**As an opinion editorial piece, this article does not reflect the views or opinions of Vital VOICE **
From Tales From The Emperor, by Chris Andoe
Not since the days of Caligula have orgies been bigger, except perhaps the seventies. The scene in St. Louis caught my attention with the buzz around a monthly event in the conservative suburb of Ballwin, which seemed to me an unlikely location. I think “gay sex party” and picture an industrial location in East St. Louis, San Francisco’s South of Market, or one of the last gritty parts of Manhattan. But a sex dungeon in a carpeted Ballwin, MO basement?
I began asking questions, and learned that several guys I knew had attended. At the most recent event a friend asked the hosts, who are by all accounts gracious and hospitable, if they’d talk to me for this piece. Understandably they wanted no part of that, and then scanned the room nervously while asking if I was somewhere in the crowd.
The monthly sin-dig attracts from thirty to one hundred men, making it the largest in what I’ve learned are a surprising number of such gay parties around town. But the craze isn’t limited to the gays.
I caught up with two handsome men familiar with the various sex party scenes. The provocative Sir Ryan Clason filled me in on the gay action, and the fascinating David Wraith filled me in on how the heterosexuals (and many bisexual women) are getting their group freak on. Wraith is the co-founder of Sex Positive St. Louis, a group that empowers people to be their authentic, sexual selves through educational and social events. I asked him about the rise of orgies and his thoughts on the scene in St. Louis.
“There’s been a huge increase. I’d say we’ve been going through a sex party renaissance in the last few years,” Wraith begins. “Some parties are elaborate, like people imagine from movies like Eyes Wide Shut. Some are just small, intimate gatherings of friends where, minus the sex, they’re like any other party. The oddest sex party I’ve been to was one where everyone was wearing matching onesies. It was actually pretty adorable.”
While certain dynamics differ between straight and gay sex groups, getting the guest mix right and ensuring everyone respects boundaries are common threads.
“As far as party etiquette, I think the toughest thing is knowing how, when or if to approach someone you’re not already in a sexual relationship with,” Wraith begins. “One series of parties I’ve been to provides wrist bands for people who don’t want to be approached for sex, which I think is a great idea. Some people think that sex parties are this bacchanalian free for all where all they have to do is show up and they’ll get laid. Not the case. The same communication issues you’d have at a bar or night club, you’ll have at a sex party. It may even be worse since the stakes are higher. No one at a bar or night club really thinks you expect they’ll have sex with you right then and there.”
Clason, who says he’s been to a hundred such parties, shares his experience with boundary-challenged attendees. “There’s an etiquette to a sex party- it’s common sense you’d think everyone should know. Like you don’t just drop to your knees and suck a guy without, like, cruising him. You get close to him, make eye contact, rub his chest maybe, if he responds, go for it. If not, move on. You don’t just walk over and ram things up an asshole. You rub, touch first. I don’t wanna sound like a tool, but I’m a top. I have the look of a top and that’s what guys want. And so they can get very pushy to a point of rudeness. Like they’ll just drop and start sucking me, then I push away and they do it again. Or, there’s tops who get off on topping other tops, so sometimes there’s this big bear guy who wants to be the alpha bull of the group, so I’ll be fucking some cute boy minding my own business and next thing I know there’s a finger up my ass or a dick head trying to be shoved up there out of nowhere.”
Voyeurism is typically safe and is expected at any such party. Wraith explains, “Voyeurism and exhibitionism are a big part of it. At some parties, privacy is not optional, you’re either having sex in front of everyone or not at all. At other parties you have your choice of having sex in a common area or going off to semi-private areas. As a rule, I say, if a door at a sex party is closed, don’t open it. Otherwise, if people are having sex where they can easily be seen – as long as you don’t intrude – it’s cool to sit and watch.”
Both Wraith and Clason spoke of the challenge of getting the right mix of guests. “Well, there’s in my estimation two kinds of sex parties,” Clason begins. “One where all the people are handpicked based on who’s a top or bottom, and age, so there’s a good mix. And then there’s the free for all where anyone is invited, and you might as well be at the bathhouse.”
I heard that at straight orgies a few alpha men ended up with all the women, leaving a big group of loitering men behind. I asked Wraith if that was the case. He explained that heterosexual orgies typically include many bisexual women, and maybe a few men who might be described as “hetero-flexible”, but don’t identify as bisexual. He then dissects how it all plays out.
“Here’s how it works: Very few single women feel comfortable coming to a sex party unless they’ll know a lot of people there, and if so, they are probably looking to hook up with someone they already know.”
“Most people who attend sex parties do so as couples, or triads, or quads,” Wraith says. “They either just want to have sex in front of people or they want to hook up with another couple or a third. As most of the couples will be straight men and bisexual women, the third they are looking for will be one of the few single women available.”
“Meanwhile, lots of single guys will come to a sex party where they don’t know a soul,” Wraith continues. “So, unless the host puts a lot of work into keeping the genders balanced, which can be a real pain, let me tell you. There will be more men than women at the party. So if a guy has trouble taking home a girl from a regular party, he probably won’t do much better at a sex party, and he’s going to go home feeling butt-hurt about the guy who was in a threesome with two women. However, if you limit the number of single guys who can attend, the ones who didn’t get in will be butt-hurt about that. You can’t win.”
Back to otherwise banal Ballwin, nobody wanted to go on the record about the orgy out of fear of being blacklisted, but many did talk to me. I learned that on the main level is a party not unlike any other mainstream soiree, complete with food, drinks, and socializing. The carpeted basement is where the real business occurs. The crowd includes many prominent men including renowned academics, doctors, and captains of industry, but also includes many faces you’d find in the Grove or at the baths.
Several told me the same story about Gladys Kravitz next door, who peeped through a basement window and got an eye full. She called the Ballwin Police, who came out and simply asked the hosts to cover their windows. So, next time you’re creeping down that cul-de-sac, know that the lawn watering, mini-van washing neighbors know exactly what you whores are up to. Once inside, however, you’re in the clear. The windows are covered and the Emperor is not permitted.
David Wraith and Ryan Clason will be among the cast of characters assembled Saturday night for FIVE, The Vital VOICE and St. Louis Effort for AIDS Anniversary Event. To get your tickets for FIVE, click here. V
WRITTEN BY CHRIS ANDOE