Intent to Arouse

Dallas swingers learn that an ill-timed grope can lead to a date in court

The officers waited for the two men to finish before they arrested them for public lewdness.

But the courts found that the police had no reason to believe the defendants were about to commit an offense. More importantly, they concluded that their decision to hoist each other up to peer into the defendants' booths was an invasion of the defendants' privacy.

Although the theater was a public place under the law, the court was of the mind that, once inside the locked booths, the defendants had a reasonable expectation of privacy. In that event, the only way they could be found guilty of public lewdness is if they were reckless about whether someone might be present who could be offended by their behavior.

In that case, the only people who were offended were the police officers--a fact that did not impress the court.

"There is no question that law-enforcement agencies have legitimate interests in deterring and punishing sexual conduct committed in a manner which would offend the average citizen who might inadvertently confront it," the court wrote. "But the need for law-enforcement agents affirmatively to seek out this conduct...and thereby knowingly and voluntarily subject themselves to the alarm and offense the statute seeks to contain, seems minimal if not nonexistent."

As far as the Jet Set goes, Walt confirms that his unit had not received any complaints by anyone who was offended by the behavior going on inside the bar. Instead, the October 25 raid was part of a "routine check" on the five swingers' clubs in town, and, when it was over, the only ones who were offended by what they saw were the arresting officers.

Although the Jet Set raid may be old news here, word of it spread far and fast in the cozy world of swingers, who communicate via a loose network of public and private clubs, through adult magazines, and on the Internet.

"I am alarmed and concerned," says California psychologist and national swingers spokesman Robert McGinley, who keeps in regular contact with swingers across the continent and heard about the raid within days after it happened.

No one has compiled any statistics on swingers-related arrests, so it's impossible to accurately compare Dallas with other cities. But McGinley says that the swingers' grapevine anecdotally ranks Dallas No. 1 when it comes to police activity.

In California, for example, McGinley says police haven't raided a swingers' club as far as he can recall in the last 10 years. By comparison, Dallas police have carried out at least four swingers raids in the last four years--one of which was at a private home.

Swinging may seem like some 1970s fad that died by the time Ronald Reagan took office, but McGinley says the "lifestyle," as it is now called, is alive and thriving.

Given the discreet nature of the lifestyle, however, getting an accurate head count of swingers is a challenge.

In 1980, McGinley founded NASCA International, which stands for the North American Swingers Club Association. NASCA is the United States' national trade association for swingers, but its membership reaches into Canada, Mexico, Western Europe, and Russia.

In addition to publishing a national directory of swing magazines and clubs, NASCA also maintains a World Wide Web site that allows couples to place personal advertisements, plan an exotic getaway, or get the dish on upcoming events.

On its Web site, NASCA explains that swinging is "social and sexual intercourse with someone other than your mate, boyfriend, or girlfriend." It may be defined as "recreational social sex" that occurs at a party, a couple-to-couple encounter, a liaison, or with a third person in a threesome.

Contrary to popular opinion, McGinley says, the lifestyle isn't just about sex. Like Franky and Stephanie, most swingers are professional, happily married couples in their 30s and 40s, who view swinging as a way to socialize and fulfill their sexual needs--not as a remedy for a bored or failing marriage.

McGinley says swingers believe that the lifestyle strengthens marriages because it breaks down sexual barriers and improves communication. Unlike monogamous couples, McGinley says, successful swingers are not possessive about their mates, and they view group sex as a pastime akin to bowling or tennis.

"One of the major social recreations in this country is swinging," McGinley claims. "It's more than sex; these people have a community."

In Texas, the easiest way to find a local swingers' community is to go to the Texas Swingers Network Web site, txswingnet.com, which will celebrate its second anniversary this Christmas.

The site allows couples to place personal ads in search of other couples and singles. Others interested in learning more about swinging can download a variety of informational articles, which range from the "Responsible Non Monogamy Report" and "Intro to Liberated Christians," to "The G Spot and Female Ejaculation."

Network creator Richard Clinkenbeard says it's impossible to guess how many swingers there are in Texas, but his Web site continues to attract an increasing number of visitors. Last year alone, the Arlington-based network posted 2,000 personal ads, and Web surfers downloaded 1.5 million pages.

"We get 40 to 50 [personal] ads a day, 85 to 90 percent from Texas," Clinkenbeard says. And many of those ads come from Dallas, which Clinkenbeard says has more swingers' clubs than any other city in the state. "In Dallas, it just happens to be easier to go and try swinging because of the 'off-premise' clubs."

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