Wicked In More Ways Than One

If you're straight and want to walk on the wild side, your options are limited. Besides clubs and bars, a pick-up option that comes loaded with a dizzying amount of rules, rituals and regulations, guys and girls are generally out in the cold when it comes to being given free reign to exercise their kinky side.

Enter the swinger's club, otherwise known as a bathhouse for the rest of us. A haven for those who know what they want (and want to get busy) it exists primarily for the purpose of getting like-minded folks together to get off.

Club Eros, the longest-running community in the area, holds events all the way out in Etobicoke but for those of us who don't play outside of the downtown core, there's Club Wicked, the only "on-premise" club around.

(For those of you who don't know, an on-premise club allows sexual encounters between members as opposed to off-premise clubs where interested parties have to leave if they want to have sex.)

Located at 1032 Queen St. West, in the space formerly occupied by spooky goth-bar the Vatikan, you might think Wicked was in a bit of an out-of-the-way spot for such a alternative endeavor but it caters to a very specific crowd as I was soon to find out.

While I'm something of a hedonist, I wouldn't label myself a swinger. All the same, I was very interested in seeing what this kind of club was all about. According to their website, they have a very strict dress code with the doorman being empowered to arbitrarily decide whether or not you're "erotic and elegant" enough to get in. This was no huge issue but the bit about no single guys being allowed in without the presence of a lady presented me with a problem. I needed a beard, someone to disguise my agenda.

It was rather difficult finding someone willing to explore this uncharted territory with me and the ones who were up for it had boyfriends who didn't look too favorably on the idea. Eventually, a partner was secured and after picking her up, we headed off to Club Wicked dressed in our finest.

If you arrive before eleven on Fridays, it only costs $10 to get in but I had to pay $20 because we were late. Regardless, I can't see why anyone would want to arrive before that because we got upstairs to find the place at death's door. The small bar was completely occupied so the Beard and I sat down one of the disturbingly-antiseptic naughahyde beds lining the wall to sip our $7 gin-and-tonics.

There were about thirty souls in attendance and a sketchy, nervous vibe pervaded the room. There were two or three couples engaging in some exhibitionist behavior but everyone else seemed to be waiting for something to happen while they talked and drank. The Beard and I both noticed it and came to some conclusions about Wicked:

1. One of the underlying goals of going out is hooking up but most places you end up at don't incorporate that so baldly into their modus operandi. A club that does puts a lot of pressure on its guests, particularly the newbies.

2. Those same folks might get that "fresh meat" feeling that most guys have never had the pleasure of experiencing. Every walk to the bathroom is punctuated by quite a few come-hither stares that you can't help but be aware of and, depending on who's doing the looking, this can either be incredibly flattering or just plain creepy.

3. It reminded me of a make-out party I went to last year. The host was jumping from one group to another, cheerfully encouraging everyone to get started. Like summer camp but more arts-and-crafts than the let's-make-out-in-the-bunk variety. That's just not sexy.

Apparently, if you fill out the form they present you with at the door, you'll be given a tour of the place and, if kinky hosts Schlomo and Aurora decide you're hot enough, offered a $60 membership that gets you and your honey into the VIP area where the real action is. (If you really dig it, you can always splurge for the $295 yearly membership.)

The Beard and I didn't fill out the form (she had made it very clear that she wouldn't go any further than the main room) so we didn't get the tour but my reliable source tells me that there are an assortment of rooms with quite a few beds, a two-way mirror and a hot tub. Similar to a bathhouse, members are required to strip down to a towel or lingerie but I'm sure most don't need to be told twice. From that point on, anything goes but the regulations in place are there to make women feel comfortable. No means no and the absence of lone wolves seems to cut down on the trench coat flasher factor. However, bisexual boys should think twice before attending; my source also told me that the only same-sex pairings that occur are between ladies.

Granted, a lot of this hanky-panky takes place on Saturday, when Wicked gets a bit livelier. Friday is a more relaxed affair so if you've got deep pockets and are looking to find Mr. and Mrs. Right, don't bother going then. That being said, it might be a good starting point for those of you who want to get your feet wet before diving in.

After an hour of sitting in the main area, the Beard and I were bored stiff and we left for a livelier bar. While all accounts I've heard so far point to Wicked as the primo place to hook up with some like-minded swingers, it's not something you can just check out on a whim and those who aren't interested in what it has to offer really shouldn't bother.

Many regulars attend on a weekly basis. One woman is driven in from Oakville by her husband. After he drops her off, she makes use of every available partner and he gets to hear about it on the way home which is how he gets off.

If Wicked is fulfilling their needs (and the needs of many others), it deserves kudos for that. Accounting for the power dynamics inherent to sexual relationships between men and women is not an easy task and I, for one, am impressed with their progress. If we're really lucky, this venue might even foreshadow a gradual relaxing of Toronto's often-uptight attitude towards sex.

Photos courtesy of the Club Wicked website.


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