Sorry, strippers — rubbing your asses on strangers is officially not “art” thanks to a ruling by the New York State Court of Appeals this morning (yes, the court actually had to decide whether lap dances are “art”).
In a 4-3 ruling, the Court ruled that lap dances are not tax-exempt works of art the way other performance art forms — like ballet — are.
How the case reached the state’s highest court is somewhat sleazy — as we reported last month, the lawsuit is little more than a creative way for an Upstate
strip club to get out of paying taxes.
In 2005, an audit revealed that Nite Moves, a strip joint near
Albany, hadn’t paid $124,000 in taxes. The tax bill, tax officials say,
was for both non-alcoholic drinks as well as private “couch services”
(read: lap dances).
Under state law, “live dramatic or musical arts performances” like
ballet have tax-exempt status. While lap dances are technically a
“performance,” it’s a slightly less-refined form of dance than, say, any
other form of “dance.”
Here’s how lap dances work: you pay a stripper roughly 25 bucks,
depending on the strip club. She takes you to a dimly-lit backroom, puts
you on a couch, pulls out her ta-tas and grinds her ass into your
crotch for about 10 minutes. At its completion, you thank her, do your
best to get the glitter and stripper stank off you, and hope your wife
doesn’t find out. There is nothing artistic about it.
That said, an administrative law judge previously ruled in favor of
Nite Moves’ asinine claim that lap dances are art. That ruling was
The AP reports that the three dissenting judges
find that there is “no distinction in state law between ‘highbrow dance
and lowbrow dance,’
so the case raises ‘significant constitutional problems.'”
judges in the majority say strip clubs are just like any other
entertainment venue, like an amusement park or sporting event, and don’t
qualify for tax-exempt status because lap dances don’t promote
“cultural and artistic performances in local
So, until the state decides that marital arguments,
debauchery, and erections have some sort of cultural and artistic value,
strippers are gonna have to pay their taxes.