New Show-N-Tail doesn't show as much

Published: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 at 12:56 PM.

PANAMA CITY BEACH — After a half-decade and some well-documented legal squabbles between a bar owner and the county, Show-N-Tail quietly reopened last week on Thomas Drive near Joan Avenue.

People who have passed the bar may have noticed the new signage almost directly under a billboard for a competing club. The sign is a picture of a woman’s tush, the windows are blacked out, and inside, women dance on two poles, one of which, owner Allen Johnson boasted, is the tallest in Florida at 25 feet.

“He’s not operating a sexually oriented business,” said Assistant County Manager Dan Shaw. “He’s operating a nightclub.”

Show-N-Tail may walk like a strip club and quack like a strip club, but it’s not a strip club. The dancers don’t wear much, but a bikini is enough to get around the county ordinance.

“We learned you could open a regular bar and as long as you don’t have nudity, you’re OK,” Johnson said.

Johnson ran Show-N-Tail, a topless bar on Thomas Drive in unincorporated Bay County, until it was destroyed by fire in 2006. He’s wanted to reopen, but his attempts repeatedly were thwarted by an ordinance that passed in 1996 prohibiting sexually oriented businesses from operating within 1,500 feet of a tourist corridor.

He wanted to reopen on the site of the old club, but was foiled by the ordinance. Then he tried to open in an industrial park off Thomas Drove, and again was rebuffed by the county.

Johnson is so familiar with available property on the beach that he jokes about going into real estate.

“He tried several different locations, but he just couldn’t find one that met the parameters of our ordinance,” Shaw said.

Johnson filed a federal lawsuit challenging the ordinance, which he dropped earlier this summer, Shaw said. Instead, he found a PG-13 rated way to operate a saloon featuring dancing girls.

After a soft opening to work out some of the kinks — workers were unwrapping and setting out new chairs after using folding chairs — Johnson said he’s hired several new dancers after word spread that the four he started with earned decent money.

A grand opening is slated for tonight at 8 p.m., and the $5 cover charge for men will be waived for entrance to the club, which Johnson described as classy and comfortable. There are two full bars and a beer bar, and Johnson said his drink prices are competitive, but the big draw will be the dancers.

“It don’t depend on what you’re wearing,” he said. “It depends on your girls.”

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