A legal battle is under way over complaints that students and instructors in the popular "Stripper 101" class in Las Vegas were secretly videotaped ''performing very personal and private acts.''
The producer of the tourist-oriented class and show on the Las Vegas Strip is denying the allegations asserted in a March lawsuit, noting that ''security video surveillance is a commonly utilized security tool in any casino and/or show in Las Vegas.''
The exotic-dance instructors say in their lawsuit they had been told the "Stripper 101" classroom/showroom was a private venue where they could change in and out of their dance wear — and that signs posted at the venue say no cameras are allowed. The instructors say the classroom/showroom served as their dressing room since a separate dressing room wasn’t provided.
This created an expectation of privacy, the suit says.
On Jan. 14, the instructors accidentally discovered there were two hidden video cameras in the room, their lawsuit says. One of the instructors was bothered by a bright light in the ceiling and tried to use a broom handle to move it upward — leading to the discovery it was actually a camera and not a stage light, the suit says.
The suit says one of the instructors, Rachael Carter, complained to management and learned the cameras were feeding video to a back office computer monitored by managers.
The instructors’ reaction was ''concern, disgust, repugnance and repulsion,'' the suit charges.
The exotic dance instructors complained in the suit that "Stripper 101" Producer David Saxe had, without their knowledge, ordered that the video cameras be set up where the instructors and customers dressed and undressed. Saxe and others viewed videos from the feed, the lawsuit alleges.
The instructors said in the suit the video cameras captured the instructors ''presenting exotic dance moves including but not limited to poses and gestures creating an erotic but yet comfortable experience using pole dancing, chair moves and sexual postures'' — moves mimicked by the paying attendees.
The video feed showed the instructors and attendees ''in various stages of dress and undress'' and performing ''many very personal and private acts,'' says the suit, filed by Las Vegas attorney Eva Garcia-Mendoza in Clark County District Court.
Jennifer Arledge, a Las Vegas attorney for "Stripper 101" and Saxe, on Friday disputed the lawsuit allegations.
"These allegations are totally and completely false. Mr. Saxe intends to pursue all damages caused by this vexatious litigation," she said.
Last month she filed a motion asking that the suit be dismissed.
''The complaint contains misstatements of fact, half-truths and misrepresentations,'' the dismissal motion says. ''It is clear from the colorful unsubstantiated allegations that plaintiffs’ intent was to paint a picture of perverse malfeasance hoping to tarnish the reputation of defendants merely by making the accusations in a public record.
''As will be proven, the surveillance cameras in the 'Stripper 101' classroom were installed as part of a systematic and ongoing long-term upgrade of the existing video surveillance system that was already in place at the V Theater and the nearby Stripper Bar where some of the plaintiffs also work as well as the Saxe Theater also in the Miracle Mile Shops.
''The allegation that the video cameras were installed in the 'Stripper 101' classroom surreptitiously and to conduct 'covert video surveillance' of plaintiffs is false. 'They are security cameras installed and used for that purpose.''
The instructors, in their lawsuit, assert legal claims including invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress, saying they were so upset to learn of the cameras that they ''suffered severe emotional distress'' as well as shame and humiliation.
They’re seeking damages that are unspecified but that include more than $50,000 in punitive damages.
The "Stripper 101" motion for dismissal, however, said security video surveillance is commonplace at casinos and shows, yet ''plaintiffs somehow believe the defendants violated their rights to privacy and engaged in conduct that is inconsistent with the general rules of civility.''
Arledge on Friday said the five independent contractor exotic dance instructors suing "Stripper 101" still work there and that ''the instructors do have an area other than the classroom where they may change clothes.''
A July hearing is planned on the motion for dismissal.
Thousands of female tourists and locals have participated in the class and show, which opened in 2006.
It features professional exotic dancers teaching pole dancing, lap dancing and striptease techniques. Nudity is not involved, though participants are advised to wear shorts or a skirt and high heels, the "Stripper 101" website says.
Tickets for the class start at $39.99.