Debate over the definition of nudity comes to Fort Worth

Posted Friday, Jul. 26, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Breasts and body paints have become a matter of public debate in North Texas this summer, first in Lewisville and now Fort Worth.

In response to citizen complaints about waitresses wearing only body paints and pasties while serving customers in the parking lot of the Redneck Heaven restaurant, the Lewisville City Council on July 15 clarified that employees of all businesses must cover up a bit more – or risk running into the city’s sexually oriented business ordinance.

Fort Worth City Council members, in a closed executive session earlier this week, directed their staff to draft an ordinance change with the same kind of language. Redneck Heaven, a popular chain that’s the subject of a new MTV reality series in the process of filming, has a restaurant in North Fort Worth and one in Arlington.

“What we have indicated to the city attorney is we would like for her to bring a proposal to the council that would clarify that body paint and liquid latex and those sorts of things do not constitute ‘opaque covering’ as per our ordinance,” Fort Worth City Councilman Danny Scarth, whose East/North district includes the Redneck Heaven, 3840 N.E. Loop 820 at North Beach Street, said in an interview Thursday.

“If it’s not a sexually oriented business and licensed appropriately, then all entertainers, servers, wait staff has to have opaque covering, and we’re saying body paint and liquid latex is not it,” Scarth said.

Scarth said the city has heard no complaints that Fort Worth’s Redneck Heaven has run the “ Anything But Clothes” employee promotions that the Lewisville restaurant was known for, “but we would just like to get out in front of it.”

A Redneck Heaven employee directed a Star-Telegram reporter to an email the company for a response, but representatives did not respond to messages sent to the Lewisville and Fort Worth restaurants.

An ordinance change would go through Fort Worth’s zoning commission and include a public hearing. The City Council would then vote on it.

Fort Worth would change the definition of nudity in its ordinance, which says anyone is nude if the genitals, pubic region or pubic hair, buttocks, “portions of the female breasts beginning from a point immediately above the top of the areola and continuing downward to the lowest portion of the breasts,” or any combination, “are less than completely and opaquely covered:”

The ordinance does not define opaque.

Businesses that don’t adhere to the nudity standard could run afoul of Fort Worth’s ordinance on sexually oriented businesses, which requires such businesses to have city permits, be in industrial zoning, and ensure that no employees have convictions or spent time in jail or prison for various offenses. Redneck Heaven is not considered a sexually oriented business under the current Fort Worth ordinance.

Lewisville council members voted unanimously to change their ordinance, clarifying that body paint, tattoos, liquid latex, and dyes don’t count as “opaque” coverings under the city’s ordinance.

“It has to be some kind of material,” said James Kunke, a city spokesman.

Lewisville police visited Redneck Heaven based on citizen complaints and saw some servers wearing pasties and body paint to cover key body parts, Kunke said. Police issued no citations, he said.

“They didn’t feel the ordinance gave them enough direction,” Kunke said.

Kristal White, a Carrollton body painter, told the Lewisville council she’d just begun working with Redneck Heaven employees and wasn’t responsible for the body paints the servers were wearing June 21, when the citizen complaints occurred.

“They were not as professional as they could have been,” she said. “It was subpar.”

She told the Lewisville council, “I want to work within your ordinances. I consider it a form of art.”

Redneck Heaven’s menu features entrees such as “Border Patrol Belt Busters,” and the restaurants web sites are currently promoting “Bikini Mondays” and “Bike Night” Thursdays, but no “Anything But Clothes.”

Redneck Heaven employees, she said, “are not doing lap dances. It’s not lewd. It’s not pornographic. Yes, they’re dressed enticingly, but they’re not acting accordingly.”

Scott Nishimura, (817) 390-7808 Twitter: @JScottNishimura

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3840 N.E. Loop 820 at North Beach Street, Fort Worth, TX
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