My swinging origin story
This article is generously sponsored by Swingtowns.com
Before I was introduced to Kevin Patterson’s fine work over at Poly Role Models, I used the term “poly coming-out story” as a shorthand for what he more eloquently calls “poly origin story.” You know the conversation; it’s as common at poly gatherings as the “what’s your major” one was at undergraduate parties.
We all gather up and ask each other, how did you know you were poly? When did you figure it out? Who are you out to? What does your family think? And so on. That’s the poly origin story, and if you’ve been around the poly space for a while, you know what I’m talking about. On the other hand, if you’re new to the space, you’ll hear and speak versions of it many times. For good reason, I might add; I am not throwin’ shade at the poly origin story, to be clear.
It’s just that mine always sucked.
Lusty Guy’s Poly Origin Story
“Um, I’ve always known. I lost my virginity in a triad, and I’ve never had to come out to my family because I was never closeted. They are all too obsessed with their own issues to care about my sexuality, and I’m too lazy to be closeted now.” End of origin story.
Ah, but my swinger origin story? That’s a horse of an entirely different color. But an old nag, nevertheless, as I first dipped my toes into the swinger world as a coupled swinger in 1991 or so. And let me tell you, things were different back then. Nowadays, you all have it easy with websites like Swingtowns to help find each other. Back then, we had it rough. We had actual… well, “magazines” isn’t really the right term.
In the Good Old Days
We called them “‘Zines,” independently published magazines by non-professionals. They were to magazines what amateur porn is to the glossy stuff you can still buy in DVD format. Picture a black and white publication, three columns on each page, with reprints of polaroids featuring Aunt and Uncle Mortensen, naked, on their bunk beds in small town Idaho. I mean, if you happen to be from Idaho. Anyway, they were a treat, I can assure you.
Now while L (my wife, for those few of you who are reading this entry but haven’t heard her mentioned on the Poly Weekly podcast and I had been openly nonmonogamous for years, our recreational sex had been limited to friends or at least people we knew. We had never actually met another couple, person, or group with the express idea of sharing recreational sex before. Not that I didn’t want to, mind you, but we were both young and I just didn’t know how to bring it up. In our early 20s, we were not yet as comfortable and direct as we are now.
I pondered the issue for months before inspiration hit me. You see, back in the days before the internet, porn was printed in slick color magazines. Hustler, Oui, Cherry, Penthouse, and, of course, Playboy were just a few of them. Being a working class kid, I liked the first three better than the last two, but that’s another topic. In any case, at that time L and I had a cardboard box we kept in the closet full of such magazines. The “family porn” we called it, and we’d both pull one out when we wanted some visual stimulation. It was the equivalent of opening a web page these days.
Plan Into Effect
So I wandered down to my local adult store, then a seedy place thankfully long since replaced by better neighborhood sex shops, and bought not only a regular new addition to the family porn, but also one of those previously described “Swinger’s Magazines.”
It covered the entire Pacific Northwest, since by then we were living in Seattle. But it was the same old black and white polaroids of willing couples, groups, and single men I had remembered from the last time I saw one. Truthfully, I found it much more erotic and exciting than our standard porn, because it featured people who really wanted to have sex with other people. Maybe with me.
So, without saying anything to L, I simply placed it into the family porn collection and waited. And waited. For months. I figured that L would know I placed it there and would not have done so unless I was at least willing to talk about the possibility. But I also knew that if she were completely uninterested she could simply ignore it entirely and the topic would go away. My Grandma had taught me the value in plausible deniability, after all.
After about four months, L said to me, “So I’ve been thinking about that Swinger’s Magazine…” After about another three to four months of conversation, we went to our first swing party at New Horizons, a now-closed swing club that was incredible back in its time. And that lead us to becoming members for New Horizons’ final 20 or so years, making life-long friendships, and creating scores of really sexy experiences and events.
Of course, all those are also, you guessed it, different stories entirely.