St. Helena Parish

Not that long ago, St. Helena Parish was best known for a string of scandals involving its sheriffs, including one named “Gun” who helped run a chop shop. Now, though, it’s home to one of the most amusing small-town comedies involving naked women since The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.

The spectacle in this case revolves around the sparsely populated parish’s two strip clubs: Oak Ridge Lounge and The Mansion. They’re only nine miles apart and straddle the village of Montpelier, which has a population of just over 200 yet still qualifies as St. Helena’s second-largest city. With that kind of strip-club-per-capita ratio, maybe it should be renamed “Mountpoler.”

Moreover, St. Helena’s an extremely rural parish, populated mostly with Protestants, and it lacks even a single mile of roadway wider than two lanes. It’s like someone snuck a piece of Arkansas into South Louisiana.

Nevertheless, despite its meager number of inhabitants and humble trappings, St. Helena is managing to put on one hell of a production for the rest of us in the Greater Baton Rouge area. It’s about as entertaining as the Republican presidential race but without all the depressing overtones.

“I told him, “˜That’s terrible police work,'” Durand reportedly said. “You can’t find a naked woman in a strip club? That’s not even trying.”

The Advocate recently dedicated a Sunday front-page story to the ongoing strip club battle. The online version features the awesome headline “Nude Feud.” And that’s just the beginning of the entertainment!

The cast in this production includes the two clubs, the parish’s Police Jury, the Police Jury’s attorney, the Sheriff’s Office, and, of course, the parish’s angry, God-fearing population.

At the heart of the matter is a 2004 parish ordinance prohibiting nudity in places that serve alcohol. The Police Jury’s attorney, Clifton Speed, says the two clubs “” which both feature dancers clad in G-strings “” are in violation of it. The Mansion’s attorney says the club is violating no law, while Oak Ridge Lounge’s owner insists he’s exempt from the ordinance, claiming the club was grandfathered into the ordinance (something Speed says the Police Jury never officially did).

Without getting bogged down in the details, the storyline goes like this: Oak Ridge Lounge wants the Police Jury to shut down The Mansion. The angry electorate at the packed Police Jury meetings wants both places closed.

The Police Jury voted 5-1 in November to hold a hearing about The Mansion. Two weeks later, its members voted 4-2 to cancel it.

In December, the Police Jury had Speed draw up an ordinance that would grant The Mansion immunity from the anti-nudity ordinance. After a public outcry, the jurors rescinded the order.

Claiming that they can’t legally shut down The Mansion, the Police Jury members then said the burden fell on Sheriff Nat Williams to enforce the ordinance, but he’s been reluctant to take action against the club.

This all begs the question: Why are the Police Jury and police seemingly so reluctant to follow the wishes of the populace and enforce a law that is apparently being broken? Are they on the take? Are they being bribed with “benefits” (because BJs leave no money trails)?

Maybe. Maybe not. But wildly speculating like Nancy Grace only adds to the excitement!

Then there are the awesome quotes from The Advocate’s story, like the one attributed to Montpelier Baptist Church pastor Randy Durand. He expressed his incredulity to Sheriff Williams’ report that Williams and his deputy failed to find any topless or nude women during a 2010 investigation at The Mansion.

“I told him, “˜That’s terrible police work,'” Durand reportedly said. “You can’t find a naked woman in a strip club? That’s not even trying.”

And then there’s the prayerful yet feisty St. Helena resident Sue Nesom, who confronted Oak Ridge Lounge’s owner outside a Police Jury meeting in January.

“Aren’t you ashamed of what you do?” she reportedly asked. “If I was you, I would go home and pray.”

Only moments later, Nesom threatened to go Chuck Norris on a female Oak Ridge Lounge employee.

“I might be 72 years old, but I could still kick your ass,” Nesom reportedly told the young lady.

Yes, over there, you will have the love of Jesus in your heart, even if they have to beat it into you.

So thank you, St. Helena Parish, for this welcome distraction from all the serious and depressing news that we hear about every day. Because about the only thing more fun than going to titty bars is reading about country folk fighting over titty bars.

About Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff
A random collection of overqualified, underachieving smartasses.

Check Also

HERO HIGHLIGHT: Stormy Daniels — Baton Rouge Native

Recently, WAFB woefully undersold Stormy Daniels by referring to the adult entertainer as a "Baton Rouge porn star," when, in fact, she is America's porn star now.