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Lust In Translation: Even In China Culture Can Run Amok by Justin Mitchell

"Will you help me to practice my English?"

It's not an uncommon question for a foreigner in China to field from strangers on trains, planes, buses, sidewalks, in stores and cafes. The urge for Chinese men, women, children alike to learn better English, even randomly and at inopportune moments, is strong.

In this case the question came from a topless middle-aged woman in the midst of a mostly Chinese partner swapping party in Dongguan, Guangdong province. To the budding English language student's left, along a six- meter mirrored wall and on four large mattresses strewn with condom wrappers, tissues, clothes and underwear about 20 others were engaged in a, well, the correct world is "orgy."

In the dim light one could not clearly distinguish men from women. Others taking a break came and went from the room's one constantly running shower, some wrapped in towels, others nude, talking, joking and generally making as if the main event they'd just exited was nothing more than an leisurely evening at a bath house or the gym.

The would-be tutor pointed to the writhing mass of flesh and tried to speak clearly above the sounds of ecstasy and exertion.

"That," he said. "That is an orgy. O. r. g. y."

Though it survives and apparently prospers, partner swapping is more or less passe in the West, having peaked as a shocking and titillating sexual- socio phenomena in the late 1960s and through much of the 70s before harsh realities such as Aids, combined with a socio-political swing to the right morphed key swapping parties, publications such as Screw magazine and now near-forgotten mainstream flicks such as to Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice more or less into the underbelly of the Internet and amateur porn.

But in China, while the sexual revolution hasn't exactly replaced or gained the notoriety of the Cultural Revolution, it's humming on the underground via cell phone and coded missives on the closely monitored Internet.

Not surprisingly, official People's Republic of China statistics regarding couple swapping clubs or average number of sexual partners in a lifetime were not available. However, according to the 2005 Durex Global Sex Survey of 317,000 people in 41 countries, China is No.40 with 3.1. (India is last at 3 partners while Turks are tops with 14.5).

Internet notice of this affair, hosted by an expat German furniture manufacturing baron I'll call "Albert" and his Chinese wife, "April," was in (slightly mangled) English and (presumably more literate) Chinese. The English version read:

"Dear Friends,

"We have the pleasure to invite you at the Spring Naughty Party on Saturday March 25th.

"The party will take place at April & Albert's home: big/warm/comfortable house, heated swimming pool, hot bubbles tub, and a fully fitted Fun room for those who are looking for more fun!

"There will be around 25-30 people: balanced number between Ladies & Gentleman will be respected to make everyone comfortable. Only good level people, respectful, not pushy, clean and easy going. There will be some old friends and several newcomers too. Lots of fun: fun, laugh, jokes, talks, and more. People will be coming from different locations: Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Dongguan, Shanghai, all professionals which means that everyone always ensure and guarantee a full discretion.

"Of course, everyone will do as he/ she wants: only watch, stay in couple, watch and play, only play, it's up to you, just so that everyone respects the other guests freedom.

"As usual, we will gather around 8pm at April and Albert's house. Then we'll go to the restaurant near by to have a dinner all together: chat, break the ice, know each other better, warming-up.

"Our home is in Dongguan ... spend the night, no problem! We'll provide mattress for the guest who want to stay at April and Albert's home or you can stay at hotel just in front their home. We are looking forward to see you guys at that wonderful party!!!

"Cheers!

"April and Albert your `Naughty Party' hosts"

Though it's not technically against the law, Chinese group sex - unless 400 Japanese clients and 500 Chinese hookers are involved and it turns into a brief international incident as it did in September 2003 at a Zhuhai hotel, - wobbles along a shifting, shadowy legal and sociological line.

According to China Daily: "In the early 1980s, when in one case of wife swapping, the person who masterminded a game involving four couples was sentenced to death."

More recently, in 2003 police broke up a menage a trois (the gender ratio was not specified) in a Shenyang hotel but were forced to free the trio after being unable to decide whether they had the personal freedom as consenting adults to mix and match or whether they should be charged with lewd behavior.

Mainland "experts" seem to equally divided. Some say it's perverted, while others say it's to be expected as China continues to unwind.

Jia Xiaoming, a Beijing psychologist told China Daily that wife- swapping comes from "an abnormal mentality and a mind of chaos" while Zhu Jianjun, another Beijing psychology professor, said that swinging is the natural aftermath of eras of sexual repression. As long as they do not hurt others, "we should ignore it," he said, because eventually the pendulum will swing back to normal.

As it happens, "Mr Liu," a married Guangzhou mid-level bureaucrat who brought his mistress to Albert and April's naughty party said he was one of eight "normal" people busted in a Guangzhou hotel, briefly detained and then freed after an interrupted orgy in 2004.

"They didn't know what to do with us," he said as he watched his girlfriend pair off with two other men wrapped in white towels. "We also paid some money. But we still must be very careful."

Orgy organizer Albert was more than aware of this. His cavernous, garishly decorated two-story home - imagine a cross between an Albanian film about Marie Antoinette and Gone with the Wind's Tara - nestled in a gate-guarded community has hosted four previous sexual extravaganzas, all with no incidents other than misplaced underwear, he said.

"There is no need for the neighbors to know," he said. "And we are cautious about who we invite."

While most of the couples were Chinese, there were also international duos such as the hosts, as well as an Italian woman and her Belgian boyfriend, the latter who nursed a bad head cold while his mate chose to care for him between stints upstairs to watch the action.

It began somewhat awkwardly. Cold weather and plumbing problems had the pool and "hot bubbles tub" out of commission and the swingers, dressed mostly as if they'd just arrived from their various government bureaus, banks or accounting firms chatted, drank wine and soft drinks and eyed one another as a large screen TV played a seemingly endless European porno disc with the volume off. Then Leo arrived, wife (Mei-mei) and mistress (Chu-chu) in tow, and toting two large cartons of condoms - one Chinese, one American.

A brief cheer and flurry of greetings followed.

"He's the king!" quipped a Chinese man, who'd come as a single. "I don't have a girlfriend and wouldn't have one who would come to one of these, but I like the sex too much. Like a thirsty man likes water."

Leo was the acknowledged head of a Shenzhen-based swingers' group and something of a legend, if not for his sexual prowess but more for an income that allowed him flaunt a wife, mistress, and a BMW and his skills in organizing other get-togethers. Leo claimed later that there are smaller gatherings "seven days a week" in Shenzhen and Guangzhou.

He ripped open the condom cartons with a flourish and then produced a deck of pre-sorted playing cards. While matching couples with car keys is the time- honored Western method to start the swinging sexual ignition, not everyone had car keys so Leo's dating service paired couples with the same cards.

"Who has a nine?" squealed one Chinese woman. "Me, I hope," said a Canadian man, Ian, who groaned softly when he saw his queen was matched by a slightly stout Chinese woman who looked expectant. "Can we draw again, perhaps?" he whispered to an onlooker.

There were similar reactions, some embarrassed, others plainly anxious or nervous and while Leo encouraged the potential hookups, all but one couple discarded their cards in favor of more wine, spontaneous mutual chemistry or past experience.

Ian was one of those. Breaking with the swinging cliche Ian chose monogamy with his long-time Chinese girlfriend, and after an passionate public display of affection, the pair made a Canadian-Sino merger on a long leather living room couch even as guests were still arriving.

A group gathered around them, some shouting encouragement in a mixture of Chinese and English while others, inspired by the enthusiastic display of international diplomacy, hurried upstairs to the mattresses to forge their own alliances.

Chu-chu - Leo's mistress - eventually became another focal point of sorts as the evening heated up and she easily exceeded the Durex 3.1 Chinese partners per lifetime statistic. At one point she rose from a pile of mostly men with whom she'd exchanged favors, raising her arms and exclaimed happily and loudly in Chinese.

"What did she say?" the foreigner asked the woman who'd requested impromptu English lessons.

"She said she (climaxed) five times," the woman replied. "Very lucky, I think."

"You could also say that Chu-chu pulled a train," he replied slowly. "Pulled a train. Chu-chu. Get it? I guess not ..."

 

Painting "After The Ball Is Over" by Tan Xing Dong



From: Original         Author: Justin Mitchell         Time: 3/5/2010 3:31:48 PM

 
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