Skirt Club Diaries

by Gloria Shebangs

‘Business or leisure?’ the JFK immigration officer asked me that Friday night, handling my passport. I couldn't decently tell him the truth…

‘Leisure’, I lied. It was not a lie, actually, just an understatement of sorts.

‘When are you going back to Paris?’ he continued.

‘Sunday night.’ He barely looked at me.

‘Have a nice weekend!’ I picked up my suitcase from the carousel and the customs agent waved me through, too. Good thing nobody asked me to open my bag: fishnets, a black corset, burgundy furry cuffs, love dice, a fancy skirt, it all really pointed to an escort flown in for a job.

I looked for the Air Train, found the right subway line, and at 5 a.m. my time, I could finally check into my hotel near the Rockefeller Center. I needed all the beauty sleep I could get: on the club website and in the advertising videos, all the women looked like lingerie models. Am I beautiful enough?

The next day I tried to enjoy the Big Apple to the fullest. I had breakfast in a small coffee shop, watching busy New Yorkers on their phones and laptops, hipsters stroking their thick beards. I strolled in Central Park, I waited in line to buy the best chocolate chip cookies in town, I ordered a vodka cranberry in my hotel bar. The fear would rear in the quiet moments. It first came on the train. It returned in the lobby bar, as I was having that drink by myself. Pangs of anxiety, my body so tense, and bolts of lightning tearing my belly apart. It was worse than any exam I had ever taken. In a few hours, if all went well, I'd end up taking off my clothes in a cozy loft among fifty stunning women. I never even went topless on French beaches. So far out of my comfort zone…

At 9 p.m. I stepped out of my hotel. After I blended in with the Saturday night youth laughing and crowding the street, I hailed a yellow cab. So easy, yet such a surreal gesture. The incredible high rises, the Crown Victorias, the ugly cables dangling above the traffic lights, the sirens wailing in the distance, the flair of a TV set. I had never done that before: all by myself in NYC, all dolled up, in my lucky red heels and a pair of brand new black tights. Straightforward. Confident. Fuckable. The velvet corset I had bought near Pigalle was compressing my chest under my coat so that every heartbeat echoed louder against the metallic structure.

Paris was a world away. Flying over for a weekend was one of the craziest things I had ever done. And, already one of the most fulfilling.

I remembered a comment in some press article: fashionably late is not ideal at a sex party, unless you enjoy being the bait silently scrutinized by a greedy pack. My hotel was not very far from the venue but I had completely underestimated Saturday night traffic in Lower Manhattan. Lights went green and red again and we barely moved. Still, my courage was slowly dwindling down. I had to get there. I knew it was merely stage fright. Once in motion, the tension would vanish, I'd be witty and charming, and there should be at least one girl, I was hoping, just one girl I would find attractive and who would want me too. Maybe three or four I'd like, I'm so damn picky with eyes and faces, I never understood myself, but hopefully one of them was going to like me back. Pure statistics. I knew all that, and I was so close, still fiercely determined but minutes and seconds were gooey, sticky, overflowing, and dripping so slowly, crashing at my feet one by one, leaving me glued stiff in apprehension. The exclusivity of the evening, the PR emphasis on gorgeousness, the secret location emailed at the last moment... It all escalated irrationally in that cab desperately stuck in quicksand.

Tonight, it was women only. Women only who would redirect sex codes. Women only. Everything I had read seemed to point to my fantasy world: breasts galore, silky long hair, satin dresses, lipstick heaven. Women would smile, wink, kiss, and caress, and the mood would be relaxed, casual, and sexual. Drinks would be flowing. Women only. It changed everything. Yet it was no lesbian club either: no butch/femme dialectic that always left me out of place.

The cab finally dropped me off and I jaywalked to the other corner of the Avenue. I was buzzed through a glass door and went up to the penthouse. As I entered, I noticed rose petals on the floor and a door mat with the Club's name. The venue started with a long hallway leading to a dimly lit loft. I was greeted by a gorgeous Brit with piercing green eyes. I recognized her from her videos and interviews, she was the business savvy entrepreneur; the empress in the flesh. The staff were all wearing extended lingerie: transparent tops, ribbons, velvet, lace. They looked exactly the way I had imagined, exactly what the website advertised: classy, kinky.

I had to give my new name to the event manager at the door: Paris Cupcake. It was all behind me now, the stress of not being accepted, the excruciating wait for their answer to my application. The dark wood floor felt warm, sophisticated, and the left wall was just one long window overlooking downtown. The city was all around us, the buildings in the distance, the lights, the cars gliding in the streets in slow motion. On the right, open stairs led to a large mezzanine. A bar had been set up on one side, with a beautiful brunette serving special cocktails from large glass jars filled with fruit and ice. They also had champagne, lots of it. A pyramid of glasses had been arranged on the kitchen island, next to an elaborate cake construction. “Let them eat cake!” Quite a motto to a Parisian. Let's not lose my head tonight. Not yet.

In spite of my anxiety, I did arrive rather early, and there were only a few women in the room, all in refined evening dresses. I stood out in my velvet corset. We started with the usual conversation: ‘What's your name?’ Nicki, Jamie, Amy, Paris Cupcake.

‘Where are you from?’ Brooklyn, Westchester, traffic was horrendous tonight, Queens, Chicago, Paris.

‘You didn't fly in for this, did you?’

‘Well, I suppose I did.’ My accent would have given me away anyway. It's usually not bad to be the exotic fruit somewhere. They were all so exotic to me.

‘How did you hear about this?’ Many were like me, had read about it in the press, some had found out through Tinder. As more women arrived, we included them in our little circle and the introductions started anew. All the names were blending together already. There were blondes, brunettes, a couple of redheads. Most of them seemed to be in their late twenties, early thirties. They were rather athletic, New Yorkers work out a lot, it seems, but I could also spot a couple of curvier bodies. I was browsing, looking for a face I could fall for. All the women were pretty, but I was looking for lust at first sight.

Soon there were too many women for just one circle so we broke off in smaller clusters. I spoke to an assertive blonde in her mid-forties whose smile reminded me of Kim Cattrall as Samantha Jones. Soon came a cute brunette who reeked of cigarettes but whose legs rocked a long flowing dress, a curvy Latina whose husband was delighted she was doing this, and a slender brunette who spoke impeccable French thanks to the private school she had attended. I caught sight of the boss deep in conversation with a newcomer at the entrance. After a while she came to us and introduced the woman she had been talking to, a petite redhead, ‘Ladies, this is Debbie, a friend from D.C. and a regular at our parties. If you ever need a Georgetown lawyer, Debbie is the best! Oh, Debbie, meet this lovely lady who flew in from Paris!’

And there we met.

‘Paris, not too shabby a city...'

'Georgetown, not too shabby a law school...'. We goofed off a little, and Debbie couldn't believe I was 37.

‘It's the lesbian effect. Haven't you noticed? Most lesbians look younger. I think it's because we don't have the burden of kids. My wife and I have a cat, though.’

‘No, I know lesbians with kids and they also look younger. I think it's because you don't have to put up with men's bullshit!’ Everybody laughed. Is there anything sexier than a woman with a good comeback? Debbie stayed in our little circle for a while. She had straight long hair and a gorgeous smile. She was shorter than me, thinner than me. She was quite a talker. ‘She couldn't believe I'm wearing flats, she's never seen me in flats!’ Debbie repeated, talking about the boss. Her eyes sparkled of wit. She was comparing New York with D.C. We talked about the main concept of the Club, how novel it was.

‘It's because women are not socialized to have sex without feelings,’ I said. Debbie gave me a quizzical look.

‘Well, I definitely do.’ Her tone was intimidating. She obviously knew the etiquette of a sex party and carried herself with a great deal of confidence.

After a while, it was finally time for the entertainment to start. The boss first gathered us all around her to thank and congratulate us for coming. Women are rarely encouraged to go out by themselves, most of us were there for the first time, and she knew how nerve-racking it had probably been to show up to such an event. The event manager, a stunning ginger in her mid-twenties, full-bred British, talked a little about the rules for the night, consent and sexual respect. She introduced the guest speaker, an American who specialized in extreme body transformation and would enlighten us about corsets. There must have been fifty or sixty women in that living room, most of them politely standing in their stilettos, all listening.

The presentation came to an end and we all applauded the artist. That's when the boss turned the couches around and revived the tradition of tequila body shots. One woman had to lay down on her back, brown sugar was spread on her legs and she had to hold a wedge of lime in her mouth. Two competitors had to lick the sugar from her ankles all the way up to her chest, grab the shot of tequila the boss was offering and bite the lime. The crowd was cheering for every round. They called me to play. I complied, but I had to take off my stiff outfit before I could kneel or bend down over anybody.

I asked a girl to help unlace me. Standing in my back, she did, and she wrapped her arms all around me, caressing my shoulders, my belly, my back. It was a little too early for me, she was a little too young, and with a smile, I wiggled out of her reach to play on the couch. The woman lying down was an athletic blonde in her late forties wearing a cute bow-tie. I wasn't sure how to tackle the game. It made more sense to go slow, I thought. As I approached her face, I wondered what to do. I had lost already, the lime had long been conquered, but since the game was merely an ice breaker, shouldn't I still go for her lips? So, I did. A quick kiss. I had not really paid attention to the rules. Who had to lay down next? The winner? The loser? They asked me and I did.

I took off my heels and my tights for the manager to pour sugar on my skin. I was laying there, in my underwear and my skirt. Two women were licking my legs, one of them was a cute young black woman who had volunteered to be squeezed into a corset earlier. But it was too fast for me, I wasn't really registering what was happening. Or maybe the alcohol was still fading reality. The game lasted a little longer. It was a great pretext for everyone to peel off layers, to end up in bras and panties. I sat down again, trying to take it all in. That's when I noticed a lot of women had left the living room already. A studious novice, I had focused on the entertainment and therefore missed the opportunity to find a playmate yet. That's when the burlesque dancer started her act. She must have been in her late twenties, early thirties. Her body was magnificent. Svelte, yet curvy. She had perfect breasts, a round butt and a thin waistline. As the feathers came off, she ended up with pasties covering the bare essentials. That's when the boss joined her on the couch for a session of sensual kissing and biting, taking off one of the pasties with her teeth. They seemed lost in time, aroused and attuned, beautiful together like in a slow dance.

It was still early. How early? Impossible to say without our phones. Photography was strictly prohibited. Reality was raw tonight, no screen, no enhancement, no echo, no comment, no text. It was each for her own, with the individual narrative each had come with. As time went by, more and more women came and went from the hot tub outside or from the giant bathroom upstairs. They were naked, free, coming to the living room to refill their drinks, dripping on the hardwood floor, a towel on their shoulders, or not. Their ease was infectious, wonderfully infectious. There was nothing to analyse, to judge, to ponder. Bodies had taken the lead and did as they pleased, going with the flow, embracing with open arms the golden opportunities they had created for ourselves. We had all come to feed on our life force, to celebrate our sexuality, fluid, urban, gloriously female. It was all about pleasure, beauty and taste. There would be someone for everyone.

I excused myself to go to the bathroom. I found the burlesque dancer on my way, and I complimented her on her breasts.

‘Yours aren’t bad either!’ she replied with a wink. This was so refreshing. Women were not competing, they were just appreciative of each other. People who didn't find you attractive said nothing at all and those who did dared making positive comments: win, win. A warm breeze for the self-esteem. I kept my eyes open for Debbie as I went to the outside terrace, passing bedrooms left and right. Women were having sex already. Every position, every desire, bodies intertwined, different shades of skin superposed. The articles were not lying. It was as easy as one, two, three. I discovered the gigantic hot tub. The drizzle had stopped, the air was warm and the view was breath-taking: Manhattan, the Empire State building, all the sky-scrapers up close and personal.

This moment was to die for. I had fought all the odds to be here. To breathe this in, life, magical, intense and provocative. Bigger than anything I had been told. From my French provincial youth, from these long teenage years, miserably single week after week in the only shabby gay club my town had to offer. And there I was, twenty years later, naked women on the right, naked women on the left, and New York City all around us; mesmerizing.

Debbie was still nowhere to be found, so I decided to take off the little I still had on and dip in the tub. Two women were making out on my left. Sam Jones was on the right, along with two others. They seemed happy to just chill. I was getting used to my body being exposed. I could hide in the water a little, working on boosting up that confidence. They had all amazing figures. The ladies' smiles were friendly but not seductive so I just laid back, feeling the jets of water against me, trying to just seize the moment.

The manager came out to offer more champagne; absolutely fabulous. She was so friendly, and so cute with her British freckles. The whorish outfit she was wearing revealed all the right curves in all the right places. The steamy heat was getting to my head. I left the tub, put on my skirt again, and went to get another drink. I was pouring a vodka cranberry when I felt a woman come from behind, cover both my breasts with her hands and squeeze hard. I looked back and recognized Sam Jones. It was just a passing desire. It was subversive; it was delicious. I laughed. A girl asked me something I couldn't understand. Sadly, I made her repeat her question three times: ‘May I kiss you?’

‘Yes’, and she kissed my lips. I felt her tongue, I played with her. She was a pretty brunette in her late twenties. Ephemeral, she left the room as fast as she had come. In the entrance area, I saw Debbie again, and I joined her. I was happy to find her again. We stayed in the room to chat. She was still wearing her full outfit. I was topless but I didn't even care. I felt good under her stare.

I suggested we both should enjoy the tub together. It was empty when we arrived. Could there be anything better for a first kiss than the intimate comfort of a deserted rooftop? We sat in a corner, exchanging family anecdotes. I felt her legs brush against mine in the water. All I wanted was her lips. I liked her, I liked her a lot. I liked her charisma, her smart eyes, I liked that she was shorter than me so that I could really embrace her whole body against mine. I liked her sarcasm. I liked the way she spoke of her unconventional family.

‘You know, I must admit I find you quite intimidating, the sex party pro! You must be quite the sex expert’, I told her.

‘What? I find you intimidating, Ms. Lesbian. You must be quite the lesbian sex expert.’ What? Ms. Georgetown hot shot is shy around me?

‘Oh, so we're both finding each other intimidating?’ We kissed. It was slow; it was nice. She was sitting on my lap in the water, I had wrapped my arms around her, and I was finally resting in this simple kiss. We must have been the slowest couple of the night. An eight-hour flight, hundreds of dollars to land here, and there, under this beautiful woman's thighs, against her face, on a warm springtime night, on top of the world, with city lights all around us.

We were no longer alone. A few girls were watching and smiling at us. A hostess was there and Debbie was chatting with her. I was so aroused. I wanted Debbie, I wanted her breath and her breasts and her hands all over me. I don't like sharing and I am no exhibitionist so I whispered in her ear: ‘If you wanted, my hotel is just five minutes from here.’

She smiled. ‘Oh no, it's fine here.’

Okay. Insatiable chatterbox, she was still making conversation with the other girls around us. I was talking to them too, but in the water, I was caressing Debbie's thighs, sometimes venturing all the way up to her sex.

The hostess finally left and I kissed Debbie again. I barely knew her but there was this chemistry already, an irrational feeling of trust. She was witty, she got my jokes. I wanted her. We left the hot tub and looked for a bed. Every surface was taken on that floor. We went upstairs. The master bedroom was taken too. All we were left with was the floor of the walk-in closet adjacent to the master bathroom. Another couple must have been using it before us because wrinkled covers had been spread on the floor. I laid down between the dark wood cabinets and the suits hanging right and left. Who lives here? The space was just wide enough to cradle us. We kept kissing and stroking each other, and she had perfect firm breasts. I was lost in the feel of her body.

‘What do you want me to do? What do you like with girls?’ I asked her.

‘I don't know, I've only been with a couple.’

‘Do you want me to use my hands? My mouth?’

‘Your hands’, she whispered.

It was so nice to feel every shiver of her light body on mine. Every nerve ending under my fingers, every reflex, every moan. I was kissing her and playing with her; and, it was simple and it was sensual. My mouth looked for her nipples and they were hard and soft, and her whole chest was unravelling under my tongue.

I was under that redhead on the floor of a narrow closet and it was exactly where I needed to be. She moved away from my mouth and then laid next to me.

‘Your wife is very lucky’, she said. I smiled.

She worried about me: ‘Oh gosh, it's so hard on the floor! Are you comfortable?’

‘I'm fine!’ And my hands went to her again. Second helpings are so much fun.

‘Oh my god. I am 34. I'd say I've had seventeen years of a very satisfying sex life, but wow’, she exhaled.

I was wet and I was warm and she was wet and she was warm and we were in each other's arms and the world was in order for a while, and I didn’t want the night to end.

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