The Grand Rapids City Commission admitted that the resolution they passed Tuesday will do little to stop live nude entertainment in Grand Rapids, but Judy Rose of the Black Hills Citizens for a Better Community said that the resolution was a good first step in confronting adult entertainment in Grand Rapids. Rose was one of four citizens speaking in favor of a resolution that would condemn such activity. Rose had recently enlisted the help of the Michigan Decency Action Council and together were seeking an ordinance which would ban such activity.
The resolution was passed in response to local businessman Mark London’s planned “adult entertainment complex” called Showgirl Galleria at 234 Market Avenue in downtown Grand Rapids. London also owns the Sensations club on the East Beltline. There have been numerous attempts to prevent Showgirl Galleria from opening, but the City was unable to prevent the club from opening, which now plans to open in spring of 2006. The City Attorney advised the Commission that they could do little more than pass a mild resolution, citing the fact that they were unable to ban such a businesses and that a failed attempt four years ago to close down the Velvet Touch adult bookstore ended up costing the City $250,000 in legal fees. At one point in the evening, supporters of the resolution even offered to setup a legal defense fund to help the City defend itself from potential legal action.
While most of the supporters framed the issue in terms of morality and arguing that nude entertainment was “immoral” and disrupted the City’s reputation as a place of Christian values, the resolution did state that the entertainment “promotes the exploitation of women.” Commissioner Tormala argued for a more expansive resolution that would have targeted all businesses engaged in “adult entertainment” and could have been used as a “teaching moment” to explain to the citizens of Grand Rapids how “adult entertainment” affects the community by exploiting women, promoting violence against women, and increasing sexual crimes such as prostitution and assault. Moreover, a more general resolution could have been useful in making it clear that businesses like Tini Bikinis and others that profit from the exploitation of women, regardless of the level of nudity, are not welcome in Grand Rapids.