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Court Lays Bare Strip Club's Argument That Lap Dances Are Art

In New York State, she's not an artist.
Joe Raedle
/
Getty Images
In New York State, she's not an artist.

No, the Nite Moves strip club in Latham, N.Y., can't claim that lap dances, pole performances and other moves in its ladies' repertoire are "art" and therefore exempt from sales taxes, New York State's highest court ruled today in a 4-3 decision.

According to The Associated Press:

"The court majority said taxes apply to many entertainment venues, such as amusement parks and sporting events. It ruled the club has failed to prove it qualifies for the exemption for 'dramatic or musical arts performances' that was adopted by the Legislature 'with the evident purpose of promoting cultural and artistic performances in local communities.' "

The three other judges, though, concluded that there's no difference in the law's eye between "highbrow dance and lowbrow dance."

Albany's Times Union says the ruling "could have wide implications for topless joints across the Empire State." It has posted a copy of the decision here. According to the newspaper, Nite Moves owes about $400,000 to the state. The owner says he may try to take his case to a federal court, arguing it is unconstitutional not to treat his ladies' performances like those of other dancers.

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.
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