The latest trend that I’ve noticed in Paris as of late is the need to create new identities through partner exchanges. This is how it works. You go to a private club where such occurrences happen along with your partner (in my case I went along with a friend who played the part of my “boyfriend”), and pay the usual entrance fee of 50 euros.
These private clubs have one thing in common, they’re all dark and try to recreate a faux bordello-like scenery with the plush red velvet pillows spread out on the floors and handcuffs placed next to each bedside table.
The private club I go to has one rule, all the people there must wear a mask. Before entering the club I’m handed over a red lace mask to disguise my persona. I ask the man at the front door why we must be masked and he stated that a lot of important people come to the club and wish to remain anonymous. I ask him, just how important are these people, and he stated that some of them have been known to be noted politicians and occasional celebrities.
The rule for the club is that you must have a partner with you, single people are not wanted, although they are admitted but are asked to pay a higher fee and cannot actively participate in the “exchange” game. The second rule is that you never ask the other couple any intimate questions that could reveal their identity.
This necessity to keep your identity a secret is what makes wearing a mask to the club an absolute must. As couples exchange partners you’re left wondering how the other person looks or who they may be outside of the club. Many couples see these clubs as a form of transgression. Truth is, there’s nothing daring or rebellious in consenting to a passive form of adultery. These clubs take out the passion of clandestine encounters. The sex found in these clubs, is merely that, sex. Mechanical. Far from the spontaneous acts of debauchery that one would imagine.
I saw more sadness and an absence of emotions in this club than in any other place in the world. A place where humans become the broken dreams of a false transgression. The carnal objects parading on a stage that lacks humanity. The people that are going to these clubs aren’t merely masking their identity but assassinating their true one to replace it with one of faux sensuality. These private clubs are nothing but a testimony of the falseness that surrounds our everyday life, where our emotions are concealed as we manifest an identity that isn’t our own.