Swingers Redux

Fed up with fear of infection and bored with the Internet, a new generation of swingers reinvents South Florida's sexual underworld

"I think it's gonna take off again. It's too much fun. There's too much truth in it."

What about jealousy, herpes, divorce, coercion of one partner by another to keep participating in The Lifestyle? What about the sheer sleaziness of such operatic promiscuity, at least as it's perceived by the broader, mainstream society? Swingers downplay all this or blithely attribute the inherent problems of their subculture to the failings of an uptight majority.

There's a slightly different truth a few miles down the road. It's an edgy, unsettling contrast to Mostow's new sex spa but one that has outlasted every other swingers' club in Florida, and most in the United States. It's a place that makes old cops, veteran bikers, and graying libertines laugh out loud at the notion that swinging is back. For here, at Deenie's Hideaway, swinging never died.

Deenie's opened in the mid '70s and has stayed open an amazing 24 hours a day for the past decade. In the beginning the two-story stucco building on Hillsboro Boulevard lay well west of Broward's population center. Now suburbia has grown up around it. But inside, an ex-member notes, nothing ever changes. Not the salacious gossip, nor the complicated cliques, nor the dozen mattresses strewn across the floor upstairs in three dimly lit rooms. Deenie's has lost some members to the newer clubs. But others have stayed, saying Deenie's represents the purest kind of swinging of all -- the least amount of putting on airs and beating around the bush. If Trapeze II is a fancy bistro, Deenie's is a steak house, or the neighborhood tavern.

On Friday night when a man named Jack and a woman named Celeste walk through the door of Deenie's, the five men sitting at the bar don't bother to disguise their leers. Friday nights are when "unescorted males" are allowed in, sometimes in droves. At the moment about thirty men and four women populate Deenie's windowless universe.

While the newcomer couple is getting a drink from the bottle of rum they've brought with them, a stocky man with a mustache crosses the room, grabs Jack's jacket, and proceeds to remove it angrily from his body. Jack looks puzzled but plays along. Perhaps it is some form of assisted striptease.

Next, the man with the mustache holds the jacket in front of him and looks at it. A thought is forming in his mind. It is not his jacket. His jacket has been behind the bar all along. The bartender is handing it to him. Jack is not a jacket thief after all, it appears.

"I feel like an asshole," the man says.
"Uh," Jack says. "Well."
Celeste looks nervous.

Jack and Celeste decide on a change of venue: the Jacuzzi. Within a few minutes, three naked men have materialized from the locker room and joined them in the roiling water. The men are not impressive conversationalists. Edging toward the Jacuzzi steps, Jack explains to one of them that he and Celeste are new to the scene and merely curious. The man grunts, staring at Celeste's breasts.

Upstairs a fat man lies on one of the dingy mattresses fondling a fat woman. The naked twosome are grinning at three men in bath towels seated on a massage table, watching them. Nearby, a porn movie is playing on a TV screen. In another room two men and a woman are getting up and leaving.

After five minutes in the upper reaches of Deenie's, Jack and Celeste decide to leave, too. Before doing so, they take a shower. A slender man steps into the shower stall with them. The man mentions that he has been inside Deenie's Hideaway for the past three days, having driven up from Miami. It's his idea of a vacation. "Can I rub your back?" the man asks. Celeste pretends not to hear him.

On another night a man and a woman hurry across the parking lot of Plato's Repeat looking like two people in flight from a burning city. They have just had their first encounter with The Lifestyle. A black Corvette pulls into the lot, cutting off their retreat.

"Anyone left inside?" asks the man at the wheel of the Corvette, pointing to the club.

"About three people," says the male escapee, fumbling for his car keys.
"You're cute," the woman in the car tells him, pupils dilated, eyes glassy.
"You guys want to come over for a drink?" says the driver. "We're off Las Olas. You know what Las Olas means?"

Las Olas means money. Big houses. Hangovers constructed on king-size beds.
"We're tired," says the man.
"We can fix you up with an eye-opener," the woman in the car promises.
"Not tonight," says the woman.

The man in the car shrugs. His companion just stares, a lupine half-smile plastered on her face. The pair in the car pulls away.

"They're lost," says the woman after a moment, still standing in the parking lot.

"You think? Maybe we should have given 'em directions."
"That's not what I meant," the woman replies.

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