Does it cost too much to strip in gay Atlanta?

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The next time you make it rain for a stripper in an Atlanta gay bar, consider this: It's pricier than you might think to shake your junk. Now, a lawsuit is challenging the city's permit "scheme" for strip club workers.

Attorney Cary Wiggins charges in the lawsuit that the city charges strippers and club employees fees higher than those allowed under city ordinances to obtain adult entertainment work permits: $375 for a one-year work permit with an annual $350 renewal fee. The lawsuit contends city code allows for a $50 application fee, $300 permit fee and $100 annual renewal fee.

"The city's permit scheme is unconstitutional and its associated fees are unlawful and improper," Wiggins writes in the lawsuit, which was filed Monday in Fulton Superior Court.

The complaint also questions the lack of guidelines for police, who approve the permits and fingerprint applicants, and whether the fees are "an impermissible tax on First Amendment activity." Wiggins describes the fees an attempt by the city not to cover its costs, but to raise revenue.

"[The city] continues to impose unconstitutional and unlawful fees on those wishing to work at alcohol-licensed adult entertainment establishments," he says.

The lawsuit includes six plaintiffs, who range from strippers, managers and a bartender, but seeks class action status so it applies to strip club workers at bars across the City of Atlanta. That would include gay Atlanta's two strip clubs -- Swinging Richards and Bliss. Wiggins declined to say where the plaintiffs worked.

Bliss recently settled  a lawsuit with Atlanta over permits for employees by paying $75,000 in fines and $15,000 in legal costs. An effort to rezone portions of Cheshire Bridge Road to evict Bliss and other strip clubs failed in early June.

The lawsuit asks for the plaintiffs and adult entertainment club employees across the city to receive compensation and reimbursement for past permit fees.

A city spokesperson declined to discuss the lawsuit with the AJC.


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