Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON--The New Orleans City Planning Commission staff recommend capping and spacing out the number of French Quarter strip clubs, like the Penthouse Club seen here on Iberville St. in the Quarter in New Orleans, La. Thursday, June 23, 2016. The CPC recommended to eventually cut the clubs by half. The study released this week is in response to City Council's directive for the CPC to study the issue.

Matthew Hinton

The City Planning Commission heard from the “voiceless victims” of good operators of Adult Live Performance Venues in French Quarter for the first time on June 28. Smart, articulate and strong women from our businesses packed the City Council chambers for the City Planning Commission’s hearing.

It took considerable courage for these women to stand up for themselves and the thousands of others in our industry, as they debunked many of the myths and misconceptions about adult entertainment. To the surprise of the many detractors, there were no stories of forced labor, human trafficking or criminal activity.

Prior to the hearing, if one read the 826-page study compiled by the CPC, the reader would be left with the eerie feeling that the adult entertainment industry is nothing more than nuisance or evidence of underworld vice. Part 3 of the report, the comments/petition section, is especially demonizing and patronizing to those who make a living providing adult entertainment in the French Quarter. The most vocal attackers of the industry, Covenant House and Mr. William Khan, a T-shirt seller on Bourbon Street, were fonder of repetition than accuracy. We are a strong part of our economy and contribute to the community in many ways. This is not to say our industry is perfect. Like any other industry, not all businesses choose to play by the rules. Those that do, however, should not have those who choose to work pilloried.

New Orleans is a city like no other and it deserves to be treated accordingly. Comparing the Vieux Carré Entertainment District to the “Combat Zone” in Boston or “The Block” in Baltimore isn’t just inaccurate but it’s also divisive and harmful. New Orleans stands heads and shoulders above these troubled areas, even with its all of its trials and tribulations.

Holding bars and adult businesses accountable for crime in the Quarter because our customers and people who work on Bourbon Street become victims is awful sophistry. It makes no more sense to blame us for crime than it does to blame the Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Tourism Marketing Corporation for inviting visitors to our city.

If the CPC hearing proved anything, it showed that prejudice is a terrible thing whether based on race, sex or how people choose to make a living. Many of the adult use businesses on Bourbon and in the VCE provide legitimate, safe working establishments and have invested heavily in bettering not only their properties but also the French Quarter. New Orleans will continue to be a world class destination with word class adult entertainment. As a final note, many entertainers find the use of the word “strippers” a demeaning epithet. We ask that your newspaper cease using the term.

Robert Watters

owner, Rick’s Cabaret and Rick’s Saloon

New Orleans

John Kirkendoll

owner, Penthouse

New Orleans