Stripping for drinks

A Scottish nightclub owner is fined for offering free beverages to flashers.

By Jack Boulware

Published October 17, 2000 7:07PM (EDT)

Wet T-shirt contests, Jell-O wrestling, female boxing -- nightclub promoters have plumbed the depths of cheesy sex stunts to pack the rubes into bars. But such a gimmick backfired at the Poppos nightclub in Forres, Scotland, when club owner Charles Geddes allegedly offered 10 minutes of free drinks to anyone who flashed his or her body parts. The cheap bar stunt has ruined his reputation.

Among the takers that evening in February 1999 was a 15-year-old girl. Geddes was found guilty of promoting shameless indecency and was fined 500 pounds (about $723). What's more, because the girl was underage, the harsh climate of child sex laws in the U.K. required that Geddes' name be added to an official list of sex offenders.

The matter ended up in Elgin Sheriff Court, where Sheriff Noel McPartlin heard that two other thirsty patrons also took up the bar owner's challenge. A 34-year-old man dropped his trousers and showed the world his shortcomings, and a 23-year-old Air Force trainee bared her breasts. Hey, a free drink is a free drink.

Geddes believed he had committed no crime, and last week brought his lawyer Chris Shead before an appeals court in Edinburgh.

"It is difficult to see that there is an obvious victim here," Shead argued to the court. "It is difficult to see how exposing one's breasts for a couple of seconds in a nightclub in return for 10 minutes' free drink is essentially corrupting."

The crown was not having any of it. Queen's Counsel James Drummon Young insisted that the conviction should stand because of the law against exposing private parts and the fact that Geddes had clearly encouraged people to break the law by tempting them with free alcohol.

"I just hope that common sense prevails," said Geddes as he left the courtroom. "Everyone understands there has been a miscarriage of justice."

Although the decision will be handed down at a later date, Geddes seems to have drawn good luck with the judges, according to a BBC report.

"It seems to me this was not much more than a lark," Lord Johnston was heard telling his fellow magistrates, adding that the flashing-for-drinks incident seemed like "pretty harmless fun."

Johnston admitted that he was not above enjoying a bit of public nudity himself, in particular watching actress Nicole Kidman stripping naked in London's theater production of "The Blue Room." In that case, Johnston chose not to arrest himself.

Jack Boulware

Jack Boulware is a writer in San Francisco and author of "San Francisco Bizarro" and "Sex American Style."

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