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Las Vegas casino seeks to evict raunchy nightclub

By Michelle Rindels

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 02:42 a.m. HST, Aug 29, 2013

LAS VEGAS » It turns out that even in Sin City, some sins are hard to overlook.

The Palazzo hotel-casino on the Las Vegas Strip is trying to evict a 10-month-old nightclub for shows it says are so raunchy that they violate obscenity laws. It says actors — some nearly naked — toss condoms into the crowd and simulate sex acts and bestiality on stage.

The club is seeking a restraining order to halt the closure, arguing that simulated sex acts don't constitute obscenity.

Casino officials "were well aware of our brand," said Sean Dunn, special events director at The Act, in an email statement, adding that representatives of the hotel-casino have frequently attended shows and did not complain.

Las Vegas Sands, which owns the casino, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Act remains open for business while a district judge considers its fate, but the fight over its future has exposed an underlying reality in Vegas: While the city sells itself as a racy, no-holds-barred destination, there are limits.

"I think there's the perception that anything goes in Vegas — there's no boundaries, no lines," said Lynn Comella, a professor of sexuality and women's studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. "In reality, nothing could be further from the truth."

That perception, in part, is fueled by what tourists see.

Trucks roll down Las Vegas Boulevard advertising "hot babes" delivered directly to hotel rooms, the phone book is full of come-ons for escorts and private dancers, and taxis and billboards feature scantily clad women who leave little to the imagination.

While Las Vegas is also rife with strip clubs, tourists won't find them along the Strip or in the city's hotel-casinos. They can take in a topless stage show or lounge at a European-style topless pool, but they have to catch a ride to a side street to see strippers.

"The goal for Las Vegas was to be naughty enough to attract you but not naughty enough to repel you," said Michael Green, a history professor at the College of Southern Nevada.

The city — which rises and falls on the pocketbooks of its 40 million annual visitors — must balance the sexiness with the sensibilities of foreign tourists and large, multinational casinos.

"It's highly sexualized and gets a lot of mileage out of that, but it's a very particular version of that," Comella said.

In The Act's case, Sands executives notified club officials on April 26 that they'd crossed a line with the show and were no longer welcome in the $15 million space. The casino giant wants to evict it, ending a 10-year lease.

The casino notified club officials after undercover security officers went into the venue in March. The details of the show were laid bare this week in court, when an investigator apologized for getting graphic and looked pained while describing some kinky scenes.

The club contends Sands "manufactured this 'breach' in an attempt to improperly evict" it.

"We believe we are on the leading edge of the next evolution of nightlife in Las Vegas and that The Act fills a niche for patrons looking for an alternative to the typical Las Vegas big-box club scene," Dunn said.

Those who stray outside the limits of what is considered acceptable in the city risk invoking the wrath of the state's powerful Gaming Control Board and losing their lucrative gambling permits.

The board smacked the Planet Hollywood casino with a $750,000 fine in 2009 amid accusations that employees at the independently owned Prive nightclub allowed toplessness, turned a blind eye to prostitution and physically and sexually assaulted patrons.

The board isn't investigating The Act and is waiting for the lawsuit to play out, according to chairman A.G. Burnett.

There's no doubt that Las Vegas markets itself as an adult playground, said Oscar Goodman, the larger-than-life former Las Vegas mayor who's often flanked by scantily clad showgirls, martini in hand.

"We have standards and we're not going to advocate illegal activity," he said. "Unless the sex goes out of the line, we embrace it."

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Tony96822 wrote:
oh ok, now I know why its called "Sin City". lol. They had those acts in Honolulu once upon a time.
on August 29,2013 | 05:45AM
allie wrote:
It is deplorable that women are exploited and humiliated in this way. Economic injustice fuels it.
on August 29,2013 | 11:23AM
Anonymous wrote:
Let "Sin City" be just that !! The customers should be informed of the "acts" before they enter !! Gee Whiz !!!
on August 29,2013 | 06:01AM
Bdpapa wrote:
Palazzo is a nice place. They don't need that kind of action. They should just buy out the contract and eat the loss.
on August 29,2013 | 06:14AM
allie wrote:
It is a depressing place like all of overpriced, over hyped Vegas.
on August 29,2013 | 11:24AM
PTF wrote:
What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas!
on August 29,2013 | 06:19AM
allie wrote:
count me to stay out of vegas..way too depressing and useless. They make utter fools of the pathetic Hawaii gamblers who hand over their hard earned money there. What a load of cr...
on August 29,2013 | 11:25AM
lokela wrote:
Weirdo's flexing...
on August 29,2013 | 07:39AM
st1d wrote:
casinos are designed to separate money from gamblers. they provide anything to players, anything to high roller players. drugs, alchohol, sex and all expenses paid experiences. as long as you have money to gamble, vegas will supply whatever you want.

the problem with the club is that too many of the patrons are not stopping at the gambling tables on their way in and out of the clubs. casinos can't stand to see a vendor making more money than the casino. the casino hates to see itheir casino parking lots full of cars with non-gamblers.

there's no morality at play here, just greed and jealousy at a vendor making money from patrons by-passing the casino gambling traps.

on August 29,2013 | 09:48AM
allie wrote:
well said
on August 29,2013 | 11:24AM
juscasting wrote:
I go to Vegas for one reason the same reason majority of us go; that you might come back to Hawaii a Multi Million dollar WinnaH! Oh. And I like to go to the shows too!
on August 29,2013 | 12:51PM
Mei mei wrote:
don't know why my comment is not here.. but anyway, all I said was Vegas is about having a good time, but w/animals, that's a bit much!
on August 29,2013 | 01:04PM
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