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Rocky Horror Picture Show shakes up Parker’s town code

Colorado’s Elusive Ingredient will be able to put on the show after challenging Parker's lewdness laws over an exposed breast.

PARKER, Colo. — The Town of Parker will likely update its lewd and indecent displays ordinance next month to allow a screening and performance of the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

At several points during the 1975 film, a woman’s bare breast can be seen on screen. An antiquated Parker ordinance bans any display like that in a venue with a liquor license.

The performance by Colorado’s Elusive Ingredient, a group of shadow performers who act out the movie in front of the screen, is Oct. 28 at Parker’s PACE Center, which holds a liquor license.

“It never came up until we started talking about a show there,” Thomas West, logistics manager for Colorado’s Elusive Ingredient, said. “We’ve never really run into the issue in any of our other performances.”

Parker’s town council will take a final vote on an amendment to that ordinance next month. It would remove female breasts from a list of indecent displays, in part to allow the show to go on, and in part to bring the town code into compliance with current court precedent.

Several years ago, a group of women sued the city of Fort Collins over a rule that banned toplessness for women but not men.

“They took a position that any statute that has the words 'women are prohibited from' is unconstitutional,” civil rights attorney David Lane, who represented the women, said.

The court ruled in their favor and the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s ruling.

“The circuit court of appeals said, basically, nipples is nipples. If men can do it women can do it, and that’s now covering Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas and Oklahoma,” Lane said, noting the other appeals courts across the country have ruled differently meaning there’s a patchwork of public nudity laws across the country.

Here in Colorado, though, Lane said women are free to bare-all in public, unless a local law bans toplessness for both men and women.

Since the Denver Post first reported the story of Parker’s lewd law this weekend, West said ticket sales have increased for the Parker show.

A spokesman for the Town of Parker released the following statement:

The Town of Parker is continually reviewing the Municipal Code for any updates and changes that may be necessary or appropriate based on changing laws and circumstances.  When Parker Arts was looking at scheduling a production of the Rocky Horror Picture Show at the PACE Center, the Town was aware that there may be certain Code provisions that would need to be reviewed to determine if the performance would be in compliance with the Municipal Code as currently written. 

Upon a review of all potentially applicable provisions, the Town recognized that regardless of the potential showing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, the Municipal Code had various provisions that were contrary to the Federal Court holding in the lawsuit filed against the City of Fort Collins finding that the City’s Ordinance prohibiting female, but not male, toplessness was unconstitutional. This review, based on an effort to comply with the current state of the law, is what prompted the multiple updates that are now being presented to Town Council for their consideration and what were previously presented to both the Special Licensing Authority and the Planning Commission for their review and ultimate recommendations for approval to Town Council.   

Regardless of whether any Parker Arts production includes alcohol sales, the Town felt that the updates to all of the provisions of the Municipal Code that are being presented for Town Council consideration were necessary for clarification and compliance with the current state of the law. Additionally, these updates, if approved by Town Council, will allow other movie theaters in the Town that might show Rated R-type movies to apply for liquor licenses. 

The current 2022-2023 season for Parker Arts has been published and is available for public review. We do not expect any changes in Parker Arts’ approach to programming if these ordinances are approved.

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