going on, and it bothers me terribly."

Even more disturbing to McIlvenna, he says, is what he sees as the frightened attitude of local dancers and their reluctance to confront the city fathers whom he says are out to "destroy their freedom." "I asked 'em why they hadn't protested. I suggested they hang tea bags on their breasts and jump into Mission Bay, like the Boston Tea Party. They're too afraid. And nobody in the colleges and universities around here is interested in the welfare of the girls, either. My friend, this indeed is a very sorry situation for the First Amendment. I tell you, I'm quite ready to go to the U.S. Civil Rights commission. That's what I'm going to do. These poor girls are considered the lowest on the totem pole; just girls who take their clothes off for money. It's outrageous."

Martie Troy

Martie Troy, a 40-year-old woman originally from Florida, has been working as one of McIlvenna's interns, interviewing dancers and compiling elaborate demographic information on each. She is working toward a master's degree in sexology and has hopes of eventually becoming a radio talk-show host like Dr. Ruth. "College girls are more sophisticated about sex than many of the girls dancing in the clubs," she observes. "We couldn't find any prostitution at all. With this crackdown by the city here, they can't make a decent living anymore. It's very sad. They are very politically naïve, and most of them don't want to hassle with the city. They are also private people and don't always want it known by the world that they dance for a living, so it is very easy for the city to take advantage of them. What these girls do for a living is the most harmless thing on earth."

McIlvenna's nemesis, and one of the main reasons for his presence in San Diego, is the Cincinnati-based National Coalition for the Protection of Children & Families, formerly known as the National Coalition Against Pornography. Founded in 1983 by the Reverend Jerry Kirk, a Presbyterian minister, the organization has raised millions of dollars in an effort to combat pornography. Among its early battles was an effort ten years ago to convict the director of the Cincinnati Contemporary Art Center for obscenity in connection with an exhibition the museum had staged of allegedly pornographic, homoerotic, and sadomasochistic photographs taken by the late gay artist Robert Mapplethorpe. A jury found the director not guilty on all counts, but the battle put Kirk's group on the map and greatly increased its fundraising clout. By 2000, the coalition was taking in $2.6 million in contributions each year.

In 1996, the coalition set up what it calls its "Model Cities of America" program, targeting nine cities, including Atlanta, El Paso, Kansas City, Long Island, Memphis, Oklahoma City, Pittsburgh, Richmond, as well as San Diego. The aim of the project, according to the group's website, is to "increase public awareness of the harm and availability of pornography. This includes, but is not limited to, sexually oriented businesses such as strip clubs and adult bookstores." The group also says it seeks to "develop appropriate zoning ordinances where they do not exist and maintain and enforce existing laws."

By 1998, the national coalition had established Citizens for Community Values, San Diego, a separate nonprofit with a board of local directors including its chairman, Bishop George McKinney, and Kent Peters, director of the Office of Social Ministry for the Catholic Diocese of San Diego. According to the group's 2000 tax return, it collected about $164,000 in donations in 1999, $50,000 of that from a single donor, whose identity was not disclosed. The group did not waste time advancing its agenda.

In a September 1999 interview with Reader contributor Ky Plaskon, Darcy Taylor, the model cities program's national director, made it clear that San Diego's main attraction as a regional nerve center for the anti-dirty dancing group was City Attorney Casey Gwinn, who stood ready to push through tough new strip-club regulations. "We look for a number of things, one being the legal climate in terms of the district attorney or the city attorney and whether or not there is a willingness to help curb the proliferation of pornography in a city," Taylor said. "We brought in $90,000 worth of seed money -- at least we did in San Diego, anyway -- so we are looking to make sure that our investment yields some returns in regard to the city's willingness to look at the issue."

Gwinn, the son of a Congregational minister, is a self-professed born-again Christian who preaches sermons at local evangelical churches. "One of my jobs as city attorney is to sit at city council meetings on Mondays and Tuesdays with the mayor and council and the public as we go through the whole docket for city business," he told the congregation of the Mission Valley Christian Fellowship last fall, not long after the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. "It is an assignment that I do not particularly enjoy. One of the things that I enjoy least about that assignment is what we call 'public comment.'

"That's where anybody that wants to say anything about anything gets to come and have three minutes. We run anywhere between 15 and 30 people during public comment. These are items that are not on the agenda for that day, and everybody just gets to come and do their thing. Do you know that on the Monday after September 11, the following week, there were no speakers during public comment but one who spoke the name of Jesus Christ! One!"

The congregation broke into cheers and applause as Gwinn continued. "And I thought to myself, this is a wonderful thing! Amidst all the tragedy and all the pain and all the destruction and sorrow of this, the people in the public-comment section of city council finally get it; that there are very few things that really matter in the context of eternity. And all their little petty gripes and grievances really aren't that significant. I was so excited!"

There were more cheers and applause, and Gwinn paused briefly, then resumed. "Until Tuesday morning a day later, when we had 25 speakers yet again, and just like that, in a matter of hours, they were back focused on their petty gripes all over again. And we listened to speaker after speaker after speaker. We listened to a woman who complained in a rage because she had not gotten notice of a public meeting in the district where she lived -- a meeting that happened two days after the terrorist attacks in New York and Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. I got up and walked out. I couldn't stand it! I couldn't stand to listen to her!

"I'm not here today, though, as the city attorney," he went on. "I'm just here as a follower of Jesus. I'm not going to talk about really anything related to city government, because it really doesn't matter in the context of eternity.

"In 1995 I had the opportunity to hear Carl Sagan at the Insights conference here in San Diego. Carl Sagan, the scientist, astronomer, revered man in many circles, who devoted most of his life to proving that God did not exist. And in 1995, Carl Sagan was at the Insights conference here in San Diego, sponsored by the San Diego Chamber of Commerce and the San Diego Union-Tribune. And he was dying of cancer, he was terminal, he would not recover.

"And I sat in the audience and I took these notes of his words. And these were his exact words. Quote: 'There is not a hint that help will come from someplace else to save us from ourselves. We alone are the saviors of our own destiny.' Unquote."

There was a long, silent pause and then Gwinn said: "He was without question the most eloquent scientist and philosopher on the road to Hell that I have ever heard!"

Thunderous applause filled the hall. Later in the sermon, Gwinn added: "We won't allow anything to cause finger-pointing that would divide the country at a time when we have to be unified. We stand together in all that. But it doesn't mean that we compromise what we believe. And it doesn't mean that we say, as some say, all faiths are basically the same and all roads lead to the top of the mountain, and everything is going to work out for everybody that's sincere. I gotta tell ya, it's not in this book. You won't find a line that says everybody that really tries hard and really tries to do what's right, and everybody that's really sincere about what they believe, they're going to spend eternity with the God that created them. It doesn't say that in the Bible. Jesus never said it.

"The way that we experience that everlasting life is to accept a personal relationship with Jesus and to say I claim him as my way to eternal life. There's no other way, there's just no other way to get there.... Our faith cannot be in the church. The Catholic Church, the Protestant church never saved a soul. Jesus saves souls, not the church."

It was with this kind of moral and religious certitude and evangelical fervor that Gwinn and his allies at Citizens for Community Values set out to exorcise the demon of nude dancing from San Diego's soul. All through the winter, summer, and fall of 2000, they lobbied the city council to adopt tough new restrictions on the city's strip clubs. The chief aim was to restrict nude dancers from approaching closer than within six feet of their customers. In addition, the entertainers, whether nude or not, would be banned from touching any patron. In effect, that meant that "Lap dances," in which customers sit on couches or overstuffed chairs while dancers hover above them, and which had heretofore been legal as long as the dancers wore clothing, were to be forbidden. To make dancing even less lucrative for the performers, Gwinn also wanted to ban direct tipping of dancers.

As the proposed ordinance made its way through city hall, progress reports appeared on the Citizens for Community Values website, each noting Gwinn's special role in helping the cause. "On May 3, updates to the Adult Entertainment ordinances were presented to the San Diego City Council's Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee," said one. "The City Attorney's Office and the San Diego Police Department recommended further updates including leaving the doors off peep-show booths.

"City Attorney Casey Gwinn predicts that negative 'secondary effects,' such as an increase in crime, could result if the ordinance to leave the doors on is adopted. This will be voted on by the full city council soon. You are urged to write or call your councilmember to express your concerns."

A few months later, the website warned that the proposed ordinance was in danger of being watered down: "The next committee debate held August 2, focused on ordinance updates regarding no touching and no direct tipping of nude dancers. The divided PS&NS committee chose to take the no-direct-tipping language completely out of the ordinance update, ignoring the recommendations of the SDPD and the city attorney before sending it onto the full council. Direct tipping subjects the dancers to increased exploitation through sequential seduction."

The see-saw battle over the new regulations spawned a lobbying war between the anti-strip-club group, which hired lobbyist Marc Wolfsheimer to bring its case directly to city councilmembers in a series of private meetings, and the California Cabaret Association, representing the strip clubs, which hired Wolfsheimer's father Louis and his partner Jim Milch, to lobby on its behalf. The elder Wolfsheimer and Milch, blue-blood Republicans and the deans of the San Diego lobbying corps, have been plying their trade in the corridors of city hall for many years, even before their friend, ex-governor Pete Wilson, was elected mayor of the city in 1971.

But their best efforts proved to be no match for the fundamentalists, who consistently outflanked them by waging a largely below-the-radar letter-writing campaign to individual councilmembers. For their part, the strip-club owners sought to combat the Christian influence by funneling thousands of dollars to the campaigns of ambitious city council aides seeking to succeed their bosses.

During the summer and fall of 2000, Toni Atkins and Jim Madaffer, two city council aides who were running to replace their bosses, collected sizable contributions from many donors with strip-club connections, including employees and dancers at Cheetahs. A year later, Ralph Inzunza and Charles Lewis, two other council aides seeking to succeed their bosses, also received substantial financial support from employees of Cheetahs. Atkins, Madaffer, and Inzunza were subsequently elected to the council. Lewis faces a run-off in the fall.

"I go to all our people myself," notes Peter Luster, a management consultant for the Deja Vu chain, which opposed the new law. "I give campaign contributions. My managers, too. I have had some entertainers also give, I think. I put a notice up, or else I'll just tell the manager we'll have a meeting. If I have somebody who is running for office or I know somebody who is in office that is open-minded to our business -- and not only our business but the First Amendment, in general -- I like to see them there. And anybody that wants to contribute, I let them know that we endorse this particular person. We've never been able to drum up the funds that Cheetahs has, but we have made contributions."

And though the candidates eagerly accepted the strip-club money, they appeared reluctant to publicly back their benefactors. In November 2000, the council gave Gwinn and the anti-stripping lobby most of what it wanted except the no-tip rule. "The San Diego City Council completed the process of updating the police-regulated business ordinances that include Adult Entertainment," reported the Citizens for Community Values website. "With community support for strict enforcement, these will significantly reduce the criminal activity associated with the sexually oriented businesses in our community." Especially important, the group said, was that the new law "protected the performers from any type of touching."

Armed with the revised ordinance, members of the newly energized San Diego Police Department vice squad began regular undercover "sweeps" through the city's strip clubs, intended to put a halt to lap dancing once and for all. In the year that followed, vice cops who posed as customers in order to induce performers into giving illegal performances issued hundreds of citations and threatened to close down several clubs alleged to have violated what came to be known as the "dirty dancing" law.

Critics like Ted McIlvenna claimed the strikes against lap dancing, performed by dancers with their clothes on, were a frivolous waste of taxpayer dollars, but for the vice squad, they were serious business. A letter written in October by vice officer Ron Nichols to the owner of Tens, a strip club on El Cajon Boulevard near the intersection of Interstate 805, provides a detailed account of the crackdown.

"During this most recent inspection, detectives entered your establishment and posed as customers," Nichols wrote. "They came into contact with three entertainers, Brandi Smail (Stage name: Diamond), Rieko Fratus (Stage name: Baily), and Nicole Johnson (Stage name: Nikki). All of who provided 'Lap dances' to the detectives.

"During Smail's performance, she wore a flower-print dress and as she bent over the dress would come up exposing her buttocks, which was only clad by a 'G-string' type garment, with no other type of covering. As she performed the dance she repeatedly bent over in front of the detective, exposing her buttocks. The detective documented that she was approximately ten (10) to (12) inches away from his face while doing this. In addition to exposing her buttocks, part of her dance routine was to grab her clothed breasts with both hands and move them in a circular motion. The detective documented that she did this repeatedly throughout the dance.

"During Fratus' performance, she opened the detective's legs with her hands, as he sat on the couch. She stood between the detective's legs and, while facing away from him, rubbed her thighs against his. She then knelt on his thighs and rubbed her buttocks against his chest at least three times.

"During Johnson's performance, she straddled the detective with her legs as he sat on the couch. She did pelvic thrusts, rubbing her groin area against his groin. She then turned around and sat in the detective's lap. She rubbed her buttocks against the detective's groin. She then stood up and rubbed her buttocks down the detective's face. Again, she sat in the detective's lap and rubbed her buttocks on his groin area until the end of the dance.

"Smail's performance violated the 'The six rule' and the 'No touching/fondling or caressing specified anatomical areas rule,' " the letter to Tens said. "These are all prohibitions associated with their adult entertainer permits and your Nude Entertainment Business Permit. The Police Permits & Licensing Office believes their actions were intentional and deliberate. Each entertainer was sent a letter of warning in regards to their violations."

Ten days later, according to the document, a vice squad detective by the name of Dan Vile had a similar encounter. "Detective Vile subsequently reported that when Lorraine Alvarado performed the couch dance for him that she committed actions in violation of San Diego Municipal Code 33.3610(b) including but not limited to rubbing her vaginal area and buttocks on his crotch and legs seåveral times, rubbing her breasts against his chest and face, and allowing him to put his hands on her hips as she performed."

Ilse Goette, a.k.a. Kiley, performed for vice squad detective Michael Hastings, with the same result. Violations included "placing her tongue inside his ear, guiding his hand to the left side of her buttocks and onto her vaginal area, and grinding her hips as she sat on his lap." Vice detective William Murphy reported that another dancer, Mayra Del Rio, "a.k.a. Tabitha/Maya" "solicited a couch dance from him" and racked up yet another set of municipal-code violations, including "rubbing his crotch area with her thighs and knees, placing her buttocks on his lap, and moving her buttocks back and forth on his crotch."

Santa Monica attorney Roger Jon Diamond, who is handling a First Amendment case against the city on behalf of Tens Club, contends that the raids on the city's nude dance clubs are a waste of taxpayers' money. "The question is whether it's a wise allocation of tax dollars to go after any club. Why are the taxpayers of San Diego spending any money at all on the question of how dancers dance inside the club? Why should the taxpayers care? That's the fundamental question.

"It's absolutely a lot of money, because the cops are in there all the time. Not only are they in there, but then they conduct these administrative hearings that cost money. Then these administrative hearings go to court. This goes on because the politicians are diverting attention from other more important issues. If politicians are taking bribes and they're taking contributions from developers, they don't want the people to focus on those things, so everybody goes back to sex, and sex attracts the media, sex draws the readers, and the readers buy newspapers, so it's like an endless cycle. All you do is say sex and strip clubs and everybody reads the article, but if you say storm-water runoff or water pollution, everybody's eyes glaze, the reporters don't care, but it's a big health problem."

In a telephone interview this week, Gina Holloway, executive director of the local Citizens for Community Values, took issue with Diamond and others who argue that stripping is a victimless occupation. "Those girls for the most part are seduced into that kind of a lifestyle to begin with. There's a kind of a systematic seduction that goes on with that, because they're young and they're pretty and they need affirmation and those sorts of things, and my heart goes out to those young women," Holloway says. "There's an awful lot of illegal drugs and there is some prostitution and there's a lot of violations just to the ordinances that are in place. The six-foot rule and some of those kinds of things, no touching, those are violated."

As a result of the vice squad's diligence, business at many of the city's biggest strip clubs has virtually evaporated, claims Deja Vu management consultant Peter Luster. "They are spending a lot of times in the clubs, no question about that," says Luster. "A tremendous amount of time. A lot of time and a lot of money. It's been pretty consistent now for a year."

As the raids progressed, complaints that the vice squad was hitting some establishments harder than others began to emerge. According to these accounts, certain clubs were somehow continuing the lap- dancing business as usual, while other clubs have been forced to cut back on the lucrative performances.

"The clubs that I [work] for have been taking a beating because of it," says one competitor who sought anonymity. "When you have customers, you have entertainers, and when you don't have customers, you don't have entertainers, and as you know they're all independent contractors able to go where they want to go to perform. When things like that happen, it creates an un-level playing field, and it's not good for anybody. I just figured it as a time bomb, and somewhere down the road it's going to catch up, and I just didn't want to be any part of it."

One club that has generally not been cited by the vice squad for violations of the dirty dancing law is Cheetahs, confirms Lieutenant Bob Kanaski of the city's vice unit. The club is said to be especially popular and prosperous, and enjoys full houses every weekend.

The president of Cheetahs is Michael Galardi, who runs another strip club, also called Cheetahs, on Western Avenue in Las Vegas. Three years ago, police in Las Vegas requested more than $10,000 from the Clark County Commission to send their special investigations unit to Atlanta, Georgia, in order to investigate Michael Galardi and his father Jack, who himself is involved in a number of strip clubs around the country, including the Pink Pony in Atlanta.

In 1998, the elder Galardi was sued by Pink Pony stripper Vanessa Steele-Inman, who claimed that she had been blackballed by Galardi from the 1997 Miss Nude World International pageant after she refused to let Galardi slurp whipped cream off her naked body at a pre-contest golf tournament and photo shoot. In 2000 a Fulton County jury awarded Steele-Inman $2.5 million, but a judge later threw out $1.6 million in punitive damages, leaving her with $335,000 for "tortious interference" and $500,000 for slander.

Michael Galardi planned to open a strip club called the Gold Club in Las Vegas,The Las Vegas Review Journal reported, and cops there suspected that it might be more than a coincidence that a similar establishment in Atlanta, also called the Gold Club, was at the center of federal allegations dealing with prostitution, sports stars, and ties to the Mafia's Gambino crime family. The Galardis' attorney denied there was any connection between the clubs, and the Vegas cops were denied their travel request. Late last year, the Gold Club case ended with a plea bargain that sent owner Steve Kaplan to prison for 16 months in January after he also agreed to make a $3 million forfeiture.

In the meantime, Cheetahs has been spreading around a lot of money to San Diego politicos. In addition to the campaign cash its employees gave to city council candidates, this January the club itself gave $3000 to the state assembly campaign of incumbent Fourth District city councilman George Stevens, a Baptist minister who voiced his opposition to the city's strip joints but accepted the Cheetahs money anyway.

The campaign lucre has spawned accusations that untoward influence has been brought to bear on city hall, all of which are vehemently denied by the parties involved. Mike Galardi did not return phone calls seeking comment, but his Las Vegas-based marketing manager Mike Beezley says, "I'd have to speculate its just jealousy, an ex-employee working for another club."

Denying that Cheetahs has gotten special treatment, Beezley says the club was penalized by the city earlier this year. "We ended up having to pay a $5000 fine, and to our knowledge there's not been any club that has had that kind of problems."

Beezley also says Cheetahs' customer traffic has not been immune from the dirty-dancing crackdown. "Since the six-foot rule, our business has actually taken about a 30 percent drop." If Cheetahs does better than other nude clubs in San Diego, Beezley maintains, it is because of the company's superior management. "It's because we're treating the people right, the customers, and we're also taking care of the girls. People don't realize in our industry simply being nice to a girl and saying 'Hi, how're you doing?' really kind of works in our favor. We actually care about how they're doing, what kind of finances they're making, and such and such."

Regarding the contributions made to city council members by Cheetahs and others connected to the nude-dancing business, Dale Manicom, a First Amendment attorney who represents the Midway Deja Vu club in a current appeal of a city enforcement action, says, "I have no comment on that. I read the paper like anybody else."

Asked during a telephone interview last week whether he could rule out persistent reports that certain nude-entertainment establishments were getting tipped off about undercover vice squad raids before they happened, the squad's Kanaski responded: "Not that I'm aware of." Asked to elaborate, he said; "Like I said, not that I'm aware of. That's my answer. I'm not changing it. Not that I'm aware of. I can't speak for something that I don't know about, and I'm not going to try to make up something that I don't know anything about."

"Inspections" of the clubs, Kanaski said, are conducted "more or less on a random basis. We do have certain nights where that's what we have scheduled to do, the inspections of nudeentertainment establishments. We don't make it a so-called priority within our unit. It's not something that we do every day. We may do one or two nights a month to where that's exactly what both our teams would do. Other than that, we've got other duties that have more of a priority than, say, going into an establishment of this nature to see if there are things that are going wrong.

"It's hit or miss when we do inspections. We can only deal with what we see on the dates that we are there. I can't speak for what happens during times when we are not there. And that's basically how it would operate. Now, the other thing that we also do is if that we have a particular club to where we have had a number of violations, we're more than likely going to inspect that club on a more often level than we, say, would do others."

Asked whether he was certain Cheetahs, for instance, runs a "clean club," with no dirty dancing, Kanaski replied: "I'm not going to say that. All I'm saying is when we do our inspections we have not seen anything that we would [issue] regulatory violations, or write a citation for a regulatory violation while we're there. I can't speak for the times that we're not there. So I can't say whether or not they're clean or not clean overall. I'm just saying that when we do our inspections we don't see the type of behavior that would cause us to write a citation."

All of this just intensifies the suspicion of the Human Sexuality Institute's Ted McIlvenna. He vows not to surrender in his battle to turn back the lap-dance law. "I think as our next step in San Diego, we need to have a presence of some sort. Sort of a resource center to answer the questions people are asking, to protect the sex workers. We'll probably focus more on that, advocating a sexology center in the city. The politics here are a lot more complicated than we thought they would be. But it's critical. What we do is so important for America, my friend. Just remember, if you can control people's sex lives, you can control them absolutely."

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Cheetahs
Cheetahs

The Reverend Dr. Ted McIlvenna settles his massive frame into a large, overstuffed couch and invites a visitor to join him for a discussion about nude dancing, morality, the First Amendment, and political corruption in San Diego. The way he describes it, the city is ground zero in a national battle between a rabid right-wing fundamentalist Christian anti-nude dancing group from the Midwest and McIlvenna, a gruff, 70-something veteran of the sexual revolution who runs a San Francisco sexology school and is the proud owner of what is reputed to be the largest collection of erotica, pornography, and sex research in the world.

A little more than a year ago, the San Diego City Council passed a new law banning lap dancing and various other forms of what McIlvenna considers artistic expression at the city's strip clubs. Since then, those in the local nude-dancing industry say, business has plunged sharply at many of the clubs, with one prominent exception: Cheetahs, a flashy strip joint in Kearny Mesa, its parking lot regularly packed with Jaguars, Cadillacs, Corvettes, and Porsches. Cheetahs appears to have prospered while other clubs claim to be struggling. And that, some say, raises questions about whether something is rotten at city hall.

McIlvenna, a retired Methodist minister, runs the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality. He says he was invited down to San Diego to study the strip club scene here by one of his board members, Harry Mohney. It is not exactly an accident that Mohney, who lives in a mansion up the coast in Carlsbad near La Costa resort, happens to be one of the key figures in the national Deja Vu chain, which is involved in five San Diego County strip joints and many others around the country. Mohney, called the Howard Hughes of the American porn scene by some industry insiders, has provided a well-appointed office for McIlvenna's study in Deja Vu's regional headquarters on the second story of a former bank building at the corner of Midway and Rosecrans. The rich brown carpet and heavy drapes are left over from the bankers' days; the walls are decorated with X-rated movie posters from the 1970s, on loan from McIlvenna's personal stash.

Ted McIlvenna

McIlvenna's school offers a master's in "public health in sexology," and he has recruited a corps of eager young students, many of them women, from the Bay Area to come to San Diego to study what he considers the peculiarly repressive habits of the locals, especially when it comes to the practice of striptease and the erotic arts. On a recent visit to check up on the study's progress, McIlvenna, a heavyset, grandfatherly type whose appearance belies his role as the inventor of Erogel, a sexual lubricant designed to protect against HIV, and a potent aphrodisiac he calls Vigorex Forte, recounts the string of obstacles he says have been placed in his way by city hall.

"I began to have serious questions about selective enforcement right from the moment I got here," McIlvenna says. "I wrote a letter to the city attorney's office and asked them if they would do a dialogue about the study. They said they didn't want to dialogue with us. A few days later, I got a call from this 'morality' group in the Midwest asking what I was doing here. There's something very, very strange going on."

At first, McIlvenna says, he wanted to start a "studio" in some of the Deja Vu clubs here, where dancers could practice their art and the students could conduct their research without being hassled by the vice squad. That way, he says, vice would be required to park their guns at the door before entering the establishment and wouldn't jeopardize his students' safety. "There are exemptions in the law for schools running studios in the clubs, but the police said no. Wouldn't even discuss it. Said, 'Sue us if you don't like it.' They refuse to honor the law unless a judge tells them to. That was all politically motivated. It just fed my suspicions about what has transpired behind closed doors in this fair city."

Instead of the studio, McIlvenna switched gears and instructed his students to discreetly conduct sex and lifestyle surveys among the dancers and their customers. "I decided to put the interns into those establishments." They fanned out with clipboards and long survey forms with questions such as, 'Counting your partner, with how many people of the same sex have you had sexual contact?' and 'During the past year, how often have you masturbated to orgasm?'

"We've been doing extensive sex profiles on all the dancers and in-depth studies of the patrons. At no point in any of this has Harry Mohney tried to influence us, by the way," says McIlvenna. "It was a lot more complicated than we thought it would be. The city didn't want anything to do with the study; they tried to block us at every turn. They didn't want us to find out the truth, that there isn't any prostitution problem, that these clubs don't disrupt neighborhoods. I suddenly understood that there might be selective enforcement going on, and it bothers me terribly."

Even more disturbing to McIlvenna, he says, is what he sees as the frightened attitude of local dancers and their reluctance to confront the city fathers whom he says are out to "destroy their freedom." "I asked 'em why they hadn't protested. I suggested they hang tea bags on their breasts and jump into Mission Bay, like the Boston Tea Party. They're too afraid. And nobody in the colleges and universities around here is interested in the welfare of the girls, either. My friend, this indeed is a very sorry situation for the First Amendment. I tell you, I'm quite ready to go to the U.S. Civil Rights commission. That's what I'm going to do. These poor girls are considered the lowest on the totem pole; just girls who take their clothes off for money. It's outrageous."

Martie Troy

Martie Troy, a 40-year-old woman originally from Florida, has been working as one of McIlvenna's interns, interviewing dancers and compiling elaborate demographic information on each. She is working toward a master's degree in sexology and has hopes of eventually becoming a radio talk-show host like Dr. Ruth. "College girls are more sophisticated about sex than many of the girls dancing in the clubs," she observes. "We couldn't find any prostitution at all. With this crackdown by the city here, they can't make a decent living anymore. It's very sad. They are very politically naïve, and most of them don't want to hassle with the city. They are also private people and don't always want it known by the world that they dance for a living, so it is very easy for the city to take advantage of them. What these girls do for a living is the most harmless thing on earth."

McIlvenna's nemesis, and one of the main reasons for his presence in San Diego, is the Cincinnati-based National Coalition for the Protection of Children & Families, formerly known as the National Coalition Against Pornography. Founded in 1983 by the Reverend Jerry Kirk, a Presbyterian minister, the organization has raised millions of dollars in an effort to combat pornography. Among its early battles was an effort ten years ago to convict the director of the Cincinnati Contemporary Art Center for obscenity in connection with an exhibition the museum had staged of allegedly pornographic, homoerotic, and sadomasochistic photographs taken by the late gay artist Robert Mapplethorpe. A jury found the director not guilty on all counts, but the battle put Kirk's group on the map and greatly increased its fundraising clout. By 2000, the coalition was taking in $2.6 million in contributions each year.

In 1996, the coalition set up what it calls its "Model Cities of America" program, targeting nine cities, including Atlanta, El Paso, Kansas City, Long Island, Memphis, Oklahoma City, Pittsburgh, Richmond, as well as San Diego. The aim of the project, according to the group's website, is to "increase public awareness of the harm and availability of pornography. This includes, but is not limited to, sexually oriented businesses such as strip clubs and adult bookstores." The group also says it seeks to "develop appropriate zoning ordinances where they do not exist and maintain and enforce existing laws."

By 1998, the national coalition had established Citizens for Community Values, San Diego, a separate nonprofit with a board of local directors including its chairman, Bishop George McKinney, and Kent Peters, director of the Office of Social Ministry for the Catholic Diocese of San Diego. According to the group's 2000 tax return, it collected about $164,000 in donations in 1999, $50,000 of that from a single donor, whose identity was not disclosed. The group did not waste time advancing its agenda.

In a September 1999 interview with Reader contributor Ky Plaskon, Darcy Taylor, the model cities program's national director, made it clear that San Diego's main attraction as a regional nerve center for the anti-dirty dancing group was City Attorney Casey Gwinn, who stood ready to push through tough new strip-club regulations. "We look for a number of things, one being the legal climate in terms of the district attorney or the city attorney and whether or not there is a willingness to help curb the proliferation of pornography in a city," Taylor said. "We brought in $90,000 worth of seed money -- at least we did in San Diego, anyway -- so we are looking to make sure that our investment yields some returns in regard to the city's willingness to look at the issue."

Gwinn, the son of a Congregational minister, is a self-professed born-again Christian who preaches sermons at local evangelical churches. "One of my jobs as city attorney is to sit at city council meetings on Mondays and Tuesdays with the mayor and council and the public as we go through the whole docket for city business," he told the congregation of the Mission Valley Christian Fellowship last fall, not long after the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. "It is an assignment that I do not particularly enjoy. One of the things that I enjoy least about that assignment is what we call 'public comment.'

"That's where anybody that wants to say anything about anything gets to come and have three minutes. We run anywhere between 15 and 30 people during public comment. These are items that are not on the agenda for that day, and everybody just gets to come and do their thing. Do you know that on the Monday after September 11, the following week, there were no speakers during public comment but one who spoke the name of Jesus Christ! One!"

The congregation broke into cheers and applause as Gwinn continued. "And I thought to myself, this is a wonderful thing! Amidst all the tragedy and all the pain and all the destruction and sorrow of this, the people in the public-comment section of city council finally get it; that there are very few things that really matter in the context of eternity. And all their little petty gripes and grievances really aren't that significant. I was so excited!"

There were more cheers and applause, and Gwinn paused briefly, then resumed. "Until Tuesday morning a day later, when we had 25 speakers yet again, and just like that, in a matter of hours, they were back focused on their petty gripes all over again. And we listened to speaker after speaker after speaker. We listened to a woman who complained in a rage because she had not gotten notice of a public meeting in the district where she lived -- a meeting that happened two days after the terrorist attacks in New York and Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. I got up and walked out. I couldn't stand it! I couldn't stand to listen to her!

"I'm not here today, though, as the city attorney," he went on. "I'm just here as a follower of Jesus. I'm not going to talk about really anything related to city government, because it really doesn't matter in the context of eternity.

"In 1995 I had the opportunity to hear Carl Sagan at the Insights conference here in San Diego. Carl Sagan, the scientist, astronomer, revered man in many circles, who devoted most of his life to proving that God did not exist. And in 1995, Carl Sagan was at the Insights conference here in San Diego, sponsored by the San Diego Chamber of Commerce and the San Diego Union-Tribune. And he was dying of cancer, he was terminal, he would not recover.

"And I sat in the audience and I took these notes of his words. And these were his exact words. Quote: 'There is not a hint that help will come from someplace else to save us from ourselves. We alone are the saviors of our own destiny.' Unquote."

There was a long, silent pause and then Gwinn said: "He was without question the most eloquent scientist and philosopher on the road to Hell that I have ever heard!"

Thunderous applause filled the hall. Later in the sermon, Gwinn added: "We won't allow anything to cause finger-pointing that would divide the country at a time when we have to be unified. We stand together in all that. But it doesn't mean that we compromise what we believe. And it doesn't mean that we say, as some say, all faiths are basically the same and all roads lead to the top of the mountain, and everything is going to work out for everybody that's sincere. I gotta tell ya, it's not in this book. You won't find a line that says everybody that really tries hard and really tries to do what's right, and everybody that's really sincere about what they believe, they're going to spend eternity with the God that created them. It doesn't say that in the Bible. Jesus never said it.

"The way that we experience that everlasting life is to accept a personal relationship with Jesus and to say I claim him as my way to eternal life. There's no other way, there's just no other way to get there.... Our faith cannot be in the church. The Catholic Church, the Protestant church never saved a soul. Jesus saves souls, not the church."

It was with this kind of moral and religious certitude and evangelical fervor that Gwinn and his allies at Citizens for Community Values set out to exorcise the demon of nude dancing from San Diego's soul. All through the winter, summer, and fall of 2000, they lobbied the city council to adopt tough new restrictions on the city's strip clubs. The chief aim was to restrict nude dancers from approaching closer than within six feet of their customers. In addition, the entertainers, whether nude or not, would be banned from touching any patron. In effect, that meant that "Lap dances," in which customers sit on couches or overstuffed chairs while dancers hover above them, and which had heretofore been legal as long as the dancers wore clothing, were to be forbidden. To make dancing even less lucrative for the performers, Gwinn also wanted to ban direct tipping of dancers.

As the proposed ordinance made its way through city hall, progress reports appeared on the Citizens for Community Values website, each noting Gwinn's special role in helping the cause. "On May 3, updates to the Adult Entertainment ordinances were presented to the San Diego City Council's Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee," said one. "The City Attorney's Office and the San Diego Police Department recommended further updates including leaving the doors off peep-show booths.

"City Attorney Casey Gwinn predicts that negative 'secondary effects,' such as an increase in crime, could result if the ordinance to leave the doors on is adopted. This will be voted on by the full city council soon. You are urged to write or call your councilmember to express your concerns."

A few months later, the website warned that the proposed ordinance was in danger of being watered down: "The next committee debate held August 2, focused on ordinance updates regarding no touching and no direct tipping of nude dancers. The divided PS&NS committee chose to take the no-direct-tipping language completely out of the ordinance update, ignoring the recommendations of the SDPD and the city attorney before sending it onto the full council. Direct tipping subjects the dancers to increased exploitation through sequential seduction."

The see-saw battle over the new regulations spawned a lobbying war between the anti-strip-club group, which hired lobbyist Marc Wolfsheimer to bring its case directly to city councilmembers in a series of private meetings, and the California Cabaret Association, representing the strip clubs, which hired Wolfsheimer's father Louis and his partner Jim Milch, to lobby on its behalf. The elder Wolfsheimer and Milch, blue-blood Republicans and the deans of the San Diego lobbying corps, have been plying their trade in the corridors of city hall for many years, even before their friend, ex-governor Pete Wilson, was elected mayor of the city in 1971.

But their best efforts proved to be no match for the fundamentalists, who consistently outflanked them by waging a largely below-the-radar letter-writing campaign to individual councilmembers. For their part, the strip-club owners sought to combat the Christian influence by funneling thousands of dollars to the campaigns of ambitious city council aides seeking to succeed their bosses.

During the summer and fall of 2000, Toni Atkins and Jim Madaffer, two city council aides who were running to replace their bosses, collected sizable contributions from many donors with strip-club connections, including employees and dancers at Cheetahs. A year later, Ralph Inzunza and Charles Lewis, two other council aides seeking to succeed their bosses, also received substantial financial support from employees of Cheetahs. Atkins, Madaffer, and Inzunza were subsequently elected to the council. Lewis faces a run-off in the fall.

"I go to all our people myself," notes Peter Luster, a management consultant for the Deja Vu chain, which opposed the new law. "I give campaign contributions. My managers, too. I have had some entertainers also give, I think. I put a notice up, or else I'll just tell the manager we'll have a meeting. If I have somebody who is running for office or I know somebody who is in office that is open-minded to our business -- and not only our business but the First Amendment, in general -- I like to see them there. And anybody that wants to contribute, I let them know that we endorse this particular person. We've never been able to drum up the funds that Cheetahs has, but we have made contributions."

And though the candidates eagerly accepted the strip-club money, they appeared reluctant to publicly back their benefactors. In November 2000, the council gave Gwinn and the anti-stripping lobby most of what it wanted except the no-tip rule. "The San Diego City Council completed the process of updating the police-regulated business ordinances that include Adult Entertainment," reported the Citizens for Community Values website. "With community support for strict enforcement, these will significantly reduce the criminal activity associated with the sexually oriented businesses in our community." Especially important, the group said, was that the new law "protected the performers from any type of touching."

Armed with the revised ordinance, members of the newly energized San Diego Police Department vice squad began regular undercover "sweeps" through the city's strip clubs, intended to put a halt to lap dancing once and for all. In the year that followed, vice cops who posed as customers in order to induce performers into giving illegal performances issued hundreds of citations and threatened to close down several clubs alleged to have violated what came to be known as the "dirty dancing" law.

Critics like Ted McIlvenna claimed the strikes against lap dancing, performed by dancers with their clothes on, were a frivolous waste of taxpayer dollars, but for the vice squad, they were serious business. A letter written in October by vice officer Ron Nichols to the owner of Tens, a strip club on El Cajon Boulevard near the intersection of Interstate 805, provides a detailed account of the crackdown.

"During this most recent inspection, detectives entered your establishment and posed as customers," Nichols wrote. "They came into contact with three entertainers, Brandi Smail (Stage name: Diamond), Rieko Fratus (Stage name: Baily), and Nicole Johnson (Stage name: Nikki). All of who provided 'Lap dances' to the detectives.

"During Smail's performance, she wore a flower-print dress and as she bent over the dress would come up exposing her buttocks, which was only clad by a 'G-string' type garment, with no other type of covering. As she performed the dance she repeatedly bent over in front of the detective, exposing her buttocks. The detective documented that she was approximately ten (10) to (12) inches away from his face while doing this. In addition to exposing her buttocks, part of her dance routine was to grab her clothed breasts with both hands and move them in a circular motion. The detective documented that she did this repeatedly throughout the dance.

"During Fratus' performance, she opened the detective's legs with her hands, as he sat on the couch. She stood between the detective's legs and, while facing away from him, rubbed her thighs against his. She then knelt on his thighs and rubbed her buttocks against his chest at least three times.

"During Johnson's performance, she straddled the detective with her legs as he sat on the couch. She did pelvic thrusts, rubbing her groin area against his groin. She then turned around and sat in the detective's lap. She rubbed her buttocks against the detective's groin. She then stood up and rubbed her buttocks down the detective's face. Again, she sat in the detective's lap and rubbed her buttocks on his groin area until the end of the dance.

"Smail's performance violated the 'The six rule' and the 'No touching/fondling or caressing specified anatomical areas rule,' " the letter to Tens said. "These are all prohibitions associated with their adult entertainer permits and your Nude Entertainment Business Permit. The Police Permits & Licensing Office believes their actions were intentional and deliberate. Each entertainer was sent a letter of warning in regards to their violations."

Ten days later, according to the document, a vice squad detective by the name of Dan Vile had a similar encounter. "Detective Vile subsequently reported that when Lorraine Alvarado performed the couch dance for him that she committed actions in violation of San Diego Municipal Code 33.3610(b) including but not limited to rubbing her vaginal area and buttocks on his crotch and legs seåveral times, rubbing her breasts against his chest and face, and allowing him to put his hands on her hips as she performed."

Ilse Goette, a.k.a. Kiley, performed for vice squad detective Michael Hastings, with the same result. Violations included "placing her tongue inside his ear, guiding his hand to the left side of her buttocks and onto her vaginal area, and grinding her hips as she sat on his lap." Vice detective William Murphy reported that another dancer, Mayra Del Rio, "a.k.a. Tabitha/Maya" "solicited a couch dance from him" and racked up yet another set of municipal-code violations, including "rubbing his crotch area with her thighs and knees, placing her buttocks on his lap, and moving her buttocks back and forth on his crotch."

Santa Monica attorney Roger Jon Diamond, who is handling a First Amendment case against the city on behalf of Tens Club, contends that the raids on the city's nude dance clubs are a waste of taxpayers' money. "The question is whether it's a wise allocation of tax dollars to go after any club. Why are the taxpayers of San Diego spending any money at all on the question of how dancers dance inside the club? Why should the taxpayers care? That's the fundamental question.

"It's absolutely a lot of money, because the cops are in there all the time. Not only are they in there, but then they conduct these administrative hearings that cost money. Then these administrative hearings go to court. This goes on because the politicians are diverting attention from other more important issues. If politicians are taking bribes and they're taking contributions from developers, they don't want the people to focus on those things, so everybody goes back to sex, and sex attracts the media, sex draws the readers, and the readers buy newspapers, so it's like an endless cycle. All you do is say sex and strip clubs and everybody reads the article, but if you say storm-water runoff or water pollution, everybody's eyes glaze, the reporters don't care, but it's a big health problem."

In a telephone interview this week, Gina Holloway, executive director of the local Citizens for Community Values, took issue with Diamond and others who argue that stripping is a victimless occupation. "Those girls for the most part are seduced into that kind of a lifestyle to begin with. There's a kind of a systematic seduction that goes on with that, because they're young and they're pretty and they need affirmation and those sorts of things, and my heart goes out to those young women," Holloway says. "There's an awful lot of illegal drugs and there is some prostitution and there's a lot of violations just to the ordinances that are in place. The six-foot rule and some of those kinds of things, no touching, those are violated."

As a result of the vice squad's diligence, business at many of the city's biggest strip clubs has virtually evaporated, claims Deja Vu management consultant Peter Luster. "They are spending a lot of times in the clubs, no question about that," says Luster. "A tremendous amount of time. A lot of time and a lot of money. It's been pretty consistent now for a year."

As the raids progressed, complaints that the vice squad was hitting some establishments harder than others began to emerge. According to these accounts, certain clubs were somehow continuing the lap- dancing business as usual, while other clubs have been forced to cut back on the lucrative performances.

"The clubs that I [work] for have been taking a beating because of it," says one competitor who sought anonymity. "When you have customers, you have entertainers, and when you don't have customers, you don't have entertainers, and as you know they're all independent contractors able to go where they want to go to perform. When things like that happen, it creates an un-level playing field, and it's not good for anybody. I just figured it as a time bomb, and somewhere down the road it's going to catch up, and I just didn't want to be any part of it."

One club that has generally not been cited by the vice squad for violations of the dirty dancing law is Cheetahs, confirms Lieutenant Bob Kanaski of the city's vice unit. The club is said to be especially popular and prosperous, and enjoys full houses every weekend.

The president of Cheetahs is Michael Galardi, who runs another strip club, also called Cheetahs, on Western Avenue in Las Vegas. Three years ago, police in Las Vegas requested more than $10,000 from the Clark County Commission to send their special investigations unit to Atlanta, Georgia, in order to investigate Michael Galardi and his father Jack, who himself is involved in a number of strip clubs around the country, including the Pink Pony in Atlanta.

In 1998, the elder Galardi was sued by Pink Pony stripper Vanessa Steele-Inman, who claimed that she had been blackballed by Galardi from the 1997 Miss Nude World International pageant after she refused to let Galardi slurp whipped cream off her naked body at a pre-contest golf tournament and photo shoot. In 2000 a Fulton County jury awarded Steele-Inman $2.5 million, but a judge later threw out $1.6 million in punitive damages, leaving her with $335,000 for "tortious interference" and $500,000 for slander.

Michael Galardi planned to open a strip club called the Gold Club in Las Vegas,The Las Vegas Review Journal reported, and cops there suspected that it might be more than a coincidence that a similar establishment in Atlanta, also called the Gold Club, was at the center of federal allegations dealing with prostitution, sports stars, and ties to the Mafia's Gambino crime family. The Galardis' attorney denied there was any connection between the clubs, and the Vegas cops were denied their travel request. Late last year, the Gold Club case ended with a plea bargain that sent owner Steve Kaplan to prison for 16 months in January after he also agreed to make a $3 million forfeiture.

In the meantime, Cheetahs has been spreading around a lot of money to San Diego politicos. In addition to the campaign cash its employees gave to city council candidates, this January the club itself gave $3000 to the state assembly campaign of incumbent Fourth District city councilman George Stevens, a Baptist minister who voiced his opposition to the city's strip joints but accepted the Cheetahs money anyway.

The campaign lucre has spawned accusations that untoward influence has been brought to bear on city hall, all of which are vehemently denied by the parties involved. Mike Galardi did not return phone calls seeking comment, but his Las Vegas-based marketing manager Mike Beezley says, "I'd have to speculate its just jealousy, an ex-employee working for another club."

Denying that Cheetahs has gotten special treatment, Beezley says the club was penalized by the city earlier this year. "We ended up having to pay a $5000 fine, and to our knowledge there's not been any club that has had that kind of problems."

Beezley also says Cheetahs' customer traffic has not been immune from the dirty-dancing crackdown. "Since the six-foot rule, our business has actually taken about a 30 percent drop." If Cheetahs does better than other nude clubs in San Diego, Beezley maintains, it is because of the company's superior management. "It's because we're treating the people right, the customers, and we're also taking care of the girls. People don't realize in our industry simply being nice to a girl and saying 'Hi, how're you doing?' really kind of works in our favor. We actually care about how they're doing, what kind of finances they're making, and such and such."

Regarding the contributions made to city council members by Cheetahs and others connected to the nude-dancing business, Dale Manicom, a First Amendment attorney who represents the Midway Deja Vu club in a current appeal of a city enforcement action, says, "I have no comment on that. I read the paper like anybody else."

Asked during a telephone interview last week whether he could rule out persistent reports that certain nude-entertainment establishments were getting tipped off about undercover vice squad raids before they happened, the squad's Kanaski responded: "Not that I'm aware of." Asked to elaborate, he said; "Like I said, not that I'm aware of. That's my answer. I'm not changing it. Not that I'm aware of. I can't speak for something that I don't know about, and I'm not going to try to make up something that I don't know anything about."

"Inspections" of the clubs, Kanaski said, are conducted "more or less on a random basis. We do have certain nights where that's what we have scheduled to do, the inspections of nudeentertainment establishments. We don't make it a so-called priority within our unit. It's not something that we do every day. We may do one or two nights a month to where that's exactly what both our teams would do. Other than that, we've got other duties that have more of a priority than, say, going into an establishment of this nature to see if there are things that are going wrong.

"It's hit or miss when we do inspections. We can only deal with what we see on the dates that we are there. I can't speak for what happens during times when we are not there. And that's basically how it would operate. Now, the other thing that we also do is if that we have a particular club to where we have had a number of violations, we're more than likely going to inspect that club on a more often level than we, say, would do others."

Asked whether he was certain Cheetahs, for instance, runs a "clean club," with no dirty dancing, Kanaski replied: "I'm not going to say that. All I'm saying is when we do our inspections we have not seen anything that we would [issue] regulatory violations, or write a citation for a regulatory violation while we're there. I can't speak for the times that we're not there. So I can't say whether or not they're clean or not clean overall. I'm just saying that when we do our inspections we don't see the type of behavior that would cause us to write a citation."

All of this just intensifies the suspicion of the Human Sexuality Institute's Ted McIlvenna. He vows not to surrender in his battle to turn back the lap-dance law. "I think as our next step in San Diego, we need to have a presence of some sort. Sort of a resource center to answer the questions people are asking, to protect the sex workers. We'll probably focus more on that, advocating a sexology center in the city. The politics here are a lot more complicated than we thought they would be. But it's critical. What we do is so important for America, my friend. Just remember, if you can control people's sex lives, you can control them absolutely."

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