The Industry of Sexual Fantasies
The low-key world where sexual fantasies are fulfilled is more common than we perceive. We explore its jargon, rules of trade and more
Sex clubs are not a new concept. The revelation in Jackie Phamotse’s controversial book, Bare, about Joburg ’s ‘Hockey Club’ – where South Africa’s powerful men act out their sexual fantasies by recruiting young men to sleep with their wives, and also sleep with those young men – is a window into the local underworld of varied sexual lifestyles that many are oblivious to.
By definition, sex clubs are formal and casual groups that organise sexrelated activities or establishments that allow their patrons to engage in sexual acts with each other. These vary from fully licenced club businesses offering sex parties, social gatherings of people exploring their sexual fetishes to online adult dating websites connecting likeminded individuals looking to satisfy their kinks.
It’s important to note that a sex club is different from a brothel in that, while patrons and individuals may pay an entrance fee or an annual subscription fee, they only have an opportunity to have sex with other like-minded people, and not sex workers. This is especially important in the South African context where sex work and brothels are criminalised.
There are many sex clubs in the US and Western Europe. One of the most prominent and mainstream sex clubs in the US was Plato’s Retreat, opened in 1977 in New York and attracting many US celebrities. This culture was thrust into the public spotlight with the Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman erotic film Eyes Wide Shut. Most recently, the Hollywood reality series, Naked SNCTM, let cameras into the workings of the mysterious SNCTM, an elite members-only sex club in Los Angeles that now has establishments in London, Moscow and Cannes.
Locally, Gauteng is home to a number of established sex or swinger clubs that cater to various sexual fantasies and lifestyles with the likes of Club Rome, Pharoahs and Club Poizon and others. There are numerous adult dating websites that cater to South African communities hoping to indulge their sexual appetites with swinging, BDSM, dogging or threesomes. There are also online dating classifieds and social media platforms that allow these communities to connect.
HOW THE INDUSTRY OPERATES
The sexual lifestyles of sex clubs challenge heteronormative experiences and often embrace consensual non-monogamy. Because of the non-conservative and explorative nature of these sexual fantasies and fetishes, sex clubs operate on a low profile and thrive on being strictly private to ensure the safety of their patrons and to protect them from judgement and exposure — they usually have strict codes of conduct.
Joburg’s longest-running sex club, Club Rome, established in 1996, attracts high profile businessmen, judges, and working professionals like teachers. It specialises in swinging, BDSM and group sex parties. Sex is not always guaranteed and voyeurs are welcome to watch. No cameras and cell phones are allowed.
The sexual lifestyles of sex clubs challenge heteronormative experiences and often embrace consensual nonmonogamy.
Ladies are the only ones allowed to initiate sex. To attend a party at Club Rome, you have to get an invitation. And to get an invitation you have to pass a screening test when you register online. Being a member is free, but there’s a cover charge to attend the different parties, which ranges from R350 per couple; R250 a single gent to R100 for ladies. Internationally the industry of sex clubs, which has been operating a lot longer than locally, can mean big business. The much-publicised SNCTM operates on an entry level package of $20 000 (about R290 000) for a year’s membership. The Violet Key Package is a once-off payment of $1 million (R15 million).
Taking this further, Reuters reports swingers boost the business growth of US firms. Lifestyles Organisation, the US’s largest swinger services company, has annual sales of about $15 million (R225 million) where working professionals spend more than $10 000 (about R145 000) a year to attend conventions, hotels and clubs where couples can have sex with other partners, according to Reuters.
ONLINE COMMUNITIES AND ADULT DATING WEBSITES
Adult dating websites, like Threesomes South Africa or No Strings Dogging SA, work on a membership and subscription basis. You can register as a member to use the service for free. As a member, you have access to some but not all of the features and functionality of the website. For extensive access to the site and its services, including the ability to communicate with other members, you must become a paying subscriber.
The websites are affiliated with other similar networks to increase their traction and make money out of the actions from their traffic.The terms and conditions on these websites outline their legal standing including adhering to privacy policies, copyright laws and age restrictions. A number of these websites, however, are operated by companies in the UK, US and Germany, who have more experience in running these kinds of businesses, and who abide by laws from their respective countries. This may have something to do with the fact that South Africa is currently in the process of implementing legislation around online content based on the Film and Publications Act 1996 (Act 65 of 1996) and the Film and Publication Board (FPB)’s online content regulation policy.
The Film and Publications Act of 1996 focused on classification and regulation that would protect children from abuse, specifically looking at exposure to child pornography. This focus also spread to new media like the Internet and included proposed enforcement from Internet Service Providers (ISP).
The Act went through a process of amendment, and the National Assembly passed the Films and Publications Amendment Bill in March this year. The Bill is now with the National Council of Provinces for approval, following which it will be signed off by the President and signed into law. The Bill gives the FPB the power to properly classify and regulate online content distribution.
COMMON SEXUAL FANTASIES
US researcher and social psychologist, Dr Justin Lehmiller recently conducted a comprehensive study in America on sexual fantasies and published its findings in his book, Tell Me What You Want: The Science of Sexual Desire and How It Can Improve Your Sex Life. The top fantasies revealed by the study include:
Group sex: Ranging from threesomes, orgies to gang bangs Control/wild sex: Including BDSM and light bondage
Novelty, adventurous sex: Having sex somewhere unusual or with a new partner
Taboo and forbidden sex: This can include voyeurism and exhibitionism Non-monogamy: Sex with someone who is not your partner Passionate and romantic sex: Feeling loved and appreciated
Erotic flexibility: This includes gender bending and same sex eroticism among people who don’t identify as queer Some of these sexual fantasies feature