An Offering to Bacchus: Shifting Paradigms at Desire
These are not the first, nor will they be the last words that I scribe about the bastion of pleasure, debauchery, passion, and hedonism that is Desire Resort on the coast of Quintana Roo, the Riviera Maya, just south of that most touristy of places Cancun, filled with families trying out Mexico-lite. Though one would be foolish to suggest that Desire isn’t also Mexico-lite, but the resort, which many of us are loathe to leave, presents a curious amalgam of locales in its staff and offerings of food. This melange of styles is but the first thing that suggests Desire isn’t actually in a physical location.
It’s someplace other.
Now now, that’s metaphysics at worst or spiritualism at best. Without hyperbole, though, I suggest that Desire doesn’t inhabit the real world. Thankfully, too, as the real world tries so very hard to creep back in day to day, be it via our devices, or the televisions at the bar, which while most often turned to soccer (or should I say fútbol) or music videos, occasionally while I’ve been there show an unfortunate political reality as well. One need only remember back to what our 2016 trip may have coincided within the month of November to understand how reality can claw its way through the sliding glass doors membrane that separates us from the real world, and sit the fuck down in the center of the courtyard like some sort of monstrous pumpkin left over from Halloween the week before, already slumped and rotted on one side, its ass-end eaten out by squirrels, and its candle nothing but a white translucent puddle of wax on the bottom.
Blessedly so, the sliding glass doors that began our trip, moments after the resort staff said “Welcome home” to us, and we passed through into the sunshine and heat and promise of a whole new week, those sliding glass doors are able to keep reality at bay, and we’re able to exist on the outside, in the margins, in a place altogether different.
Such hyperbole isn’t usually the format of gonzo journalism, but I beg forgiveness. No place has changed me so much as Desire has, so as I spin this tale, understand that I’m shuffling the deck of eight years (nine come November 2020) together so as to deal out something that may meander, and better capture the spirit if not the letter. We begin with a toast, to the drink, to the food, to the sex, to the love, to the resort, to Bacchus, who certainly looks down on us with a perverted grin as someone (or ones) crawls under his toga to worship his mighty member.
I am naked, but not fully. My legs are clad in rainbow-striped stockings that go up to my thighs, there is a magenta and black ostrich feather boa around my neck, a straw hat on my head with a rainbow band, and my hand, aloft, holds a champagne flute. The heat swelters, as one is not meant to wear feather boas while nude in ninety-degree heat. To my right are my co-hosts, Ginger Bentham, clad in a Swingset logo shirt, sparkly rainbow bikini bottoms and her own black boa, and Dylan Thomas, shirt unbuttoned, Horga’hn fertility idol around his neck, a Swingset flag tucked into his belt. They also hold drinks aloft, but theirs are tequila, and before this toast is over, Dylan will surely be offering his arm, salty from the sea, to lick, and then licking his own salt off Ginger’s body.
I look out at the group before me, the intrepid humans joining us for our annual trip, The Swingset Takes Desire, filling the courtyard. People of every shape and size, of such variety of age, of style, of sexuality. It has been a fight over the years, to be sure. Two steps forward, and hopefully only one back, but occasionally the resort claws back both. For such a progressive place (in that sex with others than your partner could be considered a progressive act), Desire Resort is occasionally rather regressive. One need only look at their FAQs which emphasizes it’s for straight couples seeking fun. I would wager that there’s rarely a straight couple there with the sheer volume of bisexual women in attendance. But as I look out, I’m aware that we’ve achieved a feat in our week that we’d thought impossible back in year one, where a friend and I had been called fags by a drunken older woman who then staggered her way into a blowjob buffet after we performed male on male oral sex at the hot tub. Because Desire meant freedom, right?
This group before me now is the embodiment of our goals. Straight, bisexual, gay, trans, we have them all here. Sure the representation is uneven, but that’s how progress works.
I make no bones that I am a larger-bodied man. My belly is bigger than I’d like, and that is something I work to change, so when I prepare to step out on the stage before these lovely people, I do, of course, consider this fact. Consider my belly. Consider that I’m a grower, not a shower, and occasionally my penis likes to do that turtling thing that most men’s do but that we don’t talk about. Not now, not ever. The reason I step out as I do, with the stockings and the boa, showing the rest of myself to the group, is a simple gift of permission. I stand before you naked in body and spirit. I stand before you as I am. Feel free to do likewise.
We toast, we welcome, we share the reasons for the trip. It isn’t hyperbole to say that Desire changed my life. My first trip there, with my now ex-wife, and the sadly defunct podcast Sex Is Fun was a paradigm shift when it felt like we were moving beyond goofy fuckers who liked a thing our parents (not mine, but somebody’s) would’ve called wife swapping and into a new realm. We achieved something like transcendence, but not. Evolution, but not. Those I met that year, and in the years since, share a symbiotic lift. I do my best to elevate them, and they return elevation to me. We make each other better. And sometimes we make each other whole. (Resisting an “each others’ holes” joke there...)
If our podcast, Life on the Swingset, stuffed to the brim with silly rants peppered with an often Quixotic quest to cultivate a culture of kindness, empathy, and love, alongside the hot sex and varied relationship configurations we all have, can elevate one person, it can elevate many. And if you can elevate me, us, you can elevate the world. (Now resisting a self-deprecating fat joke...I should be commended.)
Shuffling the deck, I’m communing with Elle, a vivacious blonde, about Buffy, The Vampire Slayer, our conversation devolving into who can remember the most episode titles for the best (Once More With Feeling) and the worst (a tie between Beer Bad and Doublemeat Palace) episodes. This conversation, at one am on a Tuesday morning, is like so many that I have in The Real World, yet this one evolves until we are devouring each other on a bed off to the side, on top of a building, under the stars. Overhead the first lights of the Leonids Meteor Shower blaze streaks. Light in the darkness. A flame in a dark world.
For these snippets of times in the darkness of reality, there is, in fact, light, blazing off the coast of Quintana Roo. A shining beacon of the fact that so many disregard: just because we like hot sex, preferably with many people, and often with folks of varied sexualities, doesn’t mean that we’re selfish, unkind, or don’t have others interests’ at heart.
This is the criticism often lobbed at swingers after all. You’re selfish. You’re greedy. You can’t be like the rest of the world and just mediocrely love one person for the rest of your life or at least until you or that person rolls over one morning and wonders how you got old and who this person sleeping next to you really is. And there, I’ve done it; I begin a paragraph talking of criticism lobbed at us and immediately fire back with my t-shirt gun of “na-na-na na-na naaaa” to the world.
I absolutely do not think that all monogamous people are unhappy, or that they all dislike us, or that we are (as is often espoused) somehow better or more evolved than they are. We choose difference. We choose variety. We understand the unlikelihood that one person can provide for our needs, sexually, emotionally, in our life. We chose the second door. (And sometimes the third.) But selfish? Greedy? Why would this be said? The religions of the world condemn us. The family values voters would say that our hedonistic ways have no place in their society, in their world. As if our very existence could corrupt their children or their partners. As if knowledge of swinging itself could change them. Knowledge like a certain tree that produced a certain apple that kicked us out of a certain garden and has forced us to spend our lives (with knowledge) searching for our own paradise. They fear this new insight could ignite that little flame within, the voice that whispers insidiously every time their co-worker in the next cubical bends over. The voice of our lizard brain that ignores commitments and agreements and vows and says, “FUCK THEM!” And often, we do. Infidelity is far more rampant than swinging. We’re just honest about it.
I guess I am saying that we’re better, more evolved. Certainly more ethical than the cheaters and liars of the world.
As the cards flip, I’m sitting on a wooden post, several feet above the beach, at a bar beneath a palapa, tended by CC, one of the great bartenders of all time. She hands me my drink before I even ask, not the Bloody Mary I’d intended to order to go with my breakfast of waffles, french toast, eggs, bacon, and sausages, but an entirely new concoction she’s put together. There’s espresso in it, and cream, and something I can’t place, but you’re damned sure there’s vodka within. She knows what I want, what I need. Better than I do, in fact. And she likes me despite the year she came upon Ophilia and I sixty-nining on a canopied bed on the beach. She left her drinks, apologized before we could remove each other’s genitals from our mouths, and strolled back to her bar to serve someone else.
As I eat my breakfast and drink her concoction, which I’m doubtful even has a name as it has been birthed before me, friends appear, conversation is had, questions about plans for the day, suggestions of sexy plans later, a whole vague scheduling dance is had. It’s Thursday, after all, and soon comes The Last Day.
But since time needn’t be a straight line, the cards shuffle again, and I’m atop a building in the largest hot tub I’ve ever encountered. It’s filled to the brim with people, drinking, flirting, sucking, and fucking. The fiery sun sets over the jungles of Quintana Roo, as I tell Julianne that I’ve been into her since I met her, and do my shy introverted dance of “Maybe we could play before the week is out.”
She smiles and returns, “What’re you doing right now?”
We find a bed, and make our orgasmic offerings to Bacchus.
A paradigm shift is a monumental change, a complete altering of perspective. The term can be traced back to when we as a culture moved from a geocentric model of the solar system which put the earth at the center with the heavens revolving around our egotistical selves, to the heliocentric, when we recognized that the sun actually is the center of the solar system, to say nothing of where we sit in the galactic neighborhood at large.) Such a monumental shift is the kind of heresy that got people burned at the stake, crushed by weights, ostracized from “polite” society.
As I once felt as a married monogamous straight homeowner that I was finished growing and changing, the paradigm shift to swinging was monumental. A complete change in the way I saw the world. As Louis described the morning after he did stuff with Lestat (I’ll allow for your own homoerotic and metaphoric conclusions), the world had changed, yet stayed the same. I was looking at it with new eyes. Eyes that saw through it all. Through the notion that monogamy was the way, into a world where monogamy was just one of many possibilities.
The paradigm shift of Desire was in that there could be a place of sex and love, of connection greater than nearly any other. A place where we could come, from all over the world, and bond in our very own quantum entanglement, knowing that we can always be a part of each other’s lives, no matter how much distance separates us.
Of course, hot one-night-stands happen as well. And the cards shuffle me back to a night in that first trip when Marilyn and I left a group dinner hoping to fuck one of the couples only to be told they had other plans and shuffled off grumpily to the hot tub by ourselves. As we drink and talk, and recognize that sometimes we get turned down, and that’s not the end of the world, we notice a couple at the other end of the swim-up bar looking at us, making vague pointing gestures. I raise my glass to them, and they return it, adding, “We’ve been watching you two.”
Once we wrestle with what that means, and they confirm that they saw us arrive, and have been curious about us since Marilyn and I find ourselves sitting on the edge of the hot tub. This woman I just met has managed to rest her lips on my balls, and I can feel the back of her throat on the tip of my cock, and she’s not even gagging. She takes it all, and when I tap her to let her know I’m about to cum, she takes that too. It’s only then that this world swims back into focus, and I notice that more people have arrived at the hot tub for the evening, and that we have an audience, and that Marilyn is showering the gentleman with her liquid appreciation.
I don’t mean to say that it’s all wondrous exploration, boundary-pushing that leads us to better places, though there is that. Desire can also be difficult at times, a crucible where we’re melted and reformed, sometimes into stronger versions of ourselves, sometimes into situations that we didn’t enjoy, that we fight about, that we regret, and sometimes into something altogether new. Regret is real and comes in many forms in paradise. It’s the person we fucked that we maybe ought not have. It’s the person we wanted to fuck that we didn’t bother to tell until we’re already off resort and sending direct messages on Twitter that will inevitably return the response “Well, why didn’t you say something?” It’s the miscommunications with our partners, our playmates. It’s the boundary-pushing and rule-breaking. It all happens here.
The downside of a crucible of hedonism and exploration is pushing yourself way too far, way too quickly. One paradigm shift over the line. We’ve all done it. We’ve all fucked up. We’ve all sat at the evening bar eating pizza and thinking about what we’ve done wrong while our partner returns to the room. But those of us that return year upon year upon year are the ones who choose to evolve.
Again, when I say evolve, I don’t mean to imply that we are better than others. Only that we are better than we were. There is not a year that goes by that doesn’t change me in some way, and almost entirely for the better. This evolution happens when we find our edges and try something new, or something that scares us, or do something that we’ve always wanted to do.
So I shuffle once more and find myself in a group scene on a bed in a room on the edge of the resort on a Monday morning. I’m on my back, with Kay sitting on my face, and Ophilia riding my cock. When she has finished, they’re going to switch. There’s a cock in one of my hands, and I’m not certain who it belongs to, only that whomever in this group owns it, I’m happy about it.
I thank Bacchus for my pharmacological assistance, with the finest bootleg erection drugs coursing through my veins, courtesy miscellaneous red pills that almost surely are taking years off my life. But those years are the time at the end when I’m senile and can’t get an erection anyway. I’ll take the time just now, the time that includes a room with seven other sexy people, a Liberator Throe blanket on the bed to catch inevitable gushing, more than one silicone cock and harness for women to fuck women, for women to fuck men. For tongues and cocks, and vulvas, and fingers.
We become a sea of bodies, just flesh writhing together, rising and falling like the tides and experiencing joys that many of even the most powerful people in the world never get around to. Pure, unadulterated hedonism, beauteous sex triumphing over the forces of old and evil, who would cast us out of the garden in a heartbeat, proclaiming our acts to be an affront to their god. Then in the dark, when perhaps that god can no longer see them, furiously masturbating and coming into the darkness, visions of debauchery in their heads that they can only imagine or catch on the Internet late at night after their frigid and pious spouses have retired to experience their own sobbing mediocre climaxes.
For us in that room, and those on the sacred acres around us, our acts are our own prayers, our worship at the temples of each other, each moan an Amen and each climax a Hallelujah. In our afterglow, we drift to the same thoughts of some sort of bargain with an underworld character (Hades perhaps) that would allow us to never leave this corner of the world. This place and time of utter perfection. This bliss.
From the hot tub to the pool, to CC’s bar on the ocean. From the top to the bottom of that strip of beach. From Sahlo to Suki, to the late nite pizza bar. The resort itself is plenty fantastic. But even then, it’s just a container. A place to put amazing and thoughtful people. People who connect, people who share. People who are truly special to me.
I definitely know and recognize that when we talk about wanting to “Connect at Desire,” it often means connect so as to know each other in the biblical sense. (With our naughty bits.) We all love this fucking place for different reasons, and many of those reasons do, in fact, include fucking. When it becomes more, is when we lay next to each other and learn what’s deeper than the mere trivia inside each others’ minds. It’s why we dine together, why we spend hours in the hot tub, and why we cry real tears when we leave.
To (mis)quote the prophet Hedwig, “We are grateful for all those we’ve come upon at Desire, as we are for those who have come upon us.”
One final shuffle and I’m going to a gang bang on the last night, an invitation extended to myself and Ophilia by someone that I look up to and adore. When I confess, as an aside to her before agreeing to go that various things (my mental health medication, my utter exhaustion after a week of such things, my shy boner in a big group of people) often conspire to me being unable to penetrate. Her response is simple and to the point: “You have hands, don’t you?”
I do indeed.
And knowing that regardless of other performative issues, whether my cock grows to its fullest or decides to crawl back into its turtleneck, gives me the confidence I need to fuck the person at the center of the gang bang, and then to entrust my cock to their waiting hand. Blindfolded, as they’re fucked by others, including my amazing wife, partner, everything, Ophilia, I am receiving the most intense handjob I’ve ever experienced, and making out with someone with whom I’ve always wanted to make out.
I didn’t recognize the weight of the final day of a trip to paradise at Desire Resort until I reached the end of my first trip. We spend so much time in the area just outside the lobby, getting drinks at the lobby bar, mingling around the fountains, relaxing or playing on the swinging beds, lounging in the courtyard, or just passing while on your way to or from the grill, the hot tub, the pool, or the restaurant. Or heading off for a tryst in your room with sexy new friends.
And in all this time, there’s something looming. The sliding glass doors.
We all pass through them at the end. When the airport transport comes for us, and those glass doors slide open, and we pass through them for the last time, leaving each other again. The wheel in the sky keeps on turning, as the band says.
For a bit, of course, we weep, but when the tears fade, our vision of the week we shared shines with startling clarity again. We will look through our pictures, we will text friends, our quantum entanglements, both new and old. We will fantasize about things that happened, or things we’d like to do next time. Most importantly, we will remember how we lived this week. Not the fucking, though that’s part of it. We will remember that we lived. Over the sixty-four days I have overseen this trip, I’ve seen people live their days with compassion, empathy, compersion, love, and support for everyone that crossed their paths.
It’s why I continue to return, year after year, to the epicenter of the American dream, ironically south of the continent, on a small stretch of beach on a peninsula in Mexico. It is, of course, a place where hedonism reigns; pursuit of pleasure, debauchery, and passion. A place where people do look twice at you lying on a bed with a woman who’s most definitely not your partner straddling your face while you consume the juiciest portions of her beautiful anatomy. But instead of clucking their tongues, or drawing back with the shriek of a wealthy dowager, they nuzzle with one another and smile, watching what is often quite a sexy show. Then they look over and watch your partner on the next bed, performing fantastic acts of fellatio on a massive uncircumcised phallus.
For this is also love. Making love isn’t just for our partners, it’s an ethos. When we fuck, when we suck, when we finger and lick, we are making love. Not that we love each other, necessarily, as that’s verboten for many swingers (though sometimes we do) but that we are, in fact, creating love and putting it into the world. And love is what we need in this world. Love is the light in the darkness. Love and compassion, kindness, and empathy.
With all of those things, we fuck, and we kiss, and we bask. We bring in the new, and the old. We attempt, we explore, we risk. We become the change we want to see. We become the slutty beacons of sexy hope.
And the clockwork whirrs to life as the paradigm shifts once again, and we know, without question that this place has become a physical necessity, and more than anything we have to go back.