|Pittsfield Bar Censured For Wet T-Shirt Contest Baring|
|By Joe Durwin, Pittsfield Correspondent|
11:00PM / Monday, June 25, 2012
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The city's Licensing Board voted to chastise a Dalton Avenue establishment Monday with a three-day suspension after a patron was photographed baring her breasts during a licentious-themed event held there in May.
The board heard testimony from Lt. Michael Grady indicating that investigation by the Pittsfield Police had found that on May 11, a female bar-goer had flashed the crowd during an annual "Beach Party" held at Casey's Billiards on 501 Dalton Ave. Photos of the display were later found on Facebook and lead to concerns that the department brought before the Licensing Board.
"We can't have people showing their breasts at a bar," said Lt. Grady. "At any event."
Manager Carol Donahue said the incident had been a one-time occurrence during an otherwise untroubled event held there for the past four years. The exhibit of nudity came without warning, she said, during an event that featured a bikini judging as well as a wet T-shirt contest. Donahue said the individual in question was immediately asked to put her shirt down, though she was not asked to leave the premises.
But some members of the board questioned whether the event itself was even allowable under the establishment's entertainment licensing, because of the level of overall exposure of other women also shown in photos provided of the event.
"It looks to me like a topless bar," said board member Robert Quattrochi. "There's nothing left to the imagination."
Attorney Thomas Campoli, who also serves on the board, said that in his opinion, the photos of the one patron in question were considerably more graphic than the rest, and that the attire worn by other participants would be sufficient covering under general law.
Grady voiced the opinion that this type of entertainment would inevitably lead to issues.
"I just know from past experience that these types of environments lead to bad things," the officer said. "If you're going to have six girls competing in a wet T-shirt contest, and 200 are around there with cameras and cell phones, eventually, something bad is going to happen."
The board expressed further displeasure when told of an upcoming "Coyote Ugly" party, a recurring Casey's event based on the film of the same name, in which women dance on the bar in revealing outfits.
"We do all different kinds of themed parties," said Donahue. "People like to dress up and have different things to do."
"I understand theme parties," said board Chairman Carmen C. Massimiano. "But this goes a bit beyond the pale."
City Solicitor Kathleen Degnan told the Licensing Board that because the incident took place during a planned event, it was different than if it had just been an entirely random disrobing by a bar patron, because an establishment's entertainment permitting must specifically authorize it to hold certain types of performances, particularly those involving any level of nudity.
"In General Law 140 Section 183A, when you go for the application, you have to state whether any person will be exposing certain portions of their breasts," said Degnan. "The statute quite literally states that."
Quattrochi made a motion for the board to issue a three-day suspension of Casey's license, but to table the suspension and leave it as a warning to the establishment. This way, the board could instate the suspension in the event that the billiards bar comes before the board again because of any kind of similar future incident.
Campoli declined to second the motion, indicating he did not feel the incident in question merited the action, but voted with the other two members present to approve the three-day suspension, which will go into effect if the bar is brought before the board on a complaint of any kind. The board's other two listed members Dana Doyle and Albert Pisani, the latter of whose legal membership on the board has been a subject of heated debate in city government, were not present.
Donahue, visibly upset, pointed out that in its six years, Casey's Billiards had never been before the Licensing Board for any complaint.
"I've watched other bars come in here for very serious infractions and not gotten this," said Donahue.
"We're sending a message — to you, and to other bars," answered Massimiano.