Saturday, March 8, 2014
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Mousam View Place and Great Place Catering at 47 High St. in Sanford: The former Knights of Columbus hall has been a polling place for more than 20 years.
Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer
Green said several groups are scheduled to hold events at the banquet hall in the near future, including fundraisers for homeless shelters and pancreatic cancer research, and organizers fear that they will be left without a venue.
News of the sex parties titillated and upset townspeople, especially residents of East Side, an older, mostly residential neighborhood of wood-frame single-family houses and apartment buildings.
“I didn’t even know it was going on,” said Dezza Tomasini, who lives near the hall. “It’s kind of unnerving when something like that happens right in your neighborhood, especially when you have kids. Not knowing it’s going on, what if you walked in on it? Consensual or not, it’s still prostitution if you’re paying to be there. It gives me the heebie-jeebies just thinking about it.”
The sex parties, publicized on a swingers’ group website, apparently started in July and were scheduled to run through December. Couples and single men paid $40 admission at the door; single women got in free. Many vehicles in the parking lot Oct. 15 had Massachusetts license plates, Police Chief Connolly said.
No one has been charged with a crime because the undercover police officers – a man and a woman who live in other communities – saw no criminal acts, such as prostitution, illegal drug use or participants younger than 18, Connolly said.
Concern about the sex parties mystifies Wendy Chapkis, a sociology professor and director of the women and gender studies program at the University of Southern Maine.
“The reaction seems so provincial to me,” she said. “Stop gasping. It’s not new. It’s not a moral crisis. It’s an opportunity to consider why we make it so difficult for people to have consensual, collective sex.”
Chapkis said she participated in lesbian sex parties in San Francisco in the mid-1980s, some of which attracted a few hundred women. She found them liberating and empowering.
“A great deal of the pleasure is to watch or be watched in a venue where sex is a public performance,” Chapkis said. “There’s a moral judgment being made here about where people can have sex. It’s not allowed if it’s not in the privacy of the bedroom. That’s interesting to me.”
Staff Writer Ann S. Kim contributed to this report.
Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at: