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Gwen is telling me how she must pass on the business to a younger model. Gwen, whom I have just met and upon entering, witnessed her sticking pasties on her massive plastic breasts in order to hold a skin tight zebra dress over them. Now she was hiding sad eyes behind black horned glasses.
Over her should, she casts a longing look to a fully nude and fairly muscular man. He is leaning over, with a full hard-on, an equally nude and fit younger model.
She looks back to me with a plastic smile. He was once her lover and now they are “the best of friends.” I remember his face and email from having checked him in at the front door. He is the only guest who has his own separate guest list and whose name is used as a passcode for those not on either list.
I am knee deep in a world I have never experienced, yet it was becoming oddly normal. A few hours into the sex party and I no longer have to keep my eyes lowered and do not feel squeamish at the thought of the happenings in the back rooms. In the rooms cloaked in darkness and strange smells.
Although it did not begin that way. I straightened my tie and poured another glass of Prosecco for Gwen believing that she needs it. I pour one for myself, believing that I need it.
A few hours earlier, I had wheeled in 10 minutes late and parked on the hilly bourgeoisie street. After smoking my third butt in a row and stubbing it out, I sprinted downhill to the address texted to my phone.
A plastic assistant had answered the door and behind her, on a long black foyer table, is a line of leather, metal-studded and feathered masks. This was when I saw Gwen with her pasties and this was where I realized I was the first from the server staffing agency to arrive, and this was where I realized I was working an upscale, elite orgy.
“I mean it is a sex party!” Gwen is telling someone over the phone. I tie my apron tighter as if to reassure myself I will not be running out in a panicked flourish. I need the gig; I need the money.
For some ridiculous reason, I do not want Gwen to sense the intense awkwardness I am experiencing. Life is for the experience, I tell myself through grinding teeth and plop cat ears on my head.
The other two employees have finally arrived and jobs are being doled out.
“We need a door bitch! Someone to let the invited in and keep the uninvited out!” the assistant is sneering and waiving a white clipboard in her hand.
“I can do that,” the words are out of my mouth and my hand is already on the clipboard. I decide I would rather freeze my ass off outside than be anywhere near the strange events that were to soon commence. Guests were to arrive at eleven and it was rapidly approaching.
So, I stood in ridiculous cat ears gripping a white clipboard and occasionally flipping through its clean white sheets without seeing or actually reading any of the names; and this is why later I inadvertently allowed some uninvited guests in.
As faces appeared behind elaborate masks and costumes, one lonely young fellow in skin-tight red pants and a black button-down vest, another slender female is in a lacy black dress and another is in a white face mask- I realize it is not them I am disconcerted by. They are rather friendly, polite and shy even.
It is something else. Something that I cannot pinpoint, some unknown perceived notion and my own deep-seated desire to remain calm and cool in every scenario.
And as I cannot seem to get my face to form genuine smiles just yet, I remain outside for another two hours.
Eventually, the strange flow of arrivals would end and when it did I was forced to re-enter the house.
At the heart of the living room, behind the row of masks, squats a red blackjack table. A squinty-eyed dealer stands behind, also in cat ears. The room is surrounded by burgundy walls and black trim. Glass windows line the back wall and a small dining room is cut off to the left.
From behind the kitchen bar, the bartender smiles to me. Two ice buckets are set up before her, popped Prosecco bottles empty and nearly empty are strewn about. I am offered a ‘Unicorn Pussy,’ the featured drink and I take it. It is grossly sweet and pink.
I was unsure where to rest my eyes or where to stand. So, I meander in circles around the flat in search of empty cups. From my peripherals, I can see guests still fully clothed and beginning to relax and even enjoy themselves. A buzz swims through the air. High ceilings gave way to a narrow hallway with four or five doors at the end with soft red light seeping out.
I stop at the entryway to the hallway. Every pornography playing on a reel inside my mind and inside the mysterious rooms. I expected to feel disgusted by it all, yet I was not, instead, some curiosity began bubbling up.
The women were stunning; young and fresh-cheeked. The men were of a certain type—the money type. They were all much older and much less attractive.
As the living room began to empty and slowly guests toed their way to the back rooms, Gwen sits on a bar stool in front of me behind the bar now.
“The women have to be beautiful—I mean they are it, they are the stars of the show,” she winks and tips her glass.
“The men are all the sensitive kind, they have authority at their jobs and money in their wallets but they chase the strong women, the ball busters. I think it’s like, a domination thing.”
She carried on with how it all comes together, how the location is chosen and up until that moment I had believed it was her own flat. Now I began to think of the unsuspecting owners who rented out their home and would return to host extravagant cocktail parties and dinners at the long black table.
On the same long black table, I was watching a pair fucking on; hips and knees raising and rhythmically dropping. And the sex in the back rooms; which later we would remove used condoms from, and the bathroom sink where the owners would rest their toothbrushes in the same place that a bare sweaty ass rested now. The living room couches they would sit and watch sports on that a threesome was just beginning to undress and bend over each other upon.
Voices, soft and bedroom like began flowing from the hall as the guests return for air from the darkness. Moans could still be heard as a few powered through. The faces that returned were mask-less and some costume-less. They were bright and dewy.
The nerves and buzz that had been present at the start had been sufficiently washed away with Italian champagne and satisfaction. It was replaced with a reverberating openness. The energy managed to soften my facial expressions and I found myself infected; smiling and laughing along with them.
A middle-aged couple with blushing cheeks swung into the bar stools next to Gwen. They begin by fervently thanking her. They were seasoned sex party goers.
“We don’t share,” speaking of others swapping partners, “but there’s something exciting about doing it in the open, in front of others doing it.”
I suddenly felt ashamed for having been so uncomfortable. These people wanted a place to be free from judgment and scorn. They wanted a safe haven to be limitless sexually and to pursue their deepest desires.
They wanted to live the fantasies that most would only think of behind closed, locked doors too afraid to share with anyone, let alone try. The urges most of us leave stuffed and starved within us; they had the balls to live. They dared to experience. They slipped literal and metaphorical masks from faces and unearthed something bare, something erotic. I couldn’t help but notice how each of them smiled, each of them was purely happy and open. I suddenly relaxed and un-pinched my shoulders.
(Author's note: This is a piece from a collection of pieces titled INTO LA. More of these can be found on my blog https://rambelingsontheworld.wordpress.com)