EDITOR, The Tribune
An objective examination of the issue of adult entertainment in the Bahamas cannot but lead to one conclusion: it resides within the bailiwick of publicly sanctioned activity that adults should be free to engage in or patronise, if they so desire.
For that reason, The Guardian was spot on the mark when it endorsed a call to update some of our Victorian era laws and regulations that put the state in the position of always knowing what’s best for us.
The industry should be allowed to come out of the shadows and into the (red) light. This would afford them the protection of the police instead of their current business model which is to take drastic steps to mitigate harassment from the police.
Our collective position on so-called “vice” or “sin” activities continue to evolve. Happily, there is much more tolerance in this society than some in the religious sector would have us believe.
Permit strip clubs and we would collect business licence fees, VAT on the hefty drinks prices that these establishments charge, and we would reap the economic spin-off that would redound to the supporting cast of entrepreneurs who make a living from this industry.
Respectfully, however, the Guardian’s call for tolerance on this business fell way short of what the real irksome issue is and is wide of the mark of why this industry finds itself before the courts from time to time. Patrons appear to have a predilection for imported talent and therein lies the rub.
It is usually on suspicion of violation of immigration rules that the police raid these strip clubs. And it’s the foreign exotic dancers who must prove that they have leave to enter the country for the purpose of engaging in short-term gainful employment. The old canard that the promoters and owners of the clubs don’t pay their dancers a fee will not hold water. Strippers typically work for tips and this haul can be extensive on occasions such as a wild bachelor party.
The immigration statutes do permit the importation of temporary labour on payment of a small fee, likely in the neighbourhood of $500 to $1,000 per dancer.
In one year, this “stripper tax” would produce a tidy sum to the exchequer. The promoters should be made to post bonds and prove to the satisfaction of the Immigration Department that the dancers are not being sex trafficked or, worse, are not a part of the global slave trade for young vulnerable people.
The correct noun is in fact “people” because we must acknowledge that right alongside strip clubs featuring female dancers, we also import a fair share of men to entertain different audiences.
Strip club patrons are not exclusively men with too much time on their hands and dollar bills in their pockets. Women up and down the Commonwealth have so-called “lingerie parties” featuring only male strippers.
And in keeping with Newton’s third law of motion, for every action there is going to be an equal and opposite reaction. If we legalize strip clubs here, we would save a great chunk of the millions of dollars that flow to strip clubs in Florida where countless Bahamians regularly go to “make it rain”.
February 3, 2019