Ualaska residents, tribal council protest arrival of strip club

Posted: Friday, January 04, 2002

UNALASKA (AP) -- Local citizens, led by the tribal council, are protesting the opening of a Unalaska's first strip club, aimed at entertaining cash-rich fishermen.

Kostas Manolakakis is opening the club across the street from the offices of the Qawalangin Tribe and within view of the historic Russian Orthodox church.

Manolakakis has operated two restaurants in Unalaska. The strip club will be open from 5 p.m. to 4 a.m. A $20 admission fee will be charged and alcohol will not be served.

Unalaska, with the port of Dutch Harbor, is America's busiest fishing port -- and has long had a reputation for rowdiness. But a decade of onshore development has led to more families and more of a family-friendly feel.

Word of the club's opening in recent weeks has led to complaints to the city council, a petition and a resolution from the tribal council calling ''on all citizens to take whatever political, economic, civil or other action which are legally possible to hinder or prevent the successful establishment or operation of such a business.''

Tribal member Brenda Tellman complained that the club is within view of her home, and near where her children play in the old downtown section.

Unalaska's City Council will take a first look at a proposed ordinance on Jan. 15. The measure could establish minimum distances between dancers and customers, a ban on tipping, and maybe force the club to relocate, said city manager Chris Hladick.

City Council member Shirley Marquardt said the First Amendment protects erotic dancing as a form of speech, but said the city can regulate behavior.

Dozens of residents showed up last month to protest the club to the city council. More than 200 signatures in opposition have been collected by residents. The opposition includes feminists and religious conservatives.

''I'm not here to preach conservatism or intolerance,'' Sheryl Johnson told the city council. ''There is nothing respectful in the objectification of women.''

But another 80 signatures of support were collected by John DesJardins, a seasonal longshoreman.

Local bartender Valerie Donaldson said she doubts the club will increase prostitution, drugs and other crimes, which some opponents assert.

''Look in your own backyards, that stuff is already here,'' Donaldson said.

Donaldson expects the club will fail within a year, after the novelty wears off, but in the meantime it has spiced things up locally.

''This used to be a wild fisherman's town. I think it's settled down quite a bit over the years. The club probably would have been better had it been here in the '70s and '80s,'' Donaldson said.

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