Toronto: Strip clubs seeking help from abroad

Adult industry reps say they’ll wage political war against Tories

By TOM GODFREY, SUN MEDIA

Toronto-area exotic dancers came out swinging against Ottawa yesterday for clamping down on the visas that foreign strippers need to bump and grind in Canada.

The Adult Entertainment Association of Canada called on its members, employees and clubgoers to vote against the Conservatives over the issue in the federal election expected on Oct. 14.

Association executive director Tim Lambrinos also wants supporters to dump Immigration Minister Diane Finley in her riding of Haldimand-Norfolk.

Lambrinos accused Finley of driving out the striptease business, with many clubs losing money. The association represents 53 of 140 strip clubs in Ontario.

“There has been a 30% reduction in revenue in the industry since Finley took over,” Lambrinos said yesterday at Treasures Nightclub, on Atlantic Dr., in Mississauga. “There is only a trickle of girls being allowed in now.”

Under Finley’s tenure, the number of visas issued to foreign dancers fell from 430 in 2004 to 17 in 2006, he said.

“There is a tremendous shortage of exotic dancers in this country,” Lambrinos said. “The clubs here can easily utilize 1,000 foreign dancers a year.”

There aren’t enough Canadian dancers to fill the demand, he said.

The association may file a class-action lawsuit or seek a court injunction to obtain more dancers, Lambrinos said.

Negotiations are underway with the Ontario government to provide student visas so women abroad can travel here to study and strip for up to 20 hours a week, he said.

“We want to accept new immigrants as dancers,” Lambrinos said. Former dancer Sheena DeJaneiro, a co-owner of Airport Strip Club, said she’s disappointed Finley isn’t doing more to support women.

“This issue is really upsetting to me,” DeJaneiro said. “I am a prime example that the business is clean and safe and there is a future.”

Finley’s officials are driving women underground by not extending or renewing their visas, she said.

Dancers at the news conference said they expected Finley to be more sympathetic.

“We are just trying to live and take care of our families,” said one dancer, who refused to give her name. “We have our bills to pay like everybody else.”

The woman said she was working as a stripper to raise her children and send them to school.

“We buy things in the community just like everything else,” another dancer said. “Most of us want to improve our lives and that of our families.”

http://www.torontosun.com/News/TorontoAndGTA/2008/09/05/pf-6666691.html

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