Elle (August 2006): Eyes Wide Shut

Eyes Wide Shut

… was the last great Kubrick film starring Cruise and Kidman. Topic: true luxury orgies. And they’re not just something you see in the cinema. Stefan Skiera was at a secret sex ceremony.

The couple from Wiesbaden belong to the scene of those people who celebrate the art of lovemaking not just in the marital bed, however maintaining perfect style during every kind of debauchery. Dirty clubs? Never! Everybody meets at the “Night of Masks” that is held three or four times a year. Each time in a different castle in Germany. Couples pay 300 Euros in advance. With the risk that the liveried servants may even at the last minute refuse entry – if the wardrobe isn’t right. Elaborate, sexy costumes are welcome. As are black tie and evening dress. This evening, Venetian doges and Renaissance ladies are in the majority. Animated conversations take place behind masks and fans while the string trio passes over from slow to quick Johann Strauss.

It’s only quiet on the top floor. Subdued lighting in the hallways. Ambience music murmurs from a far corner. In the chambers, shadowy outlines loom behind filigree chiffon drapes: a large divan. In the neighbouring room a four-poster bed. Hidden under a sheet: a gynaecological chair. All of a sudden the silence is interrupted. From the last room you can hear the deep sighs of a woman who - hidden behind a screen – moves back and forth in rhythm with her partner. His Mozart wig has slipped – his beloved apparently pulled at it too hard in the heat of the moment. Mozart glances over the screen. Neither reproachful nor embarrassed. My escort Melina hands have gone damp from the scene and she pulls me back in the direction of the staircase to the champagne bar.

In the meantime, everyone is flocking up to the top floor. The country doctor and his nurse rustle past. The castle damsel and her musketeer. Many a woman who up until now was wearing a baroque dress can now be seen wearing the lingerie look. Or in a transparent whiff of a dress on stark naked skin. A pretty brunette has laced herself up, like a wasp, into a corset. Her breasts are naked. If Helmut Newton could see all this now – he would shoot a couple of dozen films. Melina observes that I am also watching the permissive parade with interest. I don’t have to make any excuses because at that moment, “old” friends surprise us. “Good thing that this old castle is heated well”, says Mozart, who has straightened his wig. “We men can take off our heavy frock coats without worrying, and the ladies their underskirts.”

He and Constanze need a drink. Whether they’re embarrassed that we saw them in that obvious pose? “No, no” Constanze, who is actually called Maria, waves off, “it can be quite exciting when you have somebody watching. And sometimes the caressing hand of a stranger is also welcome.” And, as if to prove this is true, Mozart caresses Melina’s shoulder with his open fan. Immediately awakening my protective instincts. Murmuring an apology I walk down the corridor with my perplexed girlfriend. Other couples are also on discovery trips and stroll through the rooms like visitors at an exhibition. In one of the two fireside rooms several couples are lolling around on oriental decorated daybeds. In the semi-darkness we recognise pushed up skirts and two men whose backsides – moving rhythmically – are only partly covered by black coattails.

Melina’s cheeks start to get redder. Somebody must have turned the heating up. My neck also suddenly starts to itch under my collar. As we stand in the doorway, more and more couples flock by in the direction of the oriental playground. We join them. The lack of restraint of the others seems to slowly make us braver. But even before I get a chance to whisper something wild in her ear, somebody else finds her interesting. “You are as beautiful as porcelain”, gasps a redhead wearing a shiny latex outfit. The brazen lady has a good looking man in tow. Or better: She has him on a metal chain that is attached to a collar around his neck. “I’m going to do what I want with Aram today”, says Tabita, who travelled from Tel Aviv with her husband especially for the occasion. He, a young Ben Kingsley look-alike, lets himself be led next door to the S-&-M closet. There, Tabita chains him to a cross that stands next to a pillory.

It doesn’t take long till help arrives: The nurse takes a multi-tongued whip out of her first-aid case and lets it circle around at waist level. A sombre Bach fugue augurs badly for Ben Kingsley. He is looking grave. And I learn: sex experiments are certainly fascinating. But I wouldn’t like to be the one hanging on this cross. I take Melina’s hand and decide to as of immediately take over the role of the young wizard who protects Alice in Wonderland from all the “dangers”. We leave Ben Kingsley to his fate. And set off to tackle the final frontier – the threshold to the room in which a gynaecological chair stands in the far corner. The tool gleaming with chrome must endure an extremely passionate couple. The hinges are creaking, the woman lying down is groaning and the man standing is presenting quite a hip swing. A totally new experience to be voyeur. During such an exciting live show. And these productions here need an audience.

The exciting thing: everybody can decide at any time when he wants to be part of the audience, and when he wants to be protagonist. It’s clear to me: either I join in here and now – or go home. And no sooner did I end this thought, Melina suggests she would prefer to return to the hotel. After all, we still have a cool bottle of champagne in our room.

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