The New York sex party organisation NSFW – aka the New York Society for Wellness – started in the mid-2010s as an exclusive club. Its chief, Daniel Saynt, said he wanted it to “spread positive messages around sex and cannabis”.
Saynt said he wanted the club, which attracted rich and creative types with its privacy-based “no-photos” policy, to have the effect of “de-stigmatizing the sex club in a mainstream way that made people feel comfortable exploring and talking about sex”.
Basically, NSFW aimed for the social cache of a private members’ club brand such as Soho House, with added joints and orgies. “We like to say it’s a party where sex can happen,” Saynt tells SEXTECHGUIDE.COM. Some of NSFW’s [note: explicit content] promo videos show that sex very much does tend to happen at their bashes.
With the club’s community largely based around in-person erotic parties at NSFW’s New York clubhouse, the city going into lockdown when the Covid-19 pandemic started in 2020 could have been fatal for it. Instead, NSFW organized online party events that doubled its membership, became a hybrid online/offline organization, and prompted Saynt to launch an ambitious global expansion plan.
The plan is to open NSFW clubhouses around the world, including a luxury island location. This plan is based on members buying cryptocurrency and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) linked to membership tiers: a move largely instigated by difficulties with traditional payment providers.
Taking place in the midst of what many are calling a significant crash in both the crypto and NFT markets, it’s arguably a challenging time for such a plan to be executed.
When NSFW was forced to close its clubhouse during the pandemic, Saynt launched a series of virtual erotic parties on Zoom to replace in-person meet-ups. “So much of my philosophy around NSFW is that feeling of anti-loneliness,” he says. “The ability to bring people together and make them have a community feel. A place where they feel safe and judgement-free.”
During these online events —which have continued post-peak pandemic— members take part in ice-breaker games led by a host, and can watch erotic performers putting on shows in front of laptop cameras. Members watching as couples can get naked and frisky with each other, with the event director highlighting their spontaneous performance as other watching members encourage them.
During these virtual lockdown events you couldn’t attempt to initiate a physical sexual encounter with another member, of course, but the essence of communal erotic vibes was present.
Creating the right atmosphere was key to this. “We did education on how to not look creepy on Zoom,” says Saynt. “Like, ‘Here’s some proper lighting, maybe dress this way, or have a drink ready’. Come into it not like you’re coming in to watch porn, more like you’re coming to be at a party.”
With the virtual events no longer restricted to New Yorkers, NSFW membership applications from around the world spiked. Saynt says that only five to ten percent of membership applications are successful, but that the overall member base increased from around 2,750 to 6,500 following the application influx.
“It helped us see the path for how we do this internationally,” he says. “I hate to say it, but we were blessed by COVID to see that path, because before then it was more about the single clubhouse building in New York.”
Beyond the Big Apple
Now Saynt plans to expand beyond the Big Apple, with the long-term goal of opening clubhouses in further US locations like Miami, then around the world, then eventually an island NSFW location.
The plan’s foundations are built on crypto and NFTs. Saynt recently launched $LOVER, NSFW’s cryptocurrency, which will be able to be used to buy and sell memberships and is linked to membership tiers. NFTs created for NSFW – largely images of adult comic-style bunny rabbit characters – are also linked to membership tiers.
Saynt admits that a large reason for basing the business expansion on crypto was because NSFW has been shut out by major credit card companies, like so many other companies dealing in adult content and topics have been. By promoting cannabis, Saynt says NSFW has come across as doubly toxic to mainstream financial organizations.
“We’re not doing anything wrong,” he says. “Nothing about this is illegal. So why are you [financial organizations] treating us like we’re doing sex trafficking or something crazy?”
Being unable to work with some major global credit cards and other financial methods is a big obstacle for NSFW’s expansion. Furthermore, Saynt’s company is going all-in on crypto and NFTs at a time of huge uncertainty in those fields.
In recent months there has been much talk of a crypto “crash”, with even stalwart cryptocurrency Bitcoin plummeting in value. Saynt admits that this has made it tougher to assure people that investing in NSFT’s crypto and NFT-based membership tiers is solid, but is adamant that the crypto market in general will thrive.
“Crypto is going to be around for a long time,” says Saynt, who used to run the blog FashionIndie.com. “I got my start in the first ‘dot com’ bubble. I went to school for ecommerce when everyone was saying that no-one’s gonna buy stuff online, and ‘Amazon is bullshit’. A lot of my background is being a trend forecaster, and I’ve been very successful at that for 20 years.”
‘Is this just a pump and dump?’
Saynt acknowledges that the structure of NSFW’s membership tiers and crypto payments can come across as a little pyramid-y, by promising benefits further along the company’s expansion. But he points out that NSFW membership is already linked to bricks and mortar New York clubhouse, real-life parties and an established community.
“The main concern for people is, ‘Is this just a pump and dump, like all these other pump and dumps I’ve heard about?’,” says Saynt. “They associate crypto with this kind of Ponzi scheme. There needs to be more regulation, and I can understand people’s fears when it comes to crypto.”
He adds: “But I want this to be global. There’s nothing I want more than to go any place and know that my community is there, and know that I have a place that I can feel safe and explore and enjoy in, and learn about sex, or meet people interested in learning about sex.”
Whether Saynt’s plan to establish a large network of NSFW clubhouses around the world, with potentially millions of members worldwide, transpires is up in the air. But what’s not up for debate is that he’s already created a successful business based on sex and super-exclusivity, that people around the world are slavering to be a part of, even if most of them won’t get in.
Read next: Zoom has gone from the boardroom to the bedroom… But is it safe? / Consent 101: The ultimate guide to helping you understand sextech and consent