Still got your libido at 71? Party on...

Richard Kelly Heft meets the wild man who is still swinging after all these years

For most of his 71 years "Wild" Bill Goodwin says he has been "a good stud". Although his body is not what it was - he's a bit creaky and his false teeth have been giving him trouble lately - he still likes to party. He still loves sex.

"I can go four or five women a night," he says proudly. "You know, your desire gets better as you get older. It's like good food - you think you stop loving good food? The key is variety."

Variety is something Goodwin has certainly known during his lifetime: he has been a part of the "swinging" scene in southern California for about 25 years. Along with his wife Dottie who died last March after a battle with breast cancer, Goodwin has hosted hundreds of swing parties at his home, about 45 miles south of Los Angeles.

On the first and last Sunday of every month, Goodwin's house, the "Panther Palace", becomes a meeting place for couples to socialise, frolic in his massive hot tub, and, well, have sex. "We don't fall in love or anything. It's just good clean sexual recreation," he says.

Recently, however, a neighbour's complaint brought the Palace under the scrutiny of the local council. Naked revellers had been seen scrambling round the property and discarded condoms were found among the festivity litter - charges Goodwin denies. Officials could do little about the parties: there are no laws outlawing orgies in the city. And since Goodwin does not charge for the parties, asking only for a $30 contribution to defray costs, the Palace's doors have remained open.

One result of the council's investigation has been to move to daytime parties rather than Saturday night. Goodwin typically has about 40 couples to his parties and for special occasions, such as Hallowe'en or New Year's Eve, as many as 100 or more will turn up. Wild Bill isn't even close to being the oldest of the Palace regulars: there are couples in their eighties and nineties, he says.

Swinging, often thought to be a relic of the Seventies seems to be on the rise across the United States. Although statistics are hard to come by, Dr Robert McGinley, president of the National Association of Swing Clubs of America, claims the practice has never been more popular. McGinley, who wrote a doctoral thesis on swinging, points to the explosion in publications devoted to "play couples" and to the growth of swing clubs, which number about 300, up from about 100 in the mid-Seventies. He estimates there are between 1.5 million and 2.5 million American couples who have dabbled in swinging or are long-term devotees.

"Almost by definition, swinging is a secretive activity," McGinley says. "So getting an accurate read on the number of people involved is almost impossible. But there's no question it is more popular today than it ever was. It just continued on its merry way, ignoring the pundits who said it died off years ago."

McGinley claims the only downturns in popularity came at the height of the Aids scares. Surprisingly, most swinging couples do not practise safe sex. McGinley himself is opposed to protected sex, and says that government statistics show extremely low rates of heterosexual transmission. "What's safe sex really telling you? The message is that sex is dangerous and as long as you are not a homosexual or an intravenous drug user there is no danger whatsoever. You are far more likely to be hit by a satellite falling out of the sky."

Although health officials agree that in the West, the rate of transmission of HIV among heterosexuals has been lower than anticipated, they warn of the dangers of unprotected sex. As one San Francisco Aids researcher says: "If you get one person into a swinging group who's recently been infected, he could infect everybody."

Most of the Palace regulars remain unconcerned. June Thomas has been partying there for years. She doesn't like condoms and doesn't use them. "Most people are very clean," she says. "I'm not afraid of catching a disease. Hey, life's a chance."

Most weekends, she and her husband Ron attend a swing party. There is no jealousy between them because everything is out in the open. "It brings you much closer together," she says.

Goodwin agrees. He has been married five times, widowed twice and during his swinging days has slept with over 5,000 women. His best marriages though, were with swingers. "My first two wives were jealous - they weren't into swinging," he says. "Once I married women who liked swinging, those marriages were really good."

Goodwin cared for his wife Dottie for two years as she became increasingly ill. In her last year, as the cancer moved into her spinal column, she became paralysed from the neck down. The parties went on around her as she lay in a hospital bed set up in the Palace's living room. "They were all her friends at the parties," says Goodwin. "She felt real comfortable with them around."

After sleeping on the couch next to Dottie for months, Goodwin can't bring himself to move back into the bedroom; his eyes well up at the mention of her. In a house full of beds, he spends every night on the couch. The man who says he "hasn't slowed down a bit" since he was 25, is now lonely without his wife of 20 years: "The parties are great. But after they're over, I'm left all alone again."

The phone rings but Goodwin ignores it. "Just someone calling about the party next Sunday. It'll be a good one," he says brightening at the thought. "All sorts of beautiful women - you really ought to check it out some time."

Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appeal
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly finalists Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridge
tvLive: Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridge face-off in the final
Ched Evans in action for Sheffield United in 2012
footballRonnie Moore says 'he's served his time and the boy wants to play football'
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

    £65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

    Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

    £15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

    Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

    £50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

    The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

    £27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

    Day In a Page

    Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

    Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

    'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture