Friday, May 21, 1999

City & County of Honolulu

targets ‘BYOB’ clubs

Andy Mirikitani says the
bring-your-own-booze establishments
are skirting the law

By Gordon Y.K. Pang


Rock music blares from a jukebox. In the center of the room, a topless woman dances on a stage adorned by lights that brighten an otherwise dimly lit room.

And there is liquor, not served, but brought in by patrons or purchased outside through a delivery person. To Councilman Andy Mirikitani, the newly opened Babes in Paradise is a strip club and should be regulated.

To club owner Warren Colazzo, the business is not a bar but a "bring your own booze" establishment similar to a restaurant or karaoke room.

Mirikitani yesterday told reporters in front of the Kapiolani Boulevard business that Babes in Paradise is an attempt by owners to skirt rules governing alcohol-serving strip clubs.

Patrons and dancers at alcohol-serving establishments must be 21 or older.

Mirikitani said clubs like Babes in Paradise allow, and cater to, those under 18. A bill he introduced yesterday would bar anyone under 18 from entering or working in a nude dancing club.

"The primary goal of this bill is to bring these BYOB nightclubs under the same kinds of restrictions that are in place for licensed nude strip clubs by the Liquor Commission," Mirikitani said.

But according to Colazzo, he does not allow any customers under 21 in his club. He acknowledged, however, that some of his dancers and other workers are between 18 and 21.

"Clearly regulation is necessary to protect minors from entering and working in these premises as strippers," Mirikitani said.

Colazzo defended having 18-year-olds as strippers. "They can be tried as adults, they can vote, they can go to war," he said.

He added that he is visited by Liquor Commission investigators who check to ensure there is no drinking by minors and by vice officers who check to ensure there is no sexual contact.

The bill also bans alcohol in establishments that don't serve it. Further it requires dancers to perform on a stage and prohibits contact between strippers and customers.

Mirikitani pointed out that four juvenile females were arrested for prostitution, runaway, curfew and other violations in a BYOB strip club on Keeaumoku Street.

But Colazzo said unlike that club, his establishment does not allow lap-dancing or touching. A law introduced by Mirikitani last year defines any sexual contact as prostitution. Colazzo said he's not attempting to skirt liquor laws but providing an inexpensive alternative to those seeking adult entertainment.

At Babes in Paradise, patrons pay a flat $10 entrance fee and can bring in their own beverages, alcoholic or nonalcoholic, Colazzo said, adding that workers are forbidden from charging customers to buy them drinks.

Colazzo said he makes money solely off of the entrance fee and provides soda, ice, cups and even nonalcoholic drink mixes free.

The Mirikitani bill also targets so-called teen-age nightclubs that he also believes are allowing teens to drink when they take in their own alcohol.

Mirikitani said that like non-alcoholic strip bars, teen nightclubs are outside the jurisdiction of the Liquor Commission.

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