The saga of is-stripping-art-or-isn’t-it continues this week, as Administrative Law Judge Donna Gardiner ruled that Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club must pay $2.1 million in back sales taxes. The club hadn’t been charging tax on dances, arguing that they constitute “artistic performance.” The court disagreed.
This isn’t the first time this has come up. In 2012, the Albany strip club Nite Moves went to court to make the same argument and lost. It’s $400,000 tax bill, however, is considerably smaller than Hustler’s.
As the Daily News points out, Robert Smith, a judge in the Albany case, made a strong argument for stripping as art in his minority opinion.
“Like the majority and the tribunal, I find this particular form of dance unedifying — indeed, I am stuffy enough to find it distasteful. Perhaps, for similar reasons I do not read Hustler magazine; I would rather read the New Yorker,” Smith wrote. “I would be appalled, however, if the state were to exact from Hustler a tax that the New Yorker did not have to pay, on the ground that what appears in Hustler is insufficiently ‘cultural and artistic.’”
Perhaps if the dancers were just more eccentric, the court would side with them.