Other clubs are more choosy about their members and require intensive screening, asking for full-length photos, even essays about why prospective members think they’re sexy enough to join. Most of the time, this is all just a way to keep out the riffraff. But it’s also a way of keeping the physically undesirable in their place. “We call those people the Ken and Barbies,” says Patrick, who felt wounded when a nearby swingers’ group refused to “play” with him and Jenn after they joined.
CandleLight has chapters in Syracuse, Niagara Falls, and the one here in Batavia, which draws good-timers from nearby Buffalo and Rochester. Its parties are held on the edge of town, within sight of the harness-race track, simply because the hotel welcomed its business. (Tonight, 16 couples will book off-season rooms at about $100 in this otherwise-empty hotel hard against the highway.) With 700 member couples, CandleLight Associateswhich also runs a Web site that sells adult toys and recommends resort vacations for swingerspulls in about $24,500 a year in annual fees. “You don’t make a ton of money from it,” says Angie, 42, a Web designer who owns CandleLight with her husband, Bob, a DJ turned middle manager. “But it’s a decent sideline. Plus you get fucked by some really great people.”
Patrick, like everyone I meet tonight, has a Nick at Nite sense of humor about sex: When asked if it’s permitted to watch others, he says, “Yeah, you just can’t heckle. But you can applaud, especially if it’s me.” At the start of each event, he runs a Swinging 101 seminar for newbies. Unfortunately, only 65 people showed up to this evening’s Easter dance, and most of them were recidivists. So early in the night he spent most of his time playing Photo Match on the bar’s video machine, noshing Buffalo wings.
He reels off the strangest questions he’s been asked by people who call for information. Can I bring my mother? Can I bring a blow-up doll as my date? I’m a trucker and I can’t leave the Interstatecan you bring the party to me at the rest stop? Can I still come if I’m having my period? “The guy with the blow-up doll was so persistent, we eventually agreed to let him come,” says Patrick, licking his fingers and looking through the personals in a swingers’ magazine; one ad shows a naked man and his dog, both with black bars over their eyes. “But he still hasn’t shown up. I can’t blame him.”
“Whatever the variety of sexual appetites,” says Jenn, towering over us in stilettos, a black mini hugging her hips as a push-up bra lifts her breasts above the neckline of a tight white sweater, “that’s the combinations you’ll find at a swing club.” But those combinations aren’t available to everyone. In the world of swingingunlike in the world of bars, nightclubs, and frat-house keggersno is always graciously accepted as no. If you’re pushy, you’re out. If you’re needy and whiny, you’re out. If you beg, well, that can work if it’s on someone’s kink list. But overall, swingers are disturbingly ... polite.