Organizers of a sex convention this weekend say they are being unfairly targeted after aldermen said the city will check if event vendors have permits.
STL3 Inc. has organized a "Spanksgiving" conference from Friday to Sunday at the Four Points by Sheraton hotel for about 250 people who will explore bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism in sexual relationships.
Ward 1 Alderman Norm Miller informed the public at a City Council meeting on Tuesday that he received a call from a concerned citizen about the event.
Miller questioned whether event vendors would need permits and if the city would get sales tax revenue from sold merchandise.
"We have no idea what's going on in there. We have no idea what's being sold," Miller said.
National Coalition for Sexual Freedom spokeswoman Susan Wright, on behalf of a national advocacy group that partners with STL3 Inc., said the conference will have classes and social activities as well as vendors who sell sex toys and other merchandise.
Wright said organizers want to cooperate fully with the city, and plans to obey all state and city laws. But Wright also questions the timing of the enforcement.
"What is being asked of this conference that is not being asked of other conferences?" Wright said. "You can't just enforce it against one group and not another. Did other conference vendors have to pay this fee? It's because of the nature of the event."
Wright said event organizers were not notified by the city about the permits until Wednesday and the hotel was not aware of the requirements.
Ward 5 Alderwoman Sandy Baldwin said the city decided in recent weeks to enforce the merchant ordinance and sent letters to all hotels and motels in the city.
The city is not targeting "Spanksgiving" specifically, but making a push to enforce existing codes, Baldwin said. She added that though she is personally against the event, she recognizes the group's rights.
"I would prefer to not have this kind of event in our city, there's no doubt about that," Baldwin said. "But I also understand, legally, when your hands are tied, we can only make sure the laws on our books are being followed."
Baldwin also said the city will monitor the area to ensure there's no activity outside the hotel and none of the trailers on the hotel parking lot display graphic images.
According to the city's "Hawkers, Peddlers & Itinerant Merchants" ordinance passed in August 1990, merchandise vendors need to have a city-issued license to operate and applicants must have an Illinois sales tax number.
The permit fee is $50 per event and good for seven consecutive days. Those who violate the ordinance could be fined from $150 to $500 a day.
The ordinance also states that "Charitable, Service, Church Organizations, City sponsored functions and Non-Profit Hobby Clubs shall be exempt from any fees incurred as a result of this legislation upon review by the Mayor."
The city would not make nonprofit groups such as the Girl Scouts get permits, Baldwin said.
"I think there's a difference between a Girl Scout cookie and a sexual toy paraphernalia. When you sell Girl Scout cookies, that money is put back into the Girl Scouts. It's going back into the community."
STL3 Inc. is a registered nonprofit corporation with the Missouri Secretary of State and Internal Revenue Service....
As part of Lehigh’s power and privilege series the Office of Multicultural Affairs hosted a workshop on Tuesday Nov. 8 exploring the seemingly taboo sexual expression of BDSM, an acronym that refers to Bondage, Discipline, Dominance, Submission, Sadomasochism and Masochism.
BDSM involves the consensual exchange of power in erotic or sexual situations. Although BDSM has been largely viewed with disapproval in mainstream society, it has become more recognized and popularized by recent media attention, including Rihanna’s hit, “S&M.”
The concrete associations with BDSM commonly include whips, chains and handcuffs during erotic situations in order to feel pleasure out of pain.
“I didn’t know that BDSM was a real thing, or a big deal, or even considered a form of abuse,” said Roshni Desai, ’15.
BDSM is a unique way of sexual expression, that to some, might seem like sexual abuse. However, focus of the workshop was to put BDSM in a different light, differentiating it from sexual abuse. It analyzed how the tenants of BDSM go far past the chains and whips into the concepts of power, privilege, and gender equality.
One of the main topics of the workshop was exploring the guiding principles of BDSM. The main principles are safety, to hurt but not harm, to be self-affirming but not self-destructive, to be fully consensual and never under the influence of any form of substance. Along with these principles, BDSM is always negotiated and agreed upon ahead of time, and it can be stopped in any instant for any reason, giving both parties equal control.
These principles alone refute any association between BDSM and sexual abuse. Because of these principles, BDSM provides a mental escape to a place where there is equal power and privilege between both partners, regardless of their gender. So, when looking beyond the whips and chains, to the principles and morals of BDSM, it proves to be a healthy form of sexual expression that is merely just misunderstood by society.
“It is my hope that students will leave the workshop understanding BDSM as a normal and healthy form of sexual expression, that they will be able to differentiate between BDSM behaviors and sexual abuse and that they will begin to explore some of the power and privilege around gender and sexuality,” said Brooke DeSipio, assistant director of the Women’s Center and host of the event.
A second woman has come forward to describe boxing legend Oscar De La Hoya’s freaky cross-dressing fetish -- alleging he threw a kinky, booze-and-cocaine fueled sex party at The Ritz-Carlton on Central Park South, prancing around in skimpy ladies underwear and intimidating her and a roommate when they tried to leave.
“It was beyond kinky,” New York model Angelica Marie Cecora, 25, told The Post in an exclusive interview. “Things that I don’t even know how to explain were done with him.”
In a new lawsuit, Cecora tells of the pervy pugilist’s predilection for ladies’ wear, saying the retired fighter contacted her through her modeling Web site to help him “relax” last March 15 after returning from a goodwill visit with the troops in Iraq.
He told her his name was Thomas Crown -- the rich playboy in the 1968 film “The Thomas Crown Affair” and its 1999 remake -- but finally revealed his true identity over dinner, flashing his AmEx Black Card, she said.
“He said there was no alcohol and no women [in Iraq], and he needed to unwind,” Cecora, 25, told The Post. “Once dinner was over, he decided he wanted me to spend the whole night with him.”
Cecora said De La Hoya was drinking heavily during dinner and ordered more booze to his room when they got upstairs -- and that’s when he got freaky.
“He started to put my stuff on, my underwear. I had a skirt with me. He put that on,” she said.
The owner of a local catering business has been given an opportunity for a "fresh start" after being ordered by the code enforcement officer to stop holding swingers' parties at the High Street function hall he leases.
"I made a monumental business error and I'm truly sorry for that," said James U. Colley at Tuesday night's town council meeting in support of new license applications. Colley was referring to the swingers' sex parties that he and his wife — as "Great Beginnings Catering" — hosted at Mousam View Place at 47 High Street.
Colley and his wife, Susan, who owned and operated Great Beginnings at the hall for the last 10 years, were cited Oct. 21 for several violations of Sanford's code ordinance regulating businesses that have liquor, food and entertainment licenses.
The charges resulted from activities observed by undercover police officers at a Halloween-themed event at the hall on Oct. 15. While the officers observed "no illegal activity" at the party, they observed a wide spectrum of sexual activity in clear violation of state and town codes. According to the letter from the code enforcement officer, the police officers observed nudity and people engaging in a variety of sex acts, which in themselves are not illegal among consenting adults. However, such conduct in "immediate proximity" to where food and alcohol are prepared and/or served violates state liquor laws. Also, some patrons allegedly watched others perform live sex acts for the purpose of "entertainment or diversion."
The Colleys were charged with allowing tumultuous conduct at licensed premises, allowing conduct amounting to a nuisance, prostitution and public indecency, and obscenity. They were ordered by Code Enforcement Officer Shirley Sheesley to cease the activities immediately.
"I have informed the owner of the group, which is neither Sue nor myself, that the parties will no longer take place at Mousam View Place," James Colley wrote in an email response to Sheesley on Oct. 25. Colley said that the scheduled November and December parties that appeared on the group's website will not be held at the Sanford function hall.
"Our intent was never to violate any codes or embarrass this community, the building owner or ourselves," Colley wrote. ...
The owners of a catering company that hosted a sexually explicit “swingers club” gathering at the Mousam View Place banquet hall have promised that such events will never happen there again. But whether it will cost the company its liquor license this week remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, residents who live within sight of the hall on High Street said they are relieved that the company is putting a stop to the parties.
“It’s disgusting,” said Destini Rideout, who lives in an apartment building across from the hall. “It’s just repulsive.”
On Tuesday evening, after the Observer’s deadline, James Colley, owner of Fresh Start Catering, the business that occupies the hall, will go before the Town Council seeking renewals of the company’s liquor license, amusement license, dance permit and victualer’s license.
The meeting will take place less than two weeks after the company received a letter dated Oct. 21 from the town, charging that the company operated a “swingers club” at the hall. Town Manager Mark Green said this week that the town issued the letter following an undercover police investigation on Oct. 15.
According to the letter, officers saw about 40 people engaged in sexually explicit activity in the building.
“While food and alcoholic beverages were being served, patrons were observed in full nudity, and engaging in a variety of sex acts, including oral sex and full penetration,” the letter reads.
Green said the patrons at the party paid to participate.
“Basically, it was an admission fee,” he said.
The letter accused the company of violating obscenity laws and ordered the parties to stop immediately.
“You are in violation of the Sanford Code because, without limitation, the activities observed at the premises … constitute adult business establishment use under the Sanford Code,” the letter reads.
Tim Gagnon and his wife, Regina, live on Bougie Lane, with Mousam View Place at the edge of their property.
“It’s right in our back yard, literally, and our kids play out there,” Regina Gagnon said.
During the day, the Gagnons babysit their neighbors’ children, and have seen and talked to workers over at the hall. So far, Tim Gagnon said, the hall has been a good neighbor, and gave no real hint of what kind of parties might have been going on inside.
“It surprised the both of us,” Tim Gagnon said.
On Friday afternoon, Rideout pointed to a chainlink fence bordering the hall’s parking lot with two wires hanging from it. She said that was where a sign used to hang advertising a gun show at the hall.
“This lot was always full, but they always had a sign on the fence that would say, ‘Gun Show, Friday and Saturday night,’” she said.
Tim Gagnon said he recently saw patrons enter the building wearing costumes, and dismissed it as an early Halloween party. Rideout said she saw people going in, too, and many of them were carrying coolers.
“I don’t know what was in them,” she said. “I don’t want to know.”
Marie Bearss, who has lived on nearby North Avenue for the past 32 years, remembers when the building used to be the old Knights of Columbus hall. She said she couldn’t believe it when she heard what kind of parties had been hosted there recently.
“It upset me because I’m Catholic,” she said. “I don’t believe in that kind of stuff.”
Colley and his wife, Susan, have been unavailable for comment since the activities inside the hall became public. On Friday afternoon, a man sat in a black Hyundai minivan outside the hall’s main entrance. When asked if he worked for the catering company, he said, “Not interested, thanks,” and drove away.
In response to the town’s cease-and-desist letter, Colley wrote by mail and email to town officials, promising to abide by the town’s wishes.
“I have informed the owner of the group, which is neither Sue nor myself, that the parties will no longer take place at Mousam View Place,” Colley wrote. “Our intent was never to violate any codes or embarrass this community, the building owner or ourselves.” ...
The state's first legal for-profit whips-and-chains club is no longer quite so legal.
The Clan of the Barbarian, which billed itself as the first permitted sadomasochism club in Missouri — though that point was up for contention — lost its city occupancy permit yesterday.
The city's Board of Adjustment heard testimony from at least seven residents or business owners from south St. Louis's Benton Park West neighborhood. Each described how the activities inside the brick warehouse at 3130 Gravois Avenue were dangerous, lowered real estate values, or disturbed the neighborhood.
"Had we known that this was not a construction company looking for office space in February of this year, we would have disseminated this information much earlier," said neighborhood association President Linda Hennigh, as she gave the board letters, emails, and 77 signatures against the business. "The Clan of the Barbarian has established residence in Benton Park West through lies and manipulation."
Clan owner Joe Kriegesmann, who showed up late for the hearing, muttered audibly throughout testimony. At one point, he openly yelled profanities at an antagonist.
But as the testimony concluded, Kriegesmann himself approached the panel.
And, in what became a confusing moment for the audience and board members, he declared that he was in support of the neighbors' appeal against his club.
"I am in favor of this," Kriegesmann told the board. "If our esteemed neighborhood theatrical production today had been noticing — we've already started to move."
The board eventually voted to reverse an earlier decision by the city's first arbiter on such matters, the Board of Public Service, which granted the club an occupancy permit as an "educational" business.
Still, board members were unconvinced the club ever had a legal right to occupy the space. Building inspectors, they said, had never signed the final permits.
But all of this left neighbors confused. If club members showed up tonight or for Halloween, for instance, should they call the cops?
Alderman Ken Ortmann, who had testified against the Clan, told them to call him. He would call the right person, he said.
Kriegesmann later declined to say where his business was headed, only that it would remain in the city, in industrial zoning.
Then, this morning, he reversed course again, and told the Post-Dispatch that he was moving the offices — but not the club.
Neighbors fighting for the closure of a sex club in south St. Louis won a battle Wednesday night.
The club is promoted as a private torture chamber where couples can tie up and whip each other.
The club lost its permit Wednesday, and the owner is not fighting to get it back.
Over the summer, the club owner showed News 4 the facility and said that his intention was to put on safety classes and demonstrations in bondage and sadomasochism where couples can tie up, whip and cage each other.
The city granted a permit for educational safety seminars, but Alderman Craig Schmid and some in the neighborhood took issue with that.
The club can appeal the appeal, but sources say the owner testified in favor of revoking the permit because he’s going to move anyway