Hustler Club Sues Illinois City in Federal Court

Tod Hunter
LINCOLN PARK, Ill. — Backers of a proposed Hustler Club have filed a suit in U.S. District Court against the city of Lincoln Park this week, claiming that 3-year-old nudity laws make it impossible for them to operate.

The laws are "blatantly unconstitutional," according to attorney Brad Shafer, who represents club owners HDV-Lincoln Park and property owner Papalas Drive Development.

The plan for the club has been approved by city officials, but the chain is arguing that city ordinances outlaw all public nudity — although state laws allow topless dancing in establishments that serve alcohol.

Nude dancing reportedly occurs at Atlantis, another club in the city.

"The provisions don't permit anything — not full nudity, not topless — but they are not enforcing it," Shafer said.

City Council President Tom Murphy denied the law bans semi-nude dancing, saying that the law is intended to stop drugs and prostitution at adult clubs.

"The controls are not meant to stop a strip club from operating, because they have a right to do that" Murphy said. "We want to control elements that contribute to the poor image that many clubs portray in the community, I know [Hustler] thinks they are being picked on, but they are not."

A local religious group, The Lincoln Park Ministerial Association, issued a complaint to the state Liquor Control Commission last month asking it to decline any license for alcohol to any club or business around the church — including the Hustler Club.

"We're not naïve and think we can shut all these businesses down, but we do believe we can protect our homes and city from having it here," said Frank Julian, also a pastor with Faith Christian Assembly in Melvindale. "We are taking a stand it's a sin factory."

Hustler Clubs have had previous legal trouble in Michigan. Last year, the Detroit City Council refused to transfer a topless entertainment license to the club, leading to a legal fight that ended last August when a federal judge ruled that Detroit must rewrite its strip club regulations because the current ones are unconstitutional.

Attorney Shafer said developers are moving forward with the Lincoln Park Hustler Club.

"We're confident we'll prevail," he said.