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G-strings raise cash for GIs at VFW fund raiser

Fran Harris thought it was a creative fundraising idea: male dancers stripping down to G-strings to raise cash for GIs.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Fran Harris thought it was a creative fundraising idea: male dancers stripping down to G-strings to raise cash for GIs.

The 49-year-old federal worker gladly plunked down $18 for a seat to the all-ladies “Hot August Night.” Tickets to see the “Men of the USA” beefcakes sold quickly, raising what three months worth of fish fries would have for the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 805.

But when city officials in this St. Louis suburb questioned the event’s decency, the VFW post canceled the show to head off a potentially costly legal fight or the prospect of the post being fined or losing its liquor license.

Now, however, the show will press on Saturday night at the Oz nightclub in Sauget, about 18 miles away.

“I’m proud to see other communities have stood up to help us out,” said 52-year-old retired Navy veteran Chip Shaffer, who heads the roughly 300-member post in this town in the shadow of Scott Air Force Base.

O’Fallon City Administrator Walter Denton said the city’s opposition to the event was about what’s appropriate — and not about what’s patriotic.

“We have no problem with the VFW and their mission of supporting the troops deployed,” Denton said, noting that the city for the past three years has covered shipping costs of care packages the post has sent overseas. “We just felt the show was inappropriate and in violation of our ordinances.”

Shaffer said the VFW canceled the event Tuesday, just days after receiving a letter from the city saying the show would violate city codes regulating “illicit dancing,” “sexually oriented” establishments, and alcohol sales or consumption within certain distances of a school.

'We didn't mean any harm'
Denying that the show would have been obscene or too risque, Shaffer said the VFW had been exploring whether the dancers could wear less-revealing Speedo-style garments instead of G-strings in O’Fallon. He said city leaders panned the idea.

The event already has sold more than half of the 300 available tickets, he said. The best seats fetched $20, with each woman promised champagne and a rose.

The VFW expects to clear $3,000 to $4,000 that will go to U.S. military personnel overseas for supplies — like sunscreen, reading materials and bug spray — and to their families needing help with bills, Shaffer said.

Oz operations chief Richard Donald said he couldn’t resist volunteering his club and staff. “I think I’m caught up in the whole troops business just like everyone else,” he said. “I realize just how much they do for us, and I’m glad to do this.”

All of it had Shaffer shaking his head, wondering what all the fuss was about.

“We didn’t mean any harm,” he said. “You could go to any public swimming pool and see more than you’d see at this show.”