Clubs Claim Exotic Dancers are Actresses, Not Subject to Amusement Tax

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    Tom MacDonald |
    Cheerleaders is one of three clubs challenging the city's amusement tax for lap dances.

    Three Philadelphia "gentleman's clubs" are challenging the city's attempt to extend the amusement tax to lap dances.

    Their legal defense? The dancers are legitimate thespians.

    Professor Katherine Profeta of Queens College of New York testified that after observing dancers at Delilah's, Club Risque and Cheerleaders, she believes they are theater performers and therefore exempt from Philadelphia's amusement tax.

    Profeta spoke at a Tuesday hearing, but would not speak directly to reporters outside to answer follow-up questions.

    Attorney George Bochetto, who represents two of the clubs, said her testimony is important to clubs' case.

    "Nudity does not mean that it's not part of American contemporary theater," said Bochetto.

    "Immersiveness or touching does not mean that it's not part of American contemporary theater. There are many plays on Broadway, which have nudity, which have contact with the patrons, which are designed for sexual arousal. which are American contemporary theater."

    Philadelphia says the three clubs owe a combined $1.5 million.

    They already collect the amusement tax on cover charges, but not lap dances.

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