Alex, a commercial real estate agent, is sitting across from me in a booth in a North Jersey pub, watching a guy make an awkward pass at the middle-aged woman at the bar. Alex is getting turned on.
Really turned on. And he doesn't mind telling me. As he delivers the play-by-play, in a voice that's half Marv Albert, half Lance Armstrong after climbing the Alps with a broken gear and Gov. Chris Christie on his back, Alex turns to me and says, "This is hot, isn't it?
Her short black skirt riding perilously high. The guy can't take his eyes off her. From time to time, the woman laughs and touches the man's arm, and Alex, 46, is getting more worked up. And I'm getting more uncomfortable. I can tell," Alex says.
If she wasn't interested, she would be checking out the rest of the bar, looking for Plan B. He glances at me. I let the remark pass. Because, you see, Susan is his wife. Happily married couples are having lots of sex — with other people.
Alex will watch. The listing — one of dozens posted for New Jersey each month — announced to male members that the couple would be on the prowl tonight, looking for someone to satisfy her.
He wants to drive home the point. The suburbs?
Want to investigate the lifestyle? Try adultfriendfinders or sdc. New Jersey has hundreds, some active, some dormant.
New ones crop up all the time. Susan had stipulations: The guy had to be fit and a nonsmoker. He had to be well-endowed and able to prove it with photos. He had to have stamina, had to agree to safe sex and had to be willing to be watched and possibly videotaped during sex. Oh, and he also had to be willing to pay for the hotel room.
In the swinging world, women make the rules. About a dozen men all sizes, all races, all ages and physiques — from beer guts to washboard abs respond to the post. The couple then traded e-mails with three studly types, ultimately deciding the unmarried year-old landscaper, now the skinny guy sitting at the bar, would be the best fit. He was chosen because Susan found him attractive and his profile included testimonials from SLS women.
The scouting report: The guy has game. And just as importantly, judging by the photos, when this guy pulls down his boxers, he could make Secretariat blush. Alex and Susan estimate they have been on about 25 hot dates over the past several years.
He guesses his wife has slept with "about 20" other men — all different flavors, but all bigger than average and bigger than Alex where it counts. Sometimes the relationships last a while. Sometimes they're one-and done. In case you were wondering: The landscaper lived up to his billing, and at last check, had scheduled a return engagement. Why should a husband want to watch another man have sex — often great or, at least, better sex — with his wife? But, outside the house, Alex is mostly a voyeur. For him, swinging is a spectator sport.
Whatever your sexual appetite — say, you both want to be with a woman, or you both want to be with a man, or she wants to be with several men at once, or she likes husky men and you crave female leprechauns with foot fetishes — well, you can find it out there.
The sex lives of jersey swingers
There are large swingers clubs — Saints and Sinners, Pure Bliss and South Jersey Sex Friends, for instance — and smaller groups that cater to nudists or somethings or interracial couples or the handicapped or fetishes.
Most swingers tend to play in their own age neighborhoods, rarely straying more than a decade — although sometimes a something couple in good shape can hook up with a pair in their 20s. But whatever the desire, one thing is certain: There's something for everyone. While non-swingers might view swinging as a depraved behavior that threatens marriage and the family unit, research indicates that swingers, by and large, believe they have strong, loving and committed relationships.
But Marty Tashman, a marriage counselor for 34 years in Middlesex and Somerset counties, isn't buying it.
He says he has seen the damage done by swinging. Sexual adventure might be exciting for a while, but it gets old. But why do they do it? Are swingers thrill-seekers?
Are they momentarily rebelling from a life of always doing the right thing? Do they crave the confidence boost that comes from being attractive to someone other than their spouse or partner? When you ask swingers — or sociologists — why they do it, there are as many answers as there are sexual positions.
Professor Edward Fernandes of Barton College in North Carolina is the leading academic authority on the study of swingers and the swinging lifestyle. Within a small gathering, swingers might share commonalities, he says, but across the swinging spectrum, they are "as diverse a social group" as you can find. And singles certainly have different motives than couples.
Swingers usually are looking for people who share their sexual interests. Swinging is no longer, 'Let's get a bunch of people together, throw a few mattresses on the floor and screw. They consider their marriages strong, but seek the sexual variety their spouses cannot provide. A stunning stat: Four percent of male swingers are older than Down there, 10 bucks gets you in.
And with a D. Before they head downstairs to look over the crop, Bill and Diana relax on a couch in the lobby. The couple — both divorced, in their late 40s and now living together — have been swinging for about five years. Recently, their steady hook-up couple decided to take a break from swinging because of pressures from real life — kids, a job loss, bills piling up.
So, Bill, a retired cop, and Diana, a restaurant hostess, are searching for new friends. The requirements: The couple must be fun, a little kinky and drama-free. For them, it all started at a Super Bowl party six years ago when Diana was seduced by another woman. The men were watching football.
A bunch of women were sipping wine in a hot tub, and eventually Diana and the other woman were left alone. Three orgasms later, Diana was hooked on sex with a woman, and she and Bill now swing a couple of times a month.
Today, Bill and Diana are full swappers, hunting for a couple that includes a bisexual woman. Diana, however, does the choosing, and Bill is fine with that. At hotel parties, which usually are invitation-only, couples mingle in a ballroom or bar, flirt, link up, then head to a room.
At a house party, also by invitation, there usually is one large room where the action takes place. An orgy erupts, but not everyone participates. Some only watch. To make sure the female party-goers are satisfied, a few extra hard-body or somethings are invited. Singles are the fastest growing swinging demographic, but that often le to conflict, Fernandes says. Women want the extra men, but some of the guys tend to be aggressive and cocky. Swingers, even with the use of condoms, risk being exposed to herpes or HPV, which can lead to cervical cancer.
HPV also is linked to throat cancer, making oral sex risky, too.