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Burlesque showdown in Alton, mayor cancels performance

by John Knicely / News 4

KMOV.com

Posted on May 8, 2012 at 8:57 PM

Updated Tuesday, May 8 at 10:17 PM

ALTON, Il. (KMOV) -- Tassels and Tunes, the burlesque show, won’t go on as scheduled this weekend.  The owner of Big Muddy Pub cancelled the May 12th show at the demand of Mayor Tom Hoechst.  Now the show’s promoter, Ryan Long of Cobra Kai Entertainment, takes issue with the decision.

“What we're doing isn't lewd,” Long said.  “What we're doing is an art form.”  His company has put on the burlesque show at various Alton bars for the past 3 years.

Mayor Hoechst says he received complaints recently about nudity.  “Some of those people sent me some youtube videos from this company and it doesn't meet our code,” he said.  And those videos were enough for his decision not to allow a burlesque show.

“We've actually invited (the mayor) to see our show in person and he's refused,” said Long.  “He's taking second hand information and video from sources that we're not even sure if it was our show.  He said there was nudity, and that's why he's shutting it down.  We have never had nudity at our shows, nor will we ever.”

But long admits to near nudity.  Some performers wear bras and panties.  Some women wear pasties covering their breasts.

“Our code reads a little more explicit than that,” said Hoechst.  “They're showing the buttocks and the pasties is all they have on the upper torso.  That doesn't meet our code.”

The showdown over burlesque has drawn heated comments online.  One person set up a facebook page called “Save Burlesque in Alton” which had about 500 “likes” by Tuesday evening.  Long says he’s willing to compromise and add clothing to the performers.  He says the show isn’t just about showing skin.

“If we have to pull out a ruler to measure how much somebody has to wear to where it's not considered an art form by (the mayor’s) standards, sure,” Long said.  “I'm willing to play ball.  The entertainers have to do it in different communities.”  That’s why Long is upset Mayor Hoechst hasn’t responded to him. 

I told the mayor about Long’s frustration.

“He can be frustrated,” Hoechst said.  “(Ryan) told me he read our city code.  If he read our city code, he misinterpreted it.”

Long still hopes he can find a compromise with Mayor Hoechst, but says he realizes it’s unlikely.

“He won't budge and I'm willing to bend,” Long said.  “That's where I fear we are. Election is coming up in a year.”

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