Lap-dancing not about sex, club owners claim

Lap-dancing club owners facing hefty new licensing fees have tried to persuade MPs that their clubs are no more sexually stimulating than a disco.

Peter Stringfellow and Simon Warr, who each own chains of lap-dancing clubs, gave evidence to a committee of MPs appointed to look into whether the law should be made stricter.

Last week Jacqui Smith indicated her intention to change the law so that lap-dancing clubs fell into the stricter licensing category of ‘sex encounter establishments’, giving local authorities greater powers to stop them from opening.

Mr Stringfellow argued that he already had “correct and proper” licences for his clubs which were not “sex encounter clubs”.

Mr Warr insisted that his clubs “are not sexually titillating. The purpose of the club is to provide entertainment”.

After a shocked response from MPs and the audience in the committee room, Mr Stringfellow intervened.

“Of course, it’s sexually stimulating,” he said. “So is a disco. So is a little girl flashing away with her knickers showing.”

Sandrine Levesque of the campaign group Object, which is pushing for stricter laws, told the committee that the present system did not take enough notice of the objections of local residents.

A former lap-dancer, Nadine Stravonia de Montagnac, told MPs: “A lot of girls enter into it very young and they think they will be stars and that it’s a celebrity lifestyle. The reality is that the majority of times it’s quite humiliating.”