A couple of days later I was at a ladies’ lunch at Mortimers. Once again, the talk turned to sex and my experiences at the

“Didn’t you love it?” asked Charlotte, the English journalist. “I’d love to go to a place like that. Didn’t it turn you on, watching all those people having


“Nope,” I said, stuffing my mouth with a corn fritter topped with salmon eggs.

“Why not?”

“You couldn’t really see anything,” I explained. “And the


“That was the worst part,” I said. “Half of them looked like shrinks. I’ll never be able to go to therapy again without imagining a bearded fat man lying naked and glassy-eyed on a mat on the floor, getting an hour-long blow job. And still not being able to come.”

Yes, I told Charlotte, we did take our clothes off—but we wore towels. No, we didn’t have sex. No, I didn’t get turned on, even when a tall, attractive, dark-haired woman in her mid-thirties entered the rumpus room and caused a stir. She exposed her bottom like a monkey, and within minutes, she was lost in a tangle of arms and legs. It should have been sexy, but all I could think about were those National Geo-graphic nature films of mating baboons.

The truth is, exhibitionism and voyeurism are not mainstream events. And neither, for that matter, is S&M, despite what you may have recently read elsewhere. The problem, in the clubs, anyway, always comes down to the people. They’re the actresses who can never find work; the failed opera singers, painters, and writers; the lower-management men who will never get to the middle. People who, should they corner you in a bar, will keep you hostage with tales of their ex-spouses and their digestive troubles. They’re the people who can’t negotiate the system. They’re on the fringes, sexually and in life. They’re not necessarily the people with whom you want to share your intimate fantasies.

Well, the people at Le Trapeze weren’t all pale, pudgy sex zombies: Before we left the club, Sam and I ran into the attention-grabbing tall woman and her date in the locker

talkative: He was from Manhattan, he said, and had recently started his own business. He and the woman had been colleagues, he said. As the woman slipped into a yellow business suit, the man smiled and said, “She fulfilled her fantasy tonight.” The woman glared at him and stalked out of the locker room.

A few days later, Sam called and I screamed at him. Then he asked, hadn’t the whole thing been my idea?

Then he asked, hadn’t I learned anything?

And I said yes, I had. I told him I had learned that when it comes to sex, there’s no place like home.

But then you knew that, didn’t you? Didn’t you? Sam?