The woman, Sgt. Det. Robert Mulvey testified this morning, was "substantially unclothed," she was straddling the man's waist and she was in motion.
Now Christine Pulgini, acting director of licensing and consumer affairs for the city of Boston, has to decide whether the stripper at the Glass Slipper on Lagrange Street was merely engaged in exotic dancing, which is permitted under the First Amendment, or whether she was participating in the sort of "intimate physical contact" prohibited under Section F 1(c) of the Boston Entertainment Licensing.
Pulgini held the hearing on a citation issued by Mulvey and another licensing detective after they entered the Glass Slipper, one of one of two Combat Zone remnants left, for a routine inspection shortly before midnight on Sept. 24.
The detectives testified that despite the efforts of a doorman to warn employees the cops were in the house - itself a potential violation - they found a private entertainment room on the first floor where, right under a sign warning "No contact - No touching" an ecdysiast with almost nothing on was straddling a male customer in "face to face contact" - as a male floor manager looked on.
Pulgini asked whether either the man or the woman were fondling the other. "There wasn't what we would say is fondling," Mulvey acknowledged.
Section F 1(c) says "it is forbidden to encourage or permit any person in or on the licensed premises to touch, caress, or fondle the breasts, buttocks, or genitals of any other persons."
Mulvey acknowledged the fine line between the First Amendment and improper touching: "At what point does the dance begin and end" and when does it become impermissible touching? He said at some point, "it becomes you know it when you see it" and asked "should the dancer be on top of the patron?"
Mulvey added that what concerned him just as much, if not more, was the fact that the club manager was standing there, doing nothing to end what might have - and did - end up in a police citation. "He wasn't doing his job to discourage it," he said.
The club's attorney said his reading of city rule would indicate that there was no violation, because no hands were grasping body parts. Still, he said, the club has since added a bar between the seats in private areas and where the dancers gyrate, to ensure nothing that would raise the ire of Bostonians can happen. Pulgini did not indicate which way she would rule.
The club's attorney pleaded for leniency, saying that while he's not convinced there was a Section F 1(c) violation, something did happen, that club employees were disciplined after the incident and that club owners Nicholas Romano and Michael Bennett have long done their darndest to keep things clean and on the up and up in the 35 years the Glass Slipper has been open.
He pointed to the owners' backgrounds as evidence they are really good community members who are providing a service that, despite what "certain segments of our population" might think, is meeting a need. Romano, 78, he said, is a veteran, an accomplished florist who ran a flower shop on Hanover Street, and has been married for 55 years. Bennett, who took over his father's share in the business, is 47, has a psychology degree from BU and has been married for 17 years.
He added they are still paying off the mortgage they had to take out after their earlier location - across Lagrange - was taken by eminent domain for construction of the Kensington luxury tower and that they want to work with Boston Police and the city to further reduce the odds of such incidents in the future.