'Nude Dancing' Puts a Conservative Oregon Town in a Political Dilemma

'Nude Dancing' Puts a Conservative Oregon Town in a Political Dilemma

DRAIN, Ore. — After last month’s soft opening of a new adult entertainment establishment in Drain, Oregon, the conservative small town became yet another battlefield in the nationwide moralistic crusade against sex-oriented businesses and sexual expression.

Drain is an inland town 40 miles south of Eugene and 132 miles south of Portland, population 1,100. The small Oregon community voted 64% for Donald Trump in the last election and overwhelmingly supports Republican candidates. According to reports by the local paper, the Cottage Grove Sentinel, several speakers at a Drain City Council meeting earlier this month seemed torn between their dislike for government regulation of business and their desire to find a way to shutter the Top of the Bowl adult nightclub by any means necessary.

Since the Oregon Supreme Court has ruled adult entertainment a matter of First Amendment-protected free speech, the city authorities struggled with how to prevent the Top of the Bowl owners from doing business without citing their own personal disapproval of the nature of the content or their zeal for censorship as the actual cause for targeting the establishment.

Top of the Bowl

The Top of the Bowl owners, according to the Cottage Grove Sentinel, “argue that the business is perfectly within its rights to run and is protected by an Oregon Supreme Court ruling on free speech.”

According to owners Jamie Hennricks and Rik Marin, the Top of the Bowl — a repurposed Masonic hall above a local bowling alley — has “a bar area, full kitchen, board and card game room and a spacious lounge complete with a stage and catwalk.”

“While Hennricks and Marin state that special events will include both male and female nude dancers,” the newspaper reports, “they pointed out that the events will only feature topless nudity and will, in any case, not be the main form of entertainment.”

A Drain councilman attempting to shut down the venue suggested the city might want to implement business licenses — a typical method used by religiously-motivated moralists to target sex-oriented businesses across the nation. However, Drain mayor Justin Cobb felt that might be a step too far.

“I’m a staunch believer in very limited government control,” Cobb told the meeting. “So enacting a business license to me just feels wrong. It’s against my better instincts to want to do this.”

Still, the voices that arose to oppose any kind of adult business in Drain illustrate the radicalization of anti-sex speech in some American communities over the last few years. Stoking these opinions, according to the report, are well-funded, religiously-motivated out-of-area groups like Sacramento-based “religious freedom” legal aid group, the Pacific Justice Institute.

The Pacific Justice Institute, the Cottage Grove Sentinel explained, “is a nonprofit legal defense organization specializing in the defense of religious freedom and parental rights. The nonprofit works pro bono in cases which involve the exercise of religion and other civil liberties and made headlines in May when it filed suit against Governor Kate Brown, challenging her emergency powers during the pandemic.”

The Pacific Justice Institute usually represents churches and religious business owners in attempts to protect what they call “religious freedom.” But the fight against adult businesses on dubious “moral” grounds is not unusual for the organization, on whose board sits none other than Edwin Meese. Now 88 years old, Meese is the man who, as Ronald Reagan’s attorney general once upon a time in the 1980s, tried to annihilate the entire adult entertainment industry in the U.S.

‘It's a Sin’

On June 8, a few of Drain’s citizens who opposed the Top of the Bowl nightclub gathered at a city council meeting.

“Pornography, nudity and illicitness is wrong,” said Barbara Evans. “It’s a sin and, I’m sorry, but it is not good for our community in any way shape or form.”

The previous month, the group submitted 182 signatures “expressing concern about the nature of the business” and asking that the typically hands-off city council for more government regulation, requiring “500 to 1,000 feet between sexually-oriented adult entertainment businesses from any and all churches, schools and childcare facilities.”

Jessica Cooper, who drafted the letter, “appealed to the town’s classic, ‘good old days’ charm and spirit where childhood innocence and neighborly relations can be preserved.”

A major issue raised by the anti-nightclub group was that Top of the Bowl is next door to the Gateway Family Fellowship, whose pastor said, “We are obviously opposed to any kind of adult or sexually-oriented business or activity going on anywhere near our church.”

“We understand that a business needs to be a business,” Pastor Perry said. “However, the explicit nude dancing, the adult, sexually-oriented business activity, is something that we definitely oppose.”

Perry also complained that he had picked up trash and beer cans after Top of the Bowl’s soft opening on June 5 and that motorcycles woke people in the neighborhood after midnight.

Myndee Ferrill also spoke at the city council meeting, pivoting from a discussion about zoning and food trucks to much darker concerns.

“I find it incredibly sad that we have arguments against a food market in a certain location and that our food trucks have to be 500 feet from a school because of the fact that they’re not healthy enough when the schools are serving chicken nuggets and pizza,” Ferrill said. “So if we will stand up for our children’s healthy diets and we won’t stand up against something that will possibly bring in sex trafficking, child endangerment, all sorts of other things that go along with that — frankly, being a fifth-generation citizen of this town, I’m disappointed.”

At a follow-up meeting on July 13, Councilor Jo Barker said the Top of the Bowl “causes great concern” because nude entertainment would attract “unsavory elements” to the town.

The Ghost of Edwin Meese

At the same meeting, the town welcomed Ray Hacke, an attorney with the Pacific Justice Institute who, according to the Cottage Grove Sentinel, “responded to a letter sent by the Gateway Family Fellowship church.”

Hacke told the council that, regardless of the Free Speech issues, “an adult entertainment business has no business setting up shop right next to a church. It has no business setting up next to any place where children congregate.”

“These places do attract sexual predators,” Hacke added, with a zeal in his attack on an adult business which would have made Pacific Justice Institute board member Edwin Meese proud.

Recently, Ed Meese and his ideas have been making a comeback in Trump-era GOP circles.

The former Reagan attorney general, who once almost successfully shut down the entire adult entertainment industry, has kept a lower profile for decades, following his resignation in 1988 after a report alleged numerous instances of abuse of power and corruption. But last October, Donald Trump presented the Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, to Meese, calling the GOP’s most notorious anti-porn crusader “a absolute titan of American law and a heroic defender of the American Constitution.”

Copyright © 2024 Adnet Media. All Rights Reserved. XBIZ is a trademark of Adnet Media.
Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission is prohibited.

More News

U of Wisconsin Professor Pens Essay About Crusade to Get Him Fired for Creating Adult Content

The veteran University of Wisconsin academic who was removed from his post as chancellor last year because he had made adult content, penned a piece for The Chronicle of Higher Education detailing his ordeal and ongoing attempts to fire him from his tenured position as a professor.

Hankey's Toys Releases 'Knaughty Dragon' Dildo

Hankey's Toys has debuted its Knaughty Dragon dildo.

Orion Debuts New Leather Harness Set

Orion Wholesale has introduced a new leather harness set from its Zado line of BDSM gear.

Spain's Government Fails in Attempt to Recriminalize, 'Abolish' Sex Work

Spain’s Socialist Party (PSOE) suffered a sound defeat on Tuesday in its attempt to recriminalize sex work in Spain, as a controversial bill promoted by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s government failed to gain parliamentary support among the party’s ruling coalition allies.

Kheper Games Releases Cocktail, Sex-Themed Card Games

Kheper Games has released two new games: Cocktail Themed Playing Cards and Sex Toy Themed Playing Cards.

Sexual Desires to Host Live Online Product Reveal

Sexual Desires will host two live online product reveal sessions highlighting its new releases

Heritage Foundation President Calls Trump God's 'Imperfect Instrument' to Achieve Porn Ban

The president of the Heritage Foundation has asserted to CNN that Donald Trump’s notorious interactions with porn stars do not disqualify the presumptive Republican nominee from implementing the conservative organization’s plan to criminalize all production and distribution of adult content.

California Republicans, Democrats Send Controversial Age Verification Bill to Senate

The California legislature’s version of the age verification bills being sponsored around the country by anti-porn activists passed unanimously in the state Assembly on Thursday with bipartisan support, and is now being considered by the state Senate.

Glamour Names 'Überlube' Best Overall Personal Lubricant

Glamour Magazine has named Überlube the best overall personal lubricant.

Biird, Jouissance Club Partner for 'Boo,' 'Bae' Silicone Dildos

Biird and Jouissance Club have teamed up to release two new silicone dildos, Boo and Bae.

Show More