The Show-Me State Asks Strippers to Show Less

"Nightline" asked Bartle about tax revenue losses from the businesses, which contribute an estimated $4 million in state taxes annually.

He said that in the "world of reality," not all of that tax revenue would leave the state. In his "perfect world," however, all the clubs would close.

Under the new law, women would still be able to dance -- just with a lot more clothes on, and a lot less interaction between them and the customers.

Sally, the dancer, said that interaction was important to the clubs' viability.

"It's very important," she said. "I mean, that's the biggest part of this club. A guy sees if he likes you or not, and then they invite you over and then that's when interaction starts, and that's where money comes into play. Because a lot of them want to help you, and they like your conversation, and they feel like this is your job and so they tip you, or they get a dance or two. So, if it was just strictly stage, then we wouldn't make money and the owner wouldn't make money. So, there wouldn't be no point in the clubs, any of the clubs, staying open anymore."

Missouri Strippers: Free Speech

We asked Megan, another dancer, about Sen. Bartle's point that all of this is demeaning to women.

"To me, it isn't demeaning," Megan said. "To me, it is an opportunity to express myself. It's an opportunity for these girls to express themselves. It's an opportunity to make a choice for themselves. I don't think it's Sen. Bartle's position or place to make decisions for these women. I don't think it's his place to try to impose his morals and his beliefs on people in the state. The next thing you know, we'll be burning copies of 'Catcher in the Rye.'"

This bump-and-grind isn't quite "Catcher in the Rye," but there is a free speech argument to be made.

"The United States Supreme Court has said in the case of Renton v. [Playtime theaters] that nudity can be free expression," First Amendment attorney Jon Katz said. "When you require a person to cover themselves from the waist down, when you require them to cover themselves from the breasts down, except for the cleavage, you're censoring their body. You're censoring their breasts."

Dick Bryant plans a lawsuit based not on the First Amendment but on a possible procedural misstep. He said Bartle's bill did not include an accurate economic impact statement, which the state constitution requires. The argument could get the whole thing thrown out.

"If Sen. Bartle says there is no significant impact, than he's just wrong," said Bryant. "The economic impact statement that was attached to the bill said there was less than $100,000 in actual lost revenues. We know from a sampling from the businesses that the numbers are way over that."

Bartle disagreed.

"If you look at the overall economic impact," he said, "it's infinitesimally small. So that to me is not a highly credible argument."

Megan foresaw broader economic fallout if the new rules take effect.

"I think the effect will really cause even larger problems in the economy of the state of Missouri, and it's not like we have much room for error here," she said. "You know, we're running things very tight in the state financially, and to put more people out of work, you're just begging people to go on state support, which is eventually going to hit every man. ... The trickle-down will hit everybody's pockets."

Bartle said the economy could take it.

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