Ringing up a complete stranger to talk about their sex life was always going to be nerve-wracking. However, when the stranger has done things straight from the depths of the darkest and most depraved fantasies, the nerves are even greater.
Luckily, Katie Collins proves to be not only lovely, but down to earth and more than willing to chat about her experiences. Her book, Can You Keep a Secret, co-written with journalist Rob Carry, has shot up the iTunes book charts. Labelled the Irish Fifty Shades of Grey, there is a huge difference between EL James’ romanticised tome and Katie’s story: hers is true. (Oh, and the writing’s better).
Katie (not her real name) grew up in a troubled home. Her parents both battled addiction issues and her childhood was far from stable. Afflicted by self-harm and isolation, she soon withdrew into a world of chat rooms.
Beginning with stripping off on webcams, Katie soon found herself drawn deeper into extreme sex. In the prologue of Can You Keep a Secret, we meet Katie while she is being dragged around on a leash by a friend, Karina, at a S&M party, before being strapped to a table and whipped by a couple.
So how does someone go from ‘vanilla’ or normal sex to the extreme practices that she describes in her book?
“It felt like a natural progression,” she says. “Because I was always open to trying new things, it just happened.”
Katie describes how the Irish underground sex scene is thriving, albeit in secret. She doesn’t know specific figures- “I’d be curious to find out”- but it attracts people from all walks of life, including so-called ‘pillars of society’. She met gardai, teachers, surgeons to name but a few during her time in the scene.
Nowadays, as a retail manager, she sometimes sees people she had swung with.
“They don’t want to see me, so I pretend not to see them,” she says. “There’s nothing wrong with it, there’s nothing illegal about it, no-one’s getting hurt-unless they want to! Yet if someone’s in a profession, they could lose their job.”
Katie, who in her early twenties became one of the youngest girls on the scene, decided to leave her wild days behind after becoming concerned about the ever-extreme lengths she was going to get her kicks. Also after a persistent suitor, she was starting to worry for her safety.
Her first relationship after leaving the scene was difficult for both parties. Katie candidly admits that their sex life suffered.
“He was insecure. He knew about my past too- that didn’t help,” she says.
For Katie, getting out led to other challenges as she had to adjust to a different type of sexual experience. She found it difficult at first not to detach herself from sex.
“I was never into ‘lovemaking’,” she says. “I’ve never been a big romantic. Respect, yes, romance, no.”
She says that the swinging scene can be difficult for women. Her friend Karina often formed emotional attachments to the men she slept with and found herself getting hurt.
“They expect a good time,” she says. “You can’t have them because that’s not what’s on their mind. [Some people] couldn’t separate the emotions from sex. I found that was the key. It is unnatural to do that, so it is hard.”
Women were not alone in finding it difficult to detach themselves. Men also wanted more from some of the women they slept with.
“Some of them do,” Katie says, citing the example of ‘Greg’ whose pursuit of her partly prompted her exit from the scene. “[But] I think it’s easier for guys to do it. But a lot of guys suffer from ‘stage fright’.”
Katie used alcohol in order to steady her nerves at parties, but says she never saw any heavy drug use at parties.
“People were always smoking [cannabis] but I never saw any hardcore stuff,” she says. “I don’t even smoke, so I never asked about it.”
However, there was a darker side to the parties. In the book, Katie recalls one party which was organised by ‘Thomas’ who acted in a predatory way. While Thomas claimed that he organised parties with a number of girls, Katie later realised that this was untrue and he was a solo operator. At the end of the night she saw him have sex with a barely conscious girl.
“Since the moment I met him, I thought he was the creepiest thing I’d ever seen, before he ever opened his mouth,” she says. “He would literally pounce on them.”
Katie says that most people in the swinging scene are honest about their intentions and that Thomas was an exception.
“For the most part, people are OK,” she says. “It was only his parties.”
The book arose out of a chance meeting with a journalist, who wanted to write about the underground sex scene in Ireland. Fascinated by her story and buoyed by the success of his article, Katie was approached about doing a book.
Now in a relationship, Katie says her past doesn’t seem real.
“I’ve read back over the book a few times,” she says. “It’s as if it never happened to me… It’s crazy.”
Can You Keep a Secret by Katie Collins and Robert Carry is available on iTunes for €3.99 and is published by Y Books.
*Lead image via therealfiftyshades.com
The Daily Shift‘s Roisin Peddle chats to Katie Collins, author of bestselling e-book Can You Keep A Secret?…
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