The secret location of Saturday night’s much-hyped Killing Kittens orgy is a nondescript loft in Manhattan’s Flatiron district. Young women and men secure their masks—no mask, no entry—and gulp down champagne while waiting in line to check their coats.
“Is this the first time you’ve been to a party like this?” one man tentatively asks another female guest, who looks and talks like Bridget Jones.
They are momentarily distracted by a voluptuous woman in fetish attire arching her back on all fours atop a nearby pool table. Behind her, the infamous party scene from Breakfast at Tiffany’s plays on a flat screen TV mounted on the wall. Tickets cost $100 for “single” women, $250 for a couple.
Bridget Jones’s doppelganger says it’s not her first time at a party like this. In fact, she recently attended another orgy known as “Torture Garden,” which, to my untrained ear, sounds like a Chinese restaurant at Guantanamo.
Indeed, it is my first time at a party like this. Killing Kittens, the roving, London-based sex party, made its New York debut last weekend, to much media attention. (The founder, Emma Sayle, many outlets noted, is a “friend” of Kate Middleton.)
The members-only club bills itself as “the network for the sexual elite” where women hold the power. In the dark corridors of a Killing Kittens party, the patriarchy is subsumed into a sexual matriarchy: Men are allowed entry only when accompanied by a woman.
Among the other rules detailed in an email sent to guests: Men can never approach women, “no means no,” and “only the kittens can break the rules.” Most everyone abided by the no-cellphone policy, with the exception of one fatigued man who—in the wee hours, after much activity on a couch in the playroom—used his as a flashlight while searching for his clothes.
In the cab on the way there, I yammered on nervously to my chaperone—as a reporter, attending a sex party alone seemed both creepy and sad, Killing Kittens’ female-friendly rules notwithstanding—who was chewing on Xanax to temper his anxiety.
We were both stuck on the idea of “the sexual elite.” The phrase itself is baffling. Have these people passed some standardized lovemaking test? Were they all Wall Street lions? Aristocrats? Very sexually proficient aristocrats? Hollywood celebrities?
We debated whether Killing Kittens welcomes only beautiful, wealthy, sophisticated types. Sayle, who held her first sex party in London in 2005, has described it frankly as “a company that runs high-end orgies.”
But Eyes Wide Shut it was not. Masks are a requisite, though their main function is to create an environment of intrigue. When I arrive around 10 p.m., an acquaintance spots me from across the room and beckons with her finger. So much for the reportorial disguise.
By the bar (there are condoms in bowls everywhere), many people have already ditched their masks. And several men are wandering around alone. Not surprisingly, the “rules” are more stringent on paper and difficult to police.
And despite the “strict” criteria for exceptional-looking, high-profile members, I see no leggy models, no striking facial features beneath people’s masks. There are some reasonably attractive swingers, but many more short, squat, lanky, chubby, unstylish ones. Killing Kittens is both matriarchal and much more democratic than the pre-publicity majoring on its exclusivity, it seems.
Within an hour of arriving, two of the more attractive women I’d spotted earlier are frantically pushing the elevator button. They disappear, and we become a little less elite.
Getting in had seemed nearly impossible—until I got in. While shuffling around the bar, one woman tried to make friends with me and my chaperone, asking how we’d heard about Killing Kittens. I muttered something about dipping my toes in the scene, courtesy of a friend. (This was the prearranged code for “We’re amateurs so, I beg you, don’t ask us to have sex with you.”)
I expected she might also be familiar with “Torture Garden,” but no: she and her partner had read about the Killing Kittens party in the New York Post. I heard British accents for sure, but this party wasn’t hip: the attendees seemed professional, but not the wildly misbehaving upper classes the publicity had teased us with.
The party itself was hardly a secret. Sayle told the Post that a crew of British female bankers from UBS and a slew of models were already confirmed among the 60 vetted guests as of last Tuesday. Sayle later told me that roughly 120 came out on Saturday. The party was such a success that they are hosting another one in New York next weekend.
At the bar, a hipster whose wrists are tied together with rope struggles to maneuver an alarmingly large oyster into his mouth. It occurs to me that guests are more likely to get sick from these clichéd aphrodisiacs than the thimble-sized, $12 cocktails.
Next to the oysters are large plastic trays of crudités and chocolate chip cookies, which look like they were purchased at Costco. At this point I begin to think the whole thing might be a bust.
This sex party was decidedly not “elite,” at least not by New York City standards, and no one was having sex. In terms of generic good looks I’d seen more fashion- and model-types on an off-night at the Boom Boom room or Le Bain, two popular clubs at the top of the Standard Hotel in the Meatpacking District.
But I most certainly have never turned away from the bar at Le Bain and nearly tripped over a man whose masked face was buried in a vagina.
It’s still early in the night, and the same leather-clad woman I’d noticed on the pool table seems to be kicking things off, chatting with another woman all the while. She occasionally pulls the masked man’s head up to kiss her, then quickly pushes it back down. With her free hand, she casually gesticulates to her female companion, in the way women often do in nail salons.
It’s already clear that Killing Kittens emphasizes female sexual empowerment, so much so that my chaperone was leery of getting too close to the fetishist who proceeded to grab anyone in her orbit.
Another reminder that this party is not a secret: a boyishly handsome young reporter for Howard Stern’s radio show is wandering around with a recorder. This is the only time someone asks the question asked at all social gatherings in New York: “What do you do for a living?”
It’s refreshing that the party is otherwise stripped of such conventions--and shows how sex, in these situations, is relatively democratizing. The conversations I overhear are decidedly banal, but orgies are not exactly the appropriate venues to discuss Proust. Here, requests for a cigarette on the smoking porch are heavy on subtext.
Then, all at once, women begin removing their clothes and making out at the bar. Another older couple that appear to surpass Killing Kittens’ 18-50 age bracket get involved with the leather-clad woman.
Moments later, they are all splayed out on a large bed in the designated playroom, the older man lying corpse-like, with his partner riding him and another woman sitting on his face.
It quickly devolves into a Bacchanalian scene soundtracked by house techno music and women moaning and shrieking at various octaves, like so many feral cats.
Amid the tangle of naked and semi-naked limbs, I make out one woman aggressively grinding on a man’s face; another man with long, blond curly hair being orally serviced by two women. The air is thick with chlamydia.
At this point I’m not only gawking, I’m trying to take several numerical and qualitative tallies. But between the number of people going at it and the various “sex acts” they’re performing, I quickly lose count. I can only say that there was lots and lots of sex—some lazy, some athletic, but no different than the kind of sex you and I have, really. (The only exception is that Killing Kittens doesn’t cater to male-on-male sex.)
In general, it seemed that men were there to service women. There were very few lecherous creeps. Indeed, the most off-putting thing I witnessed all night happened very late when one man attempted to high-five another man as he was receiving oral sex. But the attempted handshake was rebuffed.
By 4 a.m., the playroom had all but emptied out. Only a few persistent stragglers remained, including the blond, curly-haired man from before. He was the Zelig of the party, seemingly having sex on every surface, wherever I turned. When I went to retrieve my credit card from the bar, he was doggedly persisting on the couch. It was that time of the night familiar to any clubber. The charge and thrill on the evening had dissolved. It was time to go.