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Danielle, a.k.a. Frances Darlene Barnes, 39, and Buford Eugene Barnes, 57, were arrested over the weekend on misdemeanor charges of operating a bottle club without a license and renting space for lewdness. They were released from the Lake County Jail after posting bond.
The couple live at 27016 County Road 44 near West Huff Road, called Danielle’s Place, which law enforcement authorities describe as a place where couples and singles meet to have sex and swap partners. A red roadside sign with reflectors on it is the only sign of the club, which is surrounded by gates, fences and “No Trespassing” signs.
Although the area is wooded and rural, Danielle’s Place is about a mile from Seminole Springs Elementary School. The couple’s double-wide mobile home is one of five buildings on the compound, which includes a dance hall with strobe lights and pool table, authorities said. The other buildings contain rooms with X-rated movies, bondage devices, mattresses on the floor, a pool and a hot tub
The Barneses, owners of Danielle’s Place, could not be reached for comment on Monday. A message on their answering machine said they would not be returning calls until the weekend because of illness in the family.
A man who identified himself as a nephew of Frances Barnes asked reporters to stay off the property. He denied that anything illegal went on in Danielle’s Place.
“It’s adults doing what adults want to do,” he said.
Agents from the state Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco joined with Lake County deputies to serve search warrants on the club early Saturday. Undercover agents had visited the club several times, said Sgt. Claude Cruce of the Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco.
The undercover officers were charged $30 to get into Danielle’s Place, Cruce said. Single men pay a fee of $50. The club is open Friday and Saturday nights – often attracting as many as 100 patrons.
Patrons bring their own alcohol and are provided with set-ups, such as ice and soda. Cruce said that constitutes operating a bottle club – for which the Barneses do not have a license.
Sheriff’s Lt. Mark Palmer said none of the eight patrons inside the club were arrested because they did not break the law. Swapping sex partners or engaging in group sex is not against the law, he said. But charging a fee is.
“They were leasing space for people to have sex,” Palmer said.
On Monday, Palmer displayed in the evidence room at the Sheriff’s Office some of the items seized from Danielle’s Place. The evidence included a large picture of Frances Barnes wearing full bondage gear, including spike-heeled black boots, with a rack of whips and chains behind her.
The club, which used to be known as “Ranch 4 Play,” has operated in Eustis for about two years, Palmer said. An advertisement in a magazine for swingers touts the club’s 4,000 square feet of party area, its enclosed hot tub and its proximity to Interstate 4.
An ad on the Internet says the club “has earned the reputation of being the cleanest on-premises facility in all of Central Florida.”
Palmer said he was surprised at how clean the compound was. Even the mattresses on the floor were covered in creased, clean sheets, he said.
Also seized were the rules of the club, which include a warning not to enter “if nudity or explicit sexual activity offends you.”
A neighbor across C.R. 44 from Danielle’s Place said he had heard rumors it was a sex club. Ed Wright moved in seven months ago and knew something was strange when he saw a stream of cars – mostly newer models – entering the gate across the street every weekend.
“There’s traffic, lots of traffic,” Wright said. “A continuous flow.”
Wright has four daughters and said he worries about their safety with a sex club nearby. He is afraid a male customer could get out of hand and come over onto his property. “I think it needs to be shut down,” Wright said.
Although Wright said he appreciates the right of consenting adults to do what they want, he draws the line at a club where patrons pay to get in.
“This is not somebody having a few friends over. They’re charging admission,” he said. “I just don’t think it needs to be there.”