Litigation for Vice Consolidation

Leroy Griffith, owner of the naked-dancing-girl joint Club Madonna on South Beach's Washington Avenue, says there's nothing to accentuate the experience of seeing a nubile nymph in the buff like a good stiff ... drink. Unfortunately the city of Miami Beach prohibits Club Madonna from serving alcohol, a constriction that drives Griffith bananas. He put up with it for years, he says, until all sorts of strip clubs started opening in neighboring cities without the alcohol ban. Now the competition is hurting his business. Some customers have had to leave Madonna, go to the Fuddruckers down the block, quaff a beer, and then return.

About three years ago Griffith applied for a liquor license. January 18, 2004, the Miami Beach City Commission approved the change in law. The next month the city's planning board urged the commission to reconsider. In March, after a boisterous hearing that included pleas from school children and parents, the commission did just that and rejected the idea of letting Madonna serve booze.

Griffith is at his wit's end and vows he's going to file a federal lawsuit. "We're gonna probably file a First Amendment complaint," Griffith says. He doesn't know exactly how his argument fits into the Constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion, speech, and peaceable assembly. "My lawyer knows better," Griffith says, adding that all he knows is that his damn right to serve his customers a drink while they ogle a naked beauty is being trampled. His lawyer, Danny Aronson, declined to comment.


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