January 20, 2010 | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Men’s clubs closed in city crackdown on sex businesses

The closed “men’s party” house at 1618 14th St., N.W. (DC Agenda photo by Michael Key)

D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles revealed last week that his office shuttered a sex club for gay men known as the “Men’s Parties” and “D.C. Wrestling Club” as part of a city-wide crackdown on prostitution and other “unlawful sexually oriented activities.”

“The District has worked diligently to bring to light the illegal activities occurring at these unsafe businesses and fought to keep them closed for a safer and peaceful community,” Nickles said in a statement. “As part of this initiative, the District has used and will continue to use every tool at its disposal to make sure such illegal activities will not be tolerated.”

Four other businesses targeted in the crackdown catered to heterosexual clientele. In court papers seeking an injunction to close the Men’s Parties, which operated in a townhouse at 1618 14th St., N.W., Nickles stressed the club was operating as a business without a required business license. The court papers made no allegation that the club was associated with prostitution.

The city launched an investigation into the Men’s Parties’ operations after one of its gay male members died in October after falling and hitting his head on the concrete floor or a metal pipe, according to an account by the club’s owner, David Butler. Police ruled the death an accident, but the Logan Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commission called on the city to close the club on grounds that it was unsafe.

Butler disputes claims that the premises in which he operated were unsafe. He had said he operated the Men’s Parties as a private social club, not a business, and would comply with all city rules. Butler had noted his attorney was challenging the city’s injunction forcing him to close, although he was uncertain whether he could resume the club’s activities.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

11 Comments
  • Jon Rybka-Wachhaus

    I feel that these places should be allowed to stay open ONLY if they follow the rules. Illegal play parties are dangerous to all involved but the government should not be forcing any person’s lifestyle to go even futher underground. Why not legalize these places and make them a safer environment?

  • And what about the Crew Club… that is nothing but a sex club.

    As for following the rules, don’t be so naive. It is the customers who don’t follow the rules, that is why DC is such an HIV haven. Do you want employees hanging over your every move. Silly isn’t it.

    Close it down.

  • I agree with Jon on the issue of driving people even further underground. Heavy-handed nanny-statism has demonstrated its ineffectiveness in such matters time after time.

  • Peter Nickles (and by extension, Adrian Fenty) proved himself a charlatan of an atty general long before this.

  • The comment by Frank about the Crew Club is entirely off base, as is his comment about it being the customers that don’t follow the rules. The “wrestling club” place was a fire trap and did not follow the business rules. That means they were endangering their customers. By contrast, the Crew Club, contrary to Frank’s characterization, has workout equipment and a trainer, a steam room, a sauna, and a TV room. It is a comfortable place to relax after work. What people do in private is their own business. Unlike the sleazy sex clubs that the city is going after, the Crew Club is clean, well-maintained, has nice and safe facilities, and BTW its owner does not try to avoid identifying himself. It is absurd to ignore all the differences.

  • Oh because it kept physically clean that makes it ok… give me a break Rick! If they are going to close some they have to close all.

    Clearly you have been to CC but you are not being honest. There is a lot more going on there than, “relaxing after work.” We all know it is a sex club, just like Steam Works or Club Fort Lauderdale.

    And people wonder why…

  • You are missing the point. Mens Party was not closed because of the sex. They were closed because they were operating a business without a permit and not paying taxes. They pretended it was just a bunch of guys coming over to a friend’s private home for a party with guest throwing a few bills in a hat to pay for expenses.

  • I have been to both the Crew Club and the 1618 14th St townhouse and there is a big difference between the two places. The Men’s Party was what it was. A place to jack off/play with guys of the same ilk upstairs and to watch porn, eat snacks and drink sodas just like you were at home. The furniture was shabby and maybe not very sanitary, but when you are alone and gay and needy, one can not be too picky. And the price was right. The owner really seemed to enjoy providing a service to gay men. On Thanksgiving, I remember once going and was surprised to find a turkey and trimmings. If he had registered as a business, he would have been under the thumb of government and its regulations. Downstairs,though, it was a free-for-all of sex and a bit risky, but when you are alone in DC area, you don’t always have loads of options. Me, I appreciated what was given and stayed away from the risky sex, as my choice. It’s always good to feel free.

    Crew Club is professionally run and rules are posted, condoms are encouraged and notices concerning STDs are posted. The owner is responsible in all respects and the gay community in the DC Metro area should be glad to have such a business which is up-front and responsible.

    In DC and Northern Virginia and the Maryland suburbs, we are behind in offering men outlets for their sexual needs. It was nice to have choices, sad that a man with a good heart and great intentions had to lose his contribution so suddenly and so completely.

    This is just one more loss after the Blade, Lambda Rising, the SE businesses…sad, sad, sad…and probably more to come.

  • I too have been to both Bill… You can wrap the package any way you like, it is still the same inside.

    Don’t you get it, we live in a “Gay Friendly” city now, not a Gayborhood. But oh yes, those were the days my friend.

    By the way DC Agenda, if you are going to allow comments, keep them all posted. Don’t remove it because your readers don’t like it. That is called censorship. Right…?

  • Frank I am like you, keep it simple why sugar coat it. The Crew Club is a sex club, prostituiton operates out of there. I know 2 of the employees who sell their sexual services there.

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