By Joel Warner
By Michael Roberts
By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
"The sex is not going to get you shut down," says Lady Suzanne. "It's going to be your liquor laws and your zoning laws." And because the average lifestyle couple is typically over thirty, white-collar, with kids and a mortgage, swingers have a tendency to become skittish when fire marshals come marching through their late-night parties.
In October, Romeo and Weimer got an envelope with a Glenwood Springs postmark and printouts of the Sindicate web page -- their first hard evidence of what was going down in the building.
They wanted the club out, but their lawyer told them they didn't have enough to force an eviction. But then the fire marshal started showing up at Sindicate parties, and shut down an event in November. A subsequent fire inspection found several code violations. On December 17, Ewing and Regan had a meeting with Denver Fire Department representatives and a city attorney where "the City Attorney's office advised the business owner that the social club's operation was not in compliance with city ordinance and could not operate under current conditions," says a memo signed by Fire Prevention Division Chief Joseph Gonzales. (He declined Westword's request for an interview.)
Ewing says fire-department officials told them the club could operate if the building had a back staircase to the basement. The landlords quickly built one in time for their tenants' planned, 4Play-sponsored New Year's bash. That left just the matter of obtaining a new certificate of occupancy for large events -- the responsibility of the property owner, Ewing and Regan argued. But Romeo and Weimer disagreed; if their tenants were running the actual coffeehouse and gallery they'd promised -- and for which the city had issued a use permit on November 10, 2005 -- no events-use permit would be necessary.
Finally, facing the possibility of another raid, Ewing canceled the New Year's party on Navajo and arranged to have members attend a Kevin Larson New Year's Eve celebration at the Westin Hotel in Westminster. "It was a semi-formal party, so I said, 'What the heck, come on over,'" remembers Larson. "What they do in their hotel rooms is their business. They just have to keep their clothes on atthe party."
In a December 29 e-mail to members, Ewing and Regan blamed the canceled party on Seifert. "The owner of the Scarlet Ranch has made numerous false complaints to various city officials in an effort to thwart our business and lifestyle community," it read, adding that while their events were compliant with every city agency, due to the "unsavory nature of the gathering, the city has requested (not ordered) that we cease business until further review..." We find it extremely unfortunate that a club owner in the lifestyle has created undue attention to our fun," the e-mail concluded. "We have extended every effort to promote good will and harmony amongst club owners and promoters, and one bad apple is jeopardizing the scene."
On February 1, Romeo and Weimer evicted their tenants for non-payment of rent. Ewing and Regan countersued their former landlords, claiming that their failure to obtain the new certificate of occupancy caused them to lose thousands of dollars. The case is set for trial in October.
In November 2005, Brandy and her husband, Kirk, read a posting on lifestylelounge.com in which a female promised to bring a group of friends to Scarlet Ranch one evening.
"We are not technically full-swapper swingers," explains Brandy, who got into the lifestyle with Kirk six years ago. Their motivation, she says, was "to explore my bisexuality in more depth." Kirk is 33 years old and works in the technology industry, while 26-year-old Brandy works in politics. "The people are just a lot of fun," she continues. "They put on a lot of cool theme parties. It's a real open environment where you can just talk to anybody about anything. So there's no restrictions involved with basic conversations about the things you're interested in."
The first swingers party they attended was put on by Double Entendre Presents at Bender's 13th Avenue Tavern, and open only to Lifestyle Lounge members. "We were definitely nervous, because we didn't know what to expect," Brandy says. "So we're kind of looky-loos. We thought that everyone was going to, like, try and attack us. And someone would walk up to you and try and talk to you, and you're thinking, 'Oh, my God, this person wants to have sex with me.'" Instead, they found that people were very welcoming and friendly -- and much less boring than their non-swinger acquaintances.
"If it wasn't for the Lifestyle Lounge, we probably wouldn't have good friends," Brandy says. "Honestly. So even more so than the play avenue, we count a huge social life from the lifestyle. People that we can identify with."
There are social rules for how people should approach each another, but mostly it comes down to common sense. Initial chitchat should be no different than any other getting-to-know-you conversation. Talk about the event or life. If there's chemistry involved, you start to discuss in-depth what you're into. "You don't assume," Brandy says. "For example, we're not full swappers -- but you don't know that until you have a conversation with us, so it's not assuming that people are into the same things that you are into. Not touching without asking. And I think you might be more sensitive to it just because of the nature of being in the lifestyle."