Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Where is 'seminude' not permitted?

It appears the vague, so-called Museum District area, which apparently includes some aspects of the western part of the Fan, may soon be broadening its entertainment options, according to a Richmond Times-Dispatch article penned by Kiran Krishnamurthy.

The owner of a seminude club in Shockoe Bottom is planning to open a nightclub across from two museums frequented by children and their families.

Sam Moore, owner of Club Velvet, has contracted with a construction company for work on the former Julian’s Restaurant at 2617 W. Broad St., across from the Science Museum of Virginia and the Children’s Museum of Richmond.

A few months ago I noticed a renovation effort was underway at what had been Julian’s (second) location on West Broad St., the northern boundary of the Fan District. Curious about what would be opening up in a building that had long been vacant, I asked one of the workers about it. When I was told no one knew, it sounded odd.

Reading the RT-D article makes me think that now the word is out, there is a brouhaha on its way over this development.

The Fan District, once home to such X-rated fare as what went on every day at the Lee Art Theater (blue films and live strippers) and the Red Light (topless dancers) in the 1990s, may no longer be a place that will accept "adult entertainment" in its midst.

That article also makes me think that Richmond’s laws defining “seminude” and regulating what states of undress are permitted within the city limits are both somewhat vague and more than a little amusing.

A city ordinance bans nudity, which is defined as “any state of dress less than seminude.”

The city defines “seminude” as a state of dress with “less than completely and opaquely covered pubic region, buttocks, or female breasts below a point immediately above the top of the areolae, excepting any portion of the cleavage of the female breast exhibited by … apparel provided the areolae are not exposed.”

If one tries to take all that literally and apply it, might the determined sunbathers in Monroe Park or on the Lee Monument be in trouble come the first warm sunny spring day?

No doubt, however tacky it might seem to lots of people, there’s a market in most cities for nightclubs that feature scantily clad women — seminude? — as waitresses or dancers. However, just as zoning laws prevent someone from opening a hog farm or constructing a 50 story building in any old neighborhood, it seems such an approach would prevent a nightclub in certain areas, too.

However, Science Museum, or not, in this case the somewhat gritty neighborhood in question seems to have few limitations on what sort of business can operate there now. Stay tuned...

Click here to read the entire RT-D article.

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