“It’s really great that you came down from New York,” Tristan said, pushing her glasses back on her nose. “It’s super to have sex bloggers here. And frankly, we need bisexual men to be a presence.”
When we entered the dining hall for supper, Viviane spotted Tristan Taormino looking over schedules with a group of presenters. Viviane brought us over to make introductions.
Tristan, one of the four co-producers of Dark Odyssey, is its most recognizable face. She gives presentations at national and international conferences, directs porn films, writes columns and has published three books, including the celebrated Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women. She’s young and looks even younger, exuding a brainy enthusiasm that has led her to be regarded, particularly among twentysomething women, as a leader of the sex positive movement.
She also has a gift for making the person she is talking to feel like the most important person in the room.
“Why are you so interested in bisexual men?” Marcus asked.
“Well, that’s been a challenging demographic to recruit,” Tristan explained. “We do a lot of outreach to make Dark Odyssey a very inclusive event. That’s what makes it unique—we have swingers mixing with BDSM, mixing with nudists, mixing with transgendered and queer communities . . . I go to many, many events, and believe me, that doesn’t happen anywhere else.”
“It really is a beautiful, beautiful thing,” Selina nodded.
“It is, right?” Tristan nodded. “And we really, really try to bring in gay men’s organizations. But they resist. You know, they say they are more interested in their own events and aren’t interested in those with women or heterosexuals. They are understandably concerned about judgment and ridicule.”
“Sure, that’s understandable,” Selina agreed.
“It is, and there’s nothing wrong with gender exclusive events per se. They serve a very important function. But we are all about inclusion. Hopefully, an increased bisexual presence will encourage gay participation. It's a challenge, though; while female bisexuality is accepted among our communities, male bisexuality is still very taboo.”
“I hear that,” I nodded.
“It’s sad, because there are so many bi curious men here,” Tristan went on. “But they are locked into other identities. Like, a male swinger is expected to put aside desire for other men, for example, and dominants in BDSM might consider it submissive to please a man sexually.”
“Those labels,” Viviane nodded.
“Pathetic, really,” I said, putting an arm around Marcus. “Well, we’ll do our part. Anywhere you want us to fuck, just say the word. We put on a hot show.”
“Yes, Jefferson is so generous like that,” Marcus added.
“Oh, you’re Jefferson?” said a woman opposite Tristan. “I’m Lolita Wolf. We’ve corresponded on the community message board.”
“Of course!” I smiled. I leaned to kiss her cheek. “I am very happy to meet you, Lolita. I’m a fan.”
Lolita laughed. She had a broad, open smile. “Well, thanks. I’m a fan too. I really enjoy your blog.”
“Oh, you read me? I’m honored.”
“We all read you. Jefferson,” Tristan said, feigning exasperation. “Well, look, we need to finish this meeting so we can make announcements during dinner, so . . . “
“Of course,” Viviane said. “We just wanted to say hello. It’s great to be here.”
“It’s great to have you,” Tristan nodded.
I kissed Lolita again. “We’ll talk,” I said. “I’m your new best friend.”
“Everybody complains about the food,” Tristan said, pointing her pen toward the buffet. “But it’s not that bad. If you hate it, it’s not my fault. The camp cooks it, not me!”
We walked to the buffet line.
“That’s the woman you have a crush on, right?” Viviane asked, looking back to Lolita.
“Uh huh,” I nodded, looking at all the people. “Too bad for me that she prefers the ladies.”
We had only been at camp a few hours, but we were beginning to get into its rhythms.
Viviane, Selina and I had driven down from the city in a rented car filled with suitcases, bedding, decorations, and booze. Selina and I sang along to Sweet and Foghat as Viviane focused on the road.
As we checked in at the camp entrance, we were flashed by a woman who looked a little like Susan Sarandon; underneath her trench coat, she wore only a strap-on with a large dildo.
“Nice view,” I nudged Viviane.
We were outfitted with wristbands saying we were not to be photographed. The only camera allowed at Dark Odyssey is that of Barbara Nitke, a much admired and trusted photographer who has been documenting sex communities for over two decades. Much as we supported Barbara’s work, the three of us couldn’t risk exposure of the real identities behind our pseudonyms.
We unpacked at our cabin, which would be shared with about eight other people we had never met. We had signed up to be included in a cluster of cabins that identified as “polymorphously perverse.” It seemed as good a label as any for our gang.
As we unloaded our stuff, we met some of our cabin mates and neighbors. Several were nude and drinking beer. A few were assembling a portable hot tub.
“Do you have any messages?” I was asked by a cute young woman sporting pigtails, wings and a wand.
“Excuse me?” I asked.
“I’m a Cupid,” she said, showing me her clipboard holding folded pink notes. “You can give me messages to deliver to anyone in the camp. It’s easy! See, there are even boxes to check off. You don’t have to be clever or anything!”
“Well, clever I’ve got, but no one to send a note. Thanks.” I turned, then remembered a name. “Wait, Cupid, maybe I do.”
I had traded emails with a few people listed in the community message board. Many were presenters, so I figured I would meet them easily enough. But one was, like me, just a camper. She was an artist and seemed nice. I checked off a box indicating that I was “intrigued,” and gave her my cabin number.
Cupid waved her wand over my head as I wrote.
“Here you go!” I said, handing the note to Cupid.
She looked at the recipient’s name. “I don’t know her. What does she look like?”
“Short brown hair. That’s about all I know.”
Cupid put the note in her clipboard. “I’ll do my best then. See you at dinner!” As she skipped away, I saw that Cupid was nude under her tutu.
Viviane called me back inside. Marcus had arrived before us and reserved four adjacent beds. Viviane and I pushed our bunks together to form a full-sized bed. Selina draped fabric from the beams over her bunk.
Marcus had left a note saying was attending Lolita’s class on “Spanking for Pleasure,” and would meet up with us before dinner. We had about twenty minutes before his class ended, so Viviane and I toured the camp.
Rows of cabins lined paved walkways, where golf carts served as a taxi service between the camp buildings. Across from our cabin was a barn, where many of the sessions would be held. Down the hill were the dining hall, pool, and pavilion. Beyond was a lake, the location of the nightly bonfire.
In the other direction, beyond a wide lawn, were more cabins, tennis courts, and a gymnasium converted into a dungeon. Nearby was Sex-o-Rama, a cabin reserved for orgies. The dungeon and Sex-o-Rama were to be open around the clock.
“Some set up, huh?” I asked, putting my hand in Viviane’s.
“It’s so beautiful here,” she said, as an older nude couple walked by. They smiled and greeted us.
I saw Marcus crossing the lawn, waving as he walked toward us.
“Hey, baby,” he called. “Hi, Viviane.”
“Marcus!” she shouted.
I walked over to my boyfriend and embraced him. I kissed his neck.
“I’ve missed you, sweetheart,” he said.
“Hmmm, I’ve missed you,” I echoed, holding him close. I looked up to kiss him. He took my mouth in his.
“All right, all right, boys,” Viviane said. “Save it for the orgy. Let’s get to dinner. We have a lot to do tonight.”
We picked up Selina, introducing her to Marcus. As we strolled to the dining hall, I took Marcus’s hand in mine.
“You ready, baby?” I asked.
“Oh, I’m ready,” he said, waving at a naked man by the hot tub.