The first time a City Weekly reporter ventures to Eden, it’s after 11 p.m. on a Saturday night in mid-November. Pastor Cindy is at the door. With her ample build, mass of red curls and boisterous, smoky voice, everything about Cindy is generous. She describes herself as a BBW—a big, beautiful woman. Raised in the LDS Church, she left in her teens after her family moved to Denver. If it weren’t for her sexual appetites, she could be a Mormon mom, she says: “I don’t smoke, drink or do drugs.”
Cindy and Vaughn first went swinging in 1983. It was, Cindy recalls, “terrible.” They wanted to attend a New Year’s Eve swingers’ party at a couple’s house in Fruit Heights, a quiet, upper-class community in Davis County built on once-prolific fruit orchards. First, though, the hosting couple had to approve them.
When Cindy and Vaughn arrived, the host couple split them up. The man took Cindy to one room, the woman took Vaughn to another. Vaughn was put off, he says, by the woman’s “lack of cleanliness.” Cindy was equally unimpressed. Her partner “had a pump-up dick and he beat me to death with it,” she recalls.
But Cindy and Vaughn got their revenge. They went to the New Year’s Eve party and, Cindy says, “fell in love with two other couples and took them home.”
Inside the church that Cindy built, the event room boasts a small glittering disco ball, a stage and a series of sofas. Here, members play card games called “Flaunt It” and “Fuck Your Neighbor” and sexual dare games with cards shaped like apples. The more sporting-minded can play “pussy golf,” which involves a putter, a golf ball and a woman naked from the waist down.
The piece de résistance is the trampoline, that night festooned with blankets and pillows. Six people played on it the night before, Cindy says. A sign says “Petting zoo, no poking, only petting.” Cindy recommends sex on a trampoline as a highly pleasurable experience.
What kind of sex you have depends on what kind of a swinger you are. “Soft swingers” kiss, touch and watch. “Hard” or “fast-lane” swingers go all the way. Each couple has its own rules, whether it’s no kissing because it’s too intimate, or that only the wife has sex—and only in front of her husband.
One rule, however, applies to all: Couples must use condoms. In 30 years of swinging, Cindy never encountered anyone who contracted an STD from “the lifestyle.” While bisexuality and bi-curiosity are extremely popular with women swingers, men shy away from contact with other men for fear of HIV, she says. Homophobia might also play a part, she adds.
The three playrooms each have sheeted mattresses. The largest room, which boasts three mattresses, can accommodate up to 10 couples at a time. Cindy and Vaughn contemplated beds with frames but discarded the idea for fear of lawsuits if people injured themselves falling off. It’s all highly hygienic—folded towels, washcloths and a box of condoms in every room. Cindy takes home the soiled sheets and towels each night and launders them. As yet, there’s no shower available. “People don’t usually get that involved anyway,” she says.
Tears in the Dark
Two couples sit at a table quietly talking. One couple, Troy, 33, and Michelle, 32, who take their aliases from their favorite porn stars, have swung before. Michelle was so upset by her first experience, it took her and Troy several years before they tried again.
Troy and Michelle say they are practicing Mormons. Parents of a blended family of six children, they attend their ward on Sundays. They grew up Mormon, Michelle says, broke away from the church for a while—“then we went back for the kids.” Troy speculates that if his ward bishop ever learned of the swinging, he and Michelle would be swiftly excommunicated. The church forbids sex outside of marriage. Not that he followed that rule either, Troy says. Michelle says she has no problem managing a double life. “Sometimes it feels like I’m living a fantasy.”
Michelle is bi-curious, if not bisexual. She experimented sexually with other women when she was younger. Three years ago, Troy brought up introducing others to their sex life. Michelle reluctantly agreed. They found a like-minded couple on the Internet, had dinner with them at a Chili’s restaurant, then on another night hosted a barbecue at home. Michelle found herself in the dark in the living room, with the other husband “trying to get me going.” The other wife was working orally on Troy. Michelle started crying. “I was done,” she says.
They talked their problems through. “We reassure each other all the time,” Troy says, “we make sure [our marriage] is not dead.” Michelle says there is no question of their own marital commitment. “It’s about having monogamy, too.”
So, this mid-November, Michelle and Troy gave swinging a second chance at Eden. After lengthy conversations until 2 a.m., Troy and Michelle, Cindy and three others hopped on the trampoline. Later, Michelle would describe the trampoline adventure as “awkward at first.” But “once you got up to each other, I noticed nobody cared what you looked like, it was just about what feels good.” Everyone started touching each other, “and it just flows, I guess.”
The Toy Department
Troy and Michelle liked Eden enough to return the following Saturday night. The other couple present are new both to Eden and to swinging together. Cassie is 29, an office manager. Mitch, 32, is a construction worker who visited swinging clubs in Arizona when he was younger. They sat in their car for half an hour watching other people go in before getting up the nerve to enter themselves. Mitch introduced the possibility of swinging after he and Cassie had been married for nearly three years. She says he suggested it “in the worst possible way he could”—while they were having sex.
The first thing a woman thinks about, when faced with a proposition like that, Cassie says, “is ‘What’s wrong with me?’” To add insult to her injury, she’s the more sexually driven of the couple, he more prone to having “headaches.” When Cassie learns Michelle and Troy typically have sex five times a week, her jaw drops.
Cassie has her own reasons for swinging. “I always thought about the idea of another woman. This is my way of getting what I want.” The notion of Mitch watching her with another woman turns her on. After some conversations, they decided swinging “is like you bring toys to the bedroom, it’s an enhancement of what you’re doing,” Cassie says. “That’s how I’m looking at it. I don’t know how I’ll look at it after.”
A third couple, also new to Eden, arrives after midnight. They don’t provide names. The 28-year-old woman is in office administration, the 27-year-old man a mechanic. They’ve been together for 10 years.
Around 12:45 a.m., the reporter leaves. Without the scrutiny of the media, Cindy says later, the three couples got to know each other better. Troy and Michelle played together on the trampoline, under the stage direction of the 28-year-old woman who ordered Troy to pull his wife’s hair. Then they made fun of porn in the TV room. Troy and Michelle departed at 3 a.m. A little later, the 28-year-old woman straddled Cassie and unbuttoned her shirt. “Do you mind me being aggressive?” she asked. The two couples came out of their playroom several hours later.
When Michelle found out later the other couples “had got into it after we left,” she was a little upset. “But it wasn’t like I was mad.”