A Spokane Valley adult arcade where men have watched women strip for 13 years will stop offering in-house entertainment next year.
As of New Year’s Day, customers will no longer find exotic dancers at Ms. Kitty’s, 6311 E. Sprague. The booths where customers watch X-rated movies will be gone by the end of February, owner Alex Texmo said.
Texmo said she’ll remodel and expand the retail portion of the business, offering a bigger selection of adult videos, books and sex-related products.
Ending live entertainment is a change she’s considered for a long time and one that became inevitable when county commissioners adopted an adult entertainment ordinance last month, Texmo said. The new law, which isn’t yet enforced, would take the doors off booths where customers watch movies and dancers in private.
Without that anonymity, Texmo said, many of her customers would not return.
Prosecutors and sheriff’s detectives say the change will make it easier to enforce laws against lewdness, prostitution and other crimes.
Spokane anti-pornography activist Penny Lancaster said she’s pleased with Texmo’s decision.
“They’re making a good choice to limit their business to the arcades,” Lancaster said. “I also encourage them to reconsider the offensive signs they have out on Sprague.”
The owners of another adult arcade, Deja Vu, have vowed to fight other provisions of the ordinance affecting stage dancing. But Texmo said she has no desire to launch a court battle of her own.
“I don’t think the law is unreasonable,” she said.
Texmo said she normally employs 10 to 15 part-time dancers. They earn $5.15 an hour, plus tips. Customers pay a $4 cover charge to watch the dancers or movies.
Some of the dancers will continue their trade at arcades in Montana and elsewhere, Texmo said. Others will get out of the business.
“Originally I was going to end (dancing) on Thanksgiving. They wanted to keep dancing through December to get the extra Christmas money,” she said.
Texmo said she plans to close the Spokane Ms. Kitty’s at the end of 2004, when the windowless, concrete-block building is paid off.
“I’m going to clean it out, close it down and rent it out, and not as an adult bookstore,” said Texmo, who wants to spend more time on her hobbies: writing, raising Alaskan malamutes and hiking. “That’s my retirement.”
She has no plans to close her flagship store in Bozeman, Mont., where live entertainment is not offered.
Opened in 1984 by Texmo and the late John Bauer, a former Catholic priest, Ms. Kitty’s was the first business in Spokane where customers could see full nudity. They had worked together on the Bozeman store and another in Helena, which since has closed.
Bauer said at the Spokane Valley opening that his spiritual mission was “alleviating sexual repression.” Porn star Marilyn Chambers was the guest of honor and the opening was filmed by Playboy’s adult cable channel.
Shortly after the Valley store opened, Bauer and Texmo opened another in north Spokane. In the year it was open, that store was picketed, bombed and was the target of restrictive zoning ordinances and parking restrictions that prompted its closure.
The arcade on Sprague Avenue features five compartments about the size of telephone booths where customers watch X-rated movies that play on television-sized screens. The booths have half doors for privacy.
Instead of television screens, another six booths have windows allowing customers to watch as a dancer strips. “One person per booth” read signs on the doors.
In a “telefantasy booth,” a dancer performs for an individual customer. The two are separated by glass, but can talk via telephone, as the customer slips tips through a slot.
Texmo said she’s worked hard to keep her business clean. County reports show she’s not always successful.
Sheriff’s deputies have occasionally arrested customers for masturbating in the booths.
A hand-written sign warns dancers that “It’s your job to keep the telefantasy windows clean on both sides!”
Still, the inspectors did not find “glory holes” at Ms. Kitty’s as they did at another business affected by the ordinance, Paradise Adult Bookstore, 12122 E. Sprague.
Officials who inspected Paradise in 1996 described conditions as “filthy” and told of waist-high holes bored between booths. Glory holes are illegal because they can be used for sexual contact between customers.
A clerk at Paradise said Wednesday that he doesn’t know how the owner intends to respond to the ordinance. Barring a court battle, the owner must change the layout of booths to afford less privacy for customers.
Paradise’s owner did not return a telephone message left with the clerk.
, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: New rules Barring court challenges, Spokane County will start enforcing a new adult entertainment ordinance early next year. The new rules require: Nude and semi-nude dancers to stay at least 4 feet from patrons. Require adult arcades to close from 2 to 10 a.m. Require annual licenses and fees for dancers, businesses, managers and each TV monitor in an arcade. Require floor plans that allow inspectors to see the inside of viewing booths from common areas. Prohibit doors on booths.