I Did It For Science:
Bartending at a Sex Party

Would it be easier than DJing a bar mitzvah?

By Emily McCombs


Anyone doubting humanity's link with primates should check out the scene at your average sex club. The "I'm horny — you horny? Let's hump" approach displayed therein is a primal ritual, complete with genital displays. The bartender, then, is the link between pure release of inhibitions and civilized sexual society as we know it. What are those clothed civilians thinking while serving drinks to half-naked swingers in the moments just before and after coitus? I decided to find out by stepping behind the bar at an NYC sex club one Saturday night. As someone in a committed relationship, would I feel out of place? And would the men there, surrounded by available women, ignore me or be drawn to me like forbidden-fruit flies?


The first time I went to a swingers club as a customer, I was terrified — my stomach flipped, my breath got short, and I seriously considered fleeing for another night of masturbating to HBO's Real Sex on the couch. Luckily, the gentleman who was accompanying me managed to prod me along by the force of his boner, and I ended up having a great time.

But that was a long time ago, and Netflix and snuggling have replaced getting naked and hooking up with strangers in my weekend repertoire. So when the grandfatherly proprietor of a notorious midtown couples club called me to ask if I could fill in for a sick bartender one Friday night, my first instinct was to say no. After all, I am a happily relationshipped and gainfully employed woman, no longer prone to the wanton sexual experimentation of my youth. What if I spilled things with my shaking, monogamous hands?

But then I reached inside my soul, to connect with the young girl who once took refuge in the nude, huddled masses, to the inner slut yearning to breathe free. Have I not a dirty mind, I thought, and two hands with which to pour? Could I not do my small part by intoxicating just a few of the perverts of the world?


• Tight tanktop
• Short skirt
• Cheap heels
• Open mind


I arrive about 8 p.m. to the loft space which will eventually be filled with swingers piling on each other in ever-more-gymnastic combinations. Trust me when I tell you: you do not want to see one of these places with the lights on. What seems glamorous and sexy in the dark looks sad and seedy under harsh overhead lighting. It must be sort of like how guys feel when they wake up hungover next to us the next morning, with our makeup smeared all around our eyes and last night's hairdo in a tangled rat's nest.

My pre-party duties include slicing and putting out the foot-long sandwiches, which only reinforces my long-time confusion about why the hell you need food at your sex club. I mean, how hard is it to have a sandwich before you leave the house to bang strangers? Is there anything less arousing than a bunch of old men sitting naked and spread-legged, balancing plates of samosas and mashed potatoes on their knees? Possibly only the mayonnaise that oozes out of the sandwiches onto my fingers as I slice.

I set up my bar, which consists of cans of soda and juice, an ice bucket, and a silver tip jar to which the owner tapes a few dollars around the sides. "If you want, you can take your top off later," says the kindly old shopkeep. Oh, can I? I think. But actually, knowing upfront how my toplessness is going to be received in a given situation could have saved me a lot of awkwardness in my drinking years.

For the first few hours, the only attendees are three or four single guys who space themselves out enough to reinforce their heterosexuality while they stare blankly at the porn playing in loop on one wall. Since none of them seem very interested in chatting, I familiarize myself with the cast of characters in the movies — the guy eating pussy while inexplicably wearing sunglasses, the supermodel-hot woman whose beauty is marred only by the giant dolphin tattoo on her hairless pubic mound. I worry a bit about the latter, since she obviously doesn't have any friends who love her enough to react appropriately when she says something like, "You know, I think I'm going to get a tattoo of a dolphin on my vagina."

Since most sex clubs and parties are BYOB, "bartending" is a bit of a misnomer. My duties for the night will consist mainly of opening beer bottles and stirring alcohol into mixers. By the time the place starts to fill up, it becomes clear that even given these modest demands, I am a terrible bartender. I make mouth-twistingly strong cocktails and receive an impromptu tutorial on ratios from a pot-bellied man wearing only socks. Something about his condescending tone combined with his nudity really amplifies my shame.

Couples start to filter in and the women are more likely than the men to come on to me while I label their bottles and fix their first cocktails. "She has nice tits, doesn't she Jim?" asks one mom-haired brunette of her mustachioed husband. Even though she's talking about my breasts, her tone is so sweet and sisterly, I have the urge to hug her and offer to French-braid her hair.

A (large-ish) part of me envies them their openness and apparent lack of jealousy about sex with other people, but another part of me remembers how annoying it was to make hours of small talk with weird Long Island couples in hopes of seeing some fresh body parts. My boyfriend's junk may be familiar, but at least I don't have to listen to stories about some cute thing his kid did last week just to touch it.

I can tell by the moans and odd slapping noise that people are starting to get down to business, but from my vantage point toward the entrance, I can't actually see what's happening. From behind the bar, I could just as easily be at a cocktail party with an incredibly bizarre dress code as at a full-on orgy. It's a little bit lonely, like the moment after you finish counting in hide and seek. Hey guys, where are you? Guys? But imagining what's going on back there is probably a lot more erotic than the reality.

Every once in awhile, a refugee from the action will show up drenched in sweat and ask me for water. Since there are an extremely limited number of places a naked man can store dollar bills, I don't expect a tip.


By 12:30, I am the most attractive woman who has ever lived.

After my initial loneliness, a circle of men forms around my bar and doesn't dissipate, despite the fact that there are naked people fucking in the next room. They all offer to give me massages — I wonder why I've bothered to pay a Korean woman forty bucks an hour to do this when a bunch of horny guys will do it for free. I remember that foot fetishists sometimes like to give pedicures and contemplate cutting my salon budget in half next month.

Not only am I gorgeous, I'm charming and funny as well. I perfect a bit for when I catch a guy watching one of dolphin lady's scenes: a dryly delivered "Do you like her tattoo?" elicits a hearty belly laugh from my admirers. I feel like one of those hot girls in high school who all the guys thought was really smart and nice, even though she was actually just hot. I want to move in behind the bar and live there forever, subsisting on Diet Sprite and poorly sliced foot-long sandwich while half-naked men and their wives tell me how much they like my hair, my shoes, my skin.

Unfortunately, all that sexual attention doesn't translate into tips — I make a measly eighty-two bucks on top of the fifty-dollar base rate. At the end of the night, my once-benevolent boss even takes back the starter dollars from the tip jar. I can see that I'd have to supplement the bartending with some light hooking to make this line of work economically viable.


I've never really believed all that stuff about it being sexy to leave something to the imagination. Yeah, right, that's why girls in porn have giant plastic circus tits and wear their hair in pigtails with a schoolgirl skirt — because men love subtlety.

But my experience behind the bar convinced me there was at least some truth to that. Some guys, when surrounded by naked ladies who were presumably good to go, were still drawn to me, the clothed and sexually unavailable bartender. Maybe it was the bar between us that proved so tantalizing; it's certainly true that some men love a challenge and I was removed from them by a literal barrier.

I've heard that same thing happens to the waitresses at strip clubs or the phone girl at the escort service — that men are constantly trying to convince them to cross the line, despite the proximity of plenty of other available women.

I expected to seem about as sexy as a piece of beef jerky in such a sexually liberated atmosphere, but people seemed to find my lack of participation tantalizing instead of tedious. Call me an attention whore, but all that pursuit felt sexy, even without the payoff of actual sex. I suddenly understood how ninteteen-year-old girls get talked into flashing their tits for video cameras in Cancun. Okay, I'll do it, just keep telling me I'm pretty!

As I wiped down the counters and refused Gramps' insistences that I take home the sex-cootie sandwich, I was left with an extra spring in my step and a slight throbbing in my clitoris. Next time I'm totally taking my top off.

Commentarium (32 Comments)

Jan 24 11 - 3:19am

I loved this. You have a real gift for analogies. Write more!

Jan 24 11 - 5:35am
Irish Brian

"doesn't have any friends who love her enough to react appropriately" ..... Brilliant.... best line in the piece.... :-)

Jan 24 11 - 10:07am

It would be nice if someone more sexually adventurous would write these columns.

Jan 24 11 - 11:09am

Better titled: "She did it for the Regret" It would be nice to know what other's were doing or saying about all the sex going on at this party? Apart from adding to her supply of regrets, how did she benefit from this?

Jan 24 11 - 11:52am
oh my

now we're just BARTENDING for i did it for science? i mean, this used to be a ballsy series.

Jan 24 11 - 12:49pm

Nicely done. Well written!

Jan 24 11 - 1:24pm
mr. man

funny stuff. yes, footlongs at a sex party (other than real footlongs, which i'll assume are few) is kinda weird. also, yes we are totally animals. we are monkeys only just inches from throwing our shit at each other. it's not an indictment, it's just a fact.

Jan 24 11 - 1:55pm

This is not interesting. Participating in your first sex club event, that would be interesting.

Jan 24 11 - 2:13pm

I'm now tempted to attend one of these as a single woman.

Jan 24 11 - 2:58pm

I would appreciate more stories like this! Nerve has recently been kinda getting away from the risque, and dirty. I loved nerve for that, but its been more of a culture blog recently. It's great to see some of this stuff. Thanks!

Jan 24 11 - 3:47pm

LOL @ the pot-bellied man's tutorial. What a great scene.

Jan 24 11 - 4:58pm

It's well written and funny but it seems like it just happened and then an IDIFS article got written about it as though that were the intent the whole time.

Jan 25 11 - 8:44am

I think it depends on the attitude you take in with you to an event like this. An ex of mine did this and ended up fucking the other bartender. Surprisingly there, the attention was mostly on the fucking already going on, and the barpeople were left alone, apart from when people wanted drinks.

Jan 25 11 - 11:45am

Excellent writing.

Jan 25 11 - 5:38pm
Scott from Dallas

Great writing. Very easy to imagine everything you wrote.

Jan 25 11 - 7:32pm

Fiction. Pandering to the ideals of those you assume will never check to see if what you said is true. Sure, a lot of wild things happen in sex clubs, and I won't say that some of your anecdotes aren't likely based in a shred of truth. But they are grossly embellished. Many go for the environment and do not swap, virtually no one talks about their kids beyond acknowledging they have some, outside the 'play areas' men virtually never expose their genitals and never walk around naked... I could go on. I've been several times with my wife to what is rated a top five club in the country. We've never swapped (and never been pressured to do so), but we've encountered enough swappers to know that very few are as you described. For the most part, couples are reserved (in their seeking 'encounters') and a little shy. You're actually far more likely to encounter an overtly sexual male at a dance bar. And 'orgies' are rare as, again, many are there for the environment only. Those that want more generally have specific rules of 'engagement' and move on at light speed if it is clear you're not a match for what they're after. If you intended this as humor, no problem. But at least call it fiction.

Jan 25 11 - 7:59pm

The comment..."putting out the foot-long sandwiches"...leaves me to ponder, what was used to measure, I have no doubt without a ruler there would have been NO actual male "volunteers" and if there were I am also sure there would have been twice as many sandwiches with the same amount of bread. Nice story, regardless of what the man above me says

Jan 26 11 - 2:36pm

@Anonymous - Sounds like you've been attending "couples-only" nights at your favorite sex clubs, when single men are not allowed. Visit any club when single men are allowed unaccompanied and you will see that the writer has had a typical and fairly accurate experience. I've literally had to ask people to take conversation about their kids to another room so I could finish un-distracted. People who can't stop talking about their kids don't change when they walk into a sex club. Also, single men can be quite aggressive - they usually pay a lot more to get in, and they want some action. Finally, once you take 2 couples and add a third, you have an orgy. Happens all the time.

Jan 27 11 - 11:17am
Miss Jones

Lovely writing, a fun read.
P.S. The vagina is an internal organ.

Jan 27 11 - 1:57pm

This was so well written, incredibly funny, and in my experience, a pretty accurate representation of swing-life. Come again!!! :)

Jan 27 11 - 2:38pm

The thing about cocktail waitresses at strip clubs? Most of the time they are more beautiful than the strippers.

Jan 27 11 - 3:02pm
Anonymous Woman

Totally agree with the guy who called this fiction. I too have been to plenty of 'sex parties'-- and, contrary to what people imagine and probably fantasize about-- nope, there is not some big old wild orgy scene where people walk in the door and start fucking. People are respectful and friendly and open-minded. There is no pressure, and yes plenty of people don't swap or even go with the intention of swapping. It's a fun, sexually-charged atmosphere where you can go with your partner to feel free and uninhibited and meet other very cool, interesting people. Sure, there are some creeps, some people are unattractive-- but isn't that the scene anywhere else, bars included? People don't judge in these places and there definitely aren't naked people wandering around waiting to get laid. Because guess what? They wouldn't! The women are confident and sexy and for the most part classy. I will admit it is more of a guy's world-- they of the ilk wanting more 'visual' effects and through the beginnings of time via biology are predisposed to wanting multiple sexual partners. This is a safe, anonymous, sexy way to explore that with your partner. These parties are not necessarily my cup of tea-- as a woman I always say-- if I want to fuck someone, I might as well fuck my husband. Now having a hot and heavy one-on-one session with someone I'm intellectually, emotionally, AND physically attracted to-- that's what I'm more in to. However-- we've met fun, cool people at these parties-- and, hardly ever has there been action 'on-site,' in front of people-- usually we set up a hook-up for later on, you know in the privacy of one of our homes.

Jan 27 11 - 3:16pm

This was a good story, but I have to agree with other commenters. IDIFS used to be edgy, interesting, stuff the average person wouldn't necessarily do, and stuff that a lot of our friends haven't done. Cleavage and bartending? Snore.

Jan 27 11 - 5:16pm

I think the woman who wrote this is a very talented writer. It's very witty and funny. Who cares if it's accurate or not for God's sake! It's entertainment, and I think this McComb's writing abilities stand out. She's going places, you heard it here (and I don't mean sex clubs.)

Jan 28 11 - 12:22pm

There seems to be some (unintentional, i'll give the author the benefit of the doubt) similarities to an article from "confessions of a college callgirl" from 2007:
My pre-party duties include slicing and putting out the foot-long sandwiches, which only reinforces my long-time confusion about why the hell you need food at your sex club. I mean, how hard is it to have a sandwich before you leave the house to bang strangers? Is there anything less arousing than a bunch of old men sitting naked and spread-legged, balancing plates of samosas and mashed potatoes on their knees? Possibly only the mayonnaise that oozes out of the sandwiches onto my fingers as I slice.
There is a buffet. A sign asks that you please cover your lower torso while handling food. I am amazed by this – how old do you have to be to need food at your sex club? I mean, how hard is it to have a sandwich before you leave the house to bang strangers? Old men sit naked, legs spread, holding plates of samosas and mashed potatoes.

Or these might be authored by the same person... is CCG's identity public?

Jan 28 11 - 12:40pm

Good point, Amy

Jan 29 11 - 8:38pm

Good job Amy. I hope it's the same author.

Good writing but when are you going to get Rev 2?

Apr 08 11 - 10:03pm

I enjoyed this! I guess there's something about wanting what you can't have. Good job...well written!

Apr 11 11 - 2:34pm

Great article and I think you described 'the swingers club' to perfection. I admit, that when I was swinging I felt myself very drawn to the young couple who worked at the club, especially the woman...... but then I find seducing woman a real turn on. Never managed to get her kit off though, but her partner was another story altogether.



Apr 12 11 - 4:17pm

Everyone at the nude beach strains to see the woman changing behind the towel.

Dec 08 11 - 1:27pm

Reminds me of the time I met a young lady at a hot resort. She wasn't there by choice. She had won a trip at a business function. We kissed a bit while we were surrounded by people in various states of undress having a good time. (Or as good as the lousy ratio allowed.)

We got together a few months later. This time she was ready to go all the way. I was surprised when she told me this would be her first time. It was a night I'll never forget. So when we met she was a virgin in the middle of a wild scene. I could tell she was a little embarrassed, but I'll guess she was also a little inspired.

Dec 24 11 - 12:35pm

I like your frank, humorous style of writing.