SLIPPING into her best lingerie, Dee* watched nervously as her husband Simon* hooked up their iPad to the bedroom TV.
Although they had both secretly fantasised about going to a sex party, it took the first lockdown last March for them to finally open up to one another about it.
And after being stuck at home for months, a virtual Zoom orgy – AKA Zorgy – seemed like the perfect, and safest, way to finally experiment.
“Lockdown made me start thinking about the things I’d always wanted to do, but had never had the guts to – and going to a sex party was one of them,” says the 41-year-old teacher and mum of one from Glasgow.
“I was thrilled when I told Simon and he admitted he’d always wanted to try one too. So he bought us tickets for a Zorgy run by the sex events company Killing Kittens for our wedding anniversary last June.
“We’ve always had a healthy sex life. Even after 21 years of marriage and one daughter, now nine, we still do it five times a week – but our sex has always been a little on the vanilla side.”
In pre-pandemic times, Killing Kittens hosted extravagant sex parties in mansions and clubs, first in Britain and then around the world.
Popular with the rich, famous and beautiful, the parties provided the ultimate place for Killing Kittens’ 190,000 hedonistic members to explore their sexual fantasies, with tickets selling for around £150 per couple.
British founder Emma Sayle, an old school pal of Kate Middleton, reacted quickly when the initial coronavirus outbreak forced the business to cancel all its upcoming events in March 2020.
Within a week of the first lockdown, she had organised the company’s very first Zorgy – and subsequently saw traffic to its website soar by 440%.
“We never would have thought to do this if lockdown hadn’t happened,” she says. “But life moved online and on to Zoom, and we had this huge engaged community raring to go.”
Despite the fear and anxiety caused by the pandemic, a recent study found that 39% of people have felt hornier than ever.**
Killing Kittens’ first Zorgy was such a success that they’ve become a weekly event, featuring erotic performers, sex games and up to 100 writhing, naked bodies. More than 5,000 people around the world have taken part since, with tickets costing just £25 each selling out every week.
There are, though, some rules: cameras must be kept on, no screenshots or recordings can be taken and masks must be worn.
There’s a strict vetting process that makes sure new members are who they say they are, and events are overseen by staff to make sure everyone is following the rules.
Members also sign a non-disclosure agreement – but after that, almost anything goes.
While Killing Kittens claims to have started the Zorgy trend, it was only a matter of time before others followed.
Feeld, a location-based hook-up app for multiple-person sex, introduced Quarantine Core – “a place for remote threesomes, no hand sanitiser required” – in April last year.
Later that month, kinky party organiser Crossbreed launched a fortnightly online rave for “sex positive, hedonistic adventures” with a dress code of PVC, lace and leather.
For Dee and fellow teacher Simon, 41, their Zorgy ended up being one of the hottest nights of their lives. Their daughter had gone to sleep over at her grandparents’ house – and by 10pm they were dressed up and ready to log on.
“Our stomachs had been churning with nerves at the thought of stripping off in front of 100 strangers, but as soon as we logged on, our nerves disappeared,” says Dee.
“In the days leading up to the event, we’d been speaking to other party-goers on the Killing Kittens app about everything from our favourite pizza topping to sexual positions! So it didn’t feel awkward as we chatted about what we wanted from the night. Staff had also set up ice-breaker games so we could get to know one another, and then, as we sat on our bed, the erotic dancer warm-up act started to get us in the mood.”
Dee and Simon were surprised by how normal and friendly everyone seemed, and despite being dressed up and glamorous, they were all shapes and sizes.
“It was incredibly arousing watching other people on screen, as well as knowing everyone could see us having full sex, too,” adds Dee. “As we were wearing masks, I didn’t worry about being recognised and the community felt very safe.”
The couple haven’t taken part in another party, because subsequent lockdown restrictions have meant their daughter isn’t able to stay with her grandparents overnight. But while she’s asleep, they’ve taken part in workshops on tantric sex, intimate massage and erotic dancing run by other companies – and hope to try another Zorgy.
Killing Kittens founder Emma says Zorgies have opened up group sex to thousands of curious first-timers like Dee and Simon – as well as those who wouldn’t have felt brave enough to try sex parties in real life first.
“Zorgies are perfect because you don’t have to take a massive leap of faith into an unknown environment,” she says. “And if someone decides it’s not for them after all, all they have to do is slam the laptop shut.”
Social psychologist and author of Tell Me What You Want, Dr Justin Lehmiller, says that, aside from pent-up desire, there’s a key reason people have been experimenting during the last year.
“Sexual behaviours are often not even about sex, but about dealing with other issues going on in our lives. Death anxiety is something that can prompt changes in sexual behaviour,” he explains.
“When people start thinking about their own mortality, it’s common to crave more intimacy or even engage in riskier sexual behaviour as a way of feeling alive. So it’s no surprise that online sex parties are booming in the pandemic – plus, the trend toward virtual sexual interaction has been growing for a couple of decades now. Lockdown has just acted as an accelerator.”
For Gillian Myhill, 41, founder of Bare, a dating app for people to explore their sexuality, her libido has never been higher.
“The first lockdown was stressful as there was so much fear of the unknown,” she says.
“My then-partner Greg* and I got through it by locking ourselves away for crazy weekends of drunken one-on-one sex games. It was our way of forgetting everything that was going on in the world. We recently amicably split after seven years, because the last year put a strain on our relationship, but those wild weekends got us through a difficult time.”
Before the coronavirus outbreak, Gillian and Greg were regulars on London’s swingers’ circuit, often taking part in orgies.
Realising they missed the erotic dynamic that sex with others brought to their relationship, Gillian set about finding a way to bring the fun safely into their own home.
“I messaged a few friends on the scene back in April and soon had a WhatsApp group of like-minded people. We started sending each other naughty pictures and then set up a private Zorgy with five other couples,” she says.
“I was worried it might be awkward or unsexy without skin-on-skin contact – but I was surprised by how much of a turn-on it was. I dressed up in lingerie and we set up a projector on the living-room wall. I didn’t feel I needed a mask to hide my face, as I trusted the group, and after telling sexy stories and stripping off bit by bit, soon everyone was performing sex acts then having intercourse.”
According to dating app Bumble, 71% of singles aren’t having their sexual needs met, so it’s no surprise Zorgies are booming, with lone women seemingly particularly interested in experimenting with group sex, masturbating on camera or watching couples get frisky.
Since the start of the pandemic, an astonishing 12,000 single women have joined Killing Kittens, which Emma founded in 2005 as the antidote to the sleazy sex parties she’d seen happening in London.
With the aim of providing a female-friendly space, single men aren’t permitted on their own, though they can come as the guest of a single woman, and women do the approaching. But even the best organised, female-friendly Zorgy comes with risk.
Dr Lehmiller points out that, while Zorgies can provide a much-needed sexual outlet in the pandemic, it’s vital to protect your privacy – by wearing a mask, for example.
“Even if screenshots or videos are supposed to be off-limits, that’s not a guarantee that it will be respected, and this is something that’s unique to the virtual environment,” he says.
Megwyn White, director of education at sex-toy brand Satisfyer, adds that doing research is key when picking a Zorgy.
“Any organisation that’s putting on this kind of party needs to be available to discuss your concerns,” she advises.
“You should be able to find out about their vetting process and protocols if rules are broken. If they don’t have these things in place, that should be a big red flag. I’d also advise couples to discuss what they’re comfortable with in advance – actually writing these boundaries down is a great way to make sure no marks are overstepped.”
As well as a way to explore desires in a less intimidating way, Dr Lehmiller says Zorgies may offer another surprising side: proving that group sex may not be what it’s cracked up to be.
“As research for a book, I surveyed more than 4,000 people on their sexual fantasies. Group sex was one of the most popular – but it was also the experience most reported feeling disappointed with when they tried it in real life,” he explains.
“Trying it online means people can dip their toes in the water to see what it might be like if they wanted to experiment in person.”
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But with the prospect of restrictions at last easing, will Zorgies remain as popular? For Simon and Dee, the answer is clear.
“Taking part in the Zorgy and the workshops has really helped us reconnect as a couple over this difficult year, physically and emotionally,” says Dee.
“And now we’ve tried it virtually, once the world finally opens up, we can’t wait to try a real-life orgy too.
Source: **Skyn Visit Killingkittens.com, Satisfyer.com and Bare.dating