Housing Complex

Zoning Board Rules on the Stadium Club: No Sex Here!

In the clear. (Darrow Montgomery)

For over a year now, a group calling itself the Ward 5 Improvement Association has been fighting the steak-and-strippers Stadium Club's certificate of occupancy, saying that the establishment on Queens Chapel Road NE is operating as a "Sexually Oriented Business Enterprise" without proper permission. Not only is it a strip club, the citizens have argued, it's the beginnings of a "red light district" that could pollute the semi-industrial corners of Ward 5 with crime and moral filth.

Finally, the Board of Zoning Adjustment came out with its verdict: Stadium Club isn't sexually oriented at all, for the purposes of the statute, and may go about its business unmolested.

But the ruling didn't come without more discussion of what makes something sexual or not. The five-person board's chair, Meridith Moldenhauer, was the lone vote in favor of the Ward 5 Improvement Association's position, and she debated from the dais with BZA newbie Lloyd Jordan about whether entertainment had to be intentionally arousing to its audience in order to qualify as a SOBE, or if it could merely be incidental.

"In my view, [the investigator's] description of what occurred definitely is circumstances in which the positions assumed by the women and the manner in which the women displayed themselves demonstrated that was for the purpose of stimulating and arousing patrons," Moldenhauer started out, somewhat awkwardly.

When Jordan's turn came, he made the case that the regulations are just too vague to make fine distinctions, and that some of the activities the investigator described are totally innocuous. "Pole dancing is the new fad for physical exercise," he pointed out.

"They're not naked when they're doing that!" Moldenhauer protested.

Jordan countered that the skimpy clothing found in some fitness centers would fall under the definition of clothing worn at a sexually oriented business establishment. And is it even worse than entertainment at football games?

"Our Redskins cheerleaders touch their bodies, and they do it in a sexual way," he said.

"They're not naked!" Moldenhauer yelped.

"Some people would consider them naked," Jordan said. "See, there we go again with the standard of what's naked, and what's opaque, and what's partially covered."

"These women are 100 percent naked."

"I don't remember that there was a percentage in our regulations that talked about how much covering, percentagewise."

"I'm talking about coverage of the breast and of the buttocks."

"You see some of the Redskins cheerleaders' buttocks, too."

The debate went on. Whether or not you notice just how much skin the Redskins cheerleaders are showing, it's an entertaining exchange (watch it here). And the ruling is also an important precedent: It's going to be quite a bit harder from now on to prove that a restaurant with live entertainment is explicitly sexual, and would therefore need a special zoning exception, which can be difficult to get.

Red light district, here we come.

  • michaeliceman

    Hmmm....I wonder if Mr. Jrodan has ever been to the Stadium Club. Never mind...stupid question. LOL!!!

    I am sorry, but I would have laughed loudly had I witnessed that exchange in person.

  • TheHermanCain

    What's the address of this place?

  • anon

    ummm.... maybe you should have read the statute. While it doesn't say percentages, it is pretty specific....

    Sexually-oriented business establishment-- an establishment having as a substantial or significant portion of its stock in trade, books, magazines, and other periodicals, films, materials, and articles, or an establishment that presents as a substantial or significant portion of its activity, live performances, films, or other materials, that are distinguished or characterized by their emphasis on matters depicting, describing, or related to specified sexual activities and specified anatomical areas.
    These establishments may include, but are not limited to, bookstores, newsstands, theaters, and amusement enterprises. If an establishment is a sexually-oriented business establishment as defined here, it shall not be deemed to constitute any other use permitted under the authority of this title. (24 DCR 5144)
    Specified anatomical areas-- parts of the human body as follows:
    (a) Less than completely and opaquely covered human genitals, pubic region, buttock, and female breast below a point immediately above the top of the areola; and
    (b) Human genitals in a discernibly turgid state, even if completely and opaquely covered. (24 DCR 5144)
    Specified sexual activities - the following activities:
    (a) Acts of human masturbation, sexual intercourse, sexual stimulation or arousal, sodomy, or bestiality; and
    (b) Fondling or other erotic touching of human genitals, pubic region, buttock, or breast. (24 DCR 5144)

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  • Dee

    How much money do you think Jordan received from the Stadium Club. He is another representative of another low-life, immoral politician. He got PAID, BIG TIME for his utterly ridiculous argument and bribed vote.

  • Will

    Well, Ward 5 went overwhelmingly for Mayor Gray, who appointed Lloyd Jordan, so take it up with the Mayor.

  • Robert

    Frankly, I expect more from Lydia. Like some analysis , maybe? Anon, thanks for posting the statute. I'm no lawyer, and it is convoluted, but it seems you need nudity AND sex. Taking the position that nudity also satisfies the sex part, is nonsensical. All these pea brains talking about who voted for who or gave money, should try to read the law anon posted.

  • oboe

    Well, Ward 5 went overwhelmingly for Mayor Gray, who appointed Lloyd Jordan, so take it up with the Mayor.

    Touche. You get what you vote for. At least he's big into hand-dancing, though.

  • Progentrification

    @Robert. Yes, one should read the statute. Nipples and buttocks showing? Check. A substantial or significant portion of its activity...that are distinguished or characterized by their emphasis on matters...related to specified sexual activities and specified anatomical areas. Check.

    I go to Hooters for the Wings and Stadium Club for the steaks. Yeah.

  • Robert

    What specified sexual activities mentioned in the staute are you referring to? Is there sex at Hooters? I must have been to a different ne than you

    At most, possibly fondling, but that seems a stretch.

  • http://ninjamonkey3000.blogspot.com/ mighty

    thank you for making me look up the meaning of the word TURGID

  • tomdc

    Doesn't Stadium Club also have full-nude full-body-contact sessions in private rooms? Even for sexually-oriented businesses that's a new pushing of the envelope that isn't allowed anywhere else in the US to my knowledge.

    The law will probably be re-written because of this case but those up and running when it's passed will be grandfathered in.

    And what about the liquor license?? DC could control those activities through it.

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