Let Them Eat Pussy!

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It seems Orange County can't bear the thought that it is nationally renowned for being full of normal, educated couples who (gulp) swing. Yes, swing, as in go out and have recreational sex in a safe environment with your partner or with other people's partners on a regular basis. Or maybe it's the OC Register that can't bear the thought. Accept it, guys. It's not going to hurt.

Years ago, a home and part-time sex club known as The Panther Palace was hounded by the city of Costa Mesa for not having the proper permits. The county's latest victim is Club Amnesty, the friendly, mellow sex club we profiled last month (See "Swing Shift").

After our article ran, the Register started asking questions and began to dig for whatever scummy sex dirt they could find. That's the thing with sex in this county: If it happens in a way that's not missionary and monogamous, there must be something wrong. Wrong! And it must be stamped out.

So the Reg decides to sic not one, but three reporters (threesome!) on the club soon after our article ran. City officials in Orange began to investigate and, voila, you've got business license and code violations, a mayor crying out in shock and disbelief and a tawdry sex club exposed. Exposed! (Actually, as sex clubs go, this one is known nationally for being one of the friendliest, nicest places to visit. But that part didn't quite make it into the article.)

The big, dirty violation, you ask? The wrong box was checked on the sexually-oriented business application. But the application PDF featured in the article is for the photography studio which the club owners also run, not the club. Does another application exist for the club itself, with the proper box checked? And even if it doesn't, this violation should be correctable right? The fire-code violations are definitely correctable. But now the city has ordered the club to shut down unless the problems are fixed by May 1.

Owner Gary Nalder told the Reg he now has plans to sell the building and close up shop. Makes sense: It's too public now. The club—and its many professional patrons—operate on the premise that the location remain discreet. There are far too many people who refuse to believe that healthy, married couples do indeed swing. And they're not freaks.

The Reg article makes the club seem like a seedy, covert sex club that deceived city officials by masquerading as a photography studio. Instead of quoting many of the generous, easygoing OC professionals we met at Club Amnesty, the article offers up a few quotes from probably one of few porn-star club regulars. Gee. You guys dug real deep for that one.

If the Reg folks remember, our article explicitly pointed to the fact that the great majority, if not all, of the couples we met and spoke with at Club Amnesty were normal, tax-paying, generally white, generally married (for years) people who were sober and friendly and did not in any way, shape or form resemble porn stars. They were just nice people doing something that this county, and the U.S. in general, can't seem to stomach: shared sex between consenting adults in a responsible manner. What we found at the neat, well-run club were a few roomfuls of grown-ups behaving better than most people behave at local bars.

I'm sad to see Gary and Robin go, as are probably the thousands of patrons—police officers, teachers, engineers, moms and dads—who feel like the rug has been pulled out from under their feet as well. Municipal code violations always seem to miraculously appear when there is an interest in suppressing perceived moral code violations. Especially here. Especially when it comes to sex. And that fear of human sexuality just ran a well-liked local business out of town.

Way to blow the lid off of nookie, Register.

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