Civil Libertines

The battle over Phoenix's groundbreaking sex-club ban moves into federal court

The five club owners who filed the federal lawsuit say they have generated a legal fund rich enough to pursue their case as far as the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, if they lose in District Court in Phoenix.

For now, the clubs remain open, though business is down.
"I would say that since the ordinance has been written, our business has fallen off probably 65 percent," Guys & Dolls co-owner Bob Mutschler told Hays in a deposition.

Mutschler and others say police officers cruised through Discretions on a weekend night shortly after the law went into effect, checking identifications and threatening arrest.

"You folks had the police go by Discretions twice as a form of harassment, which in turn emptied out several of the clubs that particular evening because people were afraid they were going to jail. That is how the ordinance has affected our business," Mutschler said.

After the ordinance passed, swingers' club owners boarded up the windows and installed doors in the entryways to public sex or "viewing rooms" in their respective clubs, including the "Mass Hysteria" theme room in Club Chameleon.

"Of course, last Saturday night, the doors were open and people were standing in the doorway and around the room watching," reports Roe, "but there's no longer any rooms that cannot be made purely private."

Roe admits that swingers' club sex is "something of a stretch in terms of what the Constitution is meant to protect."

"Still," he says, "we honestly believe that on some level, our ability to freely express ourselves as free Americans is being reduced, prohibited in some manner. And we believe that's profoundly unfair, because we're not looking to bother anyone or infringe on their way of life. We just want to be left alone."

Contact David Holthouse at his online address:

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