The Strange Saga Of Denver's Freestyle-Skiing, Group-Sexing Alleged PimpS

Some athletes retire and open up a car wash or a money-management joint. Scottie Ewing, former BMX rider and professional freestyle skier, skipped the pretense altogether: He opened up a swingers club in Denver. And maybe moonlighted as a pimp.

The US Attorney's office charged Ewing yesterday with failing to pay taxes in 2005 on a high-end Denver prostitution service he owned and sold that year, alleging that he used a side business, Sindicate Media and Consulting, to mask the source of the income. If convicted, he could owe the feds $250,000 or five years in jail.

The tax evasion charge may be bland, but Ewing's presence in Denver since his retirement from pro skiing has been anything but. His last decade has been a (literally) orgiastic swirl of shady characters and call girls and inter-swinger club warfare in a city not particularly known for its underworld or its libertines.

The brothel, known as the Denver Sugars and Denver Players Club, was raided in a 2008 sting after police spent two years surveilling the operation, which Ewing had sold to a woman named Brenda Stewart three years prior. (The bust threatened to unveil the "client list of professional athletes, politicians, judges and other power players" — don't everyone run to the roster of the 2006 Denver Nuggets at once now! — but ultimately only one guy was outed: some poor judge whom the girls nicknamed "Naughty.")

The Strange Saga Of Denver's Freestyle-Skiing, Group-Sexing Alleged PimpS

Scottie Ewing quit his New York-based BMX career in the early '90s to turn to the growing niche of big-mountain freestyle skiing, joining the professional tour alongside legends like the late Shane McConkey, god rest his soul. He was a middling talent, according to this epic 2006 Westword article by Jared Jacang Maher:

"He was not at the same caliber as a Seth Morrison or a Shane McConkey or a lot of the other people that came out of that era," says Derek Taylor, senior editor of Powder magazine, who knew Ewing from his days in Crested Butte. […] In 2001, Boulder-based Skiing magazine gave a nod to Ewing for having the Best Skier's Business Card, which read: "Scottie Ewing - Male Prostitute." But within two years, the self-described "snow pimp" had moved on from his winters in Crested Butte and his summers dealing blackjack in Las Vegas, and was now operating an after-hours club in Denver.

Maher's Westword cover story on the swingers club rivalries in Denver is well worth the long read, and not just for the phrases "bristly mustaches" and "shabby hotel bathrooms filled with septuagenarians." Denver — who knew? — is apparently a sex-crazed utopia replete with "porn arcades," a BDSM annual convention called "Thunder in the Mountains," and no less than "five officially recognized swingers clubs." (And here I thought I wanted to move there for the light rail.)

One of those five swingers clubs was Sindicate, opened by Ewing in 2005 but shuttered less than a year later when the building's landlords wised up to the fact that the "coffee shop and art gallery" Ewing had described in his plans for the space "never seemed to be open." The dispute went to court; Ewing lost.

Undeterred, he opened a new club, the Sugar House Lounge, in 2007. Remarkably, it remains in existence. Maybe it's the fancy memory foam beds, "ideal for balancing cocktail trays." Or perhaps it's the clurrrb's "award-winning" bartender, Scottie's brother Rich, who goes by the name "Nacho Biznezz." Nah, it must be this awesome commercial:

Honestly, that would probably have been sexier if they had just dubbed over the actual footage of Justin Long and John Hodgman.

So we know that he's cheesy and loves him some group sex, but was Scottie Ewing a pimp? Westword's Maher, the Carl Bernstein of the shady Denver nightclub beat, drew attention to a 2005 article by Jon Billman in Skiing magazine called "Pimp" that featured a pseudonymous "pro big-mountain skier who was now the owner of a multimillion-dollar escort service." Those in the skiing world widely assumed that the article's subject, "Bobby Fenton," was indeed Scottie Ewing.

The article was pulled from the Internet, but this partial preview gives plenty to work with:

The Heidi Fleiss of winter doesn't wear gold chains or drive a flashy car. He won't touch cocaine or heroin. He's loyal to his beautiful wife. A date for the two of them is a shopping trip to the organic market, maybe a movie at home on the plasma TV. For snacks they eat vegan cookies. He can't stand cigarette smoke. No coffee. His pimp juice is filtered ice water with a slice of lemon.

Vegan cookies and filtered ice water? That jibes with a mini-bio of Ewing, who years prior had tested skis for an issue of Skiing: "A straight-edged, self-proclaimed 'snow pimp'."

Let's see, what else:

He's broken fingers. He knows people who can break bigger things. He doesn't want to have to call these people, but he's got their numbers in his speed dial, next to the numbers of his old ski-equipment sponsors.

It's worth considering that the people Ewing knew included Gary Haney, the meth-addled, woman-beating "so called 'big daddy' of Denver's escort scene" — Ewing was "one of his protégés," according to Maher — as well as his lawyer, Michael Andre, a Denver defense attorney whose client list included all the local sex-industry players as well as Willie Clark, the man convicted of killing the Denver Broncos' Darrent Williams in a drive-by. (Andre would kill himself in 2007 after a bizarre 8-hour standoff with SWAT agents; his autopsy revealed a festival of alcohol, ecstasy, and cocaine in his system.)

And finally:

He's wearing a $2,000 leather motorcycle jacket a la Captain America in Easy Rider over an untucked floral cowboy shirt. His jeans flare at the knee in an extreme that neither you nor I could get away with; on Bobby they're impossibly cool. Black Italian motorcycle boots with silver buckles.

The Strange Saga Of Denver's Freestyle-Skiing, Group-Sexing Alleged PimpS

Here's a picture from the Sugar House website. I mean, I don't know WHAT that shirt is, but "untucked floral cowboy" seems as good a descriptor as any.

Maher's Westword piece outlined other similarities between "Bobby Fenton" and Ewing while also giving space to Ewing's breezy defense: he wasn't Fenton, though he knew him: the two were just "old pals who owned a bachelor/bachelorette party service together in 2003."

The controversial ex-skier was similarly dismissive of yesterday's federal charges, shrugging them off as "collateral damage" and clarifying, "They didn't bust me for the brothel … I'm just like everyone else being charged with not paying taxes." Ah, but isn't that how it always goes down? Given all of Ewing's sexy ventures over the last decade, it's not hard to imagine that his particular money trail is likely as gnarly as the terrain he used to shred.

Charge Filed in High-End Denver Prostitution Ring [CBS 4 Denver]
Former owner of high-end Denver brothel charged [9NEWS.com]
Swap Talk [Westword]
Snow Job [Westword]