Originally published on Substance.Media.
It's 11 p.m. on a Saturday in Los Angeles. The city shines in the distance as people stand outside of an inconspicuous building smoking cigarettes, wearing masks and avoiding eye contact. I stand alone, wearing my press pass as people continue to crowd the sidewalk.
One man walks up next to me and puts his hand on my shoulder; this is who I have been waiting to meet. His name is David and he is one of Los Angeles' most notable hosts of gay sex parties. His events draw crowds from across the country.
"Some guys even travel from other countries to join in the fun," he claims.
He opens a door and invites me into the space which can only be described as bohemian decadence. There are pillows and mats along the floor, tapestries cling on the walls and around the ceiling. There is a bar being set up and several half-naked men in masks running around getting ready for the doors to open. As David walks me through the space, I notice little tables with condoms and lube and a sign that reads "be smart, be safe, be sexy."
David tells me tonight is going to be wild.
You've seen it in films like Eyes Wide Shut, you've read about it in romance novels, you've watched it in porn, and you may even have fantasized about going to one. However, society has been taught that the concept of "sex parties" is very much taboo. Despite this societal condemnation, an underground network of sexually liberated people have come together to join, host, or watch live erotic, sensual and sexual events.
For the past 10 years, David Sapperstein, 38, has been hosting these kinds of parties across the country for men with certain tastes. According to Sapperstein, these men enjoy the "nicer, sexier things in life, and they are willing to pay to play." By this, he means men who are willing to pay to join an orgy, which is what it all boils down to; a giant gay orgy, and tonight is the Halloween party.
Although Sapperstein is adamant that it is for gay men only, he admits that he often gets guests who live double lives or are not open sexually.
"I always have a group of married guys who like to come through, either to watch or play, but there are always a few," said Sapperstein.
Tonight, there are 30 men on the guest list, and another 15 on the wait list. Yes, there is a wait list. According to Sapperstein, the parties he hosts fill up within the first week of the party's announcement. He said that plans the parties a few months in advance so that people have time to make arrangements and enjoy their night.
"This one," he said, indicating the current party, "I planned in June to make sure enough guys could make it." Sapperstien added that he has a mailing list that goes out to all of the people that have ever joined one of his previous gatherings. All they need to do to join the next one is to RSVP and pay the booking fee. However, there are rules to joining the club.
The first rule is anonymity. There are no cameras, cell phones, tablets, or other media devices allowed in the space. Due to the nature of the event, Sapperstein wants to ensure that all the men are comfortable at the party.
"We do offer video services if a guest wants it, but their partners need to agree," said Sapperstein. "They just need to sign a release, and they will get a copy of the video or pictures or whatever they requested."
This rule protects his business as much as it protects the privacy of his guests. Sapperstein said that by signing the waiver, guests release him and his partners from all liability.
"We don't want some guy who isn't out turning around and suing us or something," said Sapperstein.
Secondly, all guests must be safe in their sexual practices. This doesn't mean they need to wear condoms, but they do need to disclose their status if they opt out of safe sex.
"A lot of guys like going bareback, and I am okay with that, but they need to be honest with their partners," said Sapperstein.
He added that he encourages people to practice safe sex which is why he provides condoms and lube. "It is very important to me to make sure all the men here are informed and conscious of their health."
And finally, the most important rule: show up. Sapperstein said that if a guest RSVPs, they must attend.
"The worst thing is having a party where no one shows. So, to counter that, I put in a system that bumps no-shows and bans them from all future events."
The parties Sapperstein hosts are not unheard of, even in the straight community. In San Diego for example, there are a group of people who get together every month to indulge in their passions. However, unlike Sappertien's events, the participants involved are only there to watch.
In contrast to the film many people think of when sex parties are mentioned, the real thing is not exactly like Eyes Wide Shut. At a San Diego location unknown to most people, there are a group of individuals who come together to enjoy of evening of sexual voyeurism.
V., who spoke on a condition of anonymity, is the show runner of San Diego's nameless voyeur parties. According to V., the people who come to her events are more interested in watching than playing. "A lot of the people who come to my shows, events, are older. They don't like getting into all the group play, but they will watch someone on stage," she said.
V. said that at her parties, men of all shapes and sizes get on stage to perform for the crowd. "We have a mix of gay, straight and bisexual men and women in the audience, so it's important for us to have a wide variety for guests," said V.
"Generally the guys just get on stage, strip and jack off. We don't like anything flashy. No dry-humping the air. We just want to see regular men jacking off."
These parties, V. said, are exclusive, and attendees are very selectively chosen. "One thing we don't want is someone who is going to ruin the atmosphere and spoil the fun for guests and performers," said V.
"We've had to ban a few guests who got too drunk or out of hand. I won't tolerate that, this isn't a brothel."
V. was serious about her events being very exclusive. Meghan and Joe Escobar said they waited for several years to be invited to one of V's events before finally becoming regulars on the invite list. Meghan is a massage therapist, and Joe works in finance; however, he declined to say where or in what capacity. Both Meghan and Joe said that after 13 years of marriage, they were looking for a way to spice things up, without physically involving another person.
"I was very nervous when the conversation came up because I was worried [Meghan] was getting bored, and I didn't want her to leave me," said Joe. "But after looking through Craigslist in the 'couple for couple' section, we found an ad for [V's] party. After reading through it, we asked to join and waited for an invite."
Joe said that after they reached out, they received an email informing them that they would be put on a wait list, and when spots opened, they would get the invite. "It was really nerve-wracking waiting on their response because they asked for so much from us, but it's been worth it to be honest," said Joe.
What exactly did the Escobar's need to send to join the club? According to V., the requirements include photos of the couple, their age, what they do for a living, and other information that can be used to verify their identity and ensure they are real people.
"I make sure all my guests are verified, and that we don't have sketchy people at these events," said V.
Joe and Meghan said that it has really spiced things up for them in the bedroom and has opened their minds up sexually.
"I was always so nervous about sex, but after coming to these parties, I feel so liberated," said Joe. His wife Meghan had similar sentiments.
"I am a very sexual woman and always have been. I knew when I married Joe that he was a little timid," said Meghan. "But after coming to [V.'s] parties, he has really opened up a lot." Meghan said Joe grew up in a traditional Mexican household that didn't talk about sex or sexuality. It wasn't until he began dating Meghan that he first experienced "new" sex. "She was very 'liberal' about [sex], and it did take some getting used to, but I liked it," said Joe.
He added that coming to the parties opened a side of him that he never knew existed. "I am not gay or bi or anything like that, but something about seeing these guys whack off gets me hard, and seeing my wife turned on is always a plus. So, by the time we leave and get home, I'm ready to just pound her out," said Joe.
Those experiences, V. said, are what her parties are all about.
"I want people, couples, everyone, to experience sexuality in their own way. I want them to explore their bodies and fantasies to get the full flavor of life. That is what gets me off, and why I host the parties. Well, that and the money."
Which is what it really comes down to: the money.
Both Sapperstein and V. are living comfortable lives, however, that does not mean they do not work hard.
"I am lucky because I made a lot of connections when I was younger, and that helps a lot. But at the same time I also work my ass off," said Sapperstein. "I have a party every month or two, but between them, I am getting sponsors, setting up spaces, making sure everything is perfect for my guests."
V. said she also works hard to make her parties memorable.
"My guests come for the thrill and liberty. They don't want the same guys over and over, so I am always looking for talent to come perform for us," said V. "I have flown guys out from Wyoming to perform for us, which wasn't too bad. I mean for a hot guy in Wyoming to have an all-expenses-paid trip to San Diego just to jack off, come on, who wouldn't do it?"
V. said that she is able to do this because the cost of membership pays for the basics. "I don't want to go into exact figures in regards to membership, but I will say it's not cheap to come to one of our parties. But that is because we make sure each guest is satisfied with membership."
Sapperstein also has a set price for his events; however, guests don't pay a membership.
"My guys either pay in advance or at the door. I don't like the idea of a membership because then it feels like I'm being selective. I mean I am, but not based on looks or age or anything. With a membership, I feel like guys think it's a guarantee they will get in, which there isn't."
Sapperstein said he has over 500 men on the mailing list from all over the world, and some spaces, like tonight, have a limit, so not all guys will be able to make it.
"The ones who do, know that they are lucky and are happy to pay to play, especially because they never know who is going to show up."
According to Sapperstein, he starts sending mass emails to let guys know there will be a party, and to keep an eye out for the sign up.
"I have over 500 men on the mailing list from all over the world, and some spaces, like tonight, have a limit, so not all guys will be able to make it," said Sapperstein. "The ones who do, know that they are lucky and are happy to pay to play, especially because they never know who is going to show up."
One such man is Mikeal Al-Rabaddi, 43. Al-Rabaddi is a Texas man who travels frequently for work and is also very into the sex party scene. According to Al-Rabaddi, he has been to many events in different cities. Although he identifies as bisexual, Al-Rabaddi said he does not have a preference in his sexual partners.
"I like it all, and I do it all. For me sex is an adventure, and I love to try new and exciting things."
"I got a call from [name redacted at request], and he told me about Mikeal. I was very excited to have him on the list, and since he joined he's been to about three or four of my events in different cities," said Sapperstein.
Despite the good turnout to the events, both Sapperstein and V. agree that lately there have been issues with hosting their events.
"The biggest obstacle I face is finding a space, especially lately," said Sapperstein. "There are always a few working boys at my parties which is fine, but they are not allowed to solicit at the party or ask for pay if they play. When I tell some of them that, they get offended and that can cause a problem. Or the space won't let us have a bunch of guys fucking and sucking. That is a bigger issue."
He added that he does not like to lie about what is going on because he doesn't believe it is something to be ashamed of, but not everyone takes kindly to the truth. V. said she has similar problems.
"Although I haven't had issues with working boys or girls like [David], I have had people pull out last minute where the space was concerned," said V.
According to her, if the owner of a banquet hall finds out and is not in favor of the event, they can revoke the contract.
"It has happened a few times where the owner came in and cancelled the day before an event, so I had to scramble to get a new location that worked for guests."
Despite the small set backs, these gatherings seem to be doing well and give people the chance to explore their hidden desires.
"I don't think we would have such an enjoyable sex life if we didn't start coming to [V.'s] parties," said Joe. "It really put me in touch with my sexuality and allowed me to connect better with my wife. Will we ever invite someone into the bedroom with us? I can't say. But they would need to be a really hot guy if we do, and he would just be there to watch us."
Part two in a series on sex, sexuality, and the law. Next month: Abuse and the Powers That Be.
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