At a lofty backyard performance space in Brooklyn, N.Y., Derek and Gillian, a hip, professional couple in their twenties, take sips from their red Solo cups. He slouches a bit in a green Grandmaster Flash T-shirt and jeans; she goes for a more upscale look in a sleek black dress.
They look like any twenty-something couple at any trendy New York party – except they weren't invited by friends to hang out. They're here because of a new social network, designed for swingers who may want to swap partners for the night.
The pair isn't even on Facebook, but as active members of Brooklyn's swinging scene (or the "lifestyle," as its adherents like to call it), they recently signed up for the newly-launched iVoyeur.com -- a social network that says it's for "sexy swingers" and "curious sensualists."
Like any online community, it lets users create profiles to share photos and interests. But instead of posting basic bios, members pull back the curtain to reveal their fantasies, fetishes and sexual "play preferences."
"You post something to meet someone who you envision as being more spicy than the average person," said the founder, who uses the name Alan Ramone in his capacity as CEO of the company. "You post information about yourself – these are my likes, these are my dislikes. ...But it's more sexual in tone. It's not, 'I like my hair brown.' It's sort of, 'Hi, these are the sexual pleasures I enjoy thoroughly. Are you interested?'"
Ramone, a New York divorce lawyer by day, said he's been part of the so-called "lifestyle" for 10 years and started the site to give his community a private, porn-free place to find each other online.
"There's probably, what, like 10,000 porn sites on the Web? And we're totally uninterested in that," he said. "Ours is a lifestyle that is very discrete. It's more high-end."
As members join the site, online monitors review the content to make sure that images and text encourage a safe and appropriate environment.
Pictures that show too much skin or look pornographic are deleted. Profiles that promote violence, profanity, or illegal or underage activity are removed. Ramone said he also invested in online security systems to make sure that users' private information can't be compromised.
In addition to the social networking piece, the site offers articles on food, wine, health and other topics relevant to the lifestyle.
What exactly is the "lifestyle"?
"There's a whole glossary," he said. "[It's] basically a swinging style of adventurous people, sexually." At one end of the spectrum are couples who take part in the "full swaps," or sexual escapades in which nothing is off limits. At the other end, you have the "voyeurs" who just watch, and the "vanillas" who are interested, but not involved at all.
The community also includes "bulls," single men who "play" with other peoples' wives; "unicorns," the bulls' female equivalent; and "newbies," who are new to the whole experience.
"I'm sensing a trend -- it's unofficial because I'm still doing my homework -- that the lifestyle people actually stay together longer because they have so much spice now in their lives and they're not worrying about their husbands and wives cheating," Ramone said. "It's because they share -- openly and honestly."