Police investigating mobile strip club outside Lions games

DETROIT -- Police may put the brakes on a party bus that was apparently operating as a Sunday strip club for reveling Lions fans at a popular tailgating spot in Detroit.

Investigators believe fans tailgating before a recent Lions home game were allowed onboard the "Booty Lounge," a large red and black bus replete with two stages, steel dancing poles, tinted windows and even a smoke machine, after forking over a $10 donation to its operators, Detroit Police spokeswoman Eren Stephens said Thursday.

She said the department's chief, Ralph Godbee, thinks the arrangement is illegal, but that the department won't take action until it completes its investigation. The Lions' next home game is Oct. 10 against the Chicago Bears.

"We know the game is coming up and ... we're looking into this whole operation," Stephens said.

Police began investigating after WDIV-TV broadcast a story about the bus this week. The station reported that the bus was parked next to Detroit's Eastern Market, which is a popular tailgating spot that is about a half-mile from Ford Field, where the Lions play.

The bus operators, who didn't respond to email and phone requests seeking comment, say on their Facebook page that the bus can be hired for private parties and is available with or without "ladys," adding that "our oppinion is that is alot more fun with em!"

They say they take the bus to "numerous events" each year, and they invite the public to "pay a visit." A Facebook posting from this spring suggests they charged $20 for a Detroit Tigers opening-day tailgate that included food and drinks.

David Draper, an attorney who represents more than a dozen strip clubs in Michigan but who does not represent the bus operators, said such establishments require a special license from the city. Still, bus operators might argue that movable venues are exempt and more akin to a "one-off" event such as a bachelor party at a hotel.

"The argument from the city is going to be, 'absolutely not -- you're just trying to skirt the issue by going mobile,' " Draper said.

Detroit Lions spokesman Bill Keenist said the team won't comment on the bus matter.

Photos have emerged that purportedly show two uniformed Detroit police officers posing with a woman believed to be part of the operation. Stephens said those photos are up to four years old, and Godbee told the Detroit Free Press he's not passing judgment until the department completes its investigation.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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