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A Death at “Men’s Parties” at 14th & Corcoran NW

by Borderstan.com October 4, 2009 at 4:46 pm 4,245 26 Comments

Third Distrcit Police confirmed a death at 1618-A 14th Street NW on Satury night or Sunday morning. (Photo: Luis Gomez Photos.)

Third Distrit Police confirmed a death at 1618-A 14th Street NW on Saturday night or Sunday morning. The location is at the northwest corner of Corcoran and 14th Streets NW in Police Service Area 307. (Photo: Luis Gomez Photos.)

UPDATE: As of Sunday evening, MPD had a police cruiser parked in front of 1618 14th Street NW with two officers guarding the entrances to the building. – mattyillini

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Third District Police have confirmed that there was a death sometime late Saturday night or early Sunday morning at 1618-A 14th Street NW. According to Inspector Jacob Kishter of MPD 3D, “At this time the manner of death is undetermined with no immediate indicators of foul play and it is pending further investigation and ruling by the Medical Examiner.” Kishter also said that police are “working on ID and next-of-kin notification.” Kishter responded to my email request for information.

The location of the death is the upstairs unit of 1618 14th Street, at the northwest corner of 14th and Corcoran Streets NW. According to published reports (MetroWeekly) and numerous online reviews, the building houses a sex club for gay and bisexual men. The club last made news when it experienced a fire in June of 2005.

My source says online information about 1618-A indicates that the establishment operates Fridays from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., and reopens on Saturdays at 4 p.m. It will be interesting, therefore, to determine at what hour the individual was found inside the establishment.

We first heard reports of an incident of some sort this morning when we learned that the building had police tape around it. We walked by, saw the tape and and an MPD car parked in front.

Later we received a report from an eyewitness who walked by 1618 14th Street around 8:30 a.m. and again at 9:20 a.m. this morning. He reported seeing a wire-mesh stretcher and the DC Medical Examiner’s car parked in front.

I called MPD Third District around 1:15 p.m. and an officer at the station desk said that the police report should be available this evening.

Comments (26)

  1. Please keep us updated on any new developments. May the deceased rest in peace.

  2. The death occurred around 5 am early Sunday morning.

    The guy that died fell down the middle stairway that is on the main level and goes down to the basement.

    It was reported to a memeber of the staff that a patron had fallen down the stairs and was lying at the bottom unconcious but breathing at about 4:50 am.

    911 did not receive a call until 5:06 am. The Fire Dept arrived at about 5:10 am. The ambulance arrived at about 5:12 am.

  3. If anyone has further information on this, please contact Detective Patterson at 202-645-7065. The man who died was my former partner, and a dear friend. Thank you.

  4. What a tragedy to have befallen this man, his family and friends. And to Chuck, who ever you may be, I’m sorry that your former partner has passed away. What a difficult time this must be for you. I hope you find some solice in the pleasant memories of your partner that you keep in your heart. We mourn with you. May he rest in peace.

    And to the DC Wrestling Club and the Jaffe family, what a shame that the club was allowed to operate in what appears to be an unsafe manner.

    Maybe it’s time that the neighborhood, the police and OTR exam how this non-profit operates, who profits from the cover charge, who owns the building and why they’ve been allowed to run, what some say, is a business that is set up in a dangerous manner for so many years?

    How the DC Wrestling Club, the non-profit that was said to be operating this club, stays in business should amaze all of us. Why are there no annual tax filings with the IRS or DC’s OTR? Why no transparency, as required by law for this non-profit?

    Something to hide guys? Who keeps the cash each night?

    Who’s behind DC Wrestling? Maybe we need to begin to follow the proverbial money on this? Does anyone know who profits from running the DC Wrestling Club? Who works there and who takes the money home at the end of the night? Who deposits the money in their personal accounts and lives on the cover charges?

    Who takes the 1/2 page ads out in the Blade for the JO club each week?

    First it was the fire, in which, luckily, no one was killed, and now this unfortunate accident. Why did someone wait almost 15 minutes to call 911? It’s shameful.

    It’s time to reflect on this man’s passing and openly ask questions about what this means for our community.

    Maybe the Jaffe family in Potomac Maryland, who appear to be owners of the building, will exam what happened in their property and accept responsibility for this weekend’s tragic accident?

    And to the folks operating the DC Wrestling Club, it’s time you address the safety of your club, its operation and what this death means, not only to the neighborhood, but specifically to the GLTB community. We’re waiting to hear from you about your club.

    This man deserved better. We in the neighborhood deserve better, and we deserve answers to the questions that many of us will be asking in the days, weeks and months ahead.

  5. This is such sad news and they should be closed down. It is a very unsafe and not to code building not only operating an illegal buisness, not paying taxes but they also have people living there and deposit the trash in the dumpsters behind the building. god knows how much disease is shared there due to unsafe sex. It is time the police do something.

  6. This is sad that someone died. But these comment are ridiculous.
    Walking around a dark, ‘mens party’ at 5am in a seedy old row house has lots of potential risks.

    I live a block away and although I have never been inside I like the idea that this establishment is there. It separates the city from suburban living.

    Kudos to the entrepreneurs who saw a need for a place like this in Logan Circle long before the suburbanites moved in… and kept it going strong while people try to shut them down.

    Live and let live. The man who died was doing what he loved and had a tragic accident. May he rest in peace.

    I guarantee he wouldn’t want to be the reason this place is shut down.

  7. Logan: Who here has said anything about the nature of the establishment? I think the questions that are emerging focus upon the management’s reactions to a serious accident in their establishment, not the nature of the establishment.

    A patron of any restaurant similarly faces the risk of falling down stairs, but if management decided to do everything during the next 15 minutes except call 911, there would be hell to pay. A patron at any restaurant faces a choking hazard, but management is obligated to do more than watch and worry for 15 mins before calling 911.

    It’s shameful for you to attempt to speak for the dead: what if his last thoughts were, in fact: “help me, somebody please help me?”

    Also, this place had a fire in June 2005, and was found to have NO add’l exits other than the front door. Have they remedied this? Gay men died in a fire decades ago in the old Follies. Still at risk for that in this place?

  8. Logan,

    Glad you like the place where the man died, but please don’t denegrate his death by saying inane things like…”I guarantee he wouldn’t want to be the reason the this place is shut down”. You don’t know. Spare us the projections of your feelings onto his tragic death.

    Do you know anything about the people that you call entrepreneurs? They’re actually a group of guys claiming to be a 501c3, a tax exempt organization. When they first incorporated their name was the DC Wrestling Club. So while you like having them a block from you, there’s no taxes being paid by these guys. Years ago, they met with our ANC commissioner and said there were 300 people a week who came through their doors at a then charge of $10/pp. $12,000/month tax free. Maybe you think that they need to be being strong while people question their need to operate as an illegimate business, but others of us don’t. We call it pimping.

    Do you think that 501c3 operations should file their annual reports with the IRS? Or should we live and let live by letting any non-profit choose the tax and safety laws they want to obey? Seems these fellows have forgotten to file their required IRS reports for the last 15 years or so. That’s not the sort of live and let live attitude that we should support.

    Do you know what was in that space before they took it over? It held just the kind of small, local merchant that 14th St needs. Remember Lofton Tailors, or is that before your time? We fight for an small merchants and an active street life, not dead spaces that suck the life out of the street.

    There are sex clubs in the suburbs, Logan. The fact that DC Wrestling Club runs a sex club here doesn’t separate Logan Circle from Maryland or Virginia. What does separate them from the suburbs is that the place is allowed to continue to operate in an unsafe condition without paying taxes. This man’s tragic death proves the safety fact. You can ask OTR and the IRS about the taxes and reporting parts.

    Logan, what about the fire in 2005? It’s only by luck that the place wasn’t packed and guys died. How many more deaths would you find acceptable before you started to question what’s going on in that place? 1 more, 2 more…or does it have to be 3 more and then you’d say enough?

    Just curious.

    It’s ironic that you use the trite phrase, live and let live. Cause a guy died there this weekend, Logan. No matter how edgy you think this seedy old row house makes our neighborhood, there’s no live and let live for him. He’s dead.

    And it’s a shame he had to die.

  9. I’m largely offended by the subtle subtext of this thread in which the owners/operators of this club/building “must be guilty of negligence, because someone died.”

    We don’t know the facts and we don’t know the real timing of the sequence of events. All we get are “around X time happened” or “about Y time occurred. Until the facts are know, all of this is sheer SPECULATION.

    What if (and work with me here) the staff did everything right, and the poor bastard died anyway? Could this be possible, or are they simply at fault ipso facto?

    Rush to judgment anyone?

  10. Thanks, Deep Throat. I can only ditto your comments. The issue is their response to the accident, not the nature of the business.
    I have patronized the place, and have slipped on those same stairs – extremely dangerous.
    You questioned the fire exits. They did add emergency exits in the rear of the building, after the 2005 fire incident.

  11. Do you think he slipped on some jizz on the stairs?

  12. @ M Walker: What were the stairs like? Did they appear to be constructed to what one could assume were normal standards, or were they very makeshift in appearance? Were there handrails on either or both sides? These are just more questions that go to the safety of patrons. Even if someone supports the nature of this establishment, shouldn’t we gay men have the expectation that we’ll be respected with a basically safe environment? Also, did they promote safe sex messages, have free condoms on offer in the common areas, etc.? It’s time for some self respect, wherever we spend our money, and however any of us may get our kicks.

  13. Skeptical Neighor

    I am very impressed by how reasonable many of these comments are. Kudos, neighbors!

    I support the possibility of a sex club in the neighborhood. I don’t support someone running a business (or non-profit) and masquerading as a private residence. To my knowledge, the Crew Club down the street hasn’t had fires, and hasn’t had deaths that went unreported for 15 minutes. This Men’s Party should not be beyond the reach of DC regulatory agencies that our tax dollars fund to protect us from at least some potential dangers in local establishments.

    What action did the DC government take after the 2005 fire? Did they really find no hook to excerpt some level of oversight over this house?

  14. The sex club was open tonite as usual
    Pig that I am, I thought at least they would close for a period, “its the economy stupid”

    The middle staris was closed off it was an accident waiting to happen I hope someone gets sued for the dangerous conditions

  15. The issue here is the City’s unwillingness to accept that sex clubs exist. The administration seems to want to drive these businesses out of town. Even Crew Club isn’t set up like bathhouses in other citites. How is it that a city with such a large gay population can’t have safe, clean places for gay men to engage in consensual sex. Men who want to frequent these place shouldn’t be driven into public parks or unsafe structures like Men’s Party. It’s insane that DC’s attitude toward these places is to turn a blind eye to their existance until a fire or death occurs. Its time the City acknowledge these clubs exist and tax and regulate them like London, Paris, New York, LA, San Francisco, Atlanta, Dallas,…..well you get my point.

  16. The Washington Blade just posted a story on this, and the story only gets more disturbing. Blade reports management as saying the man was bleeding from the head, and staff tried to help him before calling 911. Are they all registered nurses or something? How long before they called 911? Was it even them that called first, or a concerned patron?

    http://www.washblade.com/thelatest/thelatest.cfm?blog_id=27508

  17. Dangers in Local Establishments

    With all the concerns around the dubious operation of this business, where are folks when it comes to question other businesses’ merits:

    – Churches that are operated as ‘for-profit non profits’ who not only don’t pay taxes on all the money they rake in, but whose attendees illegally triple park residents cars in. What if I needed to get to my car out for an emergency?

    – Popeyes & Other Food Businesses that leave food debris in dumpsters creating breeding pits for germ-spreading rodents. Rats are all over my property come night fall, both back and front. And don’t you think rats aren’t lurking around your home regardless how clean you keep it.

    — Starbucks who allow the homeless to set up shop inside the P St store. How many times have you sat in the cloth chairs to see bugs crawling around. Forget the smells and the ‘take overs’ since I’ve stopped doing business there. Where do my rights as a customer come in play?

  18. David,

    Get real. San Francisco proper banned all bathhouses in 1984, and as recently as April 2008 city’s HIV prevention director refused to repeal it. DC isn’t the only city with a sizeable gay population that won’t deal with sex clubs…..

  19. Hey “Danger” huh wha? A lot of that has been discussed here and on other ‘hood blogs and in community mtgs. etc. Not sure where you’ve been. Wasn’t aware of people friggin’ DYING IN A POOL OF THEIR BLOOD from church double parking, rats next to Popeye’s, or homeless using the john at Starbucks.

  20. Is this place considered someone’s private home? Can we all just invite a bunch of men over for a j/o party and ask for donations? It clearly looks like a “business” to me, but perhaps it’s a gray area for the city.

  21. What is Jim Graham doing cruising around this place? Did he have something hidden under one of the mattresses? Looking to hire staff? Hitting on the desperadoes who couldn’t get any inside? Does he secretly control this porperty as well under some dummy umbrella? Was that Jaffe or Jawar? Were the primary customers gay ethiopian cab drivers? Was this place operating during the day as an abortion clinic where Ted Loza’a girlfriend got a $3200.00 late term abortion after being beaten into submission and Jim was the wing man? Ted was the bagman! Jim was the wingman?

    You better believe the floors were slippery in there, the whole place is awash in santorum.

    I have never understood how this place has continued on the oh so proper 1400 block of Corcoran Street. But I guess if you do the math there is a whole lot of persuasion possible.
    The books of the MidCity Residents Association might be enlightening.

  22. @jaredd – SF, although it doesn’t have bathhouses, still has sex clubs (Eros, Blow Buddies, Power Exchange)

    The last time I was there a few months ago (which was the first time in about 5 years), there was anal sex going on everywhere and not a condom in sight – not even in a bowl at the check in counter. If people want to engage in high-risk behavior, that is their own right, but not even providing condoms for the guests seems like something the health department should take action against.

  23. In the above post, I mean the last time I was at the Men’s Party, not the last time I was in SF

  24. Thanks for keeping up on this story, Borderstan. If anyone has any more info on the venue, incident, or victim, please let me know: [email protected]

  25. It’s amazing what people will type, based on what they hear, what they think, and what they feel. Without any actual knowledge of the business, the location, the employees / residents and the usual clientèle. Thanks. But really, no thanks.

    If some of you do not like a ‘sex club’ or seedy establishment, fine, but using someone’s death as a soapbox to stand on and spout your priggish moralizing, nice.

    Facts: The staff have no reluctance calling emergency services – they on occasion have had to call police on a customer or situation outside – the police arrive promptly and there is a good relationship with them. Fact: the stairway the unfortunate guy fell down is not regularly used – it’s in the middle off to the side and, ironically, is more of a fire escape really. It’s narrow, steep but sturdy and I believe does have a railing. People do not use that one regularly, and the time he fell may have been an estimate based on the last time someone had passed by that area, that no one does regularly.If you want to shut down buildings with staircases like this, fine, many restaurants and clubs will now close. People have been falling down stairs since they were invented. Sad, but a constant.

    There are several harsh slippery stone stairways in the Smithsonian one could crack their head on and not be found for an equivalent time and an equivalent EMS response time. Shit Happens. Though I doubt such a sad event would bring out the concern trolls and their outrage and the existence of museums with all their filth in them.

    Fact: condoms ARE available at the desk – if someone wants them they know where to get them as they are told upon admission, they are free. Alcohol is not served, drug use will get you thrown out.

    Fact: not everything one reads in an initial report of a new investigation that is ongoing is gonna be 100% true. OK? What I just typed can’t be taken as Gospel as I am a guy no one knows typing on a blog… But if you check it out you’ll find it’s true. As the facts of what happened will also emerge and be put in perspective. The Blade story even refers to a scenario “as some have speculated in postings on Craigslist” WTF? The exact time frame has not been determined nor reported.

    I admit to being biased in favor of a place and people I like, but even so it seems a tragic accident the likes of which could have happened at the Childe Harlod, the old 930 club, or plenty other new businesses in old buildings.

    Some think, and worse, ‘feel,’ that sex clubs and afterhour clubs should not exist. I disagree and find it pathetic a city of DCs size and stature has so few / virtually none. Yet this is not really the forum for that discussion is it? I am new to this blog but it does not seem that it should be. Using someone’s death – even acknowledged as probably accidental – to go after a business because you don’t like it is the lowest of the low. Perverse in the moral sense. Gravity and 1890’s design killed this man, most probably acting alone, a convoluted business model, inadequate response from staff, or lack of condom probably NOT accessories. Much as some vultures might wish.

  26. Personally, I think this is a brilliant business model. Lease a dilapidated building, spending nothing on improvements, zero on maintenance, zero on taxes, zero on permits… charge guys $12 a head x 100-300 attendees a night, 5 days a week. In my estimation, that’s around $500,000 a year, almost all of which is profit. Brilliant, I say.

    Please, someone tell me how I can open up my own sex club or, excuse me, “Jack Off Party.” Seriously, I could use the nest egg. If you have any info on who I need to pay-off at City Hall to make this happen, please step forward and dish!

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