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Brandy and her husband were enjoying the lifestyle, but they were disappointed by the Scarlet Ranch event, which was definitely lacking in females. And in mid-November, Lifestyle Lounge administrators banned Seifert from the site for posting falsely under fake profiles. Seifert, however, says he was kicked off because he called Ewing on some false statements.
The conflict between Scarlet Ranch and Sindicate was big news in the local swinger world. "It's like being back in high school, and we honestly tried to stay out of it, because to us it was completely ridiculous," Brandy says. "And our take was, whoever it is out there putting out a negative vibe will eventually show themselves."
"A great number of people in our club don't have sex with others," says Seifert, back at his desk at Scarlet Ranch. "That isn't their main goal. They're just here to be more sexy in a bar than they can in the Church or something without being booted out."
Maybe a girl likes to lose her top or something like that, for example. "But that's different than what would be the old swing club, where everybody comes in and they swap partners, have sex with somebody they don't know and leave," he says. "This is more of a social action, if you will."
"You have a forty-year-old woman who comes in a club, she has two or three kids, and people flirt with her, they're attracted to her, and it just makes her day, makes her year," says Megan. "And her guy is sitting there going, ŒHere's this woman that I've been with, and other people desire her and she's still beautiful, she's still a sexual being.'"
Adds Seifert: "The biggest advantage that you get for those couples is that they've been together for twelve years, they have two kids, they may not do personal hygiene as detailed, they don't buy new clothes. All of a sudden it's almost like a couple dating, where they're going out and she's buying cute dresses and he's losing fifteen pounds."
"They're courting other couples," Megan says.
"But the biggest benefit is what they see within themselves," Seifert continues. "All of a sudden they revive and strengthen their own relationship, which is far better than what happens here."
"And that's what it's about," Megan concludes.
Seifert opened the original Scarlet Ranch in Evergreen in 2001. Soon he moved operations to a nearby mountain lodge. It was at one of these parties that he met Megan, who had come with her then-boyfriend. Seifert and Megan eventually became a couple and decided that they couldn't afford to be so far from Denver. "It takes a long time to build a base," Seifert says. "We had years of dead nights."
Business quickly took off on Broadway.
Like many private, on-premise swinger clubs, the Scarlet Ranch gets around the liquor-license issue with a strict BYOB policy. Staffers label each bottle with a member's code and pour only from that member's stash. Drugs are strictly forbidden. Most of Scarlet Ranch's demographic is "upper-middle-class, white, Highlands Ranch people," Seifert says, "people who want to venture out of the mainstream lifestyle but stay clear of the drugs, stay clear of the escorts. And so anytime any group comes in and tries to mix the drugs and the escorts in here, it turns into a battle, and we try to fight them off."
The fight got ugly last fall. Scarlet Ranch had a large Halloween party planned for October 29, and when Sindicate announced its own event the night before, Seifert stretched his party to two nights in an attempt to snag Ewing's patrons. "I think he saw this as a personal attack against him," Seifert admits. "I see it as business, nothing personal."
Things got personal after someone complained to the city and fire marshals showed up at the Scarlet Ranch party, kicking out more than 200 patrons (including one Denver firefighter) and shutting down the club for numerous fire-safety and building-code violations. Seifert kept the place shuttered for a month while he brought everything up to code.
Then one evening in late December, fliers were stuffed in mailboxes and on car windshields around the Baker neighborhood. Headlined "There is an Illegal Sex and Drug club in our Neighborhood," it named Scarlet Ranch as a den for "live sex shows, orgies, prostitutes and hookers as well as heavy use of the drug Œecstasy'. SEX OFFENDERS FREQUENT CLUBS LIKE THIS AND WILL BE IN OUR NEIGHBORHOOD SATURDAY." It named Seifert as the owner, gave his date of birth, and encouraged readers to check out his criminal record on the Denver courts website, where suspicious neighbors would find a listing of that fall's code violations. (The city had issued a use permit on November 22 for Seifert to run a private membership club in the building.).
Rich Dockter was one of the neighbors who got a flier, and it immediately raised his suspicions -- not about Scarlet Ranch, but about who was behind the stunt. "I went out and I saw this," he remembers, "and I thought, 'This is weird. I've never seen something like this in my whole life.' And the point of that flier was obviously to try to stir up the neighborhood to cause problems and try to get [Seifert] taken out." Dockter knew all about Scarlet Ranch, though he'd never been there. He's the director of Thunder in the Mountains, an annual BDSM convention held in Denver. The BDSM scene -- think whips, paddles and dominatrices -- is quite separate from the swinger community, which sticks to more traditional sexual play. But they both support the rights of the other to operate.