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there’s a customer out there; he wants to talk to you. At least say hello.” So Zizzo did, and Gohlke asked for a table dance. This is Zizzo’s account of what happened next: He got twenty dollars [to pay up front], but before that … I said I was from Honduras, and he said, `I’m from El Paso. I just got divorced,’ and he was using real bad words like, ‘I’m so fucking horny girl, I came here to this place, maybe I can find some company.’ And I said, ‘Well, you can’t.’ He said, ‘No, in El Paso, in El Paso you can have anything if you want to.’ And I said, ‘Not over here. Over here, if you really want to see a naked woman dancing for you it’s just to look.’ That’s how I explain it to my girls when they’re dancing, to explain real nice to the people, if they want to see a naked woman it’s just to look, not to touch…. He said, ‘Come on girl, you don’t under stand when a man don’t have pussy for so many months?’ I said, ‘No sir, if that’s what you’re looking for, uh-uh.’ `Okay, go ahead and dance,’ he said, `That’s fine.’ I explained to him, `I’m going to dance for you, but please don’t move, you cannot touch me.’ He said, ‘Okay, but I cannot promise you.’ I said, `I’m just telling you that I can dance, but not to touch.’ The first two minutes, I was dancing, and he was just looking, he said `Uhhh… O000h… ‘ He was enjoying, really. With our customers that are not T.A.B. C. they’re more gentlemen than these people. Talking with you, they make you think that you’re a lady. You’re not trash, you’re not a prostitute just because you take off your clothes…. But these kind of people like T.A.B. C. come in they make you think that you really are trash, the way they are touching…. So when I was at the wall, that’s when he got me like this [with his hands on her lower back] and pulled me over there. So I touched my titties in his face, so then I pushed [off of] him, and I said, sir, remember what I told you…. He says, `I’m sorry, I’m sorry I’m not going to do it again.’ So okay, the first warning for you. I tell the girls to give a warning. And if they don’t behave, quit the dance…. So he said he’s going to behave, so when I’m dancing Igo this way like this [turning around] and he’s got his hands here [on either side of her crotch], and pulled me to him, and when I go up I tried to fight him that’s when he placed three fingers in the middle of my pussy. This hurt me. I go that’s it, I’m not going to dance for you no more. And he said, ‘But look at, look at how and he grabbed my hand look at how horny you got me. And he grabbed my hands and put it right there [on his erect penis]. That’s why I say, why do they send people, if they cannot handle it, you know? Questioned about Zizzo’s account, Gohlke, who joined the T.A.B.C.’ s El Paso office last October after serving for ten years 10 THE TEXAS OBSERVER with the University of North Texas police force, said he could not remember such specifics as which dancer approached him first; he recalled little other than what was in his report. “That’s like asking me what I ate for breakfast two weeks ago,” he said. Gohlke said that he told Zizzo he was from Dallas, and that he did not touch Zizzo or Osborne at any point during the dances. The county’s sexually-oriented business ordinance directs the sheriff to revoke a business’s license if any act of public lewdness is “knowingly allowed” by the license-holder or an em ployee, and all three licenses were revoked in May. Dancers from Caesar’s and the Forest pled guilty to the lewdness charges which they had a strong incentive to do, since two women from Caesar’s who’d been arrested previously for public lewdness had, in a non jury trial in April, been found guilty by the judge, and fined $1,500 apiece plus court costs. The dancers from Acapulco Fantasies decided to hold out for a trial, but the club’s license was revoked anyhow; the arrests for public lewdness, without conviction, sufficed. According to County Attorney Tracey Bright, that’s because license revocation is a civil matter: “There’s a completely different standard for criminal charges and for civil charges. It’s up to the hearing board [the county’s Sexually Oriented Business Board, which heard Zizzo’s appeal of the license revocation] to decide whether that’s been met.” Bright’s legal theory has been questioned by other lawyers, notably Steve Brannan, who represented Caesar’s before it went out of business. “The ordinance is insufficient in that it doesn’t place any burden of proof on the county,” Brannan says. “It allows revocation for acts without there being a trial to see if in fact the law had been violated.” For Caesar’s, by far the largest of the clubs, the license revocation was the last straw. Clubowner Jeff Fambro had been butting heads with the county for months, and rather than pursue an appeal he decided to close down Caesar’s for good, putting 200 dancers and 50 payroll employees out of work. Zizzo shut down after the Sexually Oriented Business board denied her license, adding fifteen or twenty to the lost-jobs count. The Forest decided it would appeal and stayed open, but according to the owner, business plummeted in the wake of all the publicity over the arrests and license revocations. When I visited Caesar’s a month after it closed, a hailstorm had just hit Odessa, and shards of white neon had been knocked from the club’s towering sign down into the empty parking lot. Inside, the 14,000 square-foot club was a gloomy cavern of unoccupied turquoise chairs and purple tables and plastic ivy, its high stages dark, its waterfall broken, abandoned iced tea glasses lined along the bar the ruin of a faux Roman empire on the edge of a city in decline. No matter how you feel about topless places, says former Caesar’s dancer Sandy Rich, the club was one of the city’s few tourist draws: “All these customers used to come to Odessa, who’re not coming back. This was the only attraction; there’s nothing else here.” AUGUST 6, 1999