If you attend our SEX+STL Queen of Hearts fundraiser this Saturday night, you’ll have the rare opportunity to meet Cooper and Marilyn Beckett of Life on the Swingset fame. They’re coming from out of town, just to be our guests of honor! I asked them a few questions so we can all get to know them better.
Who are you?
My name is Cooper Beckett, I’m the grand poobah and host at Life on the Swingset website and podcast.
What is Life on the Swingset?
Life on the Swingset is a website I founded in 2010 to provide an outstretched hand to a community of new, and often frightened swingers. When my wife and I were new, we had no idea how to proceed, and much of the help available took their rules and positions far too seriously. So once we’d been in the lifestyle for a while, I decided to create the site I wished I’d been able to find back then.
How long has it been around?
We’re into our third year on the Swingset, and in that time we’ve published hundreds of articles and blog posts, and just passed 60 episodes in our podcast. We’ve also spun off Pedestrian Polyamory hosted by my wonderful co-host on our show, Shira B. Katz. On that show, we try to demystify Polyamory in much the same way we’re trying to demystify swinging and non-monogamy.
Do you write all the articles?
I don’t write nearly as many of the articles as I’d like to. Late last year I had to re-organize the site in my mind to allow myself to take some time off of the full job of editing and producing the site, and that has given me some time to reflect. I hope to write a lot more this year, as well as hope to work on a book about swinging with the amazing Ginger Bentham.
Tell us about your podcast.
Our podcast is now a weekly show (we try anyway) hosted by myself, Ginger Bentham, Dylan Thomas, and Shira B. Katz. We’ve grown from being a show almost exclusively about swinging to a show that attempts to represent another bit of alphabet soup, the SOP community. (For Swinging-Open-Poly) Now we call ourselves a show about Non-Monogamy. Three of us on the show are swingers, and one polyamorous person. (She hates being called a polyamorist, so I won’t) That said, our brand of swinging trends towards long relationships and more emotional feelings, so we feel we represent a large part of the SOP spectrum.
Are you out as swingers in your community? How do you balance your personal life with your professional life?
My wife and I outed ourselves to friends almost immediately after we became swingers. Both of us felt that there was a palpable change in our behavior, and certainly a change in the amount of time we were spending with vanillas. I’d say 80% of our friends took it very well, and were happy we were having such fun. 10% were supportive but didn’t want to ever hear about it or deal with it again. And another 10% drifted out of our lives. Good riddance, though, to people who can’t support something that’s made us so very happy.
For a couple new to swinging, where is a good place to start on your website?
One of the things on my (vast) to do list for the year is create a section of the site for Swinging and for Polyamory that contains articles just about getting started. In the mean time we are currently in the process of doing a series of episodes on our podcast called Swinging For Dummies that represents the largest collection of knowledge and advice about getting started that we’ve ever attempted. (Over on Pedestrian Polyamory, Shira and her husband Gavin are doing a series called Postulant Polyamory that takes you through becoming polyamorous) The first two part of our Swinging For Dummies series discussed figuring out that you are non-monogamously inclined, then talking with your partner. We didn’t even get to meeting other swingers until part 3!
Is it true that swinging saved your marriage?
Absolutely true. Marilyn and I married young, had poor communication skills, and worse sex. Both of us independently yearned for the sexual experiences we hadn’t gotten before we got together, but we didn’t talk about it at all with each other. Instead we pined and pined, and hated ourselves for wanting to fuck other people (and for wanting to explore bisexuality) until we were actively discussing divorce. We were great friends, but the rest wasn’t lining up.
Then, one day, I jokingly said “well, there’s always swinging…” And we both laughed about it…then thought about it…then REALLY thought about it. We reasoned that even if everything we’d heard was true, that swinging will destroy our marriage, we were standing at the exit anyway, maybe this would at least teach us something about ourselves. Swinging saved our marriage in that it taught us who we really were. What we really wanted. What love and sex and communication and intimacy could be. And it was AMAZING!
Besides your website, do you have any other resources (websites/books) to recommend?
The first stop on anyone’s journey into non-monogamy should be, without a doubt, Tristan Taormino’s Opening Up. During that first month of exploration, her words gave me a lot of comfort that I wasn’t doing something awful and evil, and gave me hope that it actually could work. The best recommendation I can make, though, is do your best to find a community, a group of swingers who know each other well. Once you meet a group you’re happy/comfortable with, you can meet all sorts of people, have your questions answered, see what successful swinging looks like, etc.
What are some current trends in swinging? (travel, bi men, shaving, etc)
I get all sorts of questions about bi males in the swinging lifestyle, namely because I’m one of the first high-ish profile male swinging voices to openly proclaim myself bi, which has in the past been a subject of a lot of “hush, you can do it, but not with me, you can do it, but behind closed doors, you probably shouldn’t mention it on your profile” type bullshit. But since I’ve been openly bi, I’ve seen that male bisexuality is quickly growing in acceptance all around the country. One of the country’s biggest swinging websites Kasidie.com is pushing a community of groups in every major city called Bi The Way, that will help destigmatize male bisexuality, and help some men realize that other people’s penises can be fun too!
How many threesomes have you had?
Hmmm. More than fifteen, less than twenty, and both fmf and mfm.
How many orgies have you had?
Now we’re talking! More than the threesomes for sure. I guess it would depend on if you classify four people in a bed an orgy…if that’s the case, then LOTS. If you want to make it large groups, many fewer, but they were AMAZING.
Any safer sex tips for people interested in exploring sex with others?
Know your body. You are the one who will first notice any anomalies. We all have a responsibility for ourselves and our partners. Use condoms! Get tested frequently, but realize that testing not only can’t detect everything, but shouldn’t be considered 100% accurate because of delays in signs showing up. If you have something, get treated, but don’t feel like you’re a leper. Realize that with as common as some of these things are (HPV, I’m looking in your direction) you probably will get something at some point. But the vast majority is either treatable, or not as horrifying as people try to convince you it is. My number one rule though is, always ask if your partners have anything/have been tested, and please disclose if you do have something. People who don’t disclose are assholes.
Are swingers superficial? Are they allowed to care for their play partners?
Some swingers are superficial, yes. Some don’t care much for names or history or connection, and are just looking for the fuck. Personally I’ve met far fewer of these than I thought I would. Most of the swingers I see are “Friends First” swingers, or those who want Sex with Benefits. (The benefits being friendship) And I can certainly tell you that I care quite a bit for some of my playmates, even going so far as to use the dreaded L word with them. (Love, not leper.) Everybody’s situations are different, and their playstyles and willingness to interact will vary, so have that talk up front. If they’re not the kind of swingers you want, don’t play with them. There will be other sex.
What are some of your favorite toys these days?
For myself, you can’t beat the Tenga Egg (see what I did there?) it’s the greatest and cheapest male masturbator around, and does its job by being almost a seamless connection between your traditional jacking off, and using something. Definitely worth trying. But I’m a big time giver with the ladies, and my number one favorite toy has to be the nJoy Eleven. This metal monster has helped me guide many a lady to her first squirting orgasm, and for that, I am forever thankful. (So are they. And then so am I when they thank me.) Beyond that, can’t go wrong with a Hitachi Magic Wand.
We’re so excited to have you as our celebrity guests at our Queen of Hearts ball Feb 25! Do you have any big plans/events coming up for 2012?
We are very excited too! Though we don’t know quite how to be celebrities, yet. I hope your friends will teach us. As for big plans we have coming up for 2012, Ginger, Shira, and I will be attending the Open SF conference in San Francisco in June.
After that we’re gearing up for our first time hosting a trip to the amazing Desire Resort & Spa in Cancun in November. Desire is an amazing all inclusive resort that caters to the non-monogamous (and nudists) and we are putting together an awesome week with squirting demonstrations, live podcasting, dinners with the Swingset crew, toy demonstrations, lots of stuff. People can get more information and let us know they want to come with us at LifeontheSwingset.com/Desire!
So, what are you going to wear to the Queen of Hearts< /a> ball?
I think a tuxedo and red corset are in order!