A New York-based swingers party comes to Philly.
It was about 1 a.m. when KennyBlunt made his rounds among the partygoers. Ever the dutiful host, he saw that his guests were enjoying themselves. And, by all appearances, they were having a blast. Some people danced. Others made animated conversation. Two couples engaged in an exhibitionist tryst on some mattresses just beyond the living room. But the party wasn’t strictly fun and games. It existed to offer couples an alternative to conventional sexual morays, because, in KennyBlunt’s words, “Society is so fucked up when it comes to sex.”
KennyBlunt, 40, and his wife, SheilaMonster, 39, are the co- founders of Chemistry, a New York-based, erotic-themed party. Unlike many other erotic events, it’s not a throw-open-the-doors-and-see-who-comes type of swingers party. Billed as a “revolutionary erotic experience,” the invite-only party strives to be a catalyst for “a variety of spontaneous reactions—dancing, laughter, colorful conversation and intimate connections.”
Founded in May 2006, Chemistry’s events are usually held in Brooklyn. However, on a Saturday in February, the husband-and-wife team tested the Philadelphia market for the first time, setting up shop in an artist’s loft nestled inconspicuously on a Kensington side street.
But why Philly? Was it an aggressive, corporate-style takeover? Big-city posturing? Dissatisfaction with the New York crowd?
KennyBlunt says they wanted to expand on the East Coast. “Philadelphia just seemed like the natural place. We both love Philadelphia and the feel of the city,” he explains.
Additionally, the pair has long-standing personal associations with several local artists, and had heard about the favorable reception given to local burlesque troupe Peek-A-Boo Revue.
But, ultimately, it was a hunch that brought them down. “It was just our gut instinct that Philly was ready for what we were doing,” he says.
And what they’re doing isn’t just about sex.
Sociologist Carolyn Symonds , author of a groundbreaking 1971 paper titled “Sexual Mate-Swapping,” observed there are two principal types of swingers: recreational, who primarily seek variety and conquest; and utopian, whose efforts have an ideological basis.
In their initial investigations into the swinger lifestyle in New York, KennyBlunt and SheilaMonster felt that the scene lacked in both style and substance.
“We found that in New York City—which in this country should be the epicenter or the cutting edge—the sex clubs were really poor and tacky. There was no romance to it; there’s nothing beyond sex,” KennyBlunt says.
So they decided to create their own party based on a philosophy they summarize as “female-centric energy.”
“It’s a wide-open term,” KennyBlunt says. “It’s just as important to get to know what someone is about in terms of being attracted to them.” SheilaMonster goes further, saying that Chemistry provides women with a safe environment to explore their sexuality thus, as she put it, “owning their tastes.”
She added that the spirit of Chemistry is a less visceral approach that provides an alternative to other, in her words, “goal-oriented” swinger parties.
It seems to be working. Hedonism Online, a website dedicated to reviewing all things relating to adult lifestyle, gave a 2007 Chemistry party a 5 out of 5, noting the “presentation of new possibilities combined with a select crowd make Chemistry an event that should be appreciated for many years to come.”
The February party wasn’t just philosophy, though. It was a multisensory experience that included a DJ, gourmet hors d’oeuvres, films and tantric massage. Local burlesque dancers Annie A-Bomb and D’Arcy D’Lux performed. KennyBlunt and SheilaMonster have backgrounds in theater, and try to bring a “theatrical flair” to everything they do, including adopting the pseudonyms used in this article.
Several spaces were set aside as “play areas” and though they were accessible to any partygoer, both etiquette and signage demanded abstinence from gawking.
KennyBlunt says he was impressed with the sophistication of the Philadelphia scene, noting some timidity at the beginning of the night—not dissimilar from their first parties in NYC. He was pleased with both the size of the event—about 65 people—and the way the guests took to it.
Now that KennyBlunt and SheilaMonster have seen the possibilities in the Philly scene, savvy, swinging, Brotherly Lovers won’t have to wait long until the talented staff of Chemistry comes back to town. The next party is on May 22 and they expect to host future parties here every six to 12 weeks.
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PW's Holiday Guide 2014