Goddessphere, an art installation emulating a strip club scheduled to launch at the Shore Club tonight, has been canceled. According to Marina Fini, one of the collaborators on the project, code enforcement officers arrived at the door of the penthouse today and shut the project down, citing a lack of permits.
"These officers came to our door, basically saying we don't have a permit to do our show because it's open to the public," she said. "Our show's not happening now. We have to take everything down."
The officers shut the project down on the grounds that it was a strip club, the artists say, even though no nudity was planned.
According to Melissa Berthier, public relations manager for the city, the Shore Club had obtained a special event permit for public entertainment uses of their pool deck and open spaces, but not for the installation in the penthouse.
"This installation, which was never permitted by the City (nor was a request for it made by Shore Club) was for a pop-up strip club serving alcohol. That use far exceeds allowable in special event permitting and could not therefore be permitted, even though we received late requests to do so today," she said in an emailed statement.
Fini and her collaborators, Emily Meehan and Sarah Weiss, designed Goddessphere to be an immersive experience that turned the traditional strip club experience on its side by focusing on female pleasure and empowerment. A lineup of over a dozen artists and performers were scheduled to participate in the project. Fini and Meehan drove across the country from their homes in California with their work, including plexiglass furniture, costumes, and more, for the installation at the Shore Club. They worked through the night getting everything set up for tonight's opening.
"So many people were involved, and so much labor. It's the most devastating thing," Fini said. "We're almost done installing.... Now we can't even take our stuff down because they're locking the room up in an hour."
Berthier says the city of Miami Beach "has not shut anyone out of their space as claimed."
The Goddessphere artists are now seeking a new home in Miami. The artists say they're willing to consider altering the installation to comply with city code, but claim they were not told exactly what part of their project broke the law. Though it uses strip club themes, they say, it's not a real strip club.
"There's no nudity involved," said performer Dorian Electra, "and the only money being exchanged is to purchase the art." The hotel had planned to sell alcohol on site, she explained, but when they offered to remove the booze from the installation, code officers still refused to let Goddessphere proceed.
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According to section 142-1272 of the city of Miami Beach code, "No adult entertainment establishment is permitted on a parcel of land located within 300 feet of any district designated as RS, RM, or RPS on the city's official zoning district map." That area includes the Shore Club.
"There are BTR requirements for these types of high liability establishments, which the pop up does not have," a statement from Code Complaince reads. "Additionally, there are further requirements for establishments that provide alcohol in regards to permitting partial nudity. Additionally this is a non-conforming use of the structure."
"This wasn't for money," Fini said. "This was a political statement.... We're all so passionate about what we do. I just feel like people keep shutting women down. It's not okay."
The Goddessphere artists can be contacted at 305-204-6350 or GoddessphereArt@gmail.com.