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While this article is not directly related to travel, it does explain why swingers and lifestyle resorts typically all seem to be outside of the United States. That means business for us as all of you sexually open minded travelers book vacations.  But on the other hand, it seems unfair that a segment of the population is discriminated against due to, of all things, their sexual orientation.  Wait you say.  We have laws in this country to protect people from discrimination based on sexual orientation.  Well, apparently those laws only apply if your sexual orientation is gay. We live in cities where thousands of gang members roam the streets terrozing citizens, shooting innocent bystanders, destroying property and corrupting minors and our city leaders don't seem to do much about it.  But they can certainly find the time and resources to shut down swingers clubs.  You have to wonder what these people have been smoking.

Lifestyle Events and the Law
by Heather Monaco of REDGEMS
Legal Consultant: Mark Daniel

Call it a parking war turned ugly. On Friday and Saturday nights, Jim Trulock and Julie Norris’s suburban Dallas home is transformed into the Cherry Pit, an on-premise swingers club that asks for voluntary donations to offset expenses. The 100 or so guests who attend the parties cause parking and traffic issues in the upscale neighborhood, and neighbors complained.

The city says the Cherry Pit is a sex club. The Cherry Pit’s operators and its lawyer, Ed Klein, contend that the club is not a business at all.
Last November, the City of Duncanville passed an ordinance that ruled “the operation of a sex club as unlawful and a public nuisance that shall be abated.” The Cherry Pit sued the city in December 2007, stating that the ordinance violated Trulock’s privacy and due process. The city countersued in January, and on May 8 it strengthened its sex-club ban by stating that if the operation solicits or collects donations, it is a sex club. There has been no resolution to either lawsuit.

Duncanville is not the first city to ban swingers clubs. In 1998, Phoenix famously banned live sexual performances, which effectively shut down swinger parties. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the law in 2003. On April 23, a Fort Collins, Colo., club lost its liquor license partially due to a BDSM party it threw. On April 18, Orange, Calif., officials shut down Club Amnesty after it was cited for fire and building code violations and operating without a business license. (The club also set up shop next door to a Christian wedding planning service, which may be another kind of violation.) And on April 15, a Schenectady, NY, club was shut down after years of operation because the owner allegedly failed to pay enough hotel tax.

Our society is ruled by laws that, on their face, are written to protect us—our privacy, our property, our safety. These laws come in the forms of liquor regulation, fire codes, zoning laws and tax regulations. And those same laws are used to hammer nails into the coffins of swinger clubs—whether they are used in the name of public safety or to further the agendas of people who find the Lifestyle abhorrent is a matter of opinion. “Party hosts must maintain a complete understanding of how these laws apply at various levels when they are evaluating whether to host parties, or to acquire, maintain or improve property they already own,” said Mark Daniel, an Illinois zoning and land use attorney. “Failing to understand the law can place hosts and owners at serious financial and personal risk, ranging from fines to criminal penalties.”

As the lifestyle dips its toe into the mainstream, would-be party hosts should pay attention to what is happening in Colorado, in California, in New York. Simply calling a venture a private club may not be enough to protect the hosts or their guests from harassment. Not every Cherry Pit-like situation makes CNN, but each offers lessons for those who would follow.

The Four C’s. There are lots of C-words in the lifestyle, but these four may be the most important ones for party hosts to be cognizant of:

Conspicuous: Big newspaper ads, flyers proclaiming you can get laid at a particular address tonight, flashy websites all draw eyes to your venue, including those you may not want looking in your direction. Tone down the public advertising and tailor your sexier messages for email subscribers and members.

Complaints: Cars blocking driveways, loud music, people having sex in full view of neighbors and other behavior will drive neighbors to call the police. “Swingers need to remember that most people do not view having sex outside of your own home as something that is acceptable,” Daniel said. “Acting respectfully can go a long way to making sure your favorite party host stays out of trouble.”

Commercial: Charging a fee makes your enterprise commercial, which opens up a whole new can of worms. “The word ‘club’ can raise commercial use issues in the eyes of unknowing elected and enforcement officials,” Daniel said. “While some may benefit greatly from advertising as a club, the less formal social invitation format often avoids compounding problems.”

Codes: Clubs and parties in private residences can be zoning violations. Remodeling a basement to accommodate a half-dozen playrooms without pulling permits can cause turmoil. State and local laws will often prohibit certain activities within so many feet of churches, schools or other sensitive areas. Regular parties held within a buffer area will lead to problems, Daniel cautioned. Zoning laws—regulations for parking and loading zones, permanent and temporary signage, noise, lighting and more—other simple ordinances and liquor laws can also hang up party hosts.

Those SOBs. Of first consideration is whether your party or event can be construed by officials as an amusement—which generally involves paying money to gain access to watch a performance—adult use or a sexually oriented business—or ‘SOB’ for short. It may not matter whether you’re hosting an event at your home or in a rented space “The party host runs the risk of falling subject to adult use and SOB regulations if anyone attempts a strip tease or starts engaging in sexual acts,” Daniel said. “You have to know whether partial nudity or sex is something that can lawfully occur in the jurisdictions where you are hosting the party. Your general house party is probably safe, but if you start hosting large numbers of people on a regular basis, you should be cautious. At the very least, you should know what the laws are and tell your guests ahead of time what is and is not allowed.”

Cooling the hostility. Anyone planning to operate regular, commercial lifestyle parties should prepare themselves to face a high level of municipal hostility, Daniel said. From shutting down a club over permit violations to tweaking laws on health clubs as a backdoor effort to render swingers clubs illegal, city leaders find ways to shut down clubs that make even seemingly minor mistakes. The best way to cool off such hostility: Educate the officials. “Have a face-to-face meeting and educate them on parties, on the operational side, about the type of people that would be invited,” he said. “Inform the officials of the frequency of parties, and be clear about your absolute intention not to be visible. You will find yourself in a potential tough spot explaining this at the outset, but the blushing at this preemptive meeting is far more comfortable than meeting with the State’s attorney or city attorney to discuss their belief that someone worked out a deception. Obviously, hire the attorney before this initial meeting phase because a club may be a perfectly legal use in some locales while others may make the activities inside high misdemeanors or even felonies.”

The bottom line: If you want to be a party host, get a good lawyer to guide you through your city, county and state laws. Educate yourself, and do your best to follow those laws to the letter. If not, you too could find yourself in court.

Heather Monaco of REDGEMS is an award-winning journalist, poet and writer of erotica living in Denver, CO.

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