Swinging With Eyes Wide Shut


I personally have not attended a single swinger party that even remotely resembled the somber, moody and frightening affair depicted in Stanley Kubrick’s 1999 posthumously released film Eyes Wide Shut.  But I happen to know it’s the secret desire of many a swinger to throw one, and it’s often the case that when a swinger party, or an openly sexual party is depicted in film and television, it has a distinctly EWS feel to it. In the film, Dr. Bill Hartford (Tom Cruise) is thrown into a jealous snit (like how I belittle jealousy there?) after he and his wife Alice (Nicole Kidman), while high, have a discussion about a man that Alice could’ve slept with (but didn’t) on a vacation they had.

The very thought that she could’ve had sex with this man, and thought about it, throws Dr. Bill’s entire world into upheaval, and he stumbles off into a very strangely dreamlike version of New York City, finding an old friend who invites him to THE PARTY. When people talk about Eyes Wide Shut, they talk about almost nothing else, not the strangely amusing travels of Dr. Bill, who uses his medical license like a badge to get places, who almost picks up a prostitute but then cannot, who accidentally breaks up what’s either an underage pornography photo shoot, or a strange and creepy father selling his young daughter to associates.

No, what everybody wants to talk about is THE PARTY.

And the amusing thing is, even if you haven’t seen Eyes Wide Shut, you’ve seen this party in one form or another. It’s the one with the people wearing Venetian masks, and the password (Fidelio – ironically meaning faithful in Italian), the one with the strange Jocelyn Pook music, the blindfolded piano player, people in robes and hoods, digitally inserted silhouettes to block the fun. It’s a party that quickly turns dangerous for our hero Dr. Bill, and not even flashing his medical license can get him out of the fact that he’s an uninvited stranger in a strange land.

What’s always fascinated me about the film is that there are really two parties with dangerous sexuality in them. The first is the party of Bill and Alice’s friend Victor Ziegler (Sydney Pollack), a prim and proper party on the up and up on the surface. Beautiful people having beautiful conversations about beautiful things…but not far beneath the surface, a hooker has OD’d, one that was the invited guest of the illustrious host. This party hides and pretends that there’s nothing seemly going on. No overt sexuality, nothing wrong here. No, officer, I didn’t see nothin’. Whereas party 2, the masquerade, that one wears its sexuality up front, at the expense of everything else. There are no faces, just bodies, no conversation, just fucking.

It’s the two wild extremes and we swingers dance down the middle line. That of polite society, screwing around behind closed doors, doing incredibly debauched things and repenting on Sunday morning, flogging themselves for their sins. Then there are the unrepentant hedonists, raising pleasure even above personal safety.

Marilyn and I were watching series one of the Secret Diary of a Call Girl, and in the second episode, our favorite call girl played by the ultra sexy Billie Piper is hired to escort a man to an exclusive sex party, and this party instantly struck me as a mash-up between the two parties in the film. From the draperies of white twinkle lights and black tie dress (very much reminiscent of Ziegler’s party) to the plush and dimly lit rooms, and rampant orgies of the Fidelio party. This is the party I want to have…some day, when I have a space. A party where people can look their finest and still get down and dirty.

And the best part about that party, is it combines the elegance of the repressed and fighting to be sexual vanilla world with just enough debauchery before it swings all the way around the horn and becomes dangerous. But that’s the dream world swinger party, the masquerade…it’s for the uber rich, I’ll just have to make due with sexy people doing sexy things and loving it…

I’ll get by…somehow.

(But if anyone wanted to invite the Swingset crew to a party that maybe had a password like Fidelio…we’d go…just sayin’)


About Author

Cooper S. Beckett is a relationship coach specializing in non-monogamy, author of  My Life on the Swingset: Adventures in Swinging & Polyamory & A Life Less Monogamous, and the co-founder of Life on the Swingset & host of its swinging & polyamory podcast. He speaks and teaches classes on pegging, swinging, polyamory, play parties, and non-monogamy. He is a graphic & web designer, photographer, and voice over artist, has been a guest expert on Dan Savage’s Savage Lovecast, & is the announcer of Tristan Taormino's radio show Sex Out Loud. He is currently working on his next novel: Approaching The Swingularity.