FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Tuesday evening, Fort Wayne City Council voted to introduce a proposal that could loosen the current restrictions of adult businesses.

The Sexually Oriented Business Ordinance, passed back in 2019 and added restrictions such as: no employee, or any other person shall be in the state of nudity while in an establishment, that no employee should appear semi nude in a sexually oriented business, and workers must remain six feet away from patrons.

Jessica Tompkins has been an exotic dancer for the past 18-years and has worked at Brandy’s Gentleman’s Club for 13 of those years. She told WANE 15’s Briana Brownlee that the current ordinance has been a major issue and is making it harder and harder to make money and make ends meet.

“It started off with us wearing bikinis, then the bikinis weren’t ‘good enough.’ We were then told ‘why would you be allowed to wear a bikini, you have to have full shorts, the full bottom has to be covered,” Tompkins said. “Now we’re being forced to wear more clothes than what they make high school volleyball players wear.”

Since the passing of the new rules, different strip clubs have been fighting back. Some have taken it to court, and this past September, workers in adult businesses protested downtown against the bill.

“They’re hurting women in the community, they’re hurting mothers,” Tompkins said. “They are affecting multiple businesses, hairdressers, nail salons, because a lot of girls aren’t here anymore. It’s affecting our business, sending people out of town. For the people who have to stay in town because they can’t afford to leave are putting themselves in dangerous situations.”

Tompkins added that with the recent restrictions, her industry is becoming more and more dangerous. She said the new rules are making more dancers do private parties instead of being in the club. She explained how she has heard many stories about workers being raped and robbed at those type of parties.

“When you aren’t in the general public, you run a lot of risk,” Tompkins said.

Councilman Jason Arp (R-4th District) drafted an ordinance to repeal some of the restrictions. In part, the proposal states, “the clothing requirements in Chapter 121 are stricter than those of
33 common, public society” and “the only significant change to the community has been the negative 22 impact on the almost-exclusively female employees working in these establishments in 23 terms of the opportunity to earn money and provide for themselves and their families.”

Councilman Arp could not be reached for comment on Tuesday. He was not at the meeting when the proposal was introduced.

It passed for introduction with a 5-1 vote. Councilman Tom Didier (R-3rd District), was opposed of the proposal. Councilman Glynn Hines (D-At-Large) and Councilwoman Sharon Tucker (D-6th District) were not present for the vote.