A Beginner’s Guide to the Modern Orgy

The first experience is everything.
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The first experience is everything.
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Animal print sheets, stains, and bare bodies cover the mattresses spread out across the concrete floor of the warehouse. The 1060-square-foot space smells of sex for a reason. People are fucking on every free surface - not just California Kings, but the arms of couches, each others’ backs, and the floor itself. Several dozen hips push upward into several dozen probing tongues. In the center of the room, a group of six couples kneel boy-girl in a circle, sending pleasure around and around a closed circuit.

In the corner, 36-year-old Apple, petite with dark hair and glasses, and her 39-year-old husband Ezra, same description, scan the room and try to make themselves comfortable. Group sex is a nervy thing for beginners and this is their first orgy. It’s also their tenth anniversary. They don’t want to be wallflowers, but it’s hard to be forward when introductions can be so easily mistaken for indecent proposals. It takes a while before they strike up a conversation with an attractive couple - the average age hovers in the low 30s, but there are several 50-year-olds - and the evening’s entertainment begins.

Apple has her first lesbian experience in public. Then she watches the woman who has undressed her moved toward her husband while that woman’s husband moves toward her.

Apple and Ezra are swingers but they’ve never gone full swap before. They’ve never seen each other enter or be entered, so this couple from Manhattan matters - not as individuals, but as an experience. Apple and Ezra, who work in higher education and Massachusetts government respectively, have moved past monogamy and this is the next step on the road to something exciting, even if it’s not entirely clear what. A babysitter is looking after their kids.

This is a date of sorts. Apple and Ezra are doing it apart (and to other people), but they’ve come to the orgy together. “As odd as it is to say, a sex party is a low pressure way to dip our toes into that kind of water,” Apple says. “We were interested in sharing it together.” They’d heard about Chemistry and decided, yes, that’s what they wanted to do for their anniversary.

Chemistry is an “erotic organization” popular with Burners, the seasonal citizens of Burning Man’s “Playa.” It is one of seven known public New York orgy organizers, an institution in a field that thrives on word of mouth. The sexual experiences the group offers are free of pressure and are playful; burlesque performers always put on themed shows outside of the playroom. That said, the inclusive, friendly vibe doesn’t mean that just anybody can walk into an event. First-timers have to fill out questionnaires and send in photos so that the organizer, Kenny Blunt, can keep his congregants happy.

“The choices were pretty slim,” Blunt says of the orgies he frequented before starting Chemistry. “The parties were scary, sketchy, and there was a lot of pressure. It wasn’t anything that’s considered a turn-on.”



Aleksandar Nakic / Getty Images

Blunt is far from bold, his speech inflected with the hesitance of a man who is frequently misunderstood. He attends his own parties (occasionally fucking the very people he screens) with his co-organizer and girlfriend, a 31-year-old beauty named Oksana he sometimes walks around on a leash. Blunt is a failed actor, but he’s found sexual success by lending order to chaos.

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“We have a definite distinction between men and women,” he says. “We allow women to attend without a date, but not men, and some think that’s not fair. But… no one has ever come up to us and complained that there was a creepy girl lurking around the playroom.”

That means that Chemistry is, in a sense, a little slice of matriarchy. A guy like Ryan, a 38-year-old comedian who describes himself as a poly-swinger and a 10-year vet of this sort of thing, says that “within the first five minutes, I realized that it was amazing,” however he is still dependent on his SO for entry. It’s a system designed to further commitment even while obliterating at least one of the bonds that has traditionally defined it. 

One gets the sense that it is also a place where relationships that need to end do just that. But that’s the exception. The whole environment is overwhelmingly positive. Ryan’s girlfriend has herpes, which she thinks she picked up at an event, but she keeps bringing him back.

The experiences attendees have - and the difficulty of finding those experiences elsewhere - bring people back. And Apple and Ezra look like happy returns may be in the offing. 

Apple is pushing herself onto the tongue of half of the Manhattan couple and toughing the nipples of the other half while Ezra does the same. Apple is anxious to get back to what she was doing before but hesitant to tear herself away from a warm mouth. No one is looking now - the party is winding down and things have gotten sloppier, less hydraulic - but Apple is keenly aware of the woman getting spanked on the couch behind her. It’s distracting, but not distracting enough to diminish her pleasure.

Ezra, for his part, is inside the wife, pushing hard. As Apple gets up to go to the bathroom, slipping her panties back on, she watches him pump away. It’s a bit like life in the third person. “That’s what that looks like,” she thinks. She’s turned on. That’s her man.

Then it’s over and Ezra and Apple are lying on the mattress with the couple from Manhattan. Neither of them climaxed, but they’re both spent and sweaty and happy. “Sometimes you see your partner anew when someone is really into them,” Ezra says later. “The experience of seeing each other be happy and wanted sent us back to one another.”

There is an awkward exchange of emails, then some even more awkward goodbyes, and a brief wait on line at the coat check where a woman is slovenly blowing a new friend. But, as the cab pulls away, there is just them and they’re happy together, amazed at this thing they have, for lack of better word, accomplished.

“We’ll go to the bed and breakfast in Vermont for our twentieth,” Apple jokes later.

Maybe they will. Maybe they won’t.

Photos by picturegarden / Getty Images