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A Vampire Sent Me to a New Orleans Sex Club

"How open-minded are you?”

I was standing in the middle of a stylish burgundy sitting room, my hands clutching the skirt of my dress, watching two strangers have sex on a couch. The man had his pants pulled down over bare buttocks and all I could see of his partner was a pair of long legs sticking up in the air like a victory sign. On the loveseat opposite, a dainty little blonde woman was paying lip service to her partner, her sheer hair hiding the details from my eyes.

My tour guide, a 20-something wearing a slinky black dress said, “This is our common room.” She waved her hand over the sex happening right in front of us. “If you’ll follow me down this hall, we have our semi-private rooms. You’re more than welcome to watch, but you aren’t allowed to hold the curtain open or join in unless you’re specifically invited to. And over here is our orgy room. Anyone can join in.”

“Gotcha,” I mumbled, my eyes darting like hopping frogs to the dark gyrations and naked flesh visible behind the sheer white curtains of the semi-private sex cubicles.

“Would you like to see the theater room?” she asked.

“Why the hell not?” I said, feeling a tad giggly and hysterical at this point.

Here I was, a single female alone, decked out in a pretty little red dress and sassy boots smack dab in the middle of a New Orleans sex club. I had no idea what I was walking into.

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Secret New Orleans

I hadn’t intended to go to a swingers club. I had simply wanted to see the side of New Orleans not mentioned in the guidebooks. So when I asked around, a friendly waiter handed me a card for a speakeasy called Potions. She gave me the password and instructed me to say, “The vampire sent me.”

Entering a nondescript little restaurant, I flashed the calling card and was escorted up a set of wooden stairs. Following instructions, I said, “The vampire sent me.” Apparently, the vampire sent all his buddies here, too, because I walked into a vampire-themed speakeasy where everyone looked the part.

This particular place specialized in absinthe. Absinthe ain’t cheap either. At $20 a shot, it’s best done in moderation, unless some friendly vamp buys you another one. This chatting allowed me to present my question of the night to the potions master: What should I see that’s not in the guidebooks?

“How brave are you?” she asked

“I’m pretty brave,” I replied.

“How open-minded are you?”

“I’m pretty damn open-minded,” I slurred.

“Okay. Go here,” she instructed as she scribbled onto a napkin and passed it my way. It read only, “Collette,” with an address. I was too tipsy on absinthe and too intrigued by the idea of adventure to ask any more questions.

Letting Adults Be Adults

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, swingers clubs like Colette in New Orleans and its sister clubs in Texas faced the same challenges as other businesses.

To survive the economic effects of the pandemic, which forced the closure of so many bars and nightlife establishments, Colette and other adult clubs relied on the basic tenant of the sexually-open-minded lifestyle–it all comes down to personal choice.

John Melfi, founder and owner of Colette Clubs, knew he would get some pushback when he decided to reopen the clubs in the spring of 2020. He had closed the doors when the pandemic hit that March, but by May, Colette was welcoming guests again.

“I am definitely a big proponent of freedom of personal choice. Anyone who chose to come to our club understood the potential ramifications of them coming. They elected to socialize,” said Melfi. “It’s our human nature to be around other people. The gratitude from our members outweighed any negativity that I got from other people who felt we were being irresponsible.”

Still, the crowds were smaller due to the pandemic until September of 2020. Melfi saw his regular members return, and when Texas dropped the mask mandates, more and more new members flocked to the clubs.

“I don’t know that it had anything to do with COVID; maybe they saw our YouTube channel and that piqued their curiosity,” Melfi said. “Our numbers have been growing pretty steadily for the past few years in spite of COVID.”

Despite the willingness to stay open, many sex clubs and sex workers felt the financial hit of the virus. Michelle O’Donnell, 28, of London, owner of, said the industry received government help and financial aid, but club owners and sex workers turned to other means of making money.

“A lot of the owners and call girls struggled to manage financially with the nonexistent parties, but still had bills to pay on the clubs. Many of the staff turned to cam and online sex work in order to make ends meet,” said O’Donnell. “As for attendance, since the restrictions were lifted, the parties are back with a bang and quite possibly busier than pre-pandemic.”

Making Adult Decisions

Rick Johnston of Azle, Texas, is no stranger to the lifestyle clubs, and his and his wife’s desire to be around other like-minded individuals drew them to the social scene. COVID changed all that.

“We have not done anything since COVID hit. The conventions we most often frequented were all canceled, and our lack of child care also limited our ability to go out overnight or for the weekend,” he said, adding that he would return to the clubs that were open, albeit not as frequently.

“Most clubs are fairly fastidious about cleaning equipment,” he said. “Plus the wide range of people who attend will mean no single group of people changing their participation will really hurt the community.”

The recent trend of states cracking down on sexual reproductive choices for women may also trickle down to non-monogamous adult swinger clubs, yet despite pandemics and politics, the Colette brand is poised to grow even bigger.

“Definitely politics could play a role, but I think the trend across the United States and around the world is to allow people to be with whomever they want to be with,” Melfi said. “We’re looking to expand the clubs in a couple other markets here in the states.”

Cruise ship takeovers from consensual, non-monogamous groups are also coming back, he added, saying several large cruises are already scheduled for 2022 and 2023.

“[My wife] and I and another couple are opening a resort in another country that will cater to people who are in consensual non-monogamous relationships who want a place to go where they can be free,” Melfi said. “That’s our big project, and we’re seeing more and more of those types of projects out there. So based on the business model and the people we’re catering to, we’re definitely seeing growth. This industry isn’t going away because of COVID.”