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3 February 2003
BISHOP'S BASH AT THE LAP DANCING GIRLIE BAR
`Research' cleric says he wasn't turned on

A BISHOP went for a night out at a lap-dancing club - then complained the girls weren't sexy enough.

Richard Holloway, former Bishop of Edinburgh, was straddled by a dancer in a G- string.

But the bishop, who was visiting the club to research a newspaper article, said the dancers "lacked erotic energy".

The 67-year-old said he found the experience "embarrassing" rather than stimulating.

He added: "I was very conscious of her beauty and the closeness of her body, but I was not aroused by it."

The Most Reverend Holloway, whose clerical career was never far from controversy, visited the club with a journalist in a bid to find out why lap- dancing is gaining popularity in Scotland.

They paid £10 for a dance. The bishop said: "She performed the standard routine of snaky undulations over me as a song played.

"When the song stopped, she picked up her little dress and smiled a charming smile. And she went off.

"My primary emotion was embarrassment, allied to a sad awareness of the formulaic routine she was going through and its complete absence of erotic energy."

He said that, while the tango and Spanish flamenco were the "haute cuisine" of erotic dance, lap- dancing was "fast food - part of the McDonaldisation of the world".

But he said he could understand why there was a demand for it.

He added: "I was not shocked at the lap-dancing club. Nor would I call for the council to close it down.

"It was well managed and the young women who earn a living there did not strike me as exhibiting any signs of distress or pressure.

"And the world is full of sad men who need to solace their loneliness somewhere." But he said he wouldn't make a second visit.

He added: "The reason I will not go back is the same reason I do not eat at McDonald's or Burger King," said the bishop.

"I want a world that is entwined with mystery and surprise, not one that is flattened into bland predictability."

Margaret McGregor, chairwoman of the Zero Tolerance campaign against abuse of women, slammed the cleric.

She said: "I think the bishop should be condemning lap-dancing clubs as undesirable in a civilised society, not treating the issue as an opportunity for the `enterprising capitalist'."

But Tory health spokeswoman Mary Scanlon MSP said: "It's very refreshing for a religious leader to see something at first hand as opposed to making a judgmental condemnation without seeing what's happening, as can be the case.

"I would like to think that women do actually choose to work and dance in such clubs.

"If it's their choice to earn money that way and they get job satisfaction out it, I don't see why any politician should demand that these clubs be shut down."

Bishop Holloway, who retired as head of the Scottish Episcopal Church two years ago, is well- known for championing liberal causes.

He was at the forefront of the campaign to gain more human rights for gay and lesbian people.

In 1999, he sparked a major row when he asked if anyone had a "joint" while visiting a drugs rehabilitation centre in Glasgow. He later claimed his remark was taken out of context.

He also admitted trying cannabis but did not find it stimulating.

Bishop Holloway, who lives in Edinburgh, now spends his time writing and lecturing.

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