“We were dumbfounded,” says Mostow. “All the attorneys we’d ever spoken to constantly said, ‘Open up, open up,’ … There was no reason to be closed.” But it seemed that every time they were about to, the threat of another cease-and-desist order lurked in the shadows of city government.
“My thought process was, what if you went to a bed and breakfast in Philadelphia,” says Mostow, “and the B&B had six rooms where six different couples from all over the country were staying? Now, what if they left their doors open? Is it now considered a swingers club? What if the six couples staying at the B&B decide they want to meet downstairs and watch a porno? What does that become?”
It’s been almost four years, and Mostow’s still waiting, even as the case ended this spring without a conclusion.
All the stranger, there’s another couples club still open for business in the city. PW exchanged an email with the manager of the Pleasure Garden, who claimed, “Other places were closed due to NON adult zoning.”
“[The Pleasure Garden] is in a commercially zoned property,” says Maura Kennedy, director of Strategic Initiatives at L&I. “It has a zoning classification that allows for cabarets and adult entertainment. [Salmon Street] was attempting to operate in a residential neighborhood. That’s the difference here.” O’Brien says he believes in a “be good or be gone” philosophy for city properties, and Trapeze was not good.
“I would say … the final opinion of the case is ambiguous,” says O’Brien. “If everyone’s looking for clarification … the ZBA should make a clarification as to whether a permit can and should say they can have sex in a private club.”
But ‘ambiguous’ is good enough for Mostow. Since no one’s got an answer, he’s got one for them: a new grand opening is set for the fall. “I told [L&I], if you can show me one law that says swing clubs consisting of consenting adults are illegal,” he says, “I’ll be the first to pack my bags and leave. But until then, I’m not going anywhere.” ■
First Person Arts Podcast: Proud Mom