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'Exotic' lingerie show held on ship went overboard, police report says

For years, the Bay Lady has plied Baltimore-area waters. It is a 550-seat floating function hall that has seen eighth-grade field trips, prom parties, wedding receptions, family reunions and corporate parties.

And, for one night last month, police say, an "exotic" -- and illegal -- lingerie show out in the harbor.

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Acting on a tip, two undercover detectives bought $45 tickets for the Aug. 1 nighttime cruise. What they saw may seem tame by the standards of The Block's strip clubs, but it was enough to trigger a report of unlawful adult entertainment and alcohol consumption.

Though no arrests were made, state authorities this month told Harbor Cruises Ltd. -- Bay Lady's operator and a stalwart of the Inner Harbor tourist trade for 22 years -- not to let it happen again.

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"We certainly will keep an eye on the situation," said Michael Golden, spokesman for the state comptroller's office, which regulates boats and does not permit adult entertainment. "We don't anticipate any further problems. It's a legitimate business, and it slipped through the cracks."

Harbor Cruises says the state need not worry. Its new policy requires charter customers to spell out entertainment plans, and extra steps will be taken to ensure no one drinks after the 2 a.m. cutoff.

The company says it has never allowed lingerie shows or any kind of adult entertainment on its moonlight charters.

"We have only good, clean fun," said sales manager Melinda Coleman. The episode is frustrating, she added, since "people get the impression it was our services because it took place on the boat."

Coleman pinned blame for the lingerie party on Harrison Lemon, who runs Harris Productions and hired the 120-foot vessel for the night for $6,000. Harbor Cruises told the state that while Lemon supplied a disc jockey, he never mentioned plans for "any other form of entertainment."

Lemon could not be reached for comment. A search of public records turned up no phone number for Harris Productions, which is not incorporated with the state.

The cruise in question left the Inner Harbor at 11 p.m. Aug. 1 with detectives Damon Nelson and L.C. Greenhill on board and in plain clothes. The Bay Lady motored down the channel to the Key Bridge, then turned around, re-entering city waters at 2 a.m.

Although last call for alcohol was announced before 2, the police report says passengers continued drinking beverages that "smelled of alcohol" for another half-hour.

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That is when the "exotic lingerie fashion show," as the report dubs it, began. Fifteen minutes into it, the detectives saw a model, 20-year-old Asgerdi Booze, wearing a sheer blue outfit, records show. The report says detectives could easily make out her "denuded breasts" and describes no other such displays.

When the boat docked at 3:30 a.m., there to greet it was Sgt. Craig Gentile of the Police Department's vice unit. Booze said no one told her to keep any body parts covered, the report states, and Lemon asserted that see-through clothes did not amount to adult entertainment.

Tonya Bagwell, vessel manager for Harbor Cruises, told Gentile she did not realize models with exposed breasts would be considered adult entertainment because they did not strip, according to the report. It also says she defended the post-2 a.m. alcohol consumption by saying, "You can't tell 400 people to stop drinking."

Coleman, the sales manager, said Bagwell denies making that comment and that Harbor Cruises does not accept the police report's claim that drinking went on past 2. "They could have observed people drinking soda," Coleman suggested.

"It has always been our goal to provide a unique and memorable time on our vessels," Harbor Cruises' Ami Taubenfeld wrote in a letter to Charles W. Ehart, director of the comptroller's Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Division. The company wants "to do all we can to comply with state regulations."

Ehart replied: "While I have no doubt that the activities referenced in the police report did in fact take place, I have duly noted the corrective measures that you have taken as indicated in your letter."

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The state now considers the case closed.


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