I found out firsthand this week that sex really does sell.
I reviewed a new book for the Associated Press called “Swingland: Between the Sheets of the Secretive, Sometimes Messy, but Always Adventurous Swinging Lifestyle,” by Daniel Stern.
It’s a compelling memoir by a single guy who broke into the tight-knit subculture of swingers. Most people think swingers are couples who swap partners. “Swingland” gave me quite an education, and I learned that swinging, or participating in “the Lifestyle,” as they call it, means you are open to sex with multiple partners at once, with no strings attached. No names, no small talk, just a lot of fornication, in many inventive ways.
My review got picked up by a lot of big-name news sites so I tweeted the author with a link to it. He appreciated my take on his book and messaged me via Twitter to let me know. I was pleasantly surprised by his reaction because my honest review was no puff piece, but to his credit he said he agreed with my compliments and criticisms.
By the time the review had been out for a day or so I received this message from Mr. Stern: “I’m quite certain your review caused a surge on Amazon. Thank you! The sales ranking was at like 15k. Now it’s 1,200.”
While I’d love to say it was my stellar review writing, let’s face it, people are fascinated by the sex lives of others. The swinging community exists underground and it’s rare that people get a window into their world. Good for Stern for documenting it and having the courage to share. He says in the book that he was worried about the reaction from Lifestyle devotees, but he treats them with respect, and I’ve already seen some advocating the book on social media.
Here’s an excerpt from my review:
The book is full of comical anecdotes, including two injuries Stern sustained while in the throes of passion. But his ability to laugh at himself and the absurdity of some situations helps create a bond with the reader.
A self-proclaimed average Joe in looks and prowess, Stern suggests that you don’t have to be a male model or porn star to participate in the “Lifestyle.” Dissatisfied with his lack of experience and poor performance under pressure, he got into swinging as a way to conquer his angst.
“I was demystifying the act of sex … chipping away at the fear it held over me … I’d escaped the performance-hindering anxiety and understood sex for what it was: fun,” he writes.
Breaking into swinging circles isn’t an easy task. The group has its own rules and lexicon — and is fiercely self-protective. It takes Stern about two years of cruising websites, networking and successful encounters to build up a roster of partners to meet for “playtime.” As he racks up the “certs” (positive certifications or testimonials) from former lovers on his website profiles, his dance card stays full, playing as often as three times a week.
But happy endings aren’t always guaranteed. Stern confides one of the hazards of swinging: “unrelenting, soul-crushing, suicide-inducing rejection.” Once he becomes indoctrinated, he enjoys the variety and unpredictability, and finds it difficult to go back to a “Vanilla” life.
You can read more here.
Does it pique your interest? Would you read it? Let me know in the comments…