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Published: Monday, 2/4/2008

Cleveland underground clubs allowing smoking, sex

ASSOCIATED PRESS

CLEVELAND - Underground nightclubs where patrons can smoke freely and watch strippers after midnight have opened in some of the city's residential neighborhoods since the state began enforcing new restrictions on strip clubs and public smoking last year, police say.

Some of the nightclubs, also called "smokehouses," offer customers the opportunity to have sex with prostitutes, police said.

"They have succeeded in creating this underground, sleazy, cash-only business that cannot be regulated, taxed or secured by police," attorney Skip Lazzaro, who represents legal nightclubs, said.

Informants have told police that patrons are mostly white suburban men. Customers bring their own liquor, cigarettes, and cigars. A reference is sometimes required for entry, and doormen collect as much as $25.



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