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There's no dispelling the 'Magic Men'

If you wonder, like one reader who contacted the Post-Bulletin last week, why "our publicly funded Mayo Civic Center is hosting a male strip event," the bare truth is this:

Public funding gives a facility such as the Civic Center less leeway, not more, to make subjective judgments about the events that will be allowed in.

A show such as "Magic Men Live!, " a dance revue set for Thursday that showcases muscular men in states of undress, has only to meet a few standards for booking, says Civic Center Director Donna Drews.

"As long as it's legal and they meet the criteria established by the MCC Commission … we need to allow them to book," she said.

Since the men of "Magic Men" don't actually strip nude —that would violate city ordinance Chapter 105B, "Adult Entertainment Services" — it passes both tests.


"It's not nudity, nor do they claim to be that type of entertainment," Drews said. "Technically, it's a professional performance."

Now, for the sake of argument, let's say that the civic center did decide to bar "Magic Men" over taste concerns. After all, scantily clad dancing men aren't everyone's cup of tea.

Such a decision would invite a legal claim on free-speech grounds, says City Attorney Terry Adkins.

"Where government gets into trouble on a First Amendment issue, it's usually in the area of when we regulate on the basis of content," he said.

The city is safe to bar obscene content, Adkins said, but if it's "edgy, or content that some may not approve of, it (the city's judgment) would be different."

In other words, it's a pretty brief discussion.

You might wonder how far the city can be pushed to maintain its open-door policy.

Last month, the promoter of a "dwarf pro wrestling show" contacted the civic center inquiring about dates.


"No one here was in favor of it," Drews said, but consulting with Adkins' office, they learned it had to be allowed. (Footnote: the show is not coming — "their routing didn't work out," Drews said.)

"Magic Men," meanwhile, is a very popular traveling troupe that, in May alone, is putting on shows in 18 U.S. cities, including Rochester. Three of those cities, including Minneapolis, will have multiple nights of the show. At least a few of those other performances will be in city-owned venues, including performance halls in Peoria, Ill., Dubuque, Iowa, and Omaha, Neb.

If you want to look at shows that raise city concerns, look no further than the recent Monster Truck Destruction Tour, with risks of carbon monoxide poisoning and harmful collisions, or look at a typical rock concert, with attendant concerns over weapons or drugs.

For "Magic Men," Drews said, "There probably will not be a police presence; we don't do a rock show without a police presence.

"They'll be a group of people that just want to have fun."

And you know what? There'll be a lot of them in the 1,100-seat Presentation Hall.

"It's selling really, really well," Drews said. "We'll probably come really close to selling out."

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