Sex parties aren’t a new thing. Our ancestors were fucking en masse before the dawn of time. But the population’s appetite for sexual debauchery was, as we all know, repressed into an illustrious underworld over millennia of patriarchal pressures and Victorian restraint since then, and now the first thing that pops to mind when you think of swingers is a bowl full of car keys and your hippie, grey-dreadlocked uncle Jim.
However, over the past ten years, the third wave of feminism and a post-90s sexual re-revolution has happened and spawned not only countless apps that leave promiscuous sex right at your fingertips, but a resurgence in more left field sex that is often intertwined with pansexuality and non-monogamy. In the 90s it was anal. In the 2010s, it’s group sex and threesomes.
And in the spotlight as the UK’s leading swingers club is Killing Kittens, hosted by Kate Middleton’s old rowing buddy Emma Sayle. Aimed at “The World’s Sexual Elite” it’s almost a swingers club for the 1%, although the ‘female-centric’ vibe is pushed, tantalisingly proclaiming itself “a movement and community whose sole aim is the unwavering pursuit of female sexual pleasure”.
Not as notoriously hard to get a ticket to as, say, Hermione’s parties, Sayle insists guests “aren’t all supermodels” in The Evening Standard, but says she has a pretty strict criteria; “if I get a photo from someone in her fifties who is 20 stone and in bondage gear then the chances are she won’t get in”.
The dress code requires men to wear smart suits, women “little black dresses” and expensive lingerie from Agent Provocateur or La Perla. At £60 a ticket and several hundred more for an appropriate outfit, disposable income is also a necessity. Is this the future of sex for a generation “more queer” than ever before and intent on fucking up the gender binary and throwing traditional sexuality out the window? Luckily for me, I have a tax rebate and an incurable curiosity that, combined with my youth and private school upbringing, nabs me a place at a KK Hedonism party, to find out exactly that.
The first thing I notice is an air of showmanship that I wasn’t expecting at a swingers party. Eyes follow me wherever I go, one of the youngest guests and attending alone causing me to stand out from the crowd. Purely here through journalistic curiosity, I avoid the booths where so many limbs and genitalia intertwine it appears to become some kind of twelve headed, heaving sweaty beast, but after watching the debauchery in the pool I notice someone I met on the Killing Kittens website- a kind of okcupid-style platform, but purely for vetted guests of the parties. I approach him and the two women he’s with – young and gorgeous too. For the rest of the party we stand out as being slightly left of field to everyone else, my tall male friend adorned with an enormous tattoo across his back and the women in kinky, fetishistic underwear, with piercings and arses bruised from being whipped in previous escapades.
My friends are aware I’m only here to watch, so they get into the pool, with me sweating in my boots as I didn’t realise “wet n’ wild” meant “hosted in a sauna”. The main room, small, dark and steamy with leather couches and a bar, is progressing into a full on orgy when a tall, slim brunette woman approaches me and politely asks, “Would you mind sucking my boyfriend’s cock?” I look around and he’s casually eyeing me, splayed across a sofa with his hard on aimed right at me, like a pinkish microphone listening eagerly for my response. He’s wearing Mr. Toad goggles – although the rest of us have relinquished anonymity by this point – and a Rolex. As tempting as it is, the feminist in me riles. I didn’t come to an orgy to be ordered around, or requested as best it please His Hardness. Besides, I’m busy watching my friend get finger fucked to squirt-vana by a Norse God.
The only remotely homoerotic acts happen between women, which is spectacularly ironic seeing as tonight’s venue is usually a gay mens’ sauna. This kind of attitude is a key example of the conservative misogyny ripe at events like this – I meet one woman who tells me her husband only “allows” her to play with other women, not men, and that they can have threesomes with women but no men are invited. Clearly he thinks that lesbian sex is not real sex, nor as threatening as if she were penetrated by a man. And the myth that all women are “bi-curious” but only some men want to have sex with other men seems innate in the vetting process. Sayle herself says these events aren’t for “men like that”, but believes that on a Kinsey scale of sexuality, which implies that if you are 1 you are totally straight, and if you are 10 totally gay, all women fall somewhere in the region of “a 4/5/6”.
She has nailed the appeal for posh upper-class bi-curious women. The men are all attractive in a very heteronormative sense, all abs and tans and wealth seeping out of their pores. It’s rather like stepping into a high-budget porno. But the sex…?
If you are a woman who has had sex with a man, you probably have experienced that moment where he’s trying to get you to give him a blowjob and you, for whatever valid reason, are resisting, and he just relentlessly keeps pushing your head in that direction until you have to sit up and say “I am not a fucking dog. Ask me with your human words.” Tonight is like one long string of episodes like that. An assumption that because you are there you are DTF with literally anyone who approaches you. Plus – I can’t help but wonder how many of these guys have also fucked a dead pig’s head.
Understandably, I am utterly irresistible to any man here, perfectly formed as I am. But I can sense that my appeal is also that, for a lot of the night, I am alone and not accompanied by a man. If a man wants to attend, he must come with a female partner, but single women are welcomed even more. Unfortunately even with rules like this, the ratio of men to women is pretty much equal – I am one of very few single women brave enough to attend alone, even though according to stats at pornhub.com, it is more often women who fantasise about kinky sex. In their 2014 statistics, they revealed what men and women view in pornography is completely different. In the top 16 categories viewed for each gender, the kinkiest men got was Threesome, as opposed to the women’s list which included Threesome, Gangbang, Rough Sex, Hentai and Bondage. In fact, when looking at What Women Want, Gangbang and Extreme Gangbang came 7th and 8th respectively out of what women were searching for. But fantasising and turning that into a reality are very different, and because of this, often the slightly kinkier sexual arenas still remain dominated by heterosexual men (thank you, patriarchy). Combine that with oodles of wealth and Conservative upbringings, and you have a KK party.
Props to them though for managing to keep the male:female ratio at least equal. I recently joined Whiplr, the “Tinder for kinksters” which is about 90% male dominated. Due to the rules of the app being that there are no rules, I am constantly bombarded with messages from men. Worse, when a new message pops up on my iPhone screen for anyone to see (nice one apple) they usually involve a not at all subtle invitation to sit on ones bearded face and/or spank them til they’re blue in the arse. And twice already I’ve stumbled upon someone I know.
My cynicism that these events are created as a safe space for women is further undermined at the end of the evening, when the night starts shutting down and a bloke whom I have no interest in gets slightly too persistent with his hands. It’s like being back at Coppers in Dublin at the end of the night, where everyone sees the lights starting to brighten and panics that they haven’t had their fill, losing all sense of social decency and just grabbing at body parts in the hope one will give. The rules state that men are not allowed to even approach another woman without invitation, but Mr. Handsy over here clearly thinks he’s owed something from me. I report him to the bouncer and he’s immediately shuffled off – there is no issue with my safety. It’s just the infuriatingly normalcy that men, especially wealthy men, feel incredibly entitled to a woman’s body.
At the end of the night, we are all stumbling around by the lockers getting dressed, leaning on each other in our drunken swaying and giggling at the things we’ve witnessed. My friends are all going home together, still riled up from their night of abandon, but I’m just looking forward to a cuppa in my bed, alone. Unfortunately for me, sexiness always lies more in the mind of my partner rather than in their appearance, so a party full of people whose wealth overrides all elements of their personality just didn’t tick the right boxes. Had I not found three people I actually found sexy and had things in common with, it could have just felt like stepping into the wet dream of a teenage boy, where all the women exist to please a male gaze and the pursuit of female sexual pleasure is invariably through penetration from a male. Were I to attend again, I wouldn’t go alone. In fact, I’d almost certainly take my most radical socialist friends instead. The Trojan horse just may work.