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December 2003 - Another Phoenix Swing Club Bust And Huge Reactions

Summary
Milo owner of Club C was scheduled to go to a jury trial on Monday 12/8/03 to fight is running a swing club misdemeanor charge. But on Friday 12/5/03 the charges were dropped. But on Saturday 12/6/03 the club was raided and Milo, Nancy and the manager were arrested so the legal battle and city games start over again. I don't know if the prosecutor's office is working with the police and decided they needed a better bust than to go to trial on the prior one, or if the vicious head of vice wants to keep arresting even if the prosecutor tosses the cases. Very similar to the mess with Sheriff Joe with sexworkers, but the charges for sexworkers are far more serious.
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More comments about creative DJ at Club C the night the cops game in
I don't know all the titles, but she played "Do It", she started "I Fought the Law" but decided she didn't like the next line, and she made lots of comments like, "for those of you who are into handcuffs you're in for a real treat tonight" and to an officer "Didn't I see you here last night out of uniform? I mean REALLY out of uniform?" Also overheard by a club member---if we run out of doughnuts, will they go away? Remember, the cops are only doing what they're told to do. They are for the most part, really nice people!
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David Leibowitz on Chan 15 News on swing clubs
I thought David Leibowitz was short and too the point. I liked how we panned the "neighborhood" of industrial buildings pointing out you just don't stumble into Club C and certainly no children around.

Like so many others his point was it may not be for you, but should the police be using scarce resources for sex that goes on in private with people who come to a private Club for that purpose.
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Sex-club raid called 'harassment'
Police action fuels ongoing dispute on rights of swingers
Dennis Wagner The Arizona Republic Dec. 9, 2003

I won't repeat all the facts but here are some interesting statements:

"Uniformed officers had to ask people to stop fornicating after they entered the room," said Assistant City Attorney Jimmy Hays, describing activities at Club Chameleon. "They found patent sex acts, open and obvious, occurring on the premises."

Sgt. Lauri Williams, a Phoenix police spokeswoman, said more than 150 patrons were at Club Chameleon when investigators arrived. They gave officers a standing ovation for their professionalism during the sweep, she added. (Dave notes, no, they were applauding since they were LEAVING!)

The city contends that the clubs are business enterprises and that open fornication is a danger to public health and morals.

Elements of the dispute have been adjudicated in Phoenix Municipal Court, Maricopa County Superior Court, the state Court of Appeals, U.S. District Court and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Hays said Fencl was convicted once and is fighting efforts by city prosecutors to have him jailed for violating probation. The city's legal efforts have been upheld in every venue so far, he added, and a recent dismissal of charges against Fencl had nothing to do with the merits of the ordinance. Prosecutors now have six boxes of records for the misdemeanor violations and have spent untold tax dollars on the case.

"These people are absolutely relentless," Hays added. "The case is over. We have all the legal ammunition we need. Every argument they've made, they've lost."

Full article at http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/local/articles/1209phxsexclub09.html
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Highlights of a Letter to the Arizona Republic editor that wrote the Bust story from a Club C member e-mailed to me:

Hello Mr. Wagner:

Regarding your articles this week concerning the police raid on Club Chameleon, I would like to point out a few mistakes that I am confident you would want to correct in a future report.

1. There was no sexual acts going on in the "public" parts of the club. I was sitting 15 feet from the bar and 10 feet from the dance floor with a decent view of the entire "public area" of the club. With the exception a some hugging, and kissing among friends, some revealing sexy outfits being worn by the ladies and a bit more bump and grind on the dance floor, the club could have been ANY bar with a great DJ in town. I absolutely assure you that if we could blindfold you, drop you into the middle of the main room of the club, you would never know that it was a swingers club.

2. The police did act professionally as you stated. But I can absolutely assure you that NO ONE applauded them for anything other than leaving. Our DJ, Zoe, pulled out every "cop" song in the repertoire and just as the officers were preparing to leave she played Marley's "I shot the sheriff"....whoops and hollers went up all over the club. By the way, the dance floor was packed, and people were enjoying the buffet and socializing the entire time the police were in the club. I wonder if when the order comes down for a raid on the club, do they ask for volunteers? The guys who got the job sure seemed to enjoy the view. Don't take me wrong. I love a man to stare at my ass and smile as I walk by....it is just a bit weird when he is wearing a gun.

I truly wish that someone in the media would do a more balanced (or at least informed) view of the Swing Life Style. The reports of the last few days regarding the raid, the comments by assorted radio talk show hosts (swingers are barnyard animals), and the overall Holy-er than Thou attitude of the media is very annoying. And sadly, you are missing a pretty good story.

My husband and I attend C.C. most Saturday nights. We are a committed married couple (20 years) who live "normal" lives -- good careers, kids in private school, friends and neighbors who are happy we are part of their lives. And yes, we have friends we enjoy sexually. The people that go to Club Chameleon are just like your neighbors, your dentist, your HOA president, your co-worker, maybe even your boss.

The lifestyle demands that you learn to not be judgmental. That has probably been the best part of becoming involved for me. To truly learn to accept others for themselves, not because they follow my rules, or mirror my thoughts. On any Saturday evening at Club Chameleon you will find people from every age group, every ethnic group, every size and shape. The criteria for being popular there is a lot different than at your gym or country club. The popular people are the ones who are kind, honest and fun loving. You may drive a Ferrari, but if you act like a jerk, you won't get back in....check and see if that rule applies in Scottsdale bars....LOL !

Statistically, Americans would be much better off embracing the swing lifestyle than what we are presently doing! 50% of all marriages end in divorce. How many because one or both had adulterous affairs? The last numbers I heard were that 45% of all married men had one or more extra-marital relationships. My husband and I know that corny as it sounds, sex is sex, and our relationship is based on so much more than just that!!

I hope you will consider investigating the lifestyle more thoroughly. Please let me know if you would like a copy of the "swinger's ethics" or any books or articles that might provide a balanced viewpoint!!

Dave notes I also have a letter from the editor Mr. Wagner in reply to the above letter which is quite good. The "bad" parts of the article were quotes by others not Dennis Wagner's own views.

Mr Wagner writes:
Thank you for taking the time to write. With regard to your suggestion that my stories have been biased or unprofessional, I could not disagree with you more.

I have gone to Club Chameleon and toured it personally. I have interviewed the owners and devoted an incredible amount of time to speaking with their attorney. I've given liberal coverage to their views and arguments. In fact, just the other day Mr. Hentoff thanked me for my even-handed reporting on the controversy. To accuse me of slanting this story is just unbelievable. In response to specific issues you raised:

-- I have reported that club members sign declarations acknowledging and endorsing the sexual activity.

-- I have reported that owners and their attorneys view these as private clubs, rather than businesses. I've also stressed that the sexual activity is consensual. At the same time, I've quoted city prosecutors who allege that these are business establishments.

-- I did quote a police officer who claimed the standing ovation was for professionalism by the vice squad. Similarly, I have quoted club owners, patrons and their attorney complaining that tax dollars and public safety resources are being squandered in pursuit of so-called "public decency.'' These are opinions and arguments voiced by news figures. They do not represent my point of view. In fact, neither you nor anyone else in this controversy has any inkling of my personal feelings on this matter.

-- I have reported that Club Chameleon is in an industrial area. I have never written that the public could just wander in.

-- I have never written that patrons are weirdos or sexual deviants. I've never expressed bias for or against your lifestyle.

-- The most recent charge against Mr. Fencl was dropped by prosecutors for strategic reasons rather than because the ordinance is flawed. In fact, Mr. Fencl already has been convicted once. Mr. Hentoff has acknowledged that the city won every legal battle concerning the constitutionality of the ordinance. The remaining dispute involves constitutionality of enforcement methods, not the law itself.

I hope this answers your questions. I strive to be fair and accurate in my reporting. I believe the opening comments in your email are unfair and inaccurate. Nevertheless, I'd be glad to interview you or other club members who are interested in talking about this issue on the record.
-- Dennis
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Comments On Stevi's Discussion Board:
While Sheriff Joke is too busy harassing escorts and their clients and the Phoenix Police is too busy raiding clubs like Club Chameleon to be bothered with real crime, Phoenix broke the 2001 homicide record with 247 homicides. There was 245 in 2001. At least we all know where those coffee-guzzling/donut gobbing bastards' priorities are!

Yes, there are always better things for the officers to be doing. But your last line goes a little too far. We have no problem with the Police officers, they are just following orders. Some of them are even members of the lifestyle. Our problem is with the officials that are ordering this harassment. Don't take it out on the cops, they are just doing their jobs.

Most people were probably not aware of this, but I remember a very small blurb in the Arizona Republic article reporting on Sheriff Joke's recent sting operation against escorts and their clients. The article reported that at one point during the sting operation, one of the Sheriff's female deputies, posing as an escort, spoke on the phone with a prospective client (or police victim depending on how you want to look at it). The client/victim told the deputy/escort that one of his friends just got back after serving in Iraq and asked if he could bring him. The deputy/escort told the client/victim "no, don't bring him. We don't want him in trouble."

So! What you have here is selective enforcement! I think it's fair to say that this decision from the deputy/escort did NOT come from the top brass. This also proves Stevi's assertion that the Phoenix cops would not have raided Club Chameleon had they known that at least one of their own was also there.
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Comments by Arizona Adult News editor:
Editors Note: Land of the Free, Home of the Brave, Ok what are we exactly singing here? Me being from a European country makes me wonder, my mouth falls to the floor, my eyes roll out of my skull each time I read something like this. Don't get me wrong I love this country and i am behind a lot of the things that it stands for, I am normally not one that will go into deep political discussions (although when asked I will express my opinion), but when something like this happens then it makes me sick to my stomach. Aren't we all paying taxes? what happens with this money? Do we really need to send squad cars to a club where people enjoy their so called "Freedom". If I am correct there was a "little" incident in Mesa few years back when 7 police officers engaged "Fornication" (geez) with each other during their shifts, in private AND public places, even on a church's parking lot, and what happened?, these people were sent home WITH FULL PAY, (if you want the articles on it contact me). Of course their paychecks come from Tax money. Personally I can care less if people help each other out with their sexual needs, but when an officer of the law have to actually open a door to see the fornication then this officer is violating the privacy of the persons engaged in that activity, unless of course this happened ( I found this on a site celled copcrimes.com)
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Phoenix is free of crime again . . . or maybe not
By E.J. Montini Republic columnist Dec. 11, 2003
(The same arguments can and were used against Operation House Call Bust of private sexworkers)

Two years ago I made a minor reporting error. I produced a newspaper column that claimed in its headline: "Good news! Phoenix is totally crime-free!" Turns out I was slightly mistaken. But understandably so, I believe. I had what looked like prima facie evidence in the form of a police raid on private members-only establishments where people participate in what is called the "swingers" lifestyle.

I figured that if the police were willing to expend the resources to investigate people who don't harm anyone and city officials were willing to spend taxpayer money on the law enforcement effort, then the only logical explanation is that there are no other serious crimes being committed. No unsolved murders. No lingering assault cases. No rapes. No robberies. No drug investigations. No thefts. As it turned out, that wasn't true. In the intervening years, there have been many reports of murders, rapes, robberies, etc.

That's the bad news.

The good news is that everything has changed, and I now can report unequivocally that, as of last Saturday, Phoenix is totally crime-free! It must be so. Otherwise, why would Phoenix police stage a similar raid on yet another adult social club? Which is exactly what they did. Police on Saturday stormed a place called Club Chameleon on the west side of town. The club manager was arrested, but none of the dues-paying "swingers" who were inside were. Under public indecency laws, if no one observing sexual behavior is offended, no crime is being committed. Except, of course, the crime of wasting taxpayer money.

Apparently, the Phoenix City Council is not content to just hand over millions of dollars to the local basketball team. Officials also want to squander taxpayer cash and law enforcement resources chasing men and women who meet other men and women in private in order to do things that consenting men and women do behind closed doors.

This can only mean that there are no more children being sexually abused. And there are no more freaks trying to lure kids over the Internet. It must mean that we can unlock our doors. We can switch off the alarms. No more amber alerts. The only thing pictured on milk cartons will be cows. Unless we're being fooled again, which is what attorney Nick Hentoff seems to believe. Hentoff represents the adult social club.

"They (the city) don't enforce this ordinance against adult motels," Hentoff told me. "They don't enforce it against gay clubs. That tells you that the real reason isn't a public-health issue. It's a morality issue. For some reason, they're offended that some people swap wives." Hentoff has filed a $500,000 claim against the city charging harassment. This means that in addition to taxpayers funding major police operations whose primary purpose is to terrorize and humiliate naughty couples, we must also waste money in court.

"This really strikes me as pure, petty harassment," Hentoff said. "It's weird. These guys have serious jobs. They're supposed to go after things like child prostitution. And they choose to use their budgets for something like this? Or to go into topless bars and get lap dances?" It's not a matter of agreeing with such establishments or such behavior. It's a matter of whether it should be a community concern when so much else needs to be done. When crimes go unsolved. When murderers or rapists roam free. When victims and their tortured families wait and wait and wait for resolution.

I met a woman this week who claimed to have been to adult clubs with her husband. "I can understand how people don't think it's moral or whatever," she told me. "But it's just people who have different beliefs about marriage or fidelity. And treating people like criminals is wrong."

It might even be counterproductive. Swingers' clubs like the Chameleon are located in industrial zones. If we shut them down, the members will still get together. Only instead of gathering in parts of town filled with warehouses, they'll do so at each other's homes. In neighborhoods. Next door to you.

2) Cops Bust Club Chameleon Saturday Night 12/6/03
Just when folks are celebrating the dismissal of the running a swing club charges the cops bust Club Chameleon again

From Club Chameleon Board:
For those of you still looking for info about last night... my wife and I were there the entire night and I'm happy to share my perspective. A little before 11 a number of Phx police officers - I would say a dozen - came into the club. They immediately spread out through out the club - opening all unlocked doors and shining flashlights. They arrested Kyle within the first few minutes and then basically just stood around until after the Club's lawyer showed up - probably 45 minutes later.

During the time they were in the club things were weird but the cops didn't hassle anyone. A few members were freaked and left but the staff did a great job keeping things as calm as possible and believe it or not a great number of people really didn't realize that something was even happening.

Myself and a few other members that were up front at the bar had a fairly lengthy discussion with the officers. They said that nobody attending the club was in any trouble at all and that they were not trying to close the club or cause any "trouble". They claimed that the club was violating Phx city ordinances regarding live public sex acts and that they were attempting to arrest Milo/Nancy or the mgmt responsible for this.

There was quite an exchange between the officers and members concerning whether there was in fact any violations occurring. The police claimed to have received "reports" of activities in the open areas during the past 2 weeks. They also said that they considered rooms without locks as public areas. As such they felt that people having a good time in the TV room for example would be a violation.

When asked specifically what was needed to make the club "conform" they refused to answer other than to say that the ordinance is clear and that members shouldn't worry because it is up to the club management to enforce and comply.

There was a little confusion immediately after the police left - nobody was really sure/clear on what was off limits. Initially the staff asked everyone to stay out of the "unlocked" rooms (mass hy, TV, and couples room) but within a few minutes they announced that only the TV room was off limits for the rest of the night.

The Couples and Mass H rooms had locks available on the doors so their immediate solution was to lock them and place staff at the doors to handle admission. Other than having to have staff unlock the doors to let you in everything was normal.

So for those of you wondering - that's what we experienced last night. The staff did a great job and although it was weird for awhile I would say that everyone still had a good time. I hope you will all join us in continuing to support the club and in sending M&N, Kyle, and the rest of the mgmt team are best wishes
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And in the Parking Lost
.........so much for "victory" - at 11pm the police were out in force last night. Two checking license plates in the parking lot. Two at the doorway with pad & pen, two more at the entrance of the parking lot. This city is out of control, the "holier than thou" crowd really needs to get some grip on reality. Phoenix now has it's very own "American Taliban leaders" where freedom of choice no longer has a place - you will be told how to live and act, ENJOY!! How sad.
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Another humous report
The most humorous parts of the evening were when Zoe (the worlds sexiest DJ) rounded up all her "cop" songs....and played them one after another....Marley's "I shot the sheriff" got a loud round of applause and yells! And as for nothing (sexual) happening? Well, I personally witnessed one of the raunchiest nights I have seen in ages in Mass Hysteria and the TV was being used and used well....the screens were just showing the previews of the film, but NOBODY cared! My husbands view point was...."this is my club, damnit, and I intend to use it!" So we did! And we will continue to do the same. SEE YOU ALL THIS SATURDAY FOR THE TOY SHOW AND GIRLS ONLY PARTY!!!!!!!
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The police seemed to enjoy the standing ovation they received when they were leaving but they didn't seem to care much for Zoe playing "I Shot the Sheriff" or her remark that "If your into handcuffs, we have a real treat for you tonight!" The rest of us liked it alot, though!!!!

3) AZ Republic Reports charges dismissed and Lawsuit filed against City but obviously didn't know about the Saturday night Bust at Club C.
To make matters even more confusing (although something here maybe a hint good for sexworkers):

Swingers hit back at city
The Arizona Republic Dec. 8, 2003

PHOENIX - The relentless battle between a swinger's club and Phoenix officials moved into a new phase Friday with the filing of a $500,000 claim against the city alleging false arrest and malicious prosecution.

Milo Fencl and operators of three other establishments were arrested during a Phoenix police operation last year that targeted social clubs where patrons openly engage in sex. Fencl and co-defendants claimed the misdemeanor criminal prosecution violated constitutional rights to free expression and association.

Various tangents of the legal conflict have been waged in Phoenix Municipal Court, Maricopa County Superior Court, the Arizona Court of Appeals, the U.S. District Court and the 9th Circuit Court.

Last week, city prosecutors dropped charges against Fencl, owner of Club Chameleon, who promptly had attorney Nick Hentoff submit a letter demanding $500,000 in personal damages. The letter paves the way for a lawsuit. Hentoff previously demanded $15 million on behalf of the club owners, and filed a civil complaint that remains open in Superior Court.

City officials, who were unavailable Friday, have said the statute was adopted to protect public health and morality. Even among consensual swingers, they argued, sexual acts are not protected by the First Amendment.

Fencl is the third defendant to have charges dropped; a fourth pleaded guilty.

The city has since modified its law, he added, and Club Chameleon has changed its operation so that sexual intercourse and other consenting acts by patrons occur in private.

4) The position of the City of Phoenix regarding swing clubs may actually benefit the private sexworker argument??
Based on the reported discussions with Police at the Club C bust and the last sentence of the above AZ Republic Report .... it seems... If the door is locked sex is private! Gee...since one of the biggest arguments the City tried to use against the swing clubs was that it was an act of prostitution (silly since no one is paying for sex, just for admission) than this would seem to support the argument that private sexwork should also be an individual freedom behind locked doors.

5) 180 days mandatory jail time for sexwork convictions update
I am getting lots of furious E-mail about this. Yes, as I reported the AZ Republic reported the City is going to "fix" the current law immediately to make a sexwork conviction require a mandatory, consecutive, minimum 180 day prison term instead of the current ability of judges to allow probation or community service for some of the currently required 180 day mandatory minimum sentence.

Obviously the City is obsessed over sex and is trying on the one hand to make its morality laws tougher yet it may realize it may be losing cases on privacy issues such as at the swing clubs, when done in Private. As another AZ Republic article pointed out a week or so ago, the city is paying out huge amounts of YOUR dollars in lawsuits against it. I think it is great that Hentoff the lawyer for the clubs is aggressively filing suits against the city on behalf of swing clubs for their morality law enforcement especially if the cases are actually dismissed.

Since the anti-sex morality laws are of interest to both swingers and sexworkers our legal interests are the similar.

6) Social/Political Change In AZ! By Stevi Secret 12/8/03
Many of you attended our big PAW event over the weekend, something I thank you for. We all had a great time but it is time to look to the future. PAW is a unique event for Phoenix because it is a mixture of entertainment and adult social issues. It's great but it's also something we all must build on.

I'm going to be blunt about this folks. Phoenix is known as a bit of a backwater in the adult business. It shouldn't be. It is a metropolitan area with over 3 million people. It's close to LA, Vegas even San Francisco yet we we live in more than a different time zone, in a lot of ways its a different world. Conservative local politicians run the city, making laws that are socially regressive, then spending our tax dollars enforcing them.

I've learned this from my experiance in Las Vegas. Five or six years ago the people that run Vegas (believe it or not) were just as bad as those running Phoenix. I can remember when I was the only one making adult videos based in Vegas. Now I am told there are over a hundred companies. Just seven years ago there were only thirteen strip clubs in the Vegas area, now there are nearly fifty; there was only one swing club now there about twenty. The Mayor of the city is now one of ours (proposing a possible red light district downtown).

Before you can make political changes, you have to make the social changes. You need to know this. I (like Dave) believe all all adult issues be they swinging, stripping, providing or even gay are interrelated. To me though, porn is the catalyst because porn is the mass media. Porn is our FOX News Network. Just like their network, ours carries a message too, that being a sexually liberal adult is a good thing. We should not be subjected to unnecessary laws or expensive police harassment.

This too, whenever we bring pornstars out to the club, we give people in Phoenix a chance to rub shoulders and get to know the individuals carrying the message. That's important because the sooner they learn down at city hall, that we are out of the closet and never going back in, the sooner the BS will stop. It is all part of a larger socializing process, that Phoenix needs to go through. When that process is complete, we can go about making the political changes necessary to insure our existence.

Before I leave this I want to say this. I'm trying to use my club and my groups to help promote all adult causes. Sure the club's a business (and I want to make money at it) but it's also a cause to me. I want this to work not only for me but for everyone in Arizona. When you support the club and involve yourself in this group, you are part of something, much bigger and better than any of as individuals can even imagine.

Hope you all are having a good day!
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Dave in Phoenix
Co-founder Liberated Christians
Founded in 1993 to help overcome traditional Christian traditions that have no biblical basis
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