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Gay Center Sues Milwaukee For $600,000 Over Naked


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Gay Center Sues Milwaukee For $600,000 Over Naked Bust

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

Posted: August 24, 2005 5:00 pm ET

(Milwaukee, Wisconsin) The Milwaukee Gay Arts Center is suing the city for shutting down its performances of "Naked Boys Singing".

Last week police shut down the local production of the hit Off Broadway musical (story) saying the center did not have a city theater license.

The suit says that the ordinance was selectively enforced because the center is a gay organization and that a permit was never required for other productions in the past and that numerous other small venues typically present theater performances without one.

According to the court papers filed by the center's lawyer the center, because it is a charitable organization, is exempt from the theater permit requirement. The court filing states that the center promotes and produces theater presentations that benefit gay-related groups and that proceeds were designated for various AIDS research groups and theater groups.

The also suit contends that, even though the production contains nudity, that was no excuse for the city to shut it down.

A city ordinance prohibits frontal nudity but exempts theater and other art performances from the ban as long as they have "serious artistic merit" and the predominant nature of the business is not intended to "provide sexual gratification."

The center is seeking $500,000 in punitive damages, $100,000 for anticipated legal fees, $27,720 for loss of ticket revenue, $3,000 for loss of advertisement revenue, $1,700 for the cost of rights for the play and $2,000 for legal fees to date.

Police say they began looking into show after evangelist Drew Heiss filed an open records request for a copy of the center's licenses to serve alcohol, show nude photos and have nude dancers.

Last December the Atlanta production of "Naked Boys Singing" was shut down after police said the show bar in which it was playing didn't have an adult entertainment license. (story)

The charges were later dropped after mayor Shirley Franklin interceded. (story)

In January, a federal court has ordered the city of San Juan, Puerto Rico, to pay the Local producers of the gay themed musical $1.3 million in compensation for closing the campy musical a day before it was to open at the state-owned Tapia Theatre in 2003.

©365Gay.com 2005


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