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Among the Flesh at a Famous Beverly Hills Orgy

By 2 a.m. in Beverly Hills, the SNCTM Masquerade is peaking. Music swirls. Laughter rises. Bodies couple and writhe.

The center of attention in the living room is a man in a black leather rabbit mask. Curious members and guests are pulled up on love seats and chairs in a semi-circle around him. They call him Bunnyman. He’s a practitioner of the ancient Japanese rope-tying art of shibari.

Bunnyman is wearing a black martial arts outfit — a Japanese keikogi top and hakama bottoms. His velvet tuxedo slippers, one of 20 pairs in his collection, are embroidered in gold with a screw on the left foot, the letter U on the right. At the moment, he’s at work on a Hollywood actress you’ve probably seen in something. She’s often the friend, the teacher, the neighbor woman. Right now, though, she’s tied to an antique fainting chair. Her arms and legs are akimbo. The knots and coils of rope are at once delicate and strong, like macramé.

The SNCTM Masquerade is an exclusive monthly event. The guest list is limited to 99. Tonight, we’re in Beverly Hills, but the invitation-only parties also have been held in New York and Miami and there are plans for a worldwide tour. Last summer, a series based on the club aired on Showtime, Naked SNCTM. As the word masquerade implies, masks are required for admission. Lingerie for the women, black tie for the men. The atmosphere is reminiscent of the erotic party scenes in Eyes Wide Shut, on which it was modeled. To keep out the bozos and daytrippers, membership in SNCTM costs as much as $75,000, depending upon which exclusive level you choose. The party fee runs around $1,500. Women come free.

SNCTM was founded a few years ago by a man named Damon Lawner, who says his purpose was to create “a spiritual and erotic utopia” where people of like minds and desires can have as much sex and romance as humanly possible, in as many different ways as the imagination can invent, with the most beautiful and engaging people they can — no strings attached.

Bunnyman was the very first to purchase a membership. (In time, he will part ways with SNCTM, but not until a long, sometimes twisted story is played out.) Bunnyman’s parents are refugees from Vietnam — he hints that his family once held high position in the old country. He joined SNCTM, he says, “because some of my friends were in other private social clubs, like the Jonathan Club and the California Club, and I wanted to be able to reciprocate with something a little different.”

The vaguely familiar actress is blonde tonight; sometimes she’s a redhead. She’s wearing an ivory-colored bra and panties from Victoria’s Secret; a black suede mask covers her eyes. She has brought along four of her girlfriends to the gathering. They’re watching intently; she can feel their energy as Bunnyman deploys various toys, alternating between pleasure and pain.

The actress will later tell me she’s a “control freak” who can be the bossy type. Because of that, she says, being bound and dominated is a form of meditation to her: “It’s a way I get to lose control, or give up control. For a little while I don’t have to pay attention; I don’t have to worry; I don’t have to do anything. Someone else is looking out for me.”

She met Bunnyman on a fetish website two years ago, and she’s been coming to SNCTM ever since. In fact, she came tonight especially to see him. “He knew I hadn’t played in a long time, ever since I left my dominant,” she says. “I’ve been in a huge dry spell. It causes my ADD to go off, and I can’t concentrate or handle things as well, because I don’t have that outlet. It’s like someone going without sex for a long time.”

Bunnyman works through his toys, asking permission before using each. There’s a leather flogger, a Lelo wand, a clit bullet and a retasked antique medical tool called a Wartenberg pinwheel, with radiating sharp pins, to make it hurt a little. At some point he selects a two-headed stainless steel number in the shape of a lazy U — a prostate massager he finds useful for G spots, he will later explain in his clinical manner. Before he came to SNCTM, bondage wasn’t a particular interest. In fact, he was always somewhat vanilla when it came to sex. At early gatherings, another man was hired to practice bondage on the guests. “What I was so captivated by was the fact that a lot of girls randomly volunteered themselves. I was like, ‘Shit, I need to learn rope.’”

Since then, Bunnyman — a mid-level manager in L.A., who has any number of passions, from cigars to food to designer clothing — has found both place and purpose. His girlfriend is a former member of SNCTM’s exotic troupe, known as the Devotees. The second time he met her, he tied her up during the floor show. Now they’re expecting a baby.

“Everyone at SNCTM has their different journey,” he says.

Upstairs, in a bedroom with a mirrored wall, a Devotee wearing a piggy mask, collar and garters — a research analyst by day — has been directed to a bed by two other Devotees, one of whom is holding her leash. She’s on all fours. Her head is near the mirror. Her bottom is facing outward, toward the small crowd that has gathered to watch. She’s naked except for the mask and collar.

The Devotee in an eye cage begins whipping her with the riding crop; she alternates with the Devotee in a leather police hat, who kisses, strokes and eats her out.

Looking into the mirror, she notices the crowd gathered behind her, around the bed, “not close enough to touch me but enough to have a full view of my asshole and pussy,” she will later write in her diary. The onlookers keep their distance, she writes, “at once curious and intimidated.”

Eventually, she finds her own eyes in the mirror, “hooded and fierce with sensuality and lust, slightly lowered in obedience.” Holy fuck! she writes. This is fucking beautiful. “I knew I was accessing something deep within myself that I had always wanted to express,” she says later.

Presently, the sounds of passionate release roll though the aging Tudor mansion. The people in the attic, in the living room, in the various private rooms available in the house, gather together their outfits and commence rebuttoning. In orderly fashion they file down the staircase and out the front door, like spectators at the conclusion of a sporting event. Black suited security guards, all of them handsome and muscular, pass through the house, moving along the stragglers.

Out back, by the pool, Bunnyman is smoking an expensive tobacco pipe, another one of his eccentricities . This one is a Peterson Spigot with a bulldog bowl, made of briarwood, with a green emerald finish and a sterling silver army mount.

The pipe extends from his mouth at a jaunty angle; with his left hand he kneads his right wrist. It’s hard to say how many women he tied up and pleasured this evening.

“My arm is killing me,” he says.