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December 17, 1970
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Girls Go-Go

All the Way

At Black Hat

     Owner of Lounge Keeps Show

     Despite New Ban on Nudity

   Topless and bottomless go-go dancers will defy "guidelines" adopted by the city council Tuesday night and continue to perform before adults willing to pay the cover charge, according to the owner of the Black Hat Lounge.
Eugene Ryer, owner of the cellar tavern at 605 W. Grand Ave., made the decision at the premises while the show was going on -- after consultation with his lawyer -- immediately following the city council meeting at which he had appeared.

MR. RYER HAD attended the meeting to ask clarification of the status of his cabaret license, which some city officials had contended was invalid.

The meeting saw City Atty. Stuart Grady lecture the council for being like "ostriches" in not recognizing its duty in regards to the cabaret license and city entertainment guidelines.

SEVERAL references were made by Mayor Frank Meyer to "topless and bottomless" dancers at the lounge, though Mr. Ryer said only that he was interested in whether he had a license to operate, and did not answer questions about the dancing.

However, the dancers have been appearing in bikinis and topless and bottomless since Dec. 8, Mr. Ryer told an Ozaukee Press reporter [guess who?] who investigated -- in the interest of accuracy -- and who observed the nude dancer.

IN HIS DISCUSSION with the council, Atty. Grady made several points. One was that, in his opinion, Mr. Ryer's cabaret license is invalid because it had been issued two months after the expiration of the old license on July 31.

However, he said, he did not advise legal action on that basis to close the lounge -- as some aldermen had privately requested -- because Mr. Ryer could then obtain an injunction to remain open until the question of his license is determined.

THAT WOULD BE A lengthy process, he said.

Atty. Grady suggested, instead, that the city adopt guidelines for entertainment, tied to the liquor license of any tavern.

"LAWS ON obscenity cannot be enforced. But what a woman wears can and will be enforced," he said. The present ordinance was not enforced by the police chief or the city attorney's office, he said, "because I'm not going to determine what someone is going to paste on someone's body."

He added that such determination was an aldermanic duty and in the absence of any guidelines the ordinance was unenforceable. Atty. Grady also urged that any restrictions deal with a type of clothing, and not relative standards of obscenity or appropriateness, which the courts have been rejecting as vague.

SUCH RESTRICTIONS could be enforced in an establishment where liquor is served, he contended, although if no liquor is served there is apparently no limit to the type of dancing adults may observe.

"But if you want her to dance in a raccoon coat, put that in and we'll enforce it."

A RESOLUTION introduced by Alderman Robert Lorge was then adopted. Part of a model ordinance, it requires dancers to wear clothing which "adequately covers the bosom" and "extends from just below the navel to below the crotch and encircles the body."

Mr. Ryer told the council that he had paid $100 for the cabaret license "in good faith," and blamed City Clerk George Krick for not notifying him the old license had expired.

ATTY. GRADY had explained Mr. Krick was in error in issuing the license.

When Atty. Grady said the guidelines would go into effect Wednesday morning, Mr. Ryer asked whether he could operate the remainder of the evening.

"I'm not going to check it out tonight," said Atty. Grady.

"You should," responded Mr. Ryer. "It might be your last chance."

AT THE TAVERN, however, Mr. Ryer -- who said he also was considering not using the liquor license and thus circumventing police interference -- decided to continue his rather well-received policy on dancing, and instructed the go-go girl accordingly.

Mr. Ryer said he would challenge the guidelines in court, if necessary, and cited cities where such liberalization was occurring.

"NOBODY IS FORCED to come down here if they don't want to," he said. What's the difference if everyone's over 21? The town needs something like this."

He added that if he were forced to feature girls in bikinis only, "I couldn't draw flies here. I know, I tried it for two years."

ON THE LOW platform at the far end of the barroom, facing several tables and lit by colored spotlights, the lone dancer performed as selections were played on the jukebox by patrons.

About 40 persons were in the tavern, a handful of them women who tended to cluster at the end of the bar away from the stage.

BEGINNING WITH A two-piece semi-transparent bikini-type garment, the rather petite young dancer displayed some skill in eventually removing them both and dancing while nude.

Indeed, because of an unusual shaving practice ("my boyfriend does it for me," she told the audience) she appeared to be even more naked than most unclothed women could be.

FOR A VARIATION, she performed under a "black" light. The dancing was less overtly erotic as more was revealed, although there was a certain undeniable tension in the air as the filmy strips were manipulated and put aside.

The crowd seemed mildly appreciative, and applauded after each record, but no one seemed overly concerned or offended by the performance. Mr. Ryer said he had received no complaints from visitors -- including several aldermen -- and that patrons were not a problem.

THE DANCER -- WHO identified herself as "Red" to the reporter and said she was 22 years old, agreed with Mr. Ryer's description of the polite reception she had been getting.

She travels a circuit, she says, including such cities as Chippewa Falls and Plymouth, and added with a bubbly smile that she enjoys her job and doesn't care what costume or lack of costume she appears in.

"EXCEPT PASTIES," she said. "They hurt the hell out of your chest."

Mr. Ryer said the girls --who are replaced every two weeks -- are paid upwards of $250 a week.

"AND IF I TELL THEM to keep their clothes on, they don't charge any less."

So for the time being, at least, Port Washington has entered the age of topless and bottomless entertainment. But city officials did not appear to be in a mood to accept the change without protest, and court battles seem likely.

IN OTHER ACTION, the council:

Delayed adoption of 1971 salaries for city officials, which would incorporate some raises, and heard a report that negotiations were still deadlocked on police pay.

RECEIVED A petition from Dick Ansay Realty for a zoning change for one lot in the Beutel subdivision to allow construction of a 10-unit single-bedroom or efficiency apartment building rather than two-bedroom apartments. The matter was referred to the plan commission.

Heard an opinion from Atty. Grady that the city could enter into a lease agreement with the Port Washington Yacht Club to allow the club land on which to build a clubhouse on the east end of Pier Street.

Defeated a proposal by Alderman Lorge to allow the polls to open at 8 a.m. rather than 9 a.m.

Small-town journalism could be interesting, as this article shows, especially since I could assign it to myself -- and write the headlines & lay it out -- as I was the managing editor in the absence of Bill Schanen III.
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