‘Eroticism requires less distance’: Strip club sues over 25-foot requirement

Player’s Club is located at 6710 Federal Blvd. (Thomas Gounley)

Better break out the binoculars.

Adams County strip club Player’s Club said it’s the only such establishment around that is required to keep its strippers 25 feet away from customers — and it’s suing to change that.

“Plaintiff’s entertainers seek to create erotic art and such eroticism requires less distance than 25 feet to be effectively communicated to the patrons,” the club is arguing in court.

Player’s Club, which operates at 6710 Federal Blvd., filed its lawsuit on July 8 against the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Tri-County Health Department. It alleges the 25-foot requirement violates the 1st and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution as well as components of the Colorado State Constitution.

According to the lawsuit, Player’s Club notified the health department on June 24 that three employees had tested positive for COVID-19. The club voluntarily closed for a time and cleaned its premises.

A health department staffer then gave the club a written set of requirements it needed to meet before it could reopen. Those requirements included ensuring “maintenance of at least a 25-foot distance between stage performers and patrons,” according to the lawsuit.

The club said it reopened as a restaurant on July 6, but the 25-foot requirement “makes it impossible for Plaintiff to earn enough revenue to sustain operations.”

“To comply with the Spacing Requirement, Plaintiff must effectively shut down half of its space to patrons, thereby limiting substantially the number of patrons who may be accommodated,” the lawsuit reads.

Player’s Club also argues that long-range stripping just isn’t the same.

“Plaintiff’s patrons pay to experience and engage with erotic performance art … The Spacing Requirement diminishes substantially the eroticism of the performance,” the club is arguing in court.

A screenshot of the Player’s Club website.

The lawsuit also notes that club patrons often hand cash directly to strippers, or place the cash near them.

“The Spacing Requirement makes it impossible for patrons to pay Plaintiff’s entertainers directly, substantially impacting the ability of entertainers to be compensated for their art,” the lawsuit reads.

The Tri-County Health Department declined to comment. But according to Player’s Club, when it issued the 25-foot restriction, the department cited as its justification a June 18 update to the state’s “Safer at Home” order outlining coronavirus-related restrictions, which was signed by the head of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

The order states that “performers in a restaurant or bar must maintain a minimum of 25 feet of distance from the patrons.”

A number of strip clubs voiced concern about the language after the order was issued, according to Fox31. But in its lawsuit, Player’s Club said that interpretation and enforcement of the order is up to local health departments, and that the Tri-County Health Department has “singled Plaintiff out as the only venue as to which the Spacing Requirement applies.”

“Because Plaintiff, but not its competitors, must comply with the Spacing Requirement, Plaintiff will effectively be destroyed and unable to conduct its business,” the lawsuit reads.

Player’s Club argues that the state order effectively contradicts itself, because in addition to requiring performers to stay 25 feet from patrons, it also states that “if performers join the patron spaces, they must be included in the capacity limit numbers.”

In its lawsuit, the club also questions the rationale for choosing 25 feet in the first place.

“The Order references certain research performed by the CDC suggesting that singing may spread COVID-19 at an increased rate due to respiratory particles exhaled by singers while performing, and therefore recommends additional space between a singer and the audience,” the lawsuit reads. “That is the only factual basis the Order cites for the 25-foot requirement.”

A spokeswoman for the state public health department did not respond to a request for comment. A staffer at the strip club declined comment. Attorneys Jordan Factor and Brenton Gragg of Allen Vellone Wolf Helfrich & Factor, who are representing Player’s Club, did not respond to requests for comment.

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