In 1981 Gay Talese authored the groundbreaking Thy Neighbor’s Wife, his long-delayed nonfiction account of the burgeoning “swinging” trend of the ‘50s and ‘60s.
Local author O. Kay Jackson — formerly of the Savannah Morning News and author of Waking Up Men, which she describes as a “love letter” to Savannah’s maritime industry — has published an update of sorts for the 21st Century, titled Then They All Got Naked: What Really Happens Inside a ‘Lifestyle’ Swing Club.
To quickly answer the obvious question: No, Jackson did not herself do any swinging, though she did for a time work at a sex club catering to swingers while living outside New York City trying to get other, unrelated, work published.
However, Jackson does provide more than enough steamy and graphic details — which, like swinging itself, are far less sexy than one might initially imagine — of the various sexual combinations, some simple, some complex, involved in the “lifestyle,” as swingers euphemistically refer to it.
Unlike many self-published books, which are often skimpy and poorly fleshed-out (so to speak), Then They All Got Naked is an impressively well-rounded journalistic record, the bulk of which was “researched” in 2005.
Except for a chapter of background on the role of sanctioned adultery and multiple-partner shenanigans throughout history, each chapter — introduced by a semi-graphic black and white photo — deals with an aspect of swinging, such as how to run a sex club, the importance of voyeurism, “polyamory” (having multiple romantic partners as opposed to just sex partners), and the practice of BDSM (Bondage, Discipline, Sadism and Masochism), whose followers are thought of as freaks by “regular” swingers.
While the book is humorous and fast-moving, this is not cheap, prefabricated titillation a la HBO’s inaccurately named Real Sex series. Jackson instead trains a skeptical journalist’s eye on the often-hilarious turf wars, quirks, and outright hypocrisies of the suburbanites who make up the vast bulk of the swinging population. -- Jim Morekis
O. Kay Jackson will sign copies of Then They All Got Naked on Sat., March 22, 1-4 p.m. at E. Shaver’s Bookseller downtown. Purchase the book from Shaver’s or at