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Cheap thrill? Forget it. The cost of nude entertainment in California would rise under legislation that seeks a pound of flesh for, well, a pound of flesh.

Assembly Bill 2441 would slap a $10-per-person tax on nightclubs, bars or restaurants that combine booze with live nude entertainment. Costs could be passed on to customers.

Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara, proposed the measure to generate money for sexual assault-related counseling, crisis intervention, rape prevention, community education, victim advocacy. and evidence testing in rape cases.

"There is a clear nexus between alcohol consumption and violence against women," Williams said of targeting what he calls strip bars. "This (bill) only affects those that serve alcohol."

The legislation defines nude entertainment that would be subject to the tax as exhibitions involving a naked body or display of any portion of genitals, buttocks or a woman's nipples.

If signed into law, however, the bill would apply only to live shows featuring partial nudity because state law already prohibits naked employees in businesses serving alcohol.

Williams doubts that AB 2441 would dent demand or hurt profits.

"Men will continue to go to strip bars -- and you know what? They'll feel better about it because they'll be funding a needed service for women," he said.

Prospects for Williams' measure appear dim, however. The bill requires a two-thirds supermajority for passage -- at least two GOP votes in the Assembly. Republicans have pledged not to raise taxes.

Assemblyman Jim Nielsen, a Gerber Republican who serves as the Assembly GOP point man on state budget issues, said that Democrats need to quit pinpointing causes to use as leverage in seeking to extract more money from Californians.

"No means no. ... To me, it's looking for justification to raise taxes," Nielsen said of the proposal.

* Updated at 5:35 p.m. to explain that state law currently prohibits full nudity in businesses serving alcohol.



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