TAMPA — People living in the gated Cheval community thought they were buying a slice of serenity when they moved into the far northwest Hillsborough County enclave.
Canadian millionaire Gordon Lownds liked the pastoral surroundings, too, but for a different reason: Lownds, who made his fortune selling mattresses and hearing aids, bought a 12,000-square-foot mansion bordering Cheval to produce and film a reality television show about strippers. And because the mansion is situated on seven acres, he thought it would private enough to rent out for weddings and other special events.
These two sets of expectations quickly clashed.
After a number of complaints about noise and other disruptions, Hillsborough County’s Code Enforcement office issued five citations against Lownds, including renting property for special events in an area zoned for agriculture. Lownds or his representative were ordered to appear before a code enforcement board special magistrate April 24.
Lownds’ associates, Sean Grey and Amanda Periera, have also been charged with a misdemeanor noise violation by the county Sheriff’s Office. That case is still open, according to sheriff’s records.
It wasn’t strippers living in the mansion who got Lownds crossways with his neighbors. Cheval residents interviewed for this story said they didn’t know anything about the “Pharaoh’s Daughters” modeling agency run out of the mansion, with its six bedrooms and 10 bathrooms and lush, Egyptian-themed decor.
“I didn’t know about strippers,” said Mary Anderson, who was unloading groceries Thursday afternoon. “I’ll have something to tell the husband when he gets home tonight.”
What riled Anderson and other residents on their street was the noise from parties at the mansion. They described rap music with a bass that throbbed so loud they could hardly hold a conversation inside their homes. The parties lasted until nearly dawn and the patter from the presiding disc jockeys got raunchier as the night went on, they said.
“They were outrageous parties, extremely loud, to the point where inside, your windows would rattle,” said Kathy Cryer, who took a break from her yard work to talk about the issue.
Lownds said the complaints were overblown. Seriff’s records show deputies were called to the mansion on Ramblewood Road 12 times since August 30, but Lownds said the deputies told him the noise was too loud on only one occasion.
“These people called all the time,” he said. “They called animal control reporting we were keeping stray dogs. They called and said we were running a whore house. They’re just grumpy people who think they know better than anybody else.”
The mansion is owned by a company called Pink Tati LLC, whose managing member is listed in state records as Old Gypsy U.S. Corp. Lownds is the only partner in Old Gypsy U.S. Corp.
He bought the mansion in April 2013 for just under $2 million. He said he wanted the house specifically for a reality show, an idea he got from Nicholas Worlds. The two men met through a mutual acquaintance in Miami’s South Beach.
Worlds has been associated with a number of companies, many related to adult entertainment. His Facebook page shows Worlds in numerous party settings with skimpily clad young women. Worlds could not be reached for comment.
Worlds was a managing member of a company called Pure Pink LLC along with Periera, the woman cited with Sean Grey for violating the noise ordinance. Later, Grey took Periera’s place as managing member of Pure Pink.
“Nicholas was one of the guys involved with the (exotic dancing/modeling) agency,” Lownds said. “He was already running the business before we agreed to let them move into the mansion … Sean Grey was one of the other partners in the modeling business.”
Lownds said he owned a television production company in Canada for about 10 years, producing mainly reality shows. He thought a televised look at the day-to-day lives of strippers would make an “interesting show.”
“Worlds was one of the few people trying to do something positive and helpful for these girls; that’s what tweaked our interest,” Lownds said. “It wasn’t about girls stripping; it was about girls in that business and what their lives were really like, which in many cases are not that great.”
Lownds spent tens of thousands of dollars remodeling the mansion in an ancient Egyptian motif and called it The Pharaoh’s Palace, a “perfect private location,” according to its website.
Meanwhile, Grey and Worlds continued to run “Pharaoh’s Daughters” modeling agency out of the mansion. The agency specializes in “promising exotic dancers and models,” according to its Website.
“Basically this was a residence for the girls,” Lownds said. “We didn’t know that was going to be problem from a zoning point of view.”
But the partners couldn’t sell the reality show and Lownds had to tell the women to leave. Worlds left and took the modeling agency business with him, Lownds said.
The mansion is for sale at a price of $2.5 million, Lownds said. The only people still living there are Grey and Periera, who according to Lownds works as a fitness model and actress.
Lownds, who rents a home in St. Petersburg, said though the TV show failed, he will make a profit because he bought the house in a down market.
“I’m going to get my money back with a little bit of profit just on the real estate,” he said. “It wasn’t a high-risk transaction from my point of view.”
Cryer, whose house backs up to the mansion property, said she will be relieved when the mansion sells.
“Hopefully, the future owners will be much more considerate.”