Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019 | 2 a.m.
Often characterized as an adult playground, Las Vegas has a reputation as a destination for bachelor and bachelorette parties, and other debaucherous getaways.
Here’s what you need to know about nudity in Las Vegas.
Strip clubs, once called gentlemen’s clubs, quickly made their way to Las Vegas when it was still just a frontier town. One of the most famous dancers to come out of Vegas was Annie Ample. She moved to Southern Nevada in 1983 and eventually became a featured stripper around the world.
There’s a belief that the city is a place to “come and get crazy,” said Las Vegas criminal defense attorney Michael Pariente. He’s been practicing law in Nevada for more than a decade, and says most of the clients he represents are tourists charged with crimes ranging from disorderly conduct to indecent exposure. Even the city of sin has its limits, especially when it comes to nudity. Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department spokesman Aden Ocampo-Gomez said when it comes to indecent exposure arrests, there has to be a victim. The victim could be anyone in proximity to the offense who reports it to law enforcement. An officer, he said, can’t be a victim. Officers also consider intent, Ocampo-Gomez said. For example, an individual who purposely flashes someone could be arrested, but a drunk tourist who accidentally exposes himself when falling over generally wouldn’t get arrested. When it comes to arrests relating to nudity, the numbers aren’t high, Ocampo-Gomez said. “People aren’t as easily offended because of the [Las Vegas] culture.”
What is considered nude?
Like any other state, Nevada has laws barring nudity in public.
Clark County ordinance defines “nude” as the “showing of the human male or female genitals, pubic area or anus with less than a fully opaque covering.” The code also considers male genitalia in a “discernibly turgid state, whether covered or not” as nude. In other words, a man can be penalized for having an erection, according to Pariente.
“Topless” is defined as fully exposing the female breast and areola. Entertainers along the Strip and Fremont Street can get around this rule by wearing pasties. OcampoGomez said topless pool clubs such as those at Sapphire, Bare Pool Lounge and Artisan are allowed to exist because “they’re on private property.”
Male vs. female dancers
While there isn’t a law prohibiting full-nude male strip clubs, there isn’t a high demand for them, attorney Adam Solinger said.
Businesses like Wild Boyz Entertainment offer a “full monty” show, but only for private parties.
Like women, men cannot work as full-nude exotic dancers if there is alcohol served, and clubs without alcohol “are less lucrative,” Solinger said. A large part of what exotic entertainment earns is from drink sales, he said.
Topless and full-nude clubs
While exotic dancing is legal in the Valley and along the Strip, it's not a free-for-all and is regulated just as any other state.
If a business serves alcohol, dancers cannot be fully nude, according to state statute. This also applies to shows in the city and along the Strip.
• Topless strip clubs: Legally called “erotic dance establishments,” where dancers can expose their breasts but must keep their genitalia covered. Topless clubs may have licenses to serve alcohol.
• Adult night clubs: Full nudity is acceptable, but these clubs cannot serve alcohol. There’s one exception: The Palamino Club in North Las Vegas obtained its strip club license before July 19, 1995, when an ordinance was amended to include prohibition of alcohol within businesses with full-nude erotic dancing.
Adam Solinger, an attorney with Las Vegas Defense Group, said a reason for this ordinance change could have been because fully nude clubs and alcohol “invited a lot of problems.”
He said alcohol may also inspire dancers to do things they wouldn’t do otherwise, illegal prostitution being one concern.
• Centerfolds Cabaret
• Chicas Bonitas
• Crazy Horse III Gentlemen’s Club
• Déjà Vu Showgirls
• Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club
• Sapphire Gentlemen’s Club
• Spearmint Rhino
• Sophia’s Gentlemen’s Club
In Nevada, indecent exposure or obscenity is considered a sex crime. State law can be used to penalize anyone “who makes any open and indecent or obscene exposure of his or her person, or of the person of another.” This means a person cannot expose their breasts, pubic area, anus or genitals (the law exempts women who breastfeed in public).
According to the statute, penalties for first offense of indecent or obscene exposure can be up to 364 days in jail and/or up to $2,000 in fines. A subsequent offense can lead to one to four years in prison and a possible fine of up to $5,000.
Full nude clubs
• Diamond Cabaret
• Little Darlings
• Palomino Club (full bar)
• Talk of the Town
• Can Can Room
Depending on the circumstances, defendants can be prosecuted on both indecent exposure and gross lewdness charges, which refers to sexual acts. Both crimes carry the same penalties.
A court can also order indecent exposure defendants to register as sex offenders at the Tier I level. Tier I offenders are not searchable by the public unless the offense involves a child.
Pariente said most of the indecent exposure and obscenity cases he sees involve sex in public.
Male strip clubs and revues
• Men of Sapphire
• Hunk Mansion
• Kings of Hustler
• Aussie Heat
• Thunder from Down Under
• Magic Mike Live
“Technically, if you’re having sex and it’s visible to people walking by, you could conceivably be charged,” he said.
Although rare, indecent exposure arrests can also be made in strip clubs.
Las Vegas Defense Group Attorneys outline the following scenarios in which an arrest can be made:
• A dancer at a topless club flashes his or her genitalia
• A dancer strips near the club's windows or doors through which the general public can see
• A dancer strips in an area of the club not visible from the main entrance or security station; stripping in private rooms is prohibited
• A dancer without a valid stripper work permit exposes his or her genitalia
• A patron exposes his or her anus, genitalia, pubic area or breasts.
But Pariente said those aren’t the type of arrest cases he sees at strip clubs.
Did you know?
In 2018, Metro made 183 nudity-related arrests and issued 139 nudity-related citations.
“Most of the arrests you do see involve undercover stings where they are busting girls for soliciting prostitution,” he said.
It also comes down to officer discretion, Pariente said.
“People come to Vegas to get crazy; (officers) are a little more tolerant,” he added.
This story originally appeared in the Las Vegas Weekly.