The Problem with Bikinis

"One Sunday a month we have a 'loud and local' night," says Matt Hall, owner of the Jumping Turtle in San Marcos. "Rock 105 sponsors the show." Hall says the radio station suggested holding a bikini contest to help draw fans to see local bands such as Midas Touch, the Strikers, Nihilist, and Arm the Angels.

Hall says the contests would include "...nothing grotesque: no promiscuous dancing, no wet T-shirts, no lesbian stuff." Before he held any bikini contests, Hall sought permission from the city; officials told him if he added the contests to his metal night it could jeopardize his entertainment license.

Hall points out that bikinis are acceptable in other bars.

"Rock 105 just had its annual 'pregnant bikini contest' at 'Canes. [Rock 105.3] did an upscale Miss Tropicana contest at the WaveHouse last year.... And what happens if a woman patron comes into my bar wearing a bikini? Do I have to kick her out? When I asked the city that, they never gave me a straight answer."

Hall says San Marcos city clerk Suzie Vasquez issued the no-bikini dictum. A person in the city clerk's office (who requested anonymity) says the decision to forbid bikinis at the Jumping Turtle was based on the following facts: a mobile-home park is across the street from the club; San Marcos has had problems in other establishments with female-oriented promotions; the Jumping Turtle is all-ages until 10 p.m.

"His entertainment permit is discretionary," says the city staffer. "It is not a right to have an entertainment permit."

Regarding the question of what would happen if a patron came in wearing a bikini, the staffer says: "It depends on what law enforcement personnel is onsite.... You can't walk in with a thong if your butt crack shows."

"Why am I being punished for problems that happened in other bars?" asks Hall. "The city clerk even said the City of San Marcos is kicking around the idea that they will decide what kind of music can be played in San Marcos."

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