Archive for September 5th, 2012

My light-hearted title aside, strip club patrons get a bad rap. It’s more than just dark loners, the unemployable, and Jaeger-fueled frat boys who enjoy the occasional dalliance in the Champagne Room. After all, Stephen Hawking — renowned physicist, winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and author of the best-selling book “A Brief History of Time,” — has been rumored to love him some nudie bars, and if the world’s smartest man can appreciate the careful choreography and graceful athleticism of a well delivered lap dance, then who is the New York Tax Court to say it’s not art?

From the AP:

Nude lap dances aren’t likely to be confused with “Swan Lake.” But a New York strip club says they are an art form, too, and should be exempt from state taxes. So far, the state tax department and an appeals court disagree and want the Nite Moves club in Albany to pay $124,000 in back taxes. New York’s highest court was set to hear arguments in the dispute Wednesday in what is surely one of the racier tax cases ever to reach the Court of Appeals.

The  strippers make a compelling argument, — as one would expect since the vast majority of them are dancing their way through law school — maintaining that their performances are high culture on par with Les Mis:

“It’s definitely a form of art. It’s live entertainment,” a dancer said Wednesday afternoon at the club, where there was only one customer. She declined to give her name, saying she has another, unrelated job. “Some girls are up there practicing for hours when nobody’s in here.”

On the first go-round with the courts, an administrative law judge previously agreed with the strippers, saying: “The fact that the dancers remove all or part of their costume … simply does not render such dance routines as something less than choreographed performances.”

The case went to an appeals tribunal where it was overturned, and a mid-level court upheld that ruling last year.

“In our view, there can be no serious question that — at a bare minimum — petitioner failed to meet its burden of establishing that the private dances offered at its club were choreographed performances,” the Appellate Division court ruled. The court also noted that the club dancers are not required to have any formal dance training.

New York’s top court typically takes a month to reach a decision, meaning for at least the next 30 days, you can refrain from shoving an extra dollar or two into those g-strings.

Hat tip to Josh Titus for the heads up.

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