The Lifestyle: A Look at the Erotic Rites of Swingers

If you thought to swing went out with the ’70s, guess again. The “lifestyle” is three million strong in North America, according to Canadian journalist Gould, with crowded conventions, an anti-defamation league and thousands of Web sites.

The investigative magazine reporter tells us that he initially approached the topic for his first book with the same suspicion he employs for his usual subject–the shadowy underworld of organized crime. But after spending a few years exploring America’s swinging playgrounds and interviewing scores of “”play couples,”” he now vigorously defends the lifestyle against the charges of feminists who say it’s demeaning, religious leaders who say it’s immoral and a press that looks down its elitist nose at the suburban phenomenon (although the author claims he has never joined in himself).

Drawing examples from anthropology, biology and history, Gould repeatedly claims that lifestylers–from “”soft swingers”” to “”fast lane couples””–are more moral than others because they don’t sneak around on their spouses; they are usually middle-aged, middle-class, tax-paying professionals who are happily married, defend monogamy and more often than not believe in God.

Though we get an occasional peek behind the curtain, Gould generally avoids graphic descriptions, giving us a tour of the fantasy rooms of a hard-core swinging playground only when they’re empty. Despite the author’s intent, in the end, the lifestyle, with its toga parties, conga lines and ice-breaking party games, comes off as more goofy than anything. Agents, Perry Goldsmith and Robert Mackwood. (May)

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