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Lawsuit challenges county’s ordinance on sex clubs

Updated Tuesday, April 6, 2010 | 11:22 a.m.

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Las Vegas adult club figure Michael Powers sued Clark County on Monday in a challenge to the constitutionality of an ordinance regulating sex clubs and defining them as "public nuisances."

In news stories in 2009, Powers described himself as the owner of the Power Exchange at 3610 S. Highland Drive near Spring Mountain Road and Interstate 15.

The Power Exchange says it caters to patrons 18 years of age and older and is an alcohol-free club. The Power Exchange says adults are provided condoms and other sex supplies and can engage in sex in either private or public areas that total 12,000 square feet.

On weekends, couples are charged $30 to enter and single men are charged $60, the club says on its Web site.

In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas on Monday, Powers says he has been cited by Clark County for "operating a sex club" in violation of the county code.

The code section at issue, according to the lawsuit, covers zoning and land use matters and defines "Sex Club" as "including but not limited to any club, party, group, center, establishment, business or parlor for swingers, adult encounters, adult social sexual encounters, partner-swapping, wife-swapping, or similar alternative lifestyles."

"Sex Club," the code reads, "means an establishment or business operated or maintained for the purpose of providing patrons the opportunity to voluntarily engage in and/or view live consensual sexual activity in exchange for money ... A sex club is a public nuisance per se."

In his lawsuit, Powers says he was working as an independent contractor at a licensed tanning salon at the club called Buns in the Sun when he was cited. Buns in the Sun is owned by another individual, Joyce Judge, the suit says.

The suit says Powers is the managing member of Power Exchange LLC, a Nevada limited liability company that is not licensed to do business in Nevada, and did not do business in Nevada, but that allowed Buns in the Sun to use the Power Exchange name in its business operation.

"Plaintiff Michael Powers is being charged in his sole capacity as an independent contractor with no ownership interest or management control in the business, under a section of a land use code that provides only definition of terms," the lawsuit charges.

The suit charges Powers' due process rights under the U.S. Constitution were violated when he was cited, that the ordinance at issue is unconstitutionally vague, the definition of a sex club is unconstitutionally overbroad and that Powers has been targeted for selective enforcement of the ordinance.

The suit seeks an injunction barring Clark County from prosecuting Powers or anyone else for violating the sex club code as well as an injunction specifically barring prosecution of independent contractors at such clubs for violating the zoning code.

The suit was filed by Las Vegas attorney Allen Lichtenstein, who regularly handles cases involving adult businesses and the First Amendment.

A Clark County spokesman on Tuesday said the county doesn't comment on pending litigation.

Powers, the lawsuit says, is a resident of California. The Power Exchange has another adult club there, in San Francisco. Both clubs are marketed to straight, gay and bisexual swingers.

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