Chicago's Only Topless Bar: VIP's 18-Year Fight with City Hall

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on July 21, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

As owner of VIP's--Chicago's only topless bar--Perry Mandera has spent much of the last 18 years attempting to keep the club's doors open despite pressure from City Hall.

But after countless courts, including the Illinois Supreme Court, have declined to find Chicago's ban on liquor-touting semi-nude establishments unconstitutional, it appears as though VIP's legal battle has reached its final act.

Chicago has officially moved to shut the place down.

Since VIP's Chicago opened in 1991, it has fought the city's ban on liquor and nude dancing in both state and federal courts, arguing that the ordinance infringes upon the club's First Amendment rights, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.

During this time, the club was cited on multiple occasions for showing too much skin, but still managed to stay open as a result of Perry Mandera's political connections.

Finally, in 2006, dancers started "covering up," reports the Sun-Times. They now wear bikini bottoms and cover most of their breasts with flesh-colored latex.

City Hall doesn't care about the change, citing VIP's and Mandera's blatant disregard for the law. It wants the club gone.

Now in a state appellate court, it's unclear how the presiding judges will rule on the issue.

While the club may now be in compliance as a result of its updated stripperwear, that doesn't excuse the fact that Perry Mandera has violated the law for years despite being told that he had no constitutional argument.

Given that business permits are often conditional on compliance with the law, this alone may be enough to force VIP's Chicago to cover up and turn off its lights.

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