Stanly County commissioners approve definition, changes to adult entertainment ordinance
Published 3:40 pm Tuesday, July 11, 2023
With a vote of 6-1, the Stanly County Board of Commissioners voted to add text changes to zoning ordinances regarding adult entertainment.
Commissioner Peter Asciutto voted against the motion which redefined “Adult Businesses” as “Adult Establishments and uses including Adult Live Entertainment.”
Adult Live Entertainment is now defined in the ordinance as “A performance featuring topless dancers, exotic dancers, strippers, or male or female impersonators who provide entertainment that appeals to a prurient interest, regardless of whether or not performed for consideration.”
The amendment defines “prurient” as “marked by or arousing an immoderate or unwholesome interest or desire especially marked by, arousing, or appealing to sexual desire.”
In an email to The Stanly News & Press, County Manager Andy Lucas said the text amendment change “was made at the request of several commissioners in response to requests from the local faith-based community.”
The Stanly County Planning Board recommended in its June 16 board meeting for commissioners to approve the text amendment.
Stanly County Planning Department Director Bob Remsburg presented the amendment for the board’s consideration at the meeting.
Remsburg said the planning department received a request “from the county’s administration to draft some language into the Stanly County Zoning Ordinance which would address male or female impersonators who provide entertainment that appeals to a prurient interest.”
Asciutto asked Remsburg about a point brought up at the most recent meeting of the planning board regarding the amendment.
“As part of appealing to a prurient interest, regardless of whether or not performed for consideration, a person who is performing may not intend it to be of prurient interest. It’s all in the receiver or somebody in the audience, is that pretty much correct?” Asciutto said.
“Correct. Obviously, it’s what someone witnesses and sees,” Remsburg answered.
Asciutto listed several examples of events with people cross-dressing at events, including a womenless beauty pageant hosted by the Stanly County Relay for Life years ago. In that event, men wore women’s dresses.
He also asked if the text amendment would include performances by theater groups of shows like “Tootsie,” “Mrs. Doubtfire” and “Some Like It Hot,” where men are attracted to men dressed as women.
Asciutto also mentioned Pinups and Pumps, who dress up in the style of 1950s and 1960s pinup girls. He called Pinups and Pumps “a good group of folks that raise money for charities,” but noted they dress up and do beauty contests along with charity car shows.
“Would they be allowed to do their beauty shows outside the municipalities?” Asciutto said.
He also mentioned powderpuff football games where girls play touch or flag football while boys dress up in cheerleading outfits.
Asciutto also mentioned Elvis impersonator shows, saying “Elvis is hot for a lot of women, and some guys, too.
“I’m probably not going to be able to support this because it’s just a lot of questions and I don’t know the real reason behind this. We talk about freedom…doing this would take away a lot of people’s freedoms to do stuff most people would consider pretty safe,” Asciutto said.
Commissioner Patty Crump, speaking about the amendment, said Asciutto made some good points, and regarding the examples he gave of movies and plays which contained male or female impersonators, added, “I don’t know that those would actually be prurient, really. I think that we all know what this is all about…what this is really about is some of the drag shows that we’re seeing that are coming into a space that could be dangerous for children to be around.” (Note: the previous paragraph was edited to further clarify the comments of Commissioner Crump.)
Crump said the new text amendment was “a safety net.”
“If someone wanted to challenge that they were going to do a play, that they can take that to the board and say, ‘We want to do this play. It could be misinterpreted. So would you give us permission to do that?’ And at that point, the members of the board would be in a subjective position.”
After Crump moved to approve the amendment and was seconded by Commissioner Brandon King, Asciutto said, “this is all about fear and hate. My gosh, drag has been around for centuries. I don’t see a problem with it.”
He added, “we’re taking away somebody’s freedom; if they want to do that, let them do that…I don’t understand the fear of somebody dressing up.”