Swinging sex clubs attracting society's elites
Documentary shines a light on growing scene -- a world surprisingly dominated by females
Elite swinging clubs among professional classes -- costing thousands of euro to join -- are now operating in Ireland, according to an undercover documentary maker.
The VIP clubs -- which 'swingers' describe as akin to a 'freemason' society where members swear under oath not to reveal the identities or details of those involved -- are one of the groups that have been unearthed as part of an investigation into Ireland's secret sex lives.
The TV3 programme, which includes footage of 'swinging' events, where consenting couples swop partners, is part of the controversial new Paul Connolly investigates series.
"There are different levels of swinging clubs in Ireland and it became clear the more money you have, the more access you have to the higher end of these private clubs," says Mr Connolly. "Secrecy is a major factor and these ensure the higher classes have 100 per cent discretion."
As one swinger who Mr Connolly interviewed explained: "There are certain elite clubs that you can get involved in and you swear allegiance and you take an oath. They're certainly not advertised. These would only be for the elite of Irish society and they would be very expensive. It could cost you anything from €10,000 to €20,000. You are talking about professional people, well-to-do businessmen, the creme de le creme."
With 60,000 registered Irish users on no-strings casual sex websites, TV3's newest presenter was also shocked to see the number of women involved.
"Women take it very seriously, meeting up to eight men a week, sometimes a couple a day. They were the main users, surprisingly. Whereas men just seem to dip their toe in and out of the water. These are everyday women; bored housewives, women sitting at home looking for a bit of a thrill."
As one Dublin woman who regularly uses the websites describes in the documentary: "In the last 12 months I have met 25 men through the website from the comfort of my own home. I can be with someone within an hour after placing an ad. I had two meets yesterday. It's all very adult, very relaxed." She added: "It's like the first time every time."
Another woman from the midlands explained: "I could meet two or three at the same time in the same car park. I would drive past the car and have a look. If I don't like what I see I go home."
She added: "The dangers are part of the excitement. You're getting a bit of attention and sex. It's worth that risk. Sometimes I'd do it twice a week, maybe twice a night. Sometimes a hotel, sometimes my house. It all depends."
The sub-culture of 'dogging' -- which involves couples or singles having sex in parked cars whilst others watch -- was also looked at as part of the investigation.
"There's a strict ethical code involved," explains Mr Connolly. "When they arrive in the deserted car park or unoccupied industrial estate they flash the headlights once to let people know why they are there. If others are there for the same reason, they flash their headlights back once. A light on in the car means you're going to start, a window open means you are inviting strangers to put their hands in the car and the door opens means you want them to join in. Everyone stands five feet from the car. The only awkward moment was when I got in the way of one of the spectators and he started screaming at me that I was in his eye-line. Supposedly that is a big no-no," recalls a bemused Mr Connolly.
He defended his use of under-cover cameras to film sexual acts for the investigation, saying: "I felt that if I didn't show their faces or reveal their identities in any way, then I was satisfying a huge curiosity in the Irish public without harming anyone."
'Ireland's Secret Sex Lives: Paul Connolly Investigates' airs tomorrow at 9pm on TV3