By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
His name is Mike, and for reasons that will become quite clear, Mike doesn't want to reveal his last name or what city he lives in (yet he has no problem with his photo being taken or his website listed—go figure). His profile reads like thousands of other OC residents: late 50s, Republican, served proudly in the Marines for 25 years, feels Nixon and Reagan are two of the greatest presidents we've ever had, thinks illegal immigration is one of the biggest problems facing the U.S., Christian, goes to church every Sunday, sings in the choir.
Then there's this: Three times per month, Mike, at his house on a sedate street in a Central Orange County neighborhood not far from the Weekly office, hosts some fabulously popular sex parties for gay men.
Mike's been having these parties regularly for 14 years—they even have an official-sounding group name: LA/OC Jacks, a moniker that itself has some history, which is a bit too detailed to get into here. We'll just say there are similar Jacks groups around the world, most of which began as jerk-off-only, no-lips-below-the-hips safe-sex parties when the AIDS crisis first hit.
"Outside of bars, Orange County had no place where gay men could meet back then," Mike says over sandwiches at a nearby Spires. "This was before the Internet. People were always going up to West Hollywood, and it was a long drive, so I told some friends that I had this house. We got the word out by doing fliers and mailing lists."
For men who've never been to one of Mike's soirees, the phrase "sex party" might conjure up images of sweaty, naked flesh piled high, Abu Ghraib-style. There can be some of that, but guests are free to do whatever they like, with or without clothes. Some just like to watch; some are there just for the food Mike lays out (you'd be hard-pressed to find a more hospitable sex-party host).
The house, which Mike bought in 1982, is certainly well-lived-in. Magazines are stacked seemingly everywhere. There are hidden alcoves behind curtains and bed sheets, resembling a clubhouse you might have made as a kid by draping the living-room furniture with blankets and quilts.
At one recent Jacks party, comfy mattresses and sofas were available for spontaneous make-out sessions. Bowls of chips, cookies and pretzels were spread out, along with cold beer, soft drinks, condoms and lube. A masseur dropped by with a table and offered his services. Men of assorted ethnicities roamed about in various states of undress, casually chatting up one another. The homey atmosphere is, in a lot of ways, very much like visiting your grandparents, except instead of Thomas Kinkade prints and GOD BLESS AMERICA needlepoints adorning the walls, there's a porn video of a gentleman taking a fist up his ass as a mammoth cock simultaneously rams his tonsils.
Questions? Of course. Mike's been asked them all.
"Yes, it's legal," Mike says. "We're a group of private citizens meeting in a private home. We're not dancing naked in the street; we're not flashing a big sign that says, SEX PARTY HERE TONIGHT! Everything we do is behind closed doors, and in the back yard, there are 6-foot fences. Some say I'm charging for sex—no, I'm not. I ask for a donation to help me cover expenses, like food, sodas, snacks and electricity. But I never turn away people for lack of money."
That suggested donation is usually $10 or $15—quite a steal when most of OC's straight "swinger" sex parties charge upwards of $100 to $150 per couple. That is, if all you're looking for is getting your man-teat suckled and you're not very particular as to what gender the open mouth kneeling before you claims.
"I just have a few rules, like no illegal drugs," Mike makes clear. "Also, no attitudes like you get up in WeHo. Other than that, people can mostly do whatever they want, as long as they're consenting adults. You can do piercings; you can do leather. We have a couple of guys who like dressing up in women's tights; we have a guy who's into watersports. . . . People go, 'Eeewww!' when they hear that, but that's being judgmental. Everybody has their own thing. As a Christian, what's the biggest thing you hear? 'Judge not, lest ye be judged.' I think we have enough discrimination crap in our background as gays that for us to turn around and play judge and jury, that's very hypocritical. So I don't judge anybody who comes to my parties."
Mike sees his parties as providing a public service, which is true on several levels. Some of his guests have been closeted married men with children who need an outlet to vent their secret desire. It's something Mike relates to—he was once married himself.
"I knew I was gay when I got married, but she and I just hit it off, so we decided to make the jump. Eventually, we had a daughter, and I'm still close to both of them today. But I didn't come out until I was 40, and after we divorced, the guy upstairs was telling me it was time to look into that other side of my life."
That exploration eventually led to the Jacks parties. Mike says that when first-timers stop by, they're a bit leery and unsure of what to expect, but by the time they're ready to leave, they're asking him, "Where have you been all my life?"
"Bottom line is, everybody needs love, and every man is welcome here. The age range is from 18 to 70-plus. I've had a couple of people in the 400-pound range who've told me this is the only place they feel comfortable being naked. They may not see much action, but at least they can see other naked guys and can feel part of something. That's always been my main focus: Be a part of the community and create a safe environment. I've heard from guys who've gotten arrested for having sex in park bathrooms. In this environment today, that's just taking your life in your hands, and of course, legally, you're looking at a $1,000 fine."
And we just had to ask: Any famous folks or homophobic Republican politicians ever been spotted at his parties? Not like he'd tell us, but it never hurts to ask. . . .
"I don't think I've had any celebrities. Had a couple of porn stars, though. At least they said they were."
For more information, go to www.laocjacks.org.