Baucom: No ‘horror stories’ in dealings with Charlotte officials

Slim Baucom has no complaints about his relationship with the city of Charlotte.

When it comes to dealing with violations in the world of adult entertainment, Baucom praised Charlotte officials for being willing to work with club owners.

“I hear horror stories from other cities,” Baucom said. “Charlotte negotiates.”

Capt. Coerte Voorhees of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said they don’t get a lot of complaints about illegal activity at Baucom’s clubs. And when there is one, he said, Baucom is responsive.

“He’s very open and cooperative,” Voorhees said.

Baucom said he encourages his managers to cooperate. “I tell my managers ... if the ABC comes in there and asks you a question, even if it’s something that makes you look bad, you tell them the truth. These people aren’t stupid. They know who’s lying.”

Indecent exposure

Recent violations at Baucom’s clubs include strippers dancing while intoxicated or exposing their genitals – both illegal under North Carolina law. In 2013, detectives confiscated an illegal “Pot of Gold” video gambling machine at The Gold Club on Old Pineville Road. In that case, Baucom was charged; a hearing is scheduled in August.

In most cases where violations occurred, Baucom paid fines of several hundred dollars up to a thousand dollars or more to keep the clubs operating.

Also in 2013, a report says police got a tip that dancers at The Gentlemen’s Club on Woodlawn Road were selling drugs to patrons. The police set up a sting but called it off “because the club was full of ‘regulars’ and the undercover officers were unable to gain attention from the dancers.”

A six-month undercover investigation in 2010 led agents to charge dancers with indecent exposure at several of his clubs, including The Gentlemen’s Club and both Leather & Lace clubs in Charlotte. Dancers at other clubs not owned by Baucom also were charged.

Dancers are considered independent contractors. “You can go into a club right now and, depending on how much money you put down and whether the dancer knows you, you can get a girl to show you what she shouldn’t,” Voorhees said. “Unless the manager or operator is watching her doing it, it’s really a violation (by) her.”

Baucom said he does not condone illegality in his clubs and is vigilant in trying to prevent it. “If you want to keep your business going, you abide by the rules.”

Clashes over zoning

Zoning issues have proved trickier.

In 1994, council members adopted a new zoning ordinance barring any topless club within 1,000 feet – about 2 1/2 blocks – of a home, church or school. Four of Baucom’s five clubs faced closure.

The city gave adult businesses eight years to comply or shut down.

In 2002, after the eight years, Baucom sought variances for six clubs. He received variances for three, withdrew a request for one club and was denied variances for two clubs. Citywide, the board granted seven of 15 requests.

Former zoning administrator Robert Brandon said there was a concern in the city that if the 1994 ordinance was too restrictive, the courts could deem it unconstitutional. So city staff and the zoning board looked at each request for mitigating factors that would allow a business to remain open.

Elizabeth Leland contributed.