Good news. The Summer Smut Season has begun.
It was inaugurated this year by the furor created over a request to allow topless dancing in a Tarzana beer bar.
Church people hollered Sin! Business people shouted Money! And politicians shouted Publicity!
The combination of sin, money and publicity traditionally kicks off that period in early August when teams form up to either (1.) smite smut or (2.) smile at smut.
The game is only three years old and it's already more popular than baseball.
As a result, I feel compelled to establish myself early as resident expert for yet another splendid season of slime and putridity.
There's nothing like good old moral filth to quicken the blood when summer sizzles.
The current season began when Joan Urrutia, a pleasant lady of 46 with four pleasant children and a no doubt pleasant husband, announced that she wanted her dancers to fling their bikini bras to the breeze in a place called Candy Cat West.
Urrutia owns two other bars in the Valley, both of which are already topless, so it seemed only natural to her that Candy Cat West be topless too.
I'm sure Joan knew what the initial response to her request might be. Nothing fans the flames of righteous indignation like public depravity.
Those who keep up on this sort of thing will recall the summer of '85, when Hal Bernson, who is God's best friend in the L.A. City Council, led a campaign to shut down Urrutia's other two clubs, Candy Cat and Candy Cat Too.
He fumed and postured in the best tradition of a Momentary Moralist, damning and condemning to the extent that a former T-shirt salesman is capable.
When he was through, they gave him standing ovations in places where a woman's nipples are considered the devil's eyes, and then everyone went back to doing what they were doing before Summer Smut began.
Candy Cat and Candy Cat Too, by the way, stayed open and the season ended, Sin 2, Morality 0.
Last year, the game was played at Elysium Fields, the nudist camp in Topanga Canyon.
Supervisor Mike Antonovich, whose moral antecedents cleansed sin by burning sinners, led off by demanding that Elysium Fields be closed because the camp celebrated the Naked Human Body, and the N.H.B., as everyone knows, is dirty. Not smudge-dirty, sex-dirty.
The folks in the flatlands shouted hosannas until they were hoarse, so full was their hatred of moral slime and so rich their love of fully-clothed people like Antonovich.
Up in Topanga, however, a small army formed in favor of Elysium Fields because, to tell the truth, they like naked bodies in Topanga. So much the better if the naked bodies are all rolling around together, panting and sweating, under the naked oak trees. They like that a lot.
The singing and shouting and sweating and panting went on all summer long, and when it ended, the final score was Sin 1, Morality 0.
And that brings us to the summer of '87.
When Urrutia announced her intention to de-purify Candy Cat West, those disinclined to mix bare breasts with their Budweiser began jumping up and down in protest.
They gave all kinds of reasons for their disapproval, but you and I know that underlying their outrage is a hatred of motherhood, symbolically represented by the mammary glands.
However, a group of merchants and homeowners in the vicinity of Candy Cat West realized the unhealthy nature of that attitude and went public in their support of half-naked dancers.
The game had begun.
I visited Candy Cat Too during the first Smut Season when Hal Bernson was singing hallelujahs up and down Winnetka Avenue, and I didn't see a lot wrong with topless dancing.
Well, OK, I spilled some beer down my front not watching what I was doing, and I fell off the bar stool when Jennifer let it all hang out, but that could happen anywhere.
Sacrificial wine has been spilled and the faithful have passed out colder than hell during religious ceremonies too.
Don't misunderstand. I am not comparing eroticism to religion. Jimmy Bakker proved once and for all that the blend doesn't work. I'm just saying they both represent relatively harmless forms of entertainment.
I might mention here, however, that if it had been Jennifer instead of Jessica in that motel room with Jimmy, he'd have kissed Tammy goodby forever.
But I'm not going to come flat-out in favor of sin because the point of being resident expert is to remain neutral until the end.
Also, I don't really care that Urrutia's request for topless dancers at Candy Cat West was ultimately turned down by the city. She has an appeal to go, and what counts is the final score.
I'm just glad that moral indignation is played every summer, and I hope we get another couple of games in before the season ends.
Not only is it more interesting than following the Dodgers, but no matter whose side you're on, the game is always compelling.
Let's face it, sin is just more fun than baseball.