But occasionally the rules are bent. Some Mandingos confessed to receiving tips of $100 and more after private sessions with couples at last year's N'awlins in November swinger convention. Others brag about the vacations they've been taken on. "I've been to Vegas twice, all expenses paid," says John, the software salesman. "The Bahamas, Miami. One couple took me twice. After a while, you feel like a piece of meat. But hey, they're not using me to mow their damn lawn. They're using me to fuck the wife."
Jared, too, for all his idealism, has felt used in the past. Once, when he was with a couple from Sarasota, the husband directed all the action and the woman didn't say a word. "I felt like I was justexcuse my language'a dick' for his wife," he says. Unfortunately, a similar thing happens tonighta heavily medicated husband starts belching out commandsand Jared just walks out, leaving the wife frustrated and embarrassed.
Jared believes that, the stereotype of black male potency notwithstanding, the fundamental dynamic in the interracial swing scenethat of black men dominating white womenis fueled by a combination of white guilt and female sympathy. But Hammer, who is an impresario of these fantasies, sees another potent element at play: the humiliation of the white husband. Up to four times a week, Hammer is asked to arrange cuckold scenes in which the husband is submissive to his wife, who is, in turn, dominated by a Mandingo. "He can't participate, he can only watch," he says. "And afterward, he has to clean her up." Then there are the public-humiliation fantasies, in which a white man asks a Mandingo to kiss and grope his partner in public while he watches. Even here at the party, there's an air of humiliation. Some of the husbands I speak with confess that they're no longer able to satisfy their wives. And while others say they get off on watching, they're never fully committed. "It kinda kills me sometimes," says one partygoer, Kevin (not his real name), listening to the submission fantasies of his girlfriend, Gail (not her real name). "Because I'm not dominant. I'm really an easygoing guy."
What all this means for race relations in the age of Obama is difficult to say. Though he's had a disappointing night, an optimistic Jared still likes to think that the more the races share fluids, "the more these taboos will disappear and we'll all realize we're not that different." But as the clock strikes three and only the stragglers remain, you see the races pulling apart. The Mandingos are hanging out by the pool table, talking reverentially about the white women they've had"Dude, she took, like, 12 guys; her husband has to let her go, there's no way one man can satisfy her . . ." The only white people still there are out by the pool. Neither Amber nor Jeff will be seeing any of the black men they've invited to their home tonight until the next party, to be held in a month's time. Though Jeff has allowed Branford to be intimate with his wife, he won't be calling him for a beer after work. And if they should see each other at the mall, they'll usually look the other wayit's all part of the swingers' pact.