More billboard adventures in the skin trade!

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Another sex pistol or freedom of expression questioned yet again? OK, perhaps this ain’t exactly an issue of Mapplethorpian proportion, but many of us think that barely exploitative images of women and men on billboards outside adult establishments ought to be allowed, ’cause, well, such images are not exactly new, are they? This digit believes that floating beneath the idea (and wording!) of a new Michigan law that restricts “the erection, construction, or maintenance of a sexually explicit sign on the premises of a sexually oriented business that prohibits advertises or identifies the business and is visible outdoors” there’s a hairy-palmed, kinda Calvinist subtext. It suggests that we are, as Mitten citizens, either lost in, or weak and tempted by, total depravity, ‘cause, you know, sex is dirty and everything so we no doubt need salvation from images on any sign attached to a strip bar. Oh, please. So now, the Penthouse Club, the luxury titty bar down on beautiful 8 Mile, is suing Michigan’s ever-lovable Gov. Rick Snyder over its right to, um, erect a billboard of a fully clothed woman. Salute! Story from today’s News:

Penthouse Club challenges law banning sign Adult business sues Snyder, seeking order to keep large photo Christine MacDonald / The Detroit News

Detroit — The Penthouse Club isn't parting easily with its two-story sign featuring a buxom woman in a red dress.

The strip club on Eight Mile in northwest Detroit sued Gov. Rick Snyder in federal court Tuesday, challenging the constitutionality of a state law that took effect last week that makes the sign illegal.

Adult businesses with signs featuring anything other than words, numbers and logos can be fined up to $10,000 a day, but Detroit officials haven't moved to cite the club. And the topless bar wants a temporary restraining order against enforcement of the new laws.

"These speech restrictions are particularly egregious as the restriction is selectively imposed upon a target population," Penthouse lawyers wrote in their lawsuit.

Neighbors have done battle for three years with Penthouse, staging several protests, including one that ended last summer when pickets accused management of turning on lawn sprinklers to send them away.

State Sen. Tupac Hunter, D-Detroit, pushed for the law and said the lawsuit continues "a pattern of blatant disrespect and disregard toward the people of the city."

"It is painfully obvious that (the owners of the club) believe that anything goes in Detroit, and they refuse to cooperate with the community to maintain reasonable standards in the surrounding neighborhood," Hunter said in a statement. "Despite what they may believe, this community is not the 'red light district.'"

The law affects only adult businesses and requires logos on billboards to be registered as federal trademarks, which have their own restrictions on sexually explicit material. Former Gov. Jennifer Granholm signed the bills into law in December.


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