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Competing burlesque events reach accord

Tassles will be twirling at two Las Vegas casinos in early June under a tentative agreement reached Wednesday between the organizers of competing burlesque events.

The case landed in federal court last month when the Burlesque Hall of Fame filed a lawsuit that accused Frederic Apcar Productions and its owner of trademark infringement. The dispute centers around the use of the “Sassy Lassy” name.

Attorney Laraine Burrell said the hall of fame, a nonprofit corporation, has used the name for more than 40 years. She accused the defendants of confusing the public by scheduling its Sassy Lassy Burlesque Show for June 3 and 4 at the Plaza, where the hall of fame held its annual weekend in June 2010.

“We believe they saw a quick and easy way to make a profit for themselves,” Burrell said in court Wednesday.

This year, the Burlesque Hall of Fame has scheduled its annual weekend for June 2-5 at The Orleans.

Burrell said she and attorney Mark Tratos are representing the hall of fame for free because it has little money, and confusion over the two shows is hurting ticket sales for its upcoming event.

She argued that consumers need to know which is the world-renowned event and “which is the knockoff event.”

“This dispute could end today,” the lawyer told U.S. District Judge Philip Pro. “It could end now. All the defendants have to do is change the name.”

After a brief hallway meeting between lawyers involved in the case, the defendants agreed to do just that. They also agreed to transfer the Internet domain name “sassylassy.com” to the hall of fame.

“My client just questions why there was never a phone call,” attorney Puoy Premsrirut said shortly before the resolution was reached. She represents the defendants.

Premsrirut said burlesque icon Mary Lee “Dixie” Evans, who has aligned herself with the defendants, must approve any name change.

Because of the tentative agreement between the parties, Pro denied the Burlesque Hall of Fame’s emergency request for a temporary restraining order against the defendants.

The defendants responded to the request for a restraining order Wednesday with a 63-page opposition that includes an affidavit from Evans, who called herself the sole creator and owner of the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend.

“It is my understanding and belief that it remains my sole creation and property today,” she wrote.

According to the affidavit, she was pleased with Frederic Apcar Productions’ handling of the 2010 show and chose to have the company continue producing the hall of fame shows.

Two former members of the Burlesque Hall of Fame board, Frederic Apcar Jr. and Luke Littell, are named as defendants in the lawsuit. Littell represented himself at Wednesday’s hearing and said he created the Sassy Lassy T-shirt sold by the Burlesque Hall of Fame.

According to the defendants’ opposition, the hall of fame and its president, Laura Herbert, were motivated to seek the restraining order by Herbert’s “desire to strike back at her former professional and personal partner, Mr. Luke Littell, of nearly seven years.”

The defendants alleged the federal registration of the “Burlesque Hall of Fame” trademark was abandoned “once placed in the hands of Ms. Herbert.” They also contended the hall of fame does not use or own the “Sassy Lassy” trademark.

Contact reporter Carri Geer Thevenot at cgeer@reviewjournal.com or 702-384-8710.

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