It's Saturday night in suburbia; do you know where your neighbors are? This eye-opening, pruriently fascinating documentary explores the "swinger" subculture--and we don't meanbig band music.
These are middle-class, middle-aged couples who like nothing more than meeting at someone's house, swapping spouses, and getting jiggly with it, if that's your idea of a good time, and for an estimated 3 million Americans, it is. From California to Colorado to Louisiana,
The Lifestyle filmmakers interview swingers, attend a swingers convention, and even get some "Martha Stewart tips for a swinging house party" (pizza and karaoke are recommended, and two bathrooms are considered a must).
The conversation is graphic, and except for one brief scene, the hard-core footage is fleeting. Director David Schisgall is more interested in putting a human face, if you will, on those for whom swinging is just as natural as going out to dinner and a movie.
Among the film's breakout stars is 73-year-old "Wild Bill," who one minute movingly discusses his beloved wife's death from breast cancer and the next recalls a particularly close simultaneous encounter with three women.
Even if the swingers in this film don't win any converts to the Lifestyle, they are at least articulate on how it has impacted their lives. Many insist that their marriages are stronger. "It's not who you have sex with," one states, "it's who you're going home with." The film is nonjudgmental, although Schisgall can't resist getting some cheap shots at his subjects' Republican leanings. "A lot of people don't understand (swinging)," one participant remarks. After watching this film, they still might not understand it. A more likely reaction is the one predicted by one couple who imagine what their unwitting parents would think if they saw this film: "This would just blow their minds." --Donald Liebenson
From the Back Cover
Three million neighbors would rather get down with the Joneses than keep up with them. Experience the Naked truth behind group sex in America. By turns funny, touching, shocking, and surreal, The Lifestyle is an intensely personal two-year journey through a dozen swingers' homes, workplaces, conventions and parties. This is the first in-depth account of this undiscovered subculture that exits amidst our suburbs and small towns. Your trip through this new, unexplored lifestyle will take you past drawn shades and behind closed doors. Then decide for yourself.
The major challenge, of course, in doing a documentary on swinging is finding participants willing to be filmed. In our experience, the great majority of swingers confine their sex play to private parties, rarely go to clubs, almost never advertise themselves, and energetically avoid any sort of public exposure.
The producers of the Lifestyle met this challenge by gathering various folks who make some sort of a living from swinging (speakers, artists, club owners, and such) and who were available as attendees at the "Lifestyles '97" convention.
Even from this group, those consenting to be filmed are limited mostly to those who have no job-termination worries (generally retired) and whose children are grown. >br>
Thus, this video would be titled more accurately: The Swinging Grandparents. Now, we have absolutely nothing against elderly swingers, but today's participants are far more likely to be in their 20s and 30's than in their 60s and 70s.
Youth is not the only thing lacking here. One of the party-house proprietors calls swinging "sport fucking." And as far as a viewer of this video could tell, that's all it is.
We are shown some scenes of people talking at a party, but most of these snippets are about sex. Nobody seems to know anyone else's children, or care about their health, or do any socializing with each other beyond having sexual relations, and rather detached and emotionless sexual relations, at that.
On the plus side, this video is not a put-down of swinging. The producers have created a professionally filmed, nonjudgmental documentary.
Some people out there might find it shocking or even entertaining. We found it to be a very narrow and misleading view of swinging. It has no recruitment or educational value, and perhaps worst of all it's boring.