It appears that Lockeford has seen its final lap dance.
Timothy Kruppe, owner of the On the Beach nightclub on Highway 88, said that the establishment stopped offering lap dances Monday afternoon as part of negotiating a legal settlement with San Joaquin County in good faith, according to his attorney, George Mull.
Employees said they were notified at about 5 p.m. Monday that there will be no more lap dancing until the Board of Supervisors decides on whether to accept the settlement offer. Meanwhile, the county has denied a special entertainment permit for Kruppe that would continue to allow bikini dancing and lap dances.
The permit was denied for two reasons, according to Deputy County Counsel Mark Myles. One is that there was partial nudity in the bar and dance areas, and full nudity in the VIP room ,where lap dances were conducted. Sheriff's deputies, who visited On the Beach, told county staff that there were also simulated sex acts and allegations of solicitation for prostitution, Myles said.
The second reason for denying the entertainment permit, Myles said, is that Mull misrepresented his client by saying that dancers were not making physical contact with their clients, when in fact they were.
"We've had nudity in the VIP room, which is legal," said Mull.
As for the allegation of simulated sex acts, Mull said, "I have no idea what that means, and nobody has told us. I do not believe the cops."
The county staff's denial of the entertainment permit stands unless Kruppe appeals the decision, Community Development Director Kerry Sullivan said.
Kruppe has put the following settlement offer on the table:
- On the Beach would eliminate bikini dancing on an elevated platform and stop lap dancing permanently.
- The nightclub would change its name and convert the operation into a traditional bar with live and recorded music. The customers, not the professionals, would do the dancing.
- County taxpayers would pay Kruppe's legal costs, plus what Mull described as "a significant amount of money" to compensate for loss of business without the dancers and lap dances.
"It would cost us to make the change, and it would cost us some revenue," Mull said. "The ball is in the county's court."
Lindsay Nixon, who owns Red's Best Lil' HairHouse in the same shopping center, opposed the nightclub opening in the first place. She said she would prefer a more traditional nightclub, provided that it's run properly. However, she also objects to her tax dollars being used for Kruppe to give up lap dances and bikini dancers.
"It sounds much better," Nixon said of converting On the Beach to a traditional nightclub. "I think it will please many people."
Some customers, and one bikini dancer who performed for the lunch crowd Tuesday, had good things to say about On the Beach.
"I think this is a nice place. That's why my husband and I come in," Lockeford resident Kathie Twing-Nunn said, as she sipped her Long Island iced tea while she and her husband celebrated his birthday. "It's a nice, clean place, a nice environment, and the food's OK. My husband likes the girls. That's OK."
Her husband, Rex Nunn, who has been there eight or nine times, confirmed that On the Beach is the place to be.
"I don't find anything offensive here at all," Nunn said. "The people who work here are very nice. We kind of like it the way it is."
A bikini dancer, who identified herself only by her stage name, Emerald, said that dancers suffer from the unfair stereotype that they are drug addicts.
"It's a good place to come," Emerald said. "What else is there to do in Lockeford?"
Emerald, who said she once attended Lodi High but doesn't live in the area anymore, acknowledged the complaints by Lockeford residents about the image the nightclub brings to the community.
"There are a lot of religious people in the Lodi area," she said. "They think we're going to hell for what we're doing."
Emerald added that many couples come in, not just men.
"It's not about dancing," she said. "There's a lot of talking going on around here."
U.S. Marine Gunnery Sgt. Michael Caballero, of Lodi, who goes by the nickname "Gun," works security at night at On the Beach, but he was a lunch customer on Tuesday.
Pointing to Emerald, Caballero asked, "Do you see anything wrong with that? You see the same thing at the beach."
Rex Nunn is adamant about the need for the Lockeford establishment to continue in the format it has employed since it opened.
"If they take away the lap dances, there won't be any reason to watch the dancers. I can see my wife in a bikini."
Grace Church, of Lockeford, on Dawson Road has gone on record opposing the entertainment permit.
"We are extremely opposed to this type of establishment in Lockeford, which is primarily a family-oriented bedroom community," according to a letter signed by Pastor John Kennedy and church board members George Camp and Leo Sutton.
"As a church, which is attempting to inculcate (teach and impress) in its congregation the moral fiber of proper living in all areas of life, the Kruppe Corp. represents everything contrary to our efforts.
"This is to say nothing that On the Beach is within earshot of our facilities," according to the letter. "Our facilities also have the potential of re-establishing our Christian school. On the Beach is not conducive to what we would like to foster in our student body."
The letter was also signed by 20 members of the congregation.