Dominique Strauss-Kahn told a French court last week that, hey, he's only been to 12 sex parties over the past three years. And "six girls at once did not seem a considerable number," he adds. Not considerable? While his trial on aggravated pimping charges continues, the Telegraph reports that sex parties are fairly common and date way back—especially among the wealthy and powerful. "They’ve been going on for centuries," says Emma Sayle, who hosts upmarket sex parties. "Rich, powerful men have always been hedonistic and narcissistic, they love the thrill, and their egos are too huge to just be satisfied with their wives." Such orgies apparently began in Ancient Greece and continued in Rome, where a historian wrote that couples "copulated" before Emperor Tiberius Caesar "in triple unions to excite his flagging passions."
Christians banned orgies during the Middle Ages, but history records their return in the 1700s with Britain's Hellfire Club and Marquis de Sade's indulgences. More recently, the Swinging Sixties brought a sex-party scandal to Britain's front pages (the Profumo affair) and Hugh Hefner made loose living seem commonplace with his Playboy Mansion parties. Meanwhile, some Americans entered the "wife-swapping" scene (think car keys left in bowls) and a few entrepreneurs began hosting upscale sex-party events. But apparently, there are limits: "What’s unforgivable" about Strauss-Kahn's partying "isn’t that he enjoyed orgies, but that he was cheating on his wife," says Sayle, whose party themes include cabaret and torture. The trial is prompting other accusations, including that Strauss-Kahn forced a party-girl prostitute to perform an "animal" act, the Daily News reports. (Read more orgy stories.)