|Toronto's no-touch rule in strip clubs may soon be altered by city council. (QMI AGENCY file photo)
TORONTO A handshake is one city council vote away from being legal in Toronto strip clubs.
Councillors on the licensing committee agreed Friday with changing the no-touch rule for the city's adult entertainment parlour regulations to make it much more specific around what strippers and patrons can't touch.
"You want to shake a hand, you can shake a hand," city licensing director Tracey Cook told councillors during the almost six-hour discussion on changes to the no-touch rule.
Cook said the change, which city council still has to approve at its next meeting, provides more clarity for everyone involved.
The new no-touch rule specifies "no entertainer shall touch, sit or rest on, or make any physical contact with the covered, partially covered or uncovered breasts, buttocks, genital, pubic, anal and perineal areas of a patron or any other person when providing services at the adult entertainment club."
It also specifies what patrons can't touch the same areas on an entertainer.
Coun. Glenn De Baeremaeker told his committee colleagues the changes proved one thing.
"This committee can even make sex boring," De Baeremaeker said. "I didn't think it was possible to make sex boring but leave it to a government committee to make even sex boring.
"I think we've made it so boring that nobody could be harmed once this stuff is passed."
Although he supported the changes, De Baeremaeker doubted the current no-touch provision made handshakes a problem in strip clubs.
"It's not when you shake the hand that you're going to get in trouble," he said. "It is when you're shaking the other body parts that you are going to get in trouble."
The committee heard from several people from the adult entertainment industry asking for the city to end its current licensing regime for strippers and instead let the clubs maintain registration records. City staff advised against the change and councillors rejected that idea.
Allen Cooper of the Zanzibar Tavern warned councillors the wording of the new proposed no-touching provision wasn't clear enough.
"I don't think the definition as proposed is eminently clear," he said.
Mary Taylor of the now defunct Exotic Dancers' Association of Canada told the committee the adult entertainment industry had declined with the introduction of lap dancing.
"The business actually seriously made a turn when the dancing went from the box to the lap," she said. "It caused the demise of this industry."
It's not burlesque anymore, she said. It's actually foreplay in public and in the bars.