Sophie Lloyd & Alina Vergnano interview John Thomas from The Couples Club.
Silk sheets adorn the ceiling, sexy oil paintings hang on the walls, and red velvet lounges and king-sized beds fill the Kama Sutra- and Bedouin-themed rooms. Next door is the dark room and past that the spa. All is bathed in a red glow. Bowls of condoms are in abundance.
Twenty years ago John Thomas attended the opening night of Australia’s largest five-star swingers’ club. Little did he know that a decade later swinging would become more than just a part of his life; it would become his livelihood. John talks to Sensa Nostra about his personal and professional involvement with swinging, and how swinging reflects social change and sexual liberation.
I attended the opening night of The Couples Club in 1992 with my American girlfriend of the time. I was twenty-two. It was our first swinging experience. She wanted to try girls. This seemed like the perfect environment for her to find her. No single men allowed. No forced participation. The place was clean and classy. For me, it was the start of a life that some might consider deviant or debaucherous—the life of a swinger.
During the years I was playing at the club and taking part in the sexual liberation movement (or consensual infidelity, as some call it), I became friends with Peter, the founder and owner. In September 2002 he approached me. ‘Mate,’ he said, ‘I’ve been doing this for ten years. I’m getting out.’ I tried to convince him not to leave but he wouldn’t have a bar of it. ‘I’m not making much money,’ he told me, ‘and I’m sick of getting my dick sucked.’ Fair enough. I could relate to that. He insisted I was the perfect man for the job. I hadn’t been working for ten years. I had money. It sounded like an entertaining way to earn interest. And so (after a month holidaying in Paris) for a friendly fee and a handshake, I became the owner.
My choices in life and work have never caused any problems for me. I may be judged for my lifestyle and scorned by those who find it immoral or those who secretly covet my sexual liberation, but that’s their sexual ethic or sexual inability, not mine.
Some people argue that the reasons people swing or cheat stem from said person’s upbringing. But sometimes the simplest explanations can also be true: some of us like lots of sex and lots of variety. I don’t care what people think of me. It’s better for people to hate me for what I am, than to love me for what I am not.
Every country has a ‘king’ of swing. Sometimes even cities, such as New York, have a king. Peter gave me the title of king when he gave me the largest and best swinger’s club in Australia. Since becoming king, I haven’t made too many changes to the club. I’ve learned in business that when something works, never change it.
That said, during my reign the club has actually changed a lot due to the internet.
Thanks to the internet, people now have the ability to get in contact with like-minded individuals and become educated about the possibilities of sexual expression. Over the past ten to fifteen years I have witnessed an increasing number and diversity of younger people experimenting sexually. People seem to be more sexually aware of their own bodies and also of the variety possible through sexual experimentation.
Every month, thirty percent of the crowd consists of first-time couples and single girls all wanting to try swinging, to experience it. Not every couple swaps partners. Swinging has changed since the old days. No more throwing keys in the bowl. No more cold swapping. No more strange men. No more dirty hotel rooms. Now, couples play together in front of others, or they just watch. There is no pressure to participate.
The club is twice or perhaps even three times busier than it was when I took over and hosts a younger crowd. There’re many misconceptions about the type of people who swing. We get all types: professionals, students, farmers, nurses, layers, artists, the young and the not-so-young. The only constant is that there is no set ‘type.’
At one monthly event, Angels & Demons (a very sexy dress-up party), we get about eighty couples, sixty percent of which are younger than thirty. At this particular event we have a stripper perform in the upstairs bar at midnight. Afterwards, the bar, which is not a play area (customers must be clothed or wearing the club’s robes there) is deserted. Everyone is downstairs fucking one another. The atmosphere down there is shadowy perfect for sex. You can see, but nothing is bright. One room is almost pitch black. People go in there to get lost in the action. It is hectic in the extreme. Wall-to-wall bodies.
Sexual experimentation remains largely underground; on the fringes of society. Everybody knows it exists. Most people fantasize about it. Only some dare to do it. Perhaps this is due to the recent biblical attitude that sex ought to be private and purely for procreation.
My philosophy is that swinging is an alternative to having an affair. Some couples need to put some sexual excitement back into a sexually flat relationship. Swinging will relight their fire and when it goes out again, it’s back to The Couple’s Club. Of course, these couples could also search sites like Adult Match Maker. This is all well and good but many couples find the online experience disappointing. People are constantly posting photos from years before and men commonly pose as couples. There are a lot of time wasters in cyberspace.
The Club bypasses all this. You turn up. You pay your money. You look at the couples and then, if you are attracted to them and the feeling is reciprocated, the deal goes down right there and then. Of course, if you want even more diversity you can go into the orgy room and play with dozens of other people at once. Or, as long as you aren’t a single man, if you just want to watch some girls play, you can come along and watch. Most girls play. The guy-on-guy thing is not usually seen. The club aims to provide a safe and sexy environment for couples and single women to explore their sexual fantasies. To keep the girls comfortable we have a no single men policy, and we definitely don’t allow unaccompanied males to roam around the club.
I don’t swing anymore. I used to get involved way back, but these days I see more vagina than a gynaecologist. Thousands a year if I care to pay attention, but I don’t. Now I play but as a master rather than a sexual adventurer. So where does all of this experimentation leave me? Psychologically damaged or sexually free? The outcome is so pleasurable, I’m not sure I care to know…
Our thanks to Sensa Nostra for allowing us to blog this article which appeared on their site.