So last week I was at a sex party, surrounded by porn, a naked bartender, an undercoverjournalist and swingers while reciting a poem by William Blake.
I was attending as a pretend girlfriend to a fabulously talented friend, Claire Halliday, so she could research her latest article. It wasn’t too strange a request to receive given she knows I’m currently working on a book about sex and, frankly, my life is crazier than a spinster with 47 cats named Gary Busey.
We sat in a bar to get our story straight. We were girlfriends in an open relationship who wanted to try swinging though I was gunshy due to Herman Rockefeller’s recent swinging-related murder. We needed to bring up the story casually to gauge reactions and collect information for her article.
I was anxious beyond belief and smoothed my dress in an OCD-frenzy. Not about being discovered as a fraud which is, quite frankly, a regular fear of mine, but of being rejected. I had no idea what I was walking into. Would they ignore me? Would they consider me too fat and frumpy to be considered as a disposable shag? Would I be standing there, hopping from foot to foot and biting my lip like a not-shag on a rock? What happens when you’re rejected by people you would consider freaks and can’t get a shag in a place where it’s a free-fuck-for-all? Even if you’re not there to fuck?
A few dejected Indian males sat apart in tub chairs and silently watched everyone milling at the bar. Some Henry the 8th lookalikes marinated in a spa up the back. The bar at the front of the club (hidden above shopfronts on a suburban main street) would have looked like a small RSL, but with porn projected onto a wall where the pokies would be. Technically speaking, there was still poking happening watched through glazed eyes.
Claire got us drinks while I stood back a pace. A lady chatted with me briefly, filled with soft kindness and bright, inquisitive eyes. I immediately took a liking to her and could imagine her as a family friend, the sort who serves tea in crappy affirmation mugs as you share a fun conversation over a kitchen table. We discussed the practicality of different lingerie and she gave us a conspiratorial flash. She’s the sort you always want to hug, the sort you would seek out at every family party and would sigh happily over as you drove home. You wouldn’t think of her at a swingers’ party. Though perhaps it’s fair to say your immediate impression would suggest she was a woman who really enjoyed a spit roast was correct on every score.
We quickly scootered over to the smoking area, a small screened area where my small-talk opening gambit was commenting on a woman’s shoes. I soon realised how timid that was in this environment in comparison with others (e.g. “I’ll be fucking you later”). When you’re at a swingers’ party, it’s safe to assume that most people are a sure thing and won’t base their decision to fingerbang you on your ability to weave a witty pun. Mind you, the puns don’t get me any shags either.*
A quick tour of the venue showed two things:
1) Shagging-rooms were spartan cubicles with vinyl upholstery and a caddy stocked with lube and condoms. Handy. I was longing for soft mattresses with fresh linen until the realisation hits that it is a communal mattress.
2) Some men truly believe that if they follow you and hang around, without saying anything, you’ll drop trou for super-happy-porno-time. Please. Some things will never work. Even at a swingers’ party.
I actually really liked or felt a protective warmth for some of the people I met. They’re just couples who’ve found something to do on the weekend other than Bunnings or tawdry markets looking for dreamcatchers. Sure, when trawling through the bedding section of Ikea, they may have different ideas but they’re just normal people with a different take on intimacy and relationships.
In the labyrinth of cubicles and lurking men, we discussed our plan. Claire had enough colour for her article and we both shared a concern we were stealing attention from people who should have been lining up prospects who were a sure thing. It was time to go.
For the record: we were non-participants.
* Who am I kidding? Nothing gets me a shag. Or a date. I could tie a remote control, six pack, copy of FHM and steak around my neck and not only not attract anyone, but also lose a “most pathetically accessorised” competition.
Please read Claire’s unedited and superior article at her blog.