By Alexa Day
Full disclosure: I first heard about Snctm in the goop.com sex issue. Also in the goop.com sex issue is a list of sex toys, which includes something called — and I am not kidding here — the Mandingo. The Mandingo is a 7-inch long bloodstone (which is black) “love wand” intended to “bring healing and orgasmic energy into your life.” I just want you to have some context.
In fairness, Snctm is also in The Daily Beast. I enjoyed reporter Jen Yamato’s coverage; she seems to view the Snctm experience without goop-colored glasses. That’s definitely worth reading.
It’s kind of difficult to describe anything in goop.com with any level of specificity, but I’m going to try to do it with Snctm.
Snctm is a sex club in Beverly Hills. (They’ve apparently had a party in New York, too.) Descriptions compare it to the club in Eyes Wide Shut and to the Playboy mansion as it existed in the 1970s, but if you read erotic romance, you probably already know what a sex club is.
I went over to the Snctm website, where of course I signed up for the email list and checked out a brief video clip of an average party at Snctm, which you absolutely do not want to play at work. The rules at Snctm are also not that unusual, although they’re a little convoluted. I put my attorney skills to work for you and translated them.
If you’re a man, and you want to get in, you have to buy a membership, reserve Dîner, or reserve a table. The best bang for your buck, if you’re a dude, is probably to get the membership. That way you can get into the monthly masquerade and you get priority registration for the soirees. You also get access to the member lounge. These options are available to women, too, but women can also go as guests. They just have to buy a guest pass or be on the guest list.
Yes, they did spell Dîner like that. My first email is about a Classe. That’s just how they roll, I suppose.
You can apply for all this online. The application requires photos. It will also require you to answer a couple of short essay questions (“If you could amplify an erotic trait in yourself, what would it be?”). Snctm is very clear about one thing: you are being graded for appearance. It’s a sex club, after all. Looks matter. I could, but will not, address the lack of diversity in that video. I certainly hope attendance at the parties is not so monochrome.
What do you get for all this?
If you go to the parties and such, just know that as a man, you’re expected to wear a tux, unless it’s a pool party, in which case you’re expected to wear black trunks. Women in attendance can wear evening wear or lingerie. At pool parties, the choices are bikinis or nothing.
As far as I can tell, people drift from room to room at these parties, watching people have sex or having sex with each other. You’d see guys dressed as minotaurs, women on all fours as tables, probably a longtime member called the Bunnyman, a woman with a flogger. Judging from the video and to some extent, from Yamato’s article, the women are at these parties either to perform or to accompany men. This is true even with the membership requirements, which are likely intended to keep the amount of unattended men to a minimum. The trouble is that membership is expensive, but not prohibitively expensive for guys with money. Those guys are certainly getting in by themselves, and then gushing afterwards (oh, geez, sorry about that) about how a performer woke them up in the Snctm hotel with a post-party breakfast.
Founder Damon Lawner, in his Q&A in the goop sex issue, insists that women are in charge at Snctm. They are either initiating the action or consenting to action.
Yeah, I don’t know. That doesn’t say women are in charge to me, it says the women at the parties are okay with the parties. That’s not the same thing at all.
I think if women were in charge, we’d see more male performers. We might see more of them with each other. We’d see them actively seeking out the women and asking what they want, not just reaching out for them and waiting to be accepted or refused. We’d see more women attending by themselves — if women were in charge, I feel like I’d see more of them without dates in that video. We wouldn’t see the gaggles of men Yamato describes, moving eagerly from one show to another with wide eyes.
If women were in charge, I think we’d see women in management. As it now stands, those applications are reviewed by Lawner. The result, I would imagine, is that membership is comprised of men Lawner finds cool and women Lawner finds hot.
If Lawner is committed to this female-centered experience, he must remove it from the context of men. Right now, I’m hearing that women are in charge because they have their pick of the limited, male-curated pool of male guests and the right to say no if someone offends them. That’s a very passive view of what “in charge” means. Honestly, it sounds like the same experience a girl can get at a really upscale bar, except for all the nudity.
I think Lawner can do better, if he’s interested in doing better. I also think women can do better. I wonder why we aren’t trying.
There is no reason at all that women can’t run a club just like this. All the orgiastic sexytimes, with women who really are in charge.
So what’s the problem? Why aren’t we taking the wheel?
Is it possible that we are taking the wheel, but that we’ve actually managed to be discreet about it? If so, is there any way to get an application to that place?
I can think of a couple of people who could write a place like that quite convincingly, if they haven’t already, but you all know how much I love recommendations. Hit me up in the comments.
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Alexa Day writes erotica and erotic romance with heroines who are anything but innocent and fictional worlds where strong, smart women discover excitement, adventure, and exceptional sex. A former bartender, one-time newspaper reporter, and recovering attorney, she likes her stories with just a touch of the inappropriate, and her literary mission is to stimulate the intellect and libido of her readers.