Strippers: Back It On Up, Baby

It's time for the last dance in Los Angeles. Last week the city council unanimously approved a measure that bans direct tipping of nude dancers and forbids them from getting within six feet of customers. Police officials hope the limits will impede prostitution, which they say begins with lap dancing and proceeds to solicitations for sex in private VIP rooms. (The ban eliminates the rooms, too.) "It all begins with the touching," says Capt. Vance Proctor, the head of LAPD's Organized Crime and Vice Division. The law, he says, was based on similar rules in places like San Diego; dancers, customers and club owners in L.A. face up to six months in jail and $2,500 fines if convicted. Other cities are showing "a lot of interest" in establishing their own sexual no-fly zones, reports the bill's sponsor, Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski. Calls are coming in from Alaska and Germany.

Closer to home, club owners vow a fight. They argue that prostitution is rare and say that a lap-dance ban at the epicenter of the multibillion-dollar porn industry is hypocritical. "If there are no lap dances, who is going to come in?" asks Jamal Haddad, owner of the Frisky Kitty in L.A.'s San Fernando Valley, who says his performers do "nothing illegal." Dancers, who can make $200 to $500 a night in tips (they earn little or no wage), are worried, too. Raven, 26, a single mother of two who dances at Frisky Kitty, says 80 percent of her tips come from lap dancing. She and her co-workers are scrambling to figure out how to earn money under the new rules. "We're going to have to get creative," she says.