In the wake of the Hurricane Katrina fiasco and the killing of Sean Bell, an unarmed black man, by police officers in New York last November, America's relationship with racenotwithstanding the enthusiasm surrounding Barack Obama's bid for the presidencyremains troubled. For the Mandingos, meanwhile, the parties continue. The man who arranged tonight's event, Art Hammer (a name he uses solely for Mandingo parties), started the Florida Mandingo group four years ago, just after his divorce. An enterprising 42-year-old black swinger from Tampa Bay, he has since become the go-to guy when it comes to organizing gang bangs and orgies for couplesthe vast majority of whom are whitewith a fetish for black men. So it was Hammer who sent the Evites for this "pajamas and lingerie" party and secured the attendance of the guests; it was also Hammer who booked the DJ, paid for the finger food, and brought the "courtesy condoms." Amber and Jeff just had to open their home. An advertising-sales guy by day, Hammer has done a bang-up job of marketing the Mandingos among the swinger set. The name Mandingo comes from Mandinka, a West African tribe that, in the antebellum South, was prized and bred for strength and virility. (Not that Hammer necessarily has Mandinka roots; he has no idea"I'm Art Hammer," he says. "Not Art Haley.") Mandingo is now a byword for black male sexual prowess. When Hammer established the Florida Mandingos, two other (unaffiliated) groupsthe So Cal Mandingos and the NYC Mandingoswere already up and running. Today new groups keep sproutingin Atlanta, Chicago, Oaklandbut Hammer's is the most prominent, the only Mandingo group invited to host a "Chocolate Fantasy Suite" at N'awlins in November, the second-biggest swinger convention in the country.
"The fantasy goes both ways," he explains. "The women get to fuck our guys while their husbands watch, and we get to fuck rich white women, really mutt 'em out. It works! But people in this lifestyle are affluentI'm talking judges, CEOs, FBI agents, important peopleso before they invite a bunch of black men into their homes, they want to know they're safe, they're not going to get robbed, and everyone is discreet. So that's what I providea gentleman in the street and a thug in the bedroom."
Hammer's "A-team" comprises 20 of the more than 100 single black men on his books; many of them are here tonight. "They have to have at least eight inches, and most have a college degree. They have to be able to role-play, and most important of all, they have to be gentlemen. It's the difference between Notre Dame, where you're a student-athlete, and the University of Oklahoma, where you're an athlete-student. We don't just take jocks."