Playboy (May 2005): Masked Ball of Passion

They get dressed up and meet in old castles in order to celebrate pompous orgies. We’ve smuggled in. Protocol of an uninhibited night.

Masked Ball of Passion

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hand grabs my knee – much too firmly for it to be chance. “My name’s Chantal”, she whispers out of her tight black latex corsage and continues to caress my thigh. “Yes of course, we hadn’t introduced ourselves yet”, I say.

Chantal stares at me through her mask as we spoon up finest vegetable consommé. A waiter serves “Salmon on a Bed of Herbs”, the second of six courses. The last course of this evening will not be celebrated on the tables in the ballroom of the castle, but in one of the ten “play rooms”: in the “Sweetheart Room”, in the “Gym” or in the “Torture Cellar”. Dessert for the 60 women and 60 men will be what they came here for: sex.

This opera ball of lust is called “Night of the Masks”. An event, so exclusive, that it only takes place twice a year. Admission is 180 Euros per person, all inclusive. The evening has been sold-out for months already. The concept works like this: me man, you woman, us sex.

The masked participants are strikingly attractive. Well-trained men’s bodies and exciting cleavages. The halls are fragrant with expensive perfume. Everyone here is a role player –false jobs, false eyelashes, false names. I’m sitting amongst Chantals, Moniques, Isabels – and enjoy the ease of lying. And as everybody is going along with it, it all becomes one universally valid truth.

This weekend, the unusual society is meeting in a historical castle somewhere between Bamberg and Nuremberg. The first documented mention was in 1379. A painting of the former lady of the house hangs above the fireplace. From there she used to watch Franconian knights and plundering peasants. Masked servants of love are also something new to her.

As they are to the fat-bellied taxi driver who has just dropped my escort and me off in front of the castle. “A wedding? Okay“, he yells through the side window. “With masks? It’s like the Ku-Klux-Klan!“ As he drives away from the car park, the beams of his headlights sweep over Porsches, Ferraris and Jaguars.

We step through the wooden gate into the interiors of the castle. The taxi driver understands nothing, the fool. How could he? Only the guests know what is going to take place here. Only they know the rules in the castle of lust. For example, that at this hunt only those who are accompanied by an escort are allowed to shoot. If the doorman doesn’t like you, you have to go – whether you’ve already paid your entry fee or not.

The host is not liable for emotional damages. He emphasized this in the invitation. Furthermore, he points out that etiquette must be highly respected during overnight stays at the nearby hotels. Apparently for good reason: our invitation mentions that one of the previous events ended with sex intercourse between four men and a woman at the hotel bar in sight of the staff. “That is not acceptable!!”, the host urges emphatically. At least not outside the castle.

Torches light the way in the courtyard for the newcomers. Part of the great spectacle. I try to image Stanley Kubrick sitting on his director’s chair. He waves his hand in the darkness beside the castle. “Mist, please”, he calls. On his knees lies the script. On the cover it says: “Eyes Wide Shut – the Return to Upper Franconia”. The mist arrives.

What else is in the script? What will we talk about during dinner? What awaits us? Partner swapping? Group sex?

First body contact in the cloakroom, unfortunately only with a man wearing a leather mask. He scans me for cameras, camera phones or recording equipment – that is all strictly forbidden. Despite the fact that the most intimate thing in the world is being celebrated here openly, a great deal of value is placed on anonymity..

Svenja, my escort, is wearing a green dress with a huge neckline. This is how I met the 24 year old German studies student a year ago in a bar in Munich. The fabric of the dress is opaque like cellophane. When I asked her if she would accompany me to this risqué event, she didn’t need much persuasion. The appeal of my invitation on this otherwise by all means morally steadfast woman surprised me. “A good opportunity to sound out my sexual limits again”, was what she said.

The ballroom with its heavy chandeliers is buzzing with activity already before the start of dinner. Some of the couples are in animated discussion, others are strolling through the hall, caressing all those they find attractive as they pass by – and it seems to please them. On the stage, an orchestra is playing chamber music ranging from Bach to Händel. The atmosphere is a reminder of the time when monogamy was something only for peasants and serfs. This evening we travel back to that time – and amuse ourselves like nobility.

“How nice you came back”, rejoices a girl who despite her mask can’t hide how young she is. As if dancing bare-footed over a green meadow and stoned, she encircles us. Under her transparent nightgown she’s wearing a bra, but no panties. “We?”, I ask her somewhat irritated. “Who else”, purrs Lolita and leaps back into the crowds. Thereby whistling the title melody from “Pippi Longstocking”. She’s mixed us up with someone else.

“And“, the young beautician asks her boyfriend, “shall we now go and fuck?“

Svenja pulls me over to an empty table. A few minutes later all the vacant seats are filled. Nobody in the group of eight is older than 30, similar to the other tables. The atmosphere reminds you of a company Christmas party without seating – informal, but somewhat tense.

A man with dark hair wearing a black jacket offers me a cigarette over the flower arrangement on the table. The modern form of peace pipe, I think. He looks like my bank manager. Maybe it’s even him? “Finance business?”, I ask. “Freelance management consultant”, John, as he calls himself, explains. John has travelled here from Hamburg with his girlfriend Steffi. Elbchaussee. She works for a cosmetic company. “It’s also something like consultancy work”, she says. Everyone is laughing. Steffi is wearing a baroque dress. She has powdered her face white and hidden it with long feathers. Her slight lisp has almost something charming. She can’t quite manage the S.

We talk about banalities: the “loussssy” weather, the meanssss of arrival, the old “casssstle”. “And”, the young beautician asks her boyfriend, “shall we now go and fuck?” Wow – as clear as the situation here is, I’m still more than surprised to hear this coming from a woman. Thank goodness there’s no S in “fuck”, I think.

“That’ssss what we’ve all come here for”, Steffi says with a smile and brushes a curl out her face.

“That’s not what I’m here for”, a female voice calls over from a neighbouring table. “Oh really? Then what?”, I ask the woman who visually reminds me of a huge bird. Black feathers with bright red tips frame her head. Her bearded escort with dark curls reminds me a bit of Reinhold Messner. Has he discovered another creature from the fairytale world after Yeti?

“I prefer watching my boyfriend having sex with different women“, says the bird woman. The waiter brings a bottle of wine. A “Vigneti delle Dolomiti” from 1998 – a Chardonnay that according to the label “suits every occasion”.

In the corridors, we come across couples who didn’t make it all the way to the play room. Sex everywhere. Favourite position: missionary. Orgies are apparently not necessarily innovative.

The name “Lust Grotto“ is on a wooden door: naked bodies are hanging on Andreas crosses, lying on racks or are locked up in iron cages. Thick ropes tying up soft flesh. Nobody is talking. Steffi, the beautician, is lying on a rack. Is that good for her skin? John is jumping around amongst the torture furniture like Rumpelstiltskin around the campfire. I think I observe a nod – an invitation to join in the game. “Come on you two”, whispers Steffi.

My hand wanders over Steffi’s leg up to her breasts. The stiff nipples feel like the noses of hedgehogs. I like hedgehogs.

Her hands and feet are tied. I touch Steffi’s perfect body. She shudders, millions of tiny hairs spring up all over her body. She looks damn good. Out of the corner of my eye I see John, the Rumpelstiltskin. He’s stripping Svenja’s green dress down. I feel as if I’m intoxicated, even though I’ve hardly had anything to drink. I’m caressing a strange woman, a strange man my girlfriend. My hand wanders over Steffi’s leg up to her breasts. The stiff nipples feel like the noses of hedgehogs. I like hedgehogs.

Two couples have joined us and are following the goings-on. John embraces Svenja’s hips and slides one of his hands over her stomach. It’s a rollercoaster journey. We drop out, another couple steps in. There’s no questions, no answers – the wild journey continues.

We watch for another couple of minutes. But I realize I’m not the type of man who likes to share his woman. At least not with another man.

I sit down at the bar on the second floor with Svenja. “Is this your first time here?”, asks a blonde girl who I had already noticed in the cloakroom. With that impressive bust, you could hardly miss her. Blondie doesn’t give either me or Svenja time to answer. “My name is Pia”, she says. And, despite mask, smiles enticingly. “And this is Patrick“. He nods. Both are studying in Cologne. Pia is 21, he is one year older. Why are they here? “We want to test our limits.“ “Just like us“, I say. Pia smiles at me. “Is she making you hot?“, Svenja whispers in my ear. Yes of course she is, I reply. I’m in a sweetshop. But too many sweets, I think to myself, can upset your stomach. I need some time out.

In the washroom, I hold my head under cold water. As I come out again, two breasts touch my back in the crowd. It’s Steffi, the beautician. Somebody must have untied her. “I like the two of you“, she says. “Us two?” “You and Svenja“, she replies, giggles softly and puts a folded piece of paper in my pocket. And then she’s gone and I’m alone again.

I open the note. Written under an e-mail address: “I hope we four meet again soon – all the more because we have a secret that connects us.”

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