On one side of the fence are women in habits and wimples who have taken vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
On the other side of that fence, if a developer gets his way, will be women in G-strings in the business of nudity, dollars and prurience.
The scene for the clash between these two competing visions of femininity is a retirement home for nuns in Chicago’s western suburbs, which is scheduled to have soon as a neighbor a giant $3 million strip club.
Get It gentlemen’s club is on track to open this spring in the 5,000-resident village of Stone Park, Ill., just feet from the Missionary Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo’s retirement home.
“When you come out of the back of the chapel, you can see the facility,” said Peter Breen, executive director of the Thomas More Society. “When they have given their entire lives to teach those children of Stone Park — after a lifetime of service to their faith — these sisters’ reward in their retirement years is to be in constant view of the large pornographic palace.”
Opponents of the club have a public vigil scheduled, and the Thomas More Society hopes to use a state “buffer zone” law to prevent the club from opening after, they claim, the village rolled over to the big developer on local zoning laws that could have prevented the club.
According to its owner, Get It will be more than a beer-shots-and-pole establishment, instead offering professional-level topless dancing in a high-tech environment comparable to the famous burlesques of Paris.
“We are Lido for the 21st century,” club owner Robert Itzkow said in an interview with the “Roe & Roeper” radio show on WLS-890 AM. “A strip club we are not.”
He said his club will be a good neighbor, both to the nuns and the rest of the townsfolk, explaining his building has been soundproofed and its lighting set up so as not to affect the nuns next door.
Dancers will be partially clothed and perform burlesque in a venue that features a Cirque du Soleil-style trapeze, Mr. Itzkow said, adding that he also plans to landscape the rear of the building, which is nearest the nuns’ home, with 20-foot-high trees that will shield the two establishments from each other’s view.
But in a public statement, Mr. Itzkow called the sisters of the convent his “non-taxpaying neighbors” and accused them of religious intolerance.
“As a legal, tax-paying citizen of this community, we ask only to be judged fairly by what we have done and not through the recent religious fervor,” Mr. Itzkow said. “You treat us as we have treated you, by not trying to unduly disturb us by imposing your religious beliefs on us or others. All throughout our plans for this project, we’ve followed the letter and spirit of the law.”
Several of the nuns have spoken out against the club in stories that have received front-page attention in Chicago.
They have said that when they asked about the construction project, they were told it was a restaurant — not a temple to nudity and lust.
“We are religious. We espouse certain beliefs. As Catholic religious, we take vows and we have something like this, totally opposite, going on. It’s not safe,” Sister Marissonia Daltoe told Chicago Fox-TV affiliate WFLD.