By PAUL J. WEBER, Associated Press Writer
DUNCANVILLE, Texas - The most popular address on Cedar Ridge Drive is Jim Trulock's split-level home, which has a group sex room and attracts as many as 100 people to swinger parties featuring "Naked Twister" nights.
But the festivities could soon be over. In response to neighbors' complaints, the city has outlawed sex clubs in residential areas. Citations have been issued, and search warrants may be next.
"It's crazy that they want to force their morality down our throats," said Dawn Burton, 45, a regular guest at the parties. "We're all frustrated."
So are those who complain of the noise, traffic and parking problems that occur in their otherwise quiet, upscale neighborhood every Friday and Saturday, when Trulock's home is transformed into "The Cherry Pit."
Duncanville, which proclaims itself "The Perfect Blend of Family, Community and Business," is an unlikely venue for a neighborhood swinger club. The city of 36,000 just southwest of Dallas has about 50 places of worship and not a single registered sexually oriented business.
Duncanville officials insist they are not just another prudish Texas town giving the boot to spouse-swappers. They say it all boils down to a matter of law: Trulock is operating a business featuring live sex acts.
"It's not trying to judge anyone or pass judgment on someone's lifestyle," city spokeswoman Tonya Lewis said.
To support its claim, the city notes that the Cherry Pit accepts money from guests and promotes the parties on its Web site.
"We're not about infringing on the rights of the Cherry Pit patrons or owners," Lewis said. "But now your right to have fun has infringed on everyone else's. And now you have to draw the line."
Other cities have wrestled with the same issue.
Phoenix, for example, prohibited live sexual performances in 1998, effectively outlawing swinger parties. An appeals court upheld the law in 2003, and Duncanville used it as a blueprint when passing a ban last month.
Retiree Jack Martin, who lives a block behind Trulock's home, said he's concerned that the parties will reduce the value of his property.
Others are annoyed by the procession of cars that crowd their street on weekend evenings, or the flood of strangers who descend on the neighborhood.
"If you're going to do that, you should open a business," Martin said. "Go somewhere where it's allowed."
Attorneys for Trulock, 59, say the Cherry Pit is nothing more than a private residence where a group of friends get together on weekends to socialize in whatever way they prefer.
While guests are encouraged to make "voluntary donations" to cover the cost of food and refreshments, organizers deny that anyone is being charged admission to his parties.
Ed Klein, an attorney for the Cherry Pit, said many guests give no money, but those who do often chip in $10 or $20. Klein said he plans to file a lawsuit next week that will challenge the constitutionality of the ordinance and seek a temporary retraining order against the city.
"I don't think it's persecution so much as an invasion of their privacy," Klein said.
Arthur Leonard, a New York Law School professor who studies sexuality law, said the size of the parties might be a legal obstacle.
"It seems to me when you have that number of people involved, it becomes more like a public event," Leonard said. "It seems unlikely that a court would find privacy protection for an event this large."
The city has already cited Trulock with three violations, which carry a maximum $2,000 fine. Duncanville City Manager Kent Cagle this week pledged to continue enforcing the new law.
The case against the swinger parties "does appeal to a lot of people's sense of morality," said Lewis, the city spokeswoman. "That's been a lot of complaints we've gotten from residents: 'I came to Duncanville to have a family. I didn't come here to live next to a sex club.'"
A while ago, I was considering planning a party (not a sex party, just a regular ol' party), and was trying to figure out the maximum number of people that I could fit into the house comfortably. Considering the Big Broken Box™ is really pretty good sized, I came to the conclusion that 75 people would be damn uncomfortable, and that was including a bunch of people in the yard. I never even thought about parking.
Here's the house:
100 people at a shot, in a house, with residential parking. If two people come in each car, that's 50 cars.
I really have no problem with swinger parties or Naked Twister (add some Jell-O and it's a hoot!), but that's really too many people to have comfortably in a residential neighborhood.