turned off at sex party

I’m not an orgy person. But last Saturday night, for a few hours, I became one.

This article contains sexually explicit material.

When I first found out the European sex club Killing Kittens was launching in New York City, my first thought was: “Can you even buy tickets to an orgy?” I had always thought orgies were something that happened when enough libidinous, hollow people took enough good cocaine, or maybe once or twice at a cast party. In my mind, it wasn’t something a broke 31-year-old with body issues could get into.

Yet here I was, fielding an offer to attend an “elite sex party,” one of the first to be hosted by Killing Kittens on American soil. I had a decision to make: turn down the party (and the byline) and probably die of regret or really, really, really hope my family never Googles me.

I got a ticket. After all, a sex party is an invitation you just can’t turn down. I don’t know how many times you live, but surely YOLO rules are in effect.

Stage 1: “It’s probably just a hunting lodge for rich weirdos”

Rocky Horror

The company that organizes these parties is called “Killing Kittens,” and even though I’m a dog person, I felt a name that creepy had to merit an equally creepy backstory. The website claims that the name was inspired by “a byword for female masturbation,” which I’d never heard of, but whatever. “What better name for a movement and community whose sole aim is the unwavering pursuit of female sexual pleasure?” the site asks. (Almost any name. “Orgy” works.)

Further complicating the name issue is the gender issue. In the website description, women are euphemistically referred to as “kittens,” as in “guys should never … hit on any of the kittens.” While this statement takes pains to stress that the women are in charge, it also implies that women are constantly under threat at the party. This seemed inauspicious, to say the least.

The site claims to screen for attractive members, requiring applicants to submit a photo to become a member of the “sexual elite.” But just when I started to worry that my photo wouldn’t make the cut, the ticket purchase confirmation was already in my inbox. Apparently, buying a ticket was all it took to become a member of the “sexual elite.” At first I was worried about being fat and old, but now I was worried that everyone else would be too.

At first I was worried about being fat and old, but now I was worried that everyone else would be too.

Although my “ladies” ticket was a modest $50, it cost another $200 to bring a dong along. I knew I needed an ally. Buddy (not his real name) and I had already hooked up. He’s sexy and funny, and with him around, I knew at the very least there would be a safe pair of hands present. My plan was that if I felt pressured to participate, I could stick my tongue down his throat and allay suspicion that I was there as an observer.

After expressing fears that he’d just be watching “dudes run a train on [me] while [he] ‘crysturbated’ [a portmanteau of ‘cried’ and ‘masturbated’] in the corner,” Buddy bought a couples ticket. We began to speculate about what the event would be like. Buddy said he expected a “sausage fest” with lots of “ponytails and patchouli,” while I developed an unreasonable fear that there was going to be nothing but uncut Euro-schlong. We made jokes, but our palms were secretly sweating.

Twenty-four hours before the party, Killing Kittens sent us an email with the secret location of the party and a list of rules. But first, we had to stop by Halloween Adventure for some overpriced masks. That’s right. We were expected to be attracted to people wearing masks. What would I be doing at this party? Receiving cunnilingus from Zorro?

Stage 2: “Fidelio”

Giphy

The secret location was very unassuming. From the street, it could easily have been offices or an apartment building. The small lobby had a short line, two security guards, and a basket of masks available for sale.

The first thing that happened was a mixup with the tickets. They had me down as a single, not a couple. I was in the lobby with Buddy, a man who looked like Vito from The Sopranos, and a woman who seemed too beautiful to be with him for free. I wasn’t sure what I would do if Buddy was turned away.

Luckily, I didn’t have to find out. One list had me as a single, but the other had us as a couple. We were assigned a number (“Couple No. 4”) and put on our masks. They unlocked the elevator, and we rode up.

“The security was actually pretty good,” I said. “It’s better to be safe than sorry.”

Buddy looked at me like I was nuts. “It wasn’t that good,” he said. “When you go to a club, at least they pat you down and search your bag.”

At the Killing Kittens party, there was no need for a pat-down, as we were all about to get naked and would have nowhere to hide our weapons and drugs. But at that moment, I realized I was about to become the kind of person who had been to an orgy but never to a night club.

Stage 3: “This beak is interfering with my nosh”

The itinerary promised an hour of “oysters and fizz” to kick off the night. Sure enough, when Buddy and I stepped off the elevator, we were handed two glasses of Champagne. Next to the bar, two TV screens played Connery-era Bond and Audrey Hepburn movies on a loop.

The party tried to straddle the line between classy and upscale and seedy, barely legal, naughty fun. The bar was stocked with oysters, cheese, strawberries, and grapes. It was a bit like being at a middle school dance, but instead of having girls on one side and boys on the other, it was little clumps of couples anxiously avoiding eye contact and one or two single women looking very bored. It could have been a couples’ retreat or the cocktail hour at a B&B for mask enthusiasts.

It was a bit like being at a middle school dance, but instead of having girls on one side and boys on the other, it was clumps of couples anxiously avoiding eye contact. 

Needing many more drinks, we tried to order at the bar, where they accepted $15 and $10 “drink tickets” for cocktails and beer, respectively. Overpriced beers in hand, we checked out the rest of the space. There were (thankfully) couches covered with flannel sheets for hygiene purposes, as well as cots set up where you’d expect a coffee table to be. There was a pool table, and we wondered how it would come into play, sex-wise. “There probably won’t be a game of pool,” I predicted, but I’d be proven wrong a few hours later.

All the Killing Kittens literature had been very clear about the standards of behavior for both genders—for instance, that men couldn’t approach women for sex. While the emphasis on such rules had initially made me nervous, overhearing people ask questions like “Is this the line for the bar?” and “Do you know where the bathrooms are?” reminded me that at the end of the day, we were just at a cocktail party with other human beings who wanted to have a safe, good time.

Stage 4: “I’m here for the gang bang”

As I got tipsier, I became more aware of the observer problem. I was there as a guest like everyone else. My behavior was affecting the party. So I stopped trying to be a fly on the wall and let Buddy put his hands up my dress.

Shortly after breaking that barrier, we were approached by a couple who both looked like Danny DeVito. They introduced themselves; I was shocked to learn that we were doing first names, though still wearing uncomfortable masks.

Our conversation was standard. They told us they’d just moved to the suburbs, advising us to “make money, then get out” of the city. Unable or unwilling to say the word “orgy,” I asked them if they’d ever been to “something like this” before. They said they had in Paris and were glad Killing Kittens had started up so close to home. When the bartender somehow recognized them, Buddy and I snuck away.

As the room began to fill up, it became clear that there was a language barrier, and not everyone in attendance spoke English. Overhearing a conversation in English, I pulled Buddy over to a silver fox and his attractive wife. He said he was a consultant at a private equity firm, while she raised their three (unsuspecting) kids. When I asked them how they’d heard about the party, they expertly dodged the question.

We remarked that, although a few hours had passed, there didn’t seem to be any sex, though there was certainly “a lot of butt cupping.” We agreed that even if we didn’t have sex with other people, watching other couples was in itself an experience worth having.

At one point, the silver fox and his wife mentioned their concern that because they were in their early 40s, they weren’t going to make the cut. The age limit at the Killing Kittens parties is 45, which both Buddy and I found discriminatory. (I happen to have a real thing for older men.)

Later, Buddy and I befriended an Iranian man in a silver suit and his date, whom he said was Mexican and only 21 years old. They seemed to be the only other non-serious couple there, so we bonded immediately. We followed them out to the balcony to get stoned, and when his date (who was almost certainly on ecstasy) joined us, there was some confusion as to whether or not she and Buddy had met in line for the bar earlier. Now that we were all sweating under our masks, they started to come off, and people were introducing themselves to one another before realizing they’d already met.

Taking the place of a couple returning inside, I hear a man laugh, “See you on the train,” remarking “small world” to his significant other. I asked them if they recognized someone they knew.

“Metro North,” he said.

“I think everyone here is from Connecticut,” his girlfriend agreed.

“I think everyone here is from Connecticut.”

The small talk was just like that of any other party: “What do you do,” “where do you live,” etc. At one point, I mentioned that I was one of the few people in attendance who wasn’t working on Wall Street, as everyone I introduced myself to seemed to be a banker.

“That’s crazy,” Mrs. Connecticut said. “Where I’m from, everyone goes in to finance.”

Stage 5: “Some things you can’t un-see, bro”

It was a cold night, and when the Iranian man in the silver suit ran out of weed, I went back inside. While waiting in line for the bar, Buddy told me, “Nothing much seems to be going down, sex-wise.” At that exact moment, I saw a woman giving a blowjob out of the corner of my eye.

Enter phase two.

Out of the bathroom emerged a woman who had changed out of her dress into some kind of jewel fuck bikini. The naked bodies started trickling out of another room hidden in the back of the space.

When I tried to peek in, the staff told me that alcohol was not permitted in the “playroom.” We all know that there’s no sex in the Champagne room, but evidently, there’s no Champagne in the sex room, either.

We all know that there’s no sex in the champagne room, but evidently, there’s no champagne in the sex room, either.

Not wanting to waste a drop of my $10 Stella, I took a seat with Buddy on one of the couches and we started fooling around. After getting some killer head, I lay down side-by-side with him for some regular old kissing. We were interrupted by a staff member who brought us a pillow because it “looked like [I] was straining [my] neck.”

Not at all comfortable with that level of familiarity, we got up and started walking around. The party seemed to have thinned out quite a bit while I was having an orgasm, and I knew I needed to venture into the “playroom” before the party ended.

With mild fear, we breached the portal. While some had come for a drink and split, it was clear that those who stayed stayed to screw.

Stage 6: “Don’t be in the fuck room and be surprised if somebody wants to fuck”

The first thing I saw on the platform of mattresses in the center of the room was the 40-something private equity guy’s flappy butt going to town on a curly-haired woman I’d met from Connecticut. I couldn’t find either of their better halves, which led Buddy and me to suspect that it wasn’t these couples’ first time at the rodeo, as they’d claimed when their clothes were still on.

There wasn’t group sex so much as couple sex in a group. There were little cliques of people who seemed to have decided that it was OK to touch one another, but for the most part, lovers were keeping to themselves.

Buddy and I briefly tried to join in, but neither of us was feeling very sexy. “I was raring to go in the other room,” he complained. “I was more turned on when there wasn’t random man-ass in my face.” Me too, Buddy. Me too.

There was a little too much humanity on the fuck bed, so we took a seat on one of the couches surrounding the bang-stage to watch. Horrified, I realized that these couches were uncovered, and I tugged at my skirt, trying to create a barrier between the dried liquid shame and my vulnerable mucus membranes.

I realized that these couches were uncovered. I tugged at my skirt, trying to create a barrier between the dried liquid shame and my vulnerable mucus membranes.

Looking around, I was generally impressed by the level of attractiveness, which was certainly higher than in the outside world. The boobs and bodies seemed pretty real, and almost no one looked like they were slowly starving to death.

The sex was fairly tame. Not a lot of acrobatics. A lot of woman on top, a little doggy. A lot of blowjobs and no pussy eating. (So much for female pleasure.) The whole night was very hetero. One guy tried to get two girls to kiss, and they wouldn’t. I’m sure there are single-sex orgies, but the pansexual seem to be shit out of luck.

From the mattresses, the private-equity guy made eye contact with me and pointed to his dick, but it read as an offer, not an order. When the curly-haired woman from Connecticut sat down next to me and said, “I’m totally naked and you look miserable,” I felt far less comfortable. I realized that while the rules said men weren’t going to pressure me into having sex, “kittens” weren’t bound to those rules. I reached for Buddy and tried to look busy. I thought if it seemed like I was playing along and having a good time, maybe I could stay without getting involved with a stranger, which is something I really didn’t want to do when I realized that no one was using condoms.

With my eyes closed and my lips locked, I noticed a deafening silence. It was so quiet you could have heard a pube drop. There also didn’t seem to be any smiles or laughter, two key elements in turning the farce that is sexual congress into something two people can enjoy together. Given the absence of sound, I wondered if anyone even came.

Buddy and I whispered to each other between fondles, making jokes to ease how unsexy we felt. While mounting her partner beside me, I was gently kicked in the head by someone’s really cute boot. She casually apologized like she’d nudged me in the subway. “It’s fine,” I said, and it totally was. After all, we were at an orgy. Normal MTA etiquette didn’t exactly apply. 

Stage 7: “I’m not an orgy guy”

Turned off and perturbed by the workman-like fucking in the silent playroom, I heard laughter from the main room. Buddy and I went back to the bar to join the fun.

It seemed like the bartenders were having a better time than the guests. Whether or not their laughter was at our expense, they seemed happier to be there than anyone who was inside someone else.

Hoping their good mood would rub off on me, I chatted them up. They were all employees of the space, rather than employees of a catering company or Killing Kittens itself, but surprisingly, they said sex parties were common at the venue. I asked if this was a typical orgy. “Last week at this thing, everyone was naked in the first hour,” one of the bartenders said. This time, I guessed there were probably too many prude journalists altering the inhibition level.

On his way back to the playroom from the bathroom, Mr. Connecticut approached me to invite me back in with him. It was breaking the rules, but in no way did I feel threatened, pressured, or intimidated. Frankly, it was slightly less stressful than being asked to dance. As promised, there was no expectation whatsoever that women were supposed to have sex with men. It was up to the individual partygoer to determine what was OK and what wasn’t.

The party was set to end at 2:30, and even though there was no clock and we’d all been required to turn off and check our phones, it ended pretty much on time. In the last moments of the party, a man asked if anyone had seen his misplaced riding crop. Apparently, people still had enough energy for the after-party. “The babysitter will be fine,” I overheard the couple from Connecticut pleading to the private equity couple.

With almost everyone gone, Buddy and I got our coats. Taking one last peek into the playroom, I saw only the man who looked like Vito from The Sopranos plowing away at a girl slightly smaller than a Barbie doll. Then Buddy and I hit an all-night diner to shake off the orgy before going back to his place for some good old-fashioned, one-on-one copulation, no finance bros or Danny DeVito lookalikes in sight. 

Illustration by Max Fleishman

Cece Lederer

Cece Lederer

Cece Lederer is a journalist and former television writer from New York who wrote about entertainment, lifestyle, and comedy for the Daily Dot. She is a former writers' assistant for The Colbert Report, and her reporting has also appeared in Salon. She's currently based in Berlin.