Tom and Suzi Wahl have been in the news before, starting way back in '91, when Lake St. Louis police raided their home, seizing video equipment and sexually explicit amateur adult videos that the Wahls had copied and intended to sell through their mail-order business. The search warrant was thrown out by a judge and the charges were dropped, though four St. Charles County sheriff's deputies resigned after they admitted to working part-time for the Wahls in "packaging and distribution." They were not part of any video.
Fast-forward to 2000. The Wahls' latest gambit is a "live demonstration" of "advanced sexual techniques" that makes house calls. Being wise marketers, the Wahls advertised this offering in The Riverfront Times' classified ads, under the "Adult Services" category. Tom says they've put on the "performance" about 10 times in the last few months for audiences ranging from one person to about 25, both in homes and in hotels. Gee, that one lonely horny guy must have had some bucks to blow -- the presentation costs 300 bucks. It includes Tom and Suzi talking about ways to enhance sex and includes live, butt-and-everything-else-naked demonstrations of fellatio, cunnilingus and intercourse, with variations on those themes. This all seemed to be going well until the night of July 31, when, Tom says, the couple was hired to show up at a hotel in St. Charles.
When the Wahls arrived at the hotel, Tom says, he recognized several of the men in the room as St. Charles city police officers from seeing them "on the witness stand." Still believing it was a party, Tom took the 300 bucks, plus a $60 tip, and went on with the "demonstration." Tom talked about sex, and then Suzi took off her clothes and discussed and demonstrated such concepts as "indirect clitoral stimulation."
Then, Tom says, "I dropped my pants, as I normally do, and she began to perform fellatio on me. That's when they had enough. Most of our audience thinks that's when the show starts really getting good, because one of the things we're going to tell them is a little bit about how you can get oral sex more frequently."
But maybe the cops get enough of that already, if that's possible. At that point, says Wahl, the police stopped the show and told the couple they were about to be booked. But, according to Wahl, "they didn't arrest us, they didn't handcuff us, they didn't Miranda us, they didn't book us, they didn't process us. As far as I know, neither one of us has been charged with a crime." The pair was cut loose.
Wahl claims the police did do one thing: They took their $360 back. To retrieve that payment -- and $200 in what Tom calls "overtime" -- he filed a suit Tuesday in St. Charles County Circuit Court, charging breach of contract and seeking damages.
For now, St. Charles police aren't talking. "I have no comment about this investigation. It's ongoing," was all Det. Sgt. Paul West would say when contacted Tuesday. West -- who, Tom claims, was one of the officers at the hotel-room show -- is named as a defendant in the lawsuit. Cpl. Ron Bextermueller, spokesman for the department, called back later Tuesday and added that no arrests were made on the night of the incident.
Wahl says the police had video equipment set up in the next hotel room, and he believes they taped the "sexuality seminar." If his lawsuit proceeds, he hopes that the tape can be used to show what happened. The Wahls want their money back for services rendered, even if there was fellatio interruptus. "It's truly bizarre. Right now I'm just looking at a contractual dispute. They owe me money for doing the presentation," says Wahl. "If anybody wants to make anything else out of it, they're going to have a problem, because you can't construe me having sex with my wife as an act of prostitution, even though we're getting paid for it."
If you let Wahl explain the philosophic underpinnings of his calling, he will -- at length. And, of course, there is a Web site (understandthesystem.com). Wahl says he wants to "do something that's more than just entertainment, something that really helps people do something they can take out of the theater and apply in their daily lives." He'd like to be able to reduce the fee to about $10 per person and do it in a theater setting.
During the demonstrations, does the audience do anything sexual at all? "We don't dictate to them one way or the other, as far as what they do, as long as they don't interact with us," says Tom. "If somebody becomes sexually aroused, it's none of my business." Let's count that as a yes.
Tom and Suzi don't plan to stop doing what they do, and even if Wahl had known the July 31 gig was for cops, he still would have gone through with it -- with one change. "If I had known in advance that they were police officers," says Wahl. "I would have offered them a discount."
TAKE A WALK ON THE NORTH SIDE: Metropolis gets praised for many things, particularly on the editorial page of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. When the do-gooder/city-booster group gets dissed, it's often with that "yuppie" tag or for its lack of diversity.
Central to the image of Metropolis is the Walk, which takes place every Thursday night downtown. To use a more familiar term, it's a pub crawl, only this one was originally intended to promote downtown bar-hopping and overall downtown hanging out, living and so on. For the first Thursday of each month, the Walk takes a "field trip" to some other part of the city -- Soulard, South Grand, the Central West End. Once the brave souls even ventured into the far- northeastern nook of the city called Baden; another time it was the blue-collar bars on Manchester Avenue just south of Dogtown.
"We had never really gone, to be brutally honest, to a predominantly black bar," says Metropolite Steve Smith. "We had been to some mixed bars, but nothing where a white guy is just sticking out."
That changed last Thursday, when about 60 Metropolis members -- the vast majority of them of the Caucasian persuasion -- went to the Harlem Tap Room, Jay's Hideout and Frank's Cocktail Lounge.
From several accounts, the experiment was a rousing success. "The bar owners loved it. The patrons thought it was neat. There were no complaints. They had DJs at the last two places. They were saying, 'Let's give it up for Metropolis. We'd like to thank you all for coming down tonight,'" says Smith. "By then, everybody had been drinking; everybody was dancing around, hitting their head on the disco ball, which is only about 6 feet above the floor."
The crew walked several blocks to where an open-air market is planned for the Ville neighborhood and heard Adolphus Pruitt, director of the Greater Ville Historic Redevelopment Corp., talk about his plans. "Their thinking now is the revitalization of the whole neighborhood with the Ville open-air market," says Smith. "They want people who don't typically come down there. They're encouraging that. They kind of saw this as an encouraging sign, albeit just one evening."
The night ended on an upbeat note when an envoy from another bar came down to Frank's Cocktail Lounge. "Someone from the Living Room came down to try to get us to come over there next. They wanted our business that badly," says Smith. "Then people decided, spontaneously, just to go to the other bar. People went on their own initiative before it was checked out or anything."
One minor downer was a call to Smith on the "Walk phone" by someone wanting directions to that night's field trip. "This one guy calls up and says, 'Hey, so where are you guys tonight?' I say we're on a field trip. He says, 'Where you at?' I say, 'We're on Dr. Martin Luther King Drive.' He asks, 'Is that in North St. Louis.' I say, 'Yeah.' Then he hangs up."
Did the guy think MLK was in Mehlville?