I Unicorned for a Couple at a Quirky Rural Swingers Club

When we moved from dating app to group chat, it wasn’t long until the “hot bi couple in their 40’s who Only Play Together” and wanted to meet me mentioned that they frequent a swingers’ club an hour outside of Pittsburgh. And it was a heartbeat before I was texting my queer bestie, Rose, about it. She’s razor sharp but also a total pervert, someone I knew I could check in with to see if she thought this was a good idea. She’d base her opinion on the actualities of the situation, uncompronised by prudishness β€” and that’s what I needed.

Rose: Club pgh seems to run with an amount of input and consciousness toward consent and inclusion on at least face level and stuff. This seems like one guys porno dream
Me: See. That seems appealing.
Rose: No like bad way maybe
Me: Wait. They wrote me a whooole pitch.

*I proceeded to tell my friend, in detail, about the way this couple was describing this club and also about what I know of the couple according to their texts.*

Me: And if mommy and daddy wanna drive me to the Redneck Fuck House, I’ll just drop a pin with you I guess.
Rose: You should do it for the experience
Me: And that elder punk enm-ussy 🀌
Rose: What we all aspire to right
My ex used to tell their friends I was an older butch hardcore punk girl
Me: You’re workin on those elder punk vibes. Not quiiiiiiiite old enough yet.
Rose: Yesss
I love this frightening sex drive
Me: Hey? Hey. Heyyyy >:(
Rose: No I mean it in a good way
You’re an inspiration

***
When I first started talking to this couple, there was one thing that appealed to me immediately: The woman, Kristin, had been in a monogamous lesbian relationship for over a decade before breaking things off and, later, meeting the cis bi dude, Greg, she was currently dating. The idea of sex with most cis dudes was still something she approached with caution. I felt a kinship there. And Greg was cute β€” the disarming, goofy kind of friendly and open. Then, they asked if I’d be interested β€” maybe, after I met them β€” in going to this rural swinger’s club.

It didn’t take long before my sleuth of a friend uncovered a vlog by the owner of the establishment. Being cheeky, she immediately found the vlog entry the guy had made about trans customers. His stance was one of “inclusion” β€” gone about in the most ass buttwards not-really-getting-it kind of way, with a sprinkling of folkisms to top it all off. As I went through more of his videos, it started to feel like this guy was a David Lynch character. He had a blend of earnestness, quirks particular to small town Americans, and a smattering of sleaze simmering beneath the surface.

But I’d be spending time with this couple, not the owner of the club. So I decide if I like the couple, then I’m going to go. I text Rose and she shares a story about a different, now closed establishment. I tell her how hot her experience sounds.

She responds with a text: “Perverse friendships *lays chin on flat hands*”

She’s so cute.

I made the recommendation for a cocktail place because Greg is new to drinking. He was straight edge (and in the straight edge punk scene) for most of his life, but has recently opened himself up to new experiences. It’s fun going through the menu options with Greg because he doesn’t know much about anything. I ask him about his palate to make a recommendation and he goes with something fruity and tropical. Kristin gets something delicate with creme de violette.

They were cute in person. Kristin has natural silver hair that grew out looking like it was dyed that way. From what I could see, she’s super tattooed. Greg was just as goofy in person, but also confident and conscientious of his partner in ways that were green flags. When I asked them what they like about going to the swingers club, they talked about being exhibitionists, about enjoying the feeling of eyes on them, and about experiencing compersion when watching the other person play with a third. They’re both in their 40’s and talked, too, about having dedicated a lot of their lives to monogamy or to playing things safe, and that now that they’re middle-aged, they just want to have fun. I told them, truthfully, that I adore this attitude.

Talk of exhibitionism led to talk about the clientele at the club, and about the fact that it’s mostly straight men. This felt threatening, except for Kristin being so β€” at once β€” hesitant about cis men and, at the same time, comfortable with being a regular. The thought did occur to me that they could just be a thrill-kill couple looking to lure me into the woods. But I decided I’d deal with that if it came up and to not worry too, too much.

What did start to percolate for me was the sense of who would be watching. I began having visions of the way my bisexuality has been fetishized and turned into a kink by men throughout my life. Was I exploiting myself? Or was I engaging fully in something I thought was a good time? Without having done it, I wasn’t sure. And, to be honest, I was half into it for the sex and half into it because I wanted a tour of the place. I wasn’t going to turn down the chance to explore a massive swinger lodge that’s been in operation since the 1970’s. (Although I was definitely hesitant about dipping into the legendary hot tub that’d been splashed about in by swingers for said decades.)

Checks signed and glasses empty, none of us pressured the others to commit to a second meetup at the table. But after we left, I sent them the Kids in the Hall sketch that I told them G’s new exploration of alcohol reminded me of:

And afterwards, in the safety of the group text, we made plans in two weeks to visit the swinger club.

***
I’m the type of person who can’t resist a roadside attraction. If I see a Bigfoot-themed tourist trap on the other side of the highway, you can bet I am taking the next exit and turning around.

I’ve lost hours to houses staffed by Hell’s Angels that claim to have wacky gravitational fields or to elephant figurine collections amassed over decades that hide the owner’s memorabilia from his time as an extra during the Golden Age of Hollywood. Even the flat parts of rural America aren’t actually so. There are gullies and valleys, backroads and doors left unlocked if you know where to look. And this swath of Rust Belt not-quite-midwest-not-quite-east-coast has all kinds of people and things milling about its old Appalachian hills. Pittsburgh is freaky. I’m starting to think it’s a thing.

By the time my second date with Kristin and Greg rolled around, my friend had sent me multiple voice memos hyping me up. We’d discussed the now mythical rural swingers club at length while thrifting, a little hungover, after my clown-themed birthday party. That said, I had been busy all week, so I left figuring out what to wear to the very last minute. But along with some mesh underthings beneath street clothes, I pulled on my Autostraddle black and white gay chaos socks. I thought they looked cute, sure, but they were also a clear enough little message.

I started my car up and texted my friend that I was heading there. The drive was long and dark and again had me thinking about serial killers. As my friend puts it, I’ve been “poisoning my brain” with the material I’ve been consuming for a project looking at True Crime media. But, there I was, driving out into the dark, Pennsylvania countryside, taking a highway with very few exits and just a single pickup truck visible on the road with me as I drove. It didn’t help my nerves that I’d just been listening to research about a serial killer who would run people off the road in remote areas and then abduct them from the site of the crash. It did not help!

The swingers club was obvious the second I saw it. Two lights glowed on stone pillars at the edge of a property completely obscured by trees. I found the massive parking lot (where you can camp overnight for a fee!) next to the massive house. And there they were β€” Greg and Kristin waiting for me in one of their cars. We hugged and went inside where a strange exchange took place in front of the owner, who, except for a quick hello, watched us in silence while we talked to the woman at the door. Kristin and Greg thought I would get in free, but as it turns out, that’s not how it works. Door Lady, while wearing one of those gauzy, long widow’s robes, explained the discount was for the people who BRING someone new. A finder’s fee. It definitely made me feel like meat, but I guess, technically, it’s not in any way gendered, just an odd setup. Kristin agreed, let me pay, and then handed me her $20. I thanked them for paying for me and we went inside.

I’d never seen so much Jim Morrison artwork(?) together in one place. In the main room, one wall had at least four portraits lined up in a row. And memorabilia for The Doors peeked out at me from other places in the room. Music that sounded like a Top Pop 40 β€” not The Doors β€” blasted out of speakers. I didn’t recognize any of it.

They led me downstairs where the pop music was still playing along with some straight porn on a giant screen. They deposited their cooler of BYOB drinks at a bar that supplied ice and soda. We couldn’t find a bottle opener, so they cracked open their canned beers and I dipped into my little leather backpack for one of my White Claws.

Then, the tour commenced.

First off, the hot tub was closed. Kristin told me that the last time they were there it was pretty lukewarm, and that she’d heard they were installing a different water feature. Missing out on the lukewarm hot tub that had seen 50 years of swinger bods didn’t sadden me, but while under construction, it was just a pile of concrete in the middle of a large room on the lower floor with caution tape all over it. Not exactly a vibe. We were also cold. The hot tub apparently had added some warmth and humidity to the place, and without it, they needed to turn up the heat. At that point, I wasn’t thinking “how am I gonna get naked in front of these people?” but “how am I gonna get naked when it’s so chilly?!”

Kristin and Greg and I chatted while they took me through twisting turns and room upon room. In addition to the defunct hot tub, the place had multiple bathrooms, a lower bar, an outdoor swimming pool (no, it was January), a porn “theater” room with a giant projector, a minimally furnished BDSM room, an outdoor fire pit (again, no, January), an “ADA compliant” glory hole (it had the gripper bars they put in bathroom stalls!), rooms with rubber-sheeted beds, rooms with mirrors, rooms with chains you can draw across the door to indicate a look-but-don’t-enter status, a room labeled “Orgy Room” as though it was not already an Orgy House, a room where you could ask staff to turn on the CCTV and project your activities, a stripper pole, massage tables, a huge U-shaped couch with a double cushion situation as wide as a bed, and… a “milking” bench.

Greg tells me he witnessed a 70-year-old man fall down the stairs to warn me as we wind our way up. I’d dub the architectural style Confusing Mid-Century. Two different things were sprinkled throughout the club β€” one, a smattering of men on their own, casually sipping a single bottle of diet coke or playing with their phones or just staring, and two, signs, clearly made and printed out on computer paper by the owner, that said things like “When I see your trash, that says to me ‘FUCK YOU, YOU CLEAN IT UP.'” Kristin tells me when we sit down, we can expect the individual men to quietly creep closer and closer until they’re just sitting around near us, waiting for something to happen.

Then, there were the clientele who were social with one another. A woman who was probably in her 50’s sat with several men at the downstairs bar when we came back down to get K and G’s second beers. Her hair was a Real Housewives blonde and although she was completely dressed, she’d pulled her shirt up to let her ta-ta’s bounce around freely. She drank from a giant pink Stanley Cup. Apparently she is ALWAYS there. No one had a bottle opener so I got K’s beer open with a lighter I found in my bag, which got some cheers from the men at the bar β€” especially the one who appeared to be a kind of leader, if we’re analyzing this gaggle of straight men like a nature show.

Greg and Kristin and I popped back up to their favorite spot, the giant couch. We chattered for a while. At one point the music cut out just as I was talking about Ancient World mortality rates, which is one of the “discouraged” conversation topics according to The Vlog (it falls under death). We got comfortable over our weird conversation that wandered from said historical stuff to bidets to sleep paralysis. Kristen and Greg took off their shoes to get further onto the couch. The couple of White Claws I’d had ran through me, so I had to pee. I made my way to a bathroom, unmolested but with eyes on me. It would feel weirder if the woman on staff wasn’t hanging out, casually making sure everyone was fine. When I got back, Greg and Kristin were making out. I watched for a little bit, then took off my shoes, and asked if I could join in. With a few whispered questions and answers around consent, I start to make out with Kristin while our hands wander. We strip until Kristin and I are in lingerie and Greg is just in his socks. I also keep my gay socks on.

I straddled Kristin and from my vantage point, facing the back of the couch, I could see that an audience was gathering. It was a little fun, a little unnerving, and a lot of straight male eyes β€” definitely not the demographic makeup I’m used to in my metropolitan kink spaces. I sank into a mode that was partially present with Kristin and partially aware that I had the option to perform, if I wanted, for the people watching.

When some of the men started asking if they could touch. I told them just my legs and feet. Kristin had her own rules. At one point, jerk my head around, interrupted, torn away from my work, by a man β€” the very same de facto leader guy from down in the bar β€” who didn’t ask, but told me to take off my socks when I looked over my shoulder at him. He got a stern no, and I ignored him from then on. His reaction? He started rubbing my feet. And I have to say, I don’t think I’ve gotten a foot massage from someone while topping someone else before, but I didn’t mind it.

It wasn’t much longer before Kristin got overwhelmed by the encroaching watchers, who were all around us at that point. She asked to go to one of the little rooms. We grabbed our stuff, and the gathered people cleared the way, politely parting while we headed into the nearest room. Kristin drew the chain across the door and we decompressed for a moment while Greg popped out to pee. I used the sanitizing spray in the room and one of the rags to clean my glasses while Kristin told me that “if you give those guys an inch, they’ll take a mile.” I could see what she meant. They’re hungry.

We finished playing in the room. It was nice, much more comfortable emotionally β€” though the rubber sheet wasn’t doing us any favors in the chilly air. More women showed up and they gave us little hoots of encouragement when they passed by the room in their robes. By the time we left the room, I saw that the owner was gone.

“He probably went to his quarters for the night,” Greg explained. Because, yes, this man lives in the fuck house.

Dressed, on our way to the bar to grab their cooler, we passed the porn room again. There, a buck naked guy who looked to be in his 30’s thanked us “for the show.” I acknowledged him and we got out of there and into the parking lot where we debriefed quickly, telling each other we had a great time. We hugged and I got in my car and texted my friend that I was on my way back before plugging in an alternative route that didn’t take the creepy highway home.

This route wound through small towns and past old industrial equipment. I passed through small mountain tunnels, and by a cafeteria-style restaurant, tiny post offices, bars with names that are puns, and farmhouses, one of which had a giant cross made out of Christmas lights lit up on the side of the house that faces the road. It glowed yellow in the dark. It was quiet, about 1am, and I was drinking a Diet Coke I nicked from the club to try and stay alert. The man’s reaction keeps playing over and over in my head. I went from being a little mad to not caring, and, ultimately, decided part of what was hot for the couple (and for me) was the exhibitionism. But damn, I need to get them to a better club. One that’s queerer for sure. When I made it safely home, I texted my friend to let her know. She told me she can’t wait to hear more.

The next day, while I made coffee and puttered around, I left a series of voice memos for Rose, where I described in explicit detail everything that happened. She sent me excited reactions and thanked me for the play by play. It was one of the best parts of the whole thing, sharing and reflecting on what happened with a close friend.

Rose came over to watch a movie a few days later. We’ve made out before, but after we finished The Other Side of the Underneath, our makeouts turned to more. In between perverse moments of wicked glee, she confessed she’d been all hot ever since I sent her the voice memos post-swingers club. Here was another audience, and a welcome one. She grabbed two clown noses left over from my clown-themed birthday party and we wore them while fucking and cackling and shouting “besties!” It was a welcome return from sex that was about The Act to sex that was seated in intimacy. If I was the unicorn for Kristin and Greg, in a way, were they unicorning for Rose and me?

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Nico Hall

Nico Hall is Autostraddle's A+ and Fundraising Director, and has been fundraising and working in the arts and nonprofit sector for over a decade. They write nonfiction and personal essays and are currently at work on a queer fiction novel and podcasts. They live in Pittsburgh. Nico is also haunted. You can find them on Twitter and Instagram as @nknhall.

Nico has written 216 articles for us.

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