The funds being raised on this site will be used for legal cost associated with defending the argument that swingers lifestyle clubs are not an Sexually Oriented Business for the obvious reason that first and foremost we do not provide entertainment. We will also be challenging for the constitutional right to gather peacefully and the illegal unwarranted search conducted by the Texas State Comptrollers office under threat of arrest. This is the first such action taken by a lifestyle club directly to State court against the Comptrollers office so we anticipate a legal battle that will be setting new legal precedence. The stakes are high but if successful, this will once and for all provide the legal authority for swingers lifestyle clubs to be able to operate without the concern of being harassed as a Sexually Oriented Business, restrict the Comptroller from conducting unwarranted searches and will provide peace of mind to our participants.
Consortium Venture, Inc is a members only, adult lifestyle swingers club, doing business as The Pendulum Club (TPC). We are located in Houston Texas and have been opened since November 2015. TPC also has a South Houston location which opened November 2018. By the end of 2019 TPC will have three clubs operating for the benefit of our 12,000 plus existing members and any future visitors.
Historically, in Texas, private, members only lifestyle swinger clubs have not been considered Sexually Oriented Business (SOB) by the State, Counties or Cities in which they are located. As a result of not being designated an SOB, they are not requiring to pay The State of Texas a $5 per customer fee collected by the State Comptroller's Office, know as the pole tax which is primarily used to discourage strip clubs. They are also not required to register as an SOB at the county level or register in the city they operate in, therefore, not being regulated by strict zoning or policy regulations which dictate their location and manner of operation. Violation of some of these restrictions can result in criminal prosecution of employees, management, owners, landlords and customers. Two of the main objective of the SOB restrictions is to curtail sex trafficking and sexual prostitution in a public environment. The definition of an SOB is the providing of nude entertainment and the serving of alcoholic beverages. Nude is defined as the exposure of genitalia, a female nipple or buttocks. The pivotal words for SOB designation is PROVIDING ENTERTAINMENT.
In early March 2019 The Texas State Comptroller's Office visited TPC 's both location with the intent of investigating our operations and determining if we were an SOB, thereby, making us required to collect the additional $5 pole tax from our members. The Comptrollers agents at our original location (Hempstead) were ask to produce a warrant in order to enter the premises and conduct their inspection. Texas State Statues allow The Comptrollers office to inspect and audit your financial records but do not authorize them to enter your business for any other reason. Unable to present a warrant they were not allowed to enter and stated they would return at a later date. The agents which visited our South location were allowed to enter and left without concluding that the venue was an SOB. Two weeks later the agents returned to both location and this time they were accompanied by agents from their Criminal Investigation Division (CID). Once again they were denied entry at the Hempstead location and ask to produce a warrant in order to enter. At this time, the CID agents present their badge and identified themselves as officer that would arrest us if they were not permitted to enter. Under the threat of being arrested, they were not stopped from entering and told that we were just following the advice of our attorney and would allow entry under protest. After walking through our establishment and not witnessing anything that would establish us as an SOB they stopped and stood around and waited. After a few minutes one of the agent said that they notice an individual who was wearing a see thru net body suit which exposed her nipple and she was dancing on a stage, therefore, we were an SOB. I was standing next to her and the person she saw was over 25 feet away in a dimly lit club atmosphere and on the way back from the bathroom she stepped up on a small stage and swung around a pole a couple of times specifically for her husband and then she immediately sat down next to him. The agent proceeded to fill out an observation report and request we sign the document which we refused. Later, after the agents had left, we saw that the net body stocking had flesh colored lining. The agents at the South location were once again allowed to enter and again left not concluding that we were an SOB. Two weeks later they again returned to the South location and in spite that both clubs follow the same mode of operation for the third time they left not designating the location as an SOB.
As a result of being designated an SOB the Comptrollers office send us a notice that we would be responsible for paying $5 for every customer that visited our establishment since Jan 1, 2019 due on April 20, 2019. Upon advise of our attorney we paid the 1st quarter pole tax and immediately request a refund in accordance with the provisions stated in the statues.
Along with the request for refund we have filed a lawsuit pleading that the State is attempting to tax the peaceful gathering and by doing so restrict the constitution right to do so. Also, we are challenging the unwarranted search conducted by the Comptrollers under threat of arrest.
Your help will be greatly appreciated and will also show our elected officials that we in the lifestyle have the means, education and drive to stand up for our constitution rights and will not allow them to legislate their morality by invading our private lives. Besides it just isn't right and it should never be right for any peace officer to conduct a search without a warrant. That is a fundamental right we should all agree on regardless of party affiliation.