This was true. There was no need to glance sheepishly at one another when the howls of sex came tumbling down the hall from behind a bed curtain. It hardly made us want to join in, but the pleasant charge of the social-sexual environment McGinley talked about didn't seem so mysterious, or wrong, anymore.

*   *   *

"What does monogamy mean? Ever looked it up?" McGinley asks, glancing at one of the several dictionaries in his office. "A lot of people think it means you have sex with only one person. Well, that's not what it means at all. It means you have one mate. 'Mono,' meaning one, means one marriage. It's got nothing to do with sex whatsoever."

Denise and Gary, a.k.a. Mr. and Mrs. Club Amnesty, "playing" in the Purple Room
Jennie Warren
Denise and Gary, a.k.a. Mr. and Mrs. Club Amnesty, "playing" in the Purple Room

He's excited. This is his favorite among the many subjects he has explored with tenacity. The shelves in McGinley's museum-quality office aren't loaded with porn. They're brimming with books—about Egypt, Japan, aerospace design, golf and, yes, human sexuality. In both of his offices (the museum-quality one for thinking and a computer-desk one for working), there are dictionaries, thesauruses, grammar books, all in some state of mid-use.

"I'm really kind of an egghead," he says, gazing at his collections.

McGinley's interest in human sexuality is vast, but not perverted. A swing party in Orange County is different from a swing vacation in Cozumel, but freedom of expression is at the core of both experiences, McGinley believes.

"When I was working on my doctorate, I did a search for classes on marriage and love in all the programs. There were lots on marriage and family, but none on marriage and love—do you see the bias?" he exclaims. "We don't teach anywhere about how the two people can really get along as a new entity. . . . We do teach how to be a mother, how to be a father, how to raise children, but we don't teach about these two people, how to maintain this love and this feeling for one another forever."

He raised his five kids from a previous marriage with Geri (the two are now divorced, but she is vice president of the Lifestyles Organization, and they remain "best friends," he says) and never hid his business from his kids. Today, none of them swing, he says.

For McGinley, the path to good relationships isn't necessarily swinging itself, but the possibility to explore the option, or its various sexual tangents, in an open, nonjudgmental culture.

"Swinging has become far more social and less sexual," he says. "It's sexual in the sense that it's a sexual atmosphere, but the environment is far more social." But that environment hasn't reached this point without its battles.

He hands me a copy of a story from a 1996 Penthouse that tells the tale of the now-famous sensual and erotic art exhibits that are a fixture at the yearly Lifestyles conventions. He runs to his shelves to grab a copy of Gould's The Lifestyle: A Look at the Erotic Rites of Swingers, in which his battle with the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, discussed in the Penthouse article, is told in detail. The board sought to censor the erotic art show back in 1996, despite the fact that McGinley has never held an alcohol license. The battle found its way to the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, where the ABC was found to have violated the state constitution. "It cost us three-quarters of a million dollars to fight it," he says.

Does he think it was worth the cost? Absolutely.

"Our world is changing, and from the standpoint of culture, it's changing rapidly. It's not rapid enough for any one generation . . . but it's changing, and I think this is positive," he says. He looks at the piles of Lifestyles Tours and Travels brochures, old magazines and clippings in his office. "And I hope I've contributed to it."


daltan@ocweekly.com

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