For many, the concept of swingers conjures up visuals of free-loving 1970s key parties and wife-swapping. These days, swinging has had a rebranding with today’s generation radically rethinking sex and relationships. Penthouse spoke with Angela and Bradford Elmore, a bisexual expat couple living in Sydney, about the realities of managing multiple lovers, the stigmas associated with swingers and what it takes to make non-monogamy work.
How did you first get into the swinging lifestyle?
B: I stumbled upon it through a hook-up app in the states. I found a couple who were swingers and who wanted a male that they could call upon for a regular MMF (which stands for Male/Male/Female. Use your imagination – Ed.). It was so much fun sharing each of them with the other (and being shared between the two) that when Angela and I started dating, it just made sense to ask her if she was interested.
What are the biggest misconceptions about swingers?
B: Everyone’s experience is different, but the tales of ‘key parties’ and anonymous sex are way off base. We find that there is a lot more socialising to get to know the people you are about to have sex with.
A: There’s a big misconception is that swingers are promiscuous. There are many swingers who only have one or two couples with which they swap partners, or those who visit the swingers club once or a couple times a year. And safety/protection is a big priority in the swinging community.
Tell us about a memorable swinging experience you’ve had together.
A: There have been so many! One of my favourites was this past New Year’s Eve at Our Secret Spot. There were so many sexy, fun people. Bradford and I ended up in our favourite play room in a group of seven (with others around sharing the space) for many hours of fun, not leaving until sunrise. It was such a fluid experience with a very fun group of people.
B: Just one!? Looking up to count the number of people in the orgy room at Our Secret Spot and doing a quick head count of 17 people in the room where 14 of them were in some form of sexual congress, two of them were first timers on a tour of the club, and the last was a manager of the club who said to the newbies with a casual wave to the rest of us, “This is the orgy room. Sometimes this happens.” Then there was the acrobat from a travelling Cirque de Soleil show who was built like an adonis and completely bisexual.
Do you think there’s a stigma associated with living in such an unorthodox relationship?
B: Absolutely, people are afraid of what they don’t understand, and the easiest way to deal with that fear is to ostracise the target. This is partly why we speak so openly about it. Non-monogamy is not for everyone – but neither is monogamy.
A: Especially in some parts of the world, many can feel that they will be punished for having a non-traditional and perhaps, non-heteronormative relationship. And that may very well be the case, or it may be them putting pressure on themselves. But society has historically not looked as favourably upon non-monogamous, non-heteronormative relationships. I feel that is slowly changing, but not yet fully embraced by society in general.
What are the pros and cons of an open relationship?
A: Being open has definitely strengthened our relationship with each other. If you can talk to your partner about having sex with other people and what you like or don’t like in another potential partner, then all the mundane daily conversations about life in general become much easier.
Finding potential partners can be time intensive, especially if this is done online through websites and apps. It is both fun to look at who else is out there and explore potential partners, while at the same time taking a bit of time to do so. Establishing those relationships, potentially going on a date or meeting at the swingers’ club, can be so exciting and exhilarating. It also has been great to meet so many interesting people from all walks of life, whom we would never have met if it hadn’t been for swinging and an open relationship.
B: Opening up a relationship can be scary. Open relationships are often magnifying glasses. If your relationship starts on a strong foundation, that foundation will be enhanced; your communication skills increase and the couple will have an even tighter relationship. If the relationship foundation has cracks and crevices, they will be magnified and can become canyons and pitfalls that are difficult to navigate.
Do you ever feel jealous?
B: Of course, but we have found that that is often due to poor communication. Our imaginations are scary things, but by focusing our efforts on our communication we can help allay the jealous feelings.
What are your basic rules?
A: Don’t bring someone home without prior consent; always use protection and get tested for STIs regularly; never ‘take one for the team’; always keep open lines of communication and be willing to talk about what is happening, whether positive or negative.
B: And always be willing to talk about what may be in your head; don’t let issues fester into problems.
Do you have any rules that might seem strange to an outsider?
A: One of my personal rules is that I don’t let people sleep over (a couple of long term partners excepted).
B: I’m not willing to share her arse with anyone else! Everything else is fine but anal sex is just for me.
If you could give one piece of advice to yourselves when you first began exploring an open relationship, what would it be?
A: Keep the lines of communication open, relax, and just have fun! Don’t worry so much about what other people think of your lifestyle choices. If you and your partner are both happy and have a solid foundation, then opinions of others don’t matter and they should embrace your happiness.
B: Don’t be ashamed of who you are. If you and your partner are living your best life, you’re both happy and you both are getting what you need from the relationship no one else’s opinion matters. Many of them are going to be jealous of the quality of your relationship.
If you’re interesting in learning more about the swinging community, open relationships and bisexuality, check out the Elmore’s podcast at bythebi.com.au.