Chicago's Iconic Admiral Theatre Suing SBA Over 'Prurient' Clause

Chicago's Iconic Admiral Theatre Suing SBA Over 'Prurient' Clause

CHICAGO — A popular Chicago adult entertainment venue is suing the Small Business Administration (SBA) over the “prurient clause” in its loan application for pandemic relief.

The Admiral Theatre is a legendary venue currently operating as a strip club, whose facade bears the Larry Flynt quote, “The greatest right a nation can afford its people is the right to be left alone.”

The Admiral is suing the SBA and Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin alleging that its First Amendment rights are being violated because their loan application has been stalled.

The theater’s lawyers claim that the application for a PPP loan to help with their payroll is not being approved because of a clause preventing “prurient” businesses from receiving federal funds.

The “prurient” clause on the loan application form, as XBIZ has been reporting, replicates mid-1990s language designed to discriminate against sexually oriented businesses.

The form compels applicants to declare that they do not “present live performances of a prurient sexual nature or derive directly or indirectly more than de minimis gross revenue through the sale of products or services, or the presentation of any depictions or displays, of a prurient sexual nature.”

The word “prurient” is an imprecise, obscure word that means “appealing to unhealthy sexual interests” and was used by the U.S. Supreme Court in a landmark 1973 ruling. Several members of the adult entertainment community and First Amendment lawyers have pointed out that people who do not consider their sexual expression “unhealthy” are exempt from application of the “prurient” clause.”

The Chicago theater’s lawyers allege that “all of the entertainment provided by the Admiral is non-obscene (and thus cannot be deemed prurient).”

“No entertainer performing at The Admiral has even been charged with, let alone convicted of, the crime of obscenity,” the lawsuit states.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, “the Admiral provided a loan application to its bank on April 4, and the bank submitted the application to the SBA on April 15, the lawsuit states. The SBA hasn’t approved or denied the application as it is still determining the club’s eligibility.”

The lawsuit argues that in the event the theater is “unable to obtain PPP loans, it may lack the staff and/or funds to reopen following the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in the permanent ruination of its business, the inability of Plaintiff to engaged in protected First Amendment activity, and the inability of Plaintiff’s staff, entertainers, and customers to continue engaging in or viewing protected First Amendment activity.”

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