The Devil Incarnate—They want to shut this man down
by Jack Corbett

Originally published in "Xtreme Magazine" how the mothers for a more boring nation are trying to close Sam Stimmel's Indiana topless club  (eight years ago)

The Devil Incarnate stood next to Renee, looking resplendent in her white wedding gown under a bright Michigan sun. A gazebo set in a pastoral vista of rolling fields stood behind the pair. Much prettier than most brides, Renee didn’t look like an ex topless dancer at all and for that matter Sam seemed more like a caring father she had chosen to give her away to the groom than the topless club owner who had employed her. And here I was shooting the wedding video after she invited me from the St. Louis Metro East. And I don’t do wedding videos but Renee and I both share a great affection and trust for our Devil Incarnate. The whole idyllic scene did not even begin to hint at the drama unfolding before us which pits the hypocritical "Mothers for a More Boring Nation" types against the rest of us who want to preserve our 1st Amendment rights to freedom of speech, expression and lawful assembly.

Sam Stimmel was just a corporate controller for a builder’s supply company and weekend drummer in a rock and roll band and. Going into business for himself, he bought a bar, and hired bands to entertain his customers. But too many times he payed out more than he took in. The bar started having wet t shirt contests which attracted much larger crowds than the bands ever did. Ten year’s later, Sam Stimmel, the owner of Stimmelatorsl still wakes up scratching his head as he asks himself: "Now how did I ever become a topless club owner?"

I remember listening to the lawyer addressing the club owners at the Las Vegas Gentlemens Club owners convention’s legal panel several years ago: "Gentlemen, it’s a war out there and you are right there on the front lines. There is a movement across the United States out to destroy our basic rights to freedom of speech, lawful assembly, and freedom of expression. You are its first targets as they try to shut your clubs down. And each year it’s gaining strength."

Several years later, at Stimmelators, two customers get into it with the club’s DJ. I have several guys with me and three girls who danced in the Metro East. An almost overwhelming urge to sneeze hits me as I run up to help the DJ. Seconds later, everyone’s watery eyed and sneezing as they evacuate the place. Ford, working for the club is on the concrete just outside the door, his glasses caked with a white substance. Half blinded by the pepper spray Sam’s running around outside yelling: "Someone get their plate numbers." Nearly everyone who was inside the club is coughing and sputtering. Except for that momentary unpleasant feeling in my sinuses when I went through the cloud of spray to help the DJ, I’m hardly affected. Two men get into a car exchanging obscenities with two other customers out on the sidewalk. As I run up to the car to get their plate numbers the two men pull out into the street. They drive up to the stoplight only a hundred yards up the street from the club as I chase them down. It’s obvious they are going to turn right onto route 13 which is the main street through North Webster. Barely remembering the number I give it to two customers still standing in front of the club who call the police.

An ambulance drives up to us. Two men rush into the club with a stretcher and carry out an inert body. An hour later Sam returns to the dwindling group milling around the club.

"They stopped those two idiots just seven miles up the road in Syracuse. But when I jumped out of the car shouting at the Syracuse police to arrest the two guys, they yelled at me to get back into my car. No arrests were made."

A North Webster squad car pulls up to the club. I watch Sam get inside next to the officer. Some of us, including two of the dancers, who had driven up with me from Illinois are still just outside the club when Sam gets out of the car. "I almost got arrested," Sam tells us. "Just because I was bitching to the police officer about how the police didn’t arrest those two men up in Syracuse."

Two men had just physically assaulted everyone in the club with their pepper spray getting Ford square in the face and causing one of the dancers to black out in the dressing room. Because no arrests were made Celeste, the injured dancer, ended up with a thousand dollars of medical bills. The cops were apparently in the right since we were all the Devils Incarnate simply because we were in a topless club and they were on the side of the "Mothers for a More Boring Nation".

Each year roughly two million dollars goes through Stimmelators, the lion’s share of it being earned by the clubs dancers. Most of it winds up being spent in North Webster, a town that has only 850 residents, and the surrounding community. A boost in spending of this magnitude begs the question----"If Stimmelators closed its doors tomorrow how much effect would this have on the local economy"?

Two years later, the American Family Association, one of the more outspoken arms of the "Mothers for a More Boring Nation", gets two hundred billboards placed across Indiana’s highways calling upon the righteous to close down all the clubs since clubs are pornographic and therefore responsible for most of society’s evils.

Where’d that movement come from? It certainly was here beating its drums for prohibition in the twenties which transformed the bootleggers into today’s huge organized crime network because they made liquor illegal. Rumor has it the "Mothers for a More Boring Nation" ran the Spanish Inquisition, hung the witches at Salem, and crucified Christ over 2000 years ago because he spoke out against the righteous.

I have flashbacks of Sam loaning money to hard up dancers knowing many of them would never pay him back. Or of his feeling sorry for a South Bend girl who he had just hired sight unseen and asking me if I’d go with him to take her home to save her cab fare—one hour from his club, Sam tired at the wheel after 3 a.m. doing the driving knowing she hadn’t turned out to be good looking enough to cut it in his place. Or hiring guys who are physically impaired or ex drug addicts looking for that second chance in life no one else was prepared to give them who become ultra competent employees. Is it possible he isn’t the Devil Incarnate after all?

*****

We follow Sam back to the club after the wedding. "The club owners (Sam’s Vice President of the Indiana Club Owners Association) are having a fund raiser in Fort Wayne tomorrow night, " he tells us. "They are trying to impose a ten foot rule in the Hammond, and South Bend clubs and force them to close at 10 p.m. and restrict the Fort Wayne clubs’ operations. Wisconsin is next on their list. Then the Michigan clubs."

club14.jpg (86089 bytes)

The next night finds us at Piere’s, a dance club in Fort Wayne. The club owners sponsoring the event expect a large turnout. Eleven bands are to each take its turn playing for the crowd. Just inside the door there’s a booth with a voter’s registration area. An old buddy of mine is passing out a handout prepared by the Indiana club owners that expresses eloquently exactly what’s at stake here.

The Indiana club owners hope to collect $50000 at these fund raisers to finance a statistical study in the Fort Wayne area. They are confident that this study will conclusively prove that those communities and neighborhoods where topless clubs exist DO NOT have higher crime rates than neighborhoods where there isn’t a topless club close by. They will use this study to discredit the arguments made to justify the closing of clubs through either local or state legislation in Indiana and other states throughout the U.S.

I run off forty shots with my digital camera. Of two women registering to vote. Of dancers mingling with the crowd collecting donations. There’s American flags all over the place. I take pictures of small groups of dancers cutting up in front of the band. It’s grass roots American politics at its best. Everyone having a great time as pretty girls circulate to spread the word about how our Civil liberties are at stake as they collect dollars for the collection jars. What a paradox----all these dancers and club owners being activists, their hearts and actions like those of our Founding Fathers over two hundred years ago. This time it’s not the British trying to take our liberty away from us. It’s those hypocritical bible quoting morality preaching Mothers for a More Boring Nation.

It’s six and a half hours back to the St Louis Metro East. On the way home I’m thinking about the Old West and those tough, independent men on those long hard cattle drives, out there for months----finally coming into one of those wild and wooly cattle towns where they headed for the saloons and dance halls, which I think were the precursors of the modern topless club. Sometimes they’d shoot up the place but have to pay for it afterwards. They deserved a good time and for the most part weren’t out to hurt anyone. Me? I’m like those guys. I like to have women around me who have the same kind of off the wall sense of humor. And being around a bunch of free spirited guys who know how to have a good time. Sometimes dancing around the room carrying a pretty girl in my arms. Or doing the pole if the place will let me get away with it. To be around people who I can laugh with since life is to be enjoyed and you only experience it once. And where judgmental people who whisper to each other, "He’s being weird," are in the minority. It’s hard to remain awake as I think of all of us free thinkers coming together because of the clubs–a PHD out in San Francisco, a clean cut photography major, a drummer turned club owner, an ex dancer from Michigan who had just gotten married, Heaven, a flamboyant and unforgettable dancer from Indiana posting her poetry in our Lost Angels chats, Alex, now retired from dancing writing poetry out in Missouri, Sahara from the Metro East clubs–retired now managing a Sub Way and cleaning Seven Elevens. The list goes on, all of us connected by the adult entertainment scene across the United States, Devils Incarnate-- and proud of it.

 

Click here to enlarge brochure1.jpg (105264 bytes) the brochure passed out by the club owners at Pierre's

To view the second part of the brochure click here brochure2.jpg (98509 bytes)

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