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Where the dudes are: Pinellas Park

A Pinellas Park condo is home to the Internet sensation of the moment. City officials aren't sure how to react.

Neighbors noted the ever-changing parade of vehicles and wondered why a half-dozen guys were living together in a single unit at the Lake Forest condominiums.

They never imagined what went on inside.

Games of Naked Twister. Cameras sending live video of the college students taking showers, sleeping and working out to thousands of paying Internet customers. Men chatting on-line with male and female voyeurs urging them to disrobe.

Residents of Dude Dorm and the Web site's owners say they haven't heard any complaints from Lake Forest neighbors and don't intend to leave without a fight.

But the city of Pinellas Park is investigating whether Dude Dorm is illegally operating in a residential area and without a business license, said police Chief David Milchan.

"We don't know yet exactly what it is, but all of that will be explored," said Milchan, who found out just a few days ago where Dude Dorm was operating. "They're all legal questions, and we have to look into that."

Pinellas Park Mayor Bill Mischler, who says there isn't a nude bar, triple-X book store or peep show in the city, was floored when a reporter told him about Dude Dorm.

"Oh, Christ, every day it's something new in this job," he said. "To me, it's adult entertainment. But we've never been faced with this. It's hard to react to."

But a partner in the Web site argued that critics miss the point of cyberbusiness.

The real business address is Entertainment Network Inc.'s downtown Tampa office, where the computer server is located, said Bruce Hammil, the company's vice president.

While there is occasional nudity at Dude Dorm, he said, customers pay for the vicarious thrill of watching the real lives of six University of South Florida students.

If anything, what happens inside the three-bedroom, two-bathroom condo is akin to a professional's home business, Hammil said.

"We don't feel we should change our way of living because someone has a moral problem with it," he said. "We'll stay and fight. We're not going to move to some warehouse."

Entertainment Network lost a similar battle with the Tampa City Council last year over Voyeur Dorm, a similar Web site featuring college-age women living in a home in a quiet West Tampa neighborhood.

Council members upheld a zoning ruling that the company was illegally operating an adult business in a residential area. Entertainment Network sued in U.S. District Court. The city hasn't tried to enforce the zoning ruling while the case is pending.

The legal fight brought Voyeur Dorm worldwide media attention. The site has more than 60,000 customers _ overwhelmingly men _ who pay $34.95 a month to watch, and an additional $16 a month if they want to chat with the women, Hammil said.

Hammil and partner David Marshlack figured there was a market among women and gay men for an all-male site.

They equipped Marshlack's condo in Lake Forest, on 94th Avenue near 66th Street, with 12 video cameras, recruited seven men and launched Dude Dorm last December. The site has 4,600 customers paying $24.95 a month, Hammil said.

The six USF students _ three gay, two straight and one of undetermined sexual orientation _ receive free tuition, free rent and a salary of between $500 and $600 a week, he said.

Each must spend four hours a day on the computer chatting with customers and roughly the same amount of time in on-camera activities _ working out with weights or lying on the tanning bed in the garage, taking showers or cleaning the house.

There are three iron-clad rules: no sex on camera, no drugs and no covering up cameras.

Dude Dorm looked like an authentic college-guy dorm Wednesday morning. Pots and pans overflowed from the kitchen sink. Empty beer bottles littered the counters. A 6-foot inflatable male sex organ draped with a DudeDorm.com T-shirt stood in the living room.

At 11 a.m., residents were on the phone with a Detroit radio station _ their third interview of the day.

Chris and Joey, clad in tank tops, took turns chatting with customers on the computer while a tripod-mounted camera recorded their every move. Like other Dorm residents, they declined to give their last names.

"Can we see how awesome your chests are?" asked a customer identified as Joe. "Please take off your tank (tops)." Dude Dorm's two heterosexuals ignored the request.

"It's a lot of fun, like a party 24-7," said Joey, who said he is a part-time physical therapy student at USF. "It's cool knowing that girls are watching, guys too."

Neighbors said they were aware new residents had moved in when the elaborate Christmas decorations came down in mid-December and new cars appeared in the driveway.

Other than a little extra noise and the one time a visitor's car blocked a driveway, there hasn't been any trouble, they said.

"There's nothing out of the ordinary," said Tom Batters, who lives across the street in the sprawling condo complex. "They usually keep things pretty tight around here, but there haven't been any problems."

Neighbors and Mayor Mischler said Dude Dorm's biggest problems might come when the condo owners association caught wind of what was going on. Association officials couldn't be reached Wednesday.

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