Swingers, Lifestyle, like-minded individuals … Whatever the nomenclature, the community of adults in committed relationships desirous to involve others sexually is massive, spanning from Washington state to the Bible-belted Southeast and beyond. As the AVN awards/Adult Entertainment Expo just happens to coincide with the Consumer Electronics Show, the talk all week is of this serendipitous union of “freaks and geeks.” Thursday I hung with the self-proclaimed tech geeks, but come Saturday I thought it was high time to get freaky.
Sunday, January 11, 12:20 a.m.
Iman emerges from Mix’s elevator doors, her husband right behind. They immediately wrap themselves around those they know in line, which seems to be just about everybody. “Oh, you’re so-and-so! We spoke last week!” The devoted proprietress of Purrfect Las Vegas—“a great place for open-minded individuals interested in adult fun”—holds weekly parties, which alternate between Mix and CatHouse. But tonight she’s pulled out all the stops, taking over Mix entirely as part of a three-night Lifestyle masquerade extravaganza. The petite brunette confidently whisks me upstairs, delivering me straight into the hands of some of her most loyal patrons.
Kevin and Laura: hailing from Kansas City, married 12 years, in the Lifestyle for about two, and together they operate Paradise Party. It’s called the Lifestyle, Kevin explains, because to this crowd, the notion of “swingers” conjures up images of keys in a bowl and sex without chemistry. “Lifestyle is the younger demographic party-wise; swinger is older.” So if you’re a nightclub, Lifestyle is the crowd to get if you can get them! But Kansas City’s Lifestyle community is a bit small, so the home-builder and his lady chose Vegas to connect with a much larger event. “The venue, the music, the people … Vegas always draws a sexy crowd.”
Indeed, the room is awash with attractive, upscale, friendly (very …) people. No ass-grabbing, stumbling drunks here—that’s a no-no. It’s nothing like a mainstream club night, though as it turns out, with the current economic situation, more single men are being allowed in than usual. Single men are a rarity, something more of a delicacy to be sampled; single women, I am told, are “the Holy Grail.”
Kevin—and later Don and Shawna from Washington state—clues me in on the lingo. Full swap is when couples have sex with others. Soft swap is everything but. Either way, it’s called playing or, in a profile on Lifestylelounge.com maybe, encounters. Some kiss, some don’t, making this just about the most diverse crowd one is likely to find in a Vegas nightclub.
In other words, all the rules just flew out of Mix’s huge windows.
Louis and Norma: Seated at a deuce facing those windows, they seem elegant and genteel. Both are on their second marriage and, as it turns out, “like-minded.” They full-swap privately, and like everyone, they rave about Purrfect’s customer service, citing Iman as the reason they keep coming back. “There are other parties out here, but hers are the best,” says Louis, an articulate executive in his mid-40s. A number of times a year the pair attends parties in LA, but it’s more than twice as often they party in Vegas. By keeping Purrfect’s price-point high, says Louis, “There’s no riff-raff in here.”
An important point to mention: Women rule. “It’s always up to me,” chimes in Norma. “If I say no, we don’t do anything.” That’s pretty much par for the course. Louis: “As a guy, we’re supporting actors in this thing. We don’t make the call at all.” All the rest of the couples out there just have blinders on, he says. Meanwhile, I feel like I’ve just gotten a glimpse of a parallel universe—equal but separate.
“This is surreal, this is a fantasy,” Louis continues. “Does [swapping] enhance it? Yeah! But we don’t need it.” Separating love from sex, Louis says on some other night they might just look around the club, flirt and take their fantasies home to share. Jealousy is not an option, and neither is insecurity. “We are very secure in our relationship,” affirms Norma. It’s as if Lifestyle were a higher class of animal. At first I am speechless, but as I breathlessly recount all of this to Colton over a bottle the next night, he stops me: “Why Xania, are you considering a change in Lifestyle?”