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More private: The upstairs $250-a-night sleepover rooms, which are full of gadgets, mirrors, drinking glasses and Kleenex. (No condoms—that would be promoting intercourse, cautions Reid.) The "Swing Room'' features a $500 mechanical swing that dangles from the ceiling. The "Pole Room'' features, well, a pole.
"It actually needs to be there,'' Reid says. "In addition to whatever else, it's a building support.''
Couples such as the Morgans prefer the privacy and exclusivity of IniQuity to places such as The Cherry Pit, which they feel has damaged the reputation of the lifestyle and brought scorn on those who swing.
Says Thomas, "Those sorts of places, at least by reputation, cause [non-swinging] people to get scared, to put labels on things. And when people are ignorant about something, it helps them to be able to dismiss it. It makes them feel better about themselves and better about their conventional relationships, which, the last time I checked, wasn't exactly the be-all, end-all answer to happiness.''
While sitting at an oversized kitchen island in his Duncanville home, Jim Trulock is something less than telegenic. His appearance makes it easy to be drawn away from his conviction about The Cherry Pit ("Sounds strange, but he is a very principled human being,'' says attorney Klein) and toward the fact that he is a mess. His gray crew-cut is splotchy, as if he barbered it himself. The large bandage covering the gash on his forehead looks as if he doctored it himself. His grin reveals that he has more fun than teeth.
Trulock has never before granted a full interview and has never before permitted media into The Cherry Pit, where a room-by-room tour reveals that it is weathered and without frills—overall more dilapidated than disturbing.
He proudly announces that his home "has five levels''—true, if you count the sunken living room and the upstairs loft. He admits to being a "pack rat''—"You can't even walk through my garage,'' he says, "because both my parents died a few years ago, and all their stuff is out there, and I still haven't gone through it.'' The house, built in 1979, seems to have gone 29 years without an upgrade of paint, fixtures or flooring.
There is a bedroom (nondescript but for a series of adjoining beds), a makeshift office, a living-room dance floor and the loft, which features an L-shaped couch. The loft is also a snake's nest of wires. Trulock's partner Julie Norris claims a chemistry degree from Baylor and a law degree from SMU; the retired Trulock is a computer techie, which accounts for the wires. Wires to the massive sound system, to the strobe lights, to the Christmas lights. And one wire that runs across the ceiling from which hang dozens of panties.
The house lacks a certain feng shui, but Trulock says, "The feedback we get from our swingers is that ours is one of the cleanest places around. It's just like a frat house.''
While walking around the one-acre grounds of The Cherry Pit (valued by the Dallas County Appraisal District at $205,000), Trulock recounts stories of his Louisiana high school days in a rock band. He talks of how he's been involved in parties here since the early '90s and claims that he has taken the neighborhood's complaints to heart. There is a tin shed that tops the infamous hot tub, which, Trulock insists, "has chlorine and meets code." There are curtains covering all the windows. Only Trulock's hilltop neighbor has any sort of a view: a yard that Trulock filled with gravel to encourage his guests to refrain from parking on the street and getting a ticket.
"We know this is not for everybody, and we respect that,'' Trulock says. "As far as being dangerous, I'll tell you what's dangerous: Going to bars, getting drunk, random hookups, driving drunk. Those are the social problems, not us."
Trulock's attorneys claim that the City of Duncanville—"A Wonderful Place to Raise a Family," trumpets the city's Web site—is carpet-bombing their client with accusations in an attempt to find The Cherry Pit guilty of something. The extent to which Duncanville is prepared to fight is evident from the manner in which it amended its sex club ordinance in May. Included in the amendments are 37 findings of fact—among them, "The number of cases of gonorrhea in the United States reported annually remains at a high level.''—which are listed to support the city's legal argument that its compelling interest in regulating sex clubs trumps an individual's First Amendment claims. Duncanville won its initial skirmish regarding the constitutionality of the ordinance. Dallas County Court at Law Judge King Fifer dismissed Trulock's civil rights claim for lack of jurisdiction, says Klein. The case is currently on appeal.
In August, adds Klein, prosecutors representing the city asked a Duncanville municipal court judge to dismiss five of the 15 pending Class C misdemeanors against Trulock, stating their intention to re-file them under an ordinance that makes it a Class A misdemeanor (punishable by up to a year in the county jail) to operate a sexually oriented business within 1,000 feet of a residence, school or church. No arrests have yet been made—other than one on September 5, after Duncanville police charged Trulock with violating the Texas Alcohol and Beverage Code for possessing the 582 bottles of liquor police seized during their second raid in July.