Where eggheads go to get laid

Mensa, the club for people with high IQs, has cast off its stuffy image and its inhibitions, reports Graham Ball
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"HOW to strip for your man" is not perhaps the kind of seminar you would expect Mensa to be holding. But then Mensa, the club for people with high IQs, is not perhaps what you imagine it to be. Its members say that its image as an exclusive bunch of eggheads and trainspotterish types is unjust. And, they say, it is going to change in 1996.

The stripping seminar - to be given by an American woman member who has worked as a stripper - is among events Mensa plans for its 50th anniversary year, which it has chosen to launch its new image.

Jacqui Green, Mensa's public relations consultant, said: "It's not an exclusive society in the sense that most people understand. We want to get over the fact that we are open to everyone - lorry drivers, postmen, milkmen - and that there is something in it for them all."

Up to a point. Mensa, which has 100,000 members worldwide, 38,000 in the UK, will still require you to sit a standard IQ test and score a minimum 148. If you succeed you can pay a pounds 25 annual membership fee. If you miss out by a single mark you'll remain with the other 98 per cent of the population.

So what are ordinary Mensa members really like, and what do they do? Roger Sutton was a member for five years but recently left. "There was a great deal of emphasis on eating and drinking and very little intellectual activity that I could find," said Mr Sutton, a postgraduate mature student at Sussex University.

"Most of the local events that I attended seemed to have a high proportion of divorced, widowed and single people looking for a partner. Mostly the meetings degenerated into childish behaviour, and you'd never believe that the individuals had high intelligence; they struck me as emotionally under-developed. Then I read in the official magazine a piece that said "Mensa, the place where eggheads get laid" and decided that was enough for me."

So is Mensa little more than a sort of Club 18-30 with brains? In Britain it is estimated that only about 10 per cent of the members are socially active. But all summer there are weekend-long events every other week.

Julian Aizpurvs, 41, has been in Mensa for three years. He joined after his marriage broke down and he saw his ex-wife, who had recently become a member, enjoying a revitalised social life.

"I've attended over 200 Mensa social events in the past three years, mostly in London. I was looking to expand my social circle and found it excellent. By the end of my first year I had my first relationship with a Mensa member of the opposite sex and have now had three, all very satisfactory. I met my current partner through Mensa and hope very much to settle down.

"Mensa people are friendly and open, and if you are a single man talking to a single woman you know you'll at least have an interesting conversation."