City, strip club at odds over nude mannequins in window display

Share this:
February 12, 2007 // UPDATED 11:01 am - April 26, 2007
By: Michelle Bruch
Michelle Bruch

City staff want Sinners Gentlemen’s Club to stop displaying nude mannequins in its Washington Avenue window display, but club ownership is appealing to keep the mannequins up.

According to city code, sexually oriented businesses cannot display “merchandise or pictures of the products or entertainment on the premises” in the building windows.

Jerry Buchanan, who owns the building that houses Sinners at 121 Washington Ave. N., said he does not believe the code applies to the window display at Sinners.

“It’s a stretch to say a headless mannequin is the product available,” he said. “It’s a civil liberties issue.” Buchanan said he expects elected officials to rule against the business and said the issue would likely end up in federal court.

“I think the city will eventually lose,” he said.

The owners of Sinners could not be reached for comment.

Planning Supervisor Steve Poor said Sex World’s permitted signage display stems back to a federal lawsuit in the early 1990s that was negotiated out of court. The adjacent property that contains Sinners was not part of that settlement, he said.

Sinners opened in November. The city later notified the business it was in violation of city code and ordered the club to take down the display. Instead, the club appealed the decision and the issue is scheduled go before the Zoning Board of Adjustment on Feb. 15.

Council Member Lisa Goodman (7th Ward) has said at North Loop neighborhood meetings that the city cannot prevent new strip clubs from opening in the Warehouse District because zoning laws allow them to locate there.

“But they are not going to take advantage of the B-4 district,” Goodman said at a meeting last month, referring to Sinners’ window display.