Interview: The Down-Low Black Men’s Club

Interview: The Down-Low Black Men’s Club

“Maxwell” is a down-low brother’s best friend. When I first started experimenting with man-sex about three years ago I met Max online. He told me his life story and about his club for down-low married men.

We agreed to meet and I went by his place to “audition” for the club. I passed with flying colors! But later we developed a true friendship. Talking to him made me realize I am far from the only man struggling with his sexuality.

When I decided to go to my first meeting of Max’s club I was nervous as hell — I had never been to a group sex party before. I circled the block a few times, looking at all the cars parked out front and wondering what was going on behind the well-curtained windows. I finally got enough nerve to go in and had great time. And I was struck at how “normal” all the guys looked — just everyday professional Black men who liked to get down with other men from time to time.

And they made me feel right at home.

Max agreed to be interviewed for my blog. He discussed how his club started and how he feels about DL culture in the Black community:

Q: It appears you have a fondness for married, down-low Black Men. How did that get started.

A: I discovered that I enjoy the two principal kinds of distinct ‘energy’ one finds in sexual encounters with married men. On one hand, there’s a white-hot ‘urgency’ with men who don’t have regular access to male-on-male contact. Conversely, there’s a fascinating sense of wonder with a first-timer or relative ‘newbie’ – it’s like a fully-grown, seasoned man losing his virginity for a second time. Back in my early 20’s I met a married man who had essentially been ‘cut-off’ from sex by his wife. He was rather handsome, in his late 40’s, very nice guy. But his wife didn’t like his hairy body. She actually yelled at him in bed because he leaked a lot of pre-cum (“You’re ruining my sheets,” she’d shriek). When we eventually got together, he slowly relaxed when he realized he was with someone who actually accepted and enjoyed his masculine attributes and the natural ‘nectar’ of his sexual arousal. By the end of the encounter, he was all but ‘howling’ from the intensity of the release – both sexual and psychological. Still today, I find these types of interaction intensly exciting.

Q: When did you decide to form your club? How many members do you have and how often do you meet?

A: I started the group with a married buddy of mine in May 2001. Several years into my relationship with my former partner (who had insisted on monogamy, but had not himself kept the bargain), we agreed that we would now both be allowed to play separately and discreetly. Thus, I decided to pro-actively indulge my interest in bi-married men, as they are generally discreet and want to avoid complex ‘entanglements’. I really clicked with one particular married brother in his late 40’s that I met online. We became good friends in and out of bed, and he is to this day one of my close confidants. It turned out we both had an unfulfilled interest in exploring group sexual activity. So, he and I each invited a couple of buddies we knew, rented a room in a nice luxury hotel, and had an amazingly sensual afternoon. It wasn’t all ‘sex’. It was massage. Making out. My most striking memory of that first gathering is of the co-founder’s buddy. Nice dude in his early-40’s whose wife flatly refused to play with his very sensitive nipples during sex (“Those are ‘women’s parts’,” she told him). Our nipple-play with him caused him to pull a pillow over his own mouth as he literally screamed during orgasm. Afterward, we held him silently for 5 minutes as he trembled in our arms. It was that moment that really made me decide to host on a regular basis. I really felt there was a need for a ‘safe-space’ where nice, discreet guys on the DL could go to express their sexuality, without having to risk cruising a park or some adult video store.

Q: Do you feel DL men are necessarily fully gay or just part of a sexual continuum?

Were we living in most any ancient civilization, I don’t think we’d be asked to make such a drastic either/or selection as we are in America today. I personally believe in the Kinsey Scale vision of sexuality being on a continuum between “1 and 6.” The principle is that most people are born somewhere between exclusively homosexual on one end, and exclusively hetero on the other – and most people’s orientation can slide a degree or two in either direction during their lifetime. Depending on one’s environment, religious upbringing and other frames of reference, you may or may not ACT on those natural, inborn impulses. Like anything else, I think the answer is complicated by Puritanical American tradition; relatively modern western religious attitudes about same-gender sex; as well as, in many communities of color, a legacy of mandated ‘macho’ requirements. In the African-American community, I’ve always felt our hyper-sensitivity about homosexuality actually has less to do with religiosity, and is more about how the issue plays into a history of persecution in which every other kind of inborn ‘difference’ from the majority ‘norms’ (hair texture, skin-tone, nose width, lip and buttock shape) was used against us. As an African-American Gay man, our community’s hostility on the issue complicates matters further. I do think that there IS a percentage of DL men (we could quibble about the exact number) who – all things being (more) equal and devoid of the sharp stigma in our community – would identify as Gay. Instead, they end up ‘following tradition,’ stifling their true natural attraction to men (as long as they can….) and marry women. Culturally, I understand it. As a Gay man, I also lament it. But speaking purely as a sexual being, however, I don’t judge it.

Q: What goes on at your parties?

A: The hallmark of our group is that we create a very relaxed, respectful and sensual setting. Each prospective new member must arrange a brief face-to-face chat with myself or the co-founder before getting an invite to our party (and only about 1/4 of ‘applicants’ are deemed to be a good ‘fit’). With us, it’s less about having a perfect body or a big dick, and more about creating a respectful, sensual vibe.

Out of a total of about 40 members, there are usually between 9 and 15 guys at a particular party. For the first half-hour or so, guys usually enjoy the food and beverages we provide, and talk about current events, sports, music, etc… until 5 or 6 guys or so arrive or some body’s personal schedule demands that things get rolling. Somebody makes a move, and two or three guys may head to one of the showers together. Others begin to disrobe in my study where they can neatly store their things. Most of the action takes place in the master and guest bedrooms, and in the rec room, where there’s a futon and a sturdy built in bench that has some other interesting uses. We usually keep adult DVD’s rolling on the big screen television

Sexual activity runs the range. Most of the activity is mutual oral and jacking off, frottage (ie: dry-humping/grinding), and making out. About half of the members are into some level of penetration, which provides a great ‘show’ for those who don’t go ‘all the way’. Condoms and water-based lube are in abundant supply and always used. From there, things occur rather organically. People group and re group again in various clusters of three, five, or two… One couple may decide to have intercourse, and a third will help the top with a condom, while a fourth is licking the nipples of the bottom. The scene is very tactile, very masculine but also startlingly sensual. One very masculine former military man and athelete enjoys giving massages. One time he spent the evening giving erotic massages to brothers, while other action went on around them. One brother was moved to tears. It’s kind of like being inside a virtual reality adult video game. There are moments that are brilliantly hot, and others that are achingly tender. I’ve had several men tell me that the outlet has probably saved their marriage, allowing them to continue to keep their sanity at home (…can’t wait to read the responses to that statement).

Q: Do your members network outside the group?

A: While we’re not set up to be a ‘dating club,’ some of our members have become friends. Some discover that they share a hobby (sports, motorcycles, art…) and hang out occasionally. If they happen to work near one another, they may catch lunch or dinner now and then. I will also say that, when my ex and I eventually split-up (for other reasons, incidentally), some of my most empathetic and proactively-supportive friends were among the members of the group. I don’t know if I would have made it through the ordeal without their encouragement and concern.

Q: How long do you see the club lasting?

That depends…. Another year? Another 10? As you mentioned in a recent blog, I do hope to be in a relationship again, and if the true ‘love of my life’ wanted a monogamous relationship, I would draw the curtain on the grand experiment. That being said, although I did monogamy with no problem (on my end) for the first 3/4 of my previous relationship, I don’t personally believe that its required for a healthy relationship. Some of the happiest couples I know – Gay and straight – have come to some level of respectful understanding that monogamy is a nice ideal, but not necessarily man’s natural inclination. They have negotiated respectful, honest ‘codes of conduct’ regarding some level of openness that works for them. Nothing hidden. Nothing sneaky. Conversely, I know plenty of couples who ‘protest too much’ – claiming to be monogamous when they are not-so-secretly sneaking around on one another. I believe in ‘honesty’. In an ideal world, I’d enjoy finding a partner who could handle being the ‘co-director’ of this amazing group of gentlemen.

Q: Describe yourself and your profession?

I’m in my mid-40’s, well educated with interesting hobbies and talents. I’m considered to be quite attractive. I’m a creative professional, and am very involved in each of my varied communities (black, gay, etc…), serving variously on some boards and panels. I would be about the last person most of my GLBT friends would suspect hosted orgies for bi-married men on the DL.


  1. dee

    … no disrepsect intended …. and am WAY TOO tired. but I am suspecting my love to just this …. WHY would anyone, if they cared about another, jeopardize her and cause her agony? Honesty ….It is OK to be whomever we are, BUT give me a choice … afterall I may chose him anyway! How do I know … signs? You are anonomous, so why not give me some peace? NOT piece

  2. Anonymous

    Why not just get a divorce and let the world know how you feel and appreciate the excitement you get with another man. Is it fair to the wives of DL brothers to have to live a lie? I can't judge you only God can. But I can't help but question if your group members practice safer sex and do any of you get tested for HIV? You stated the club started in 2001 how long does one need to know and realize what they truly desire? I'm assuming there are no young boys involved, so I would think by 40 identities should be established. Good luck with your struggle.

  3. Anonymous

    I just do not know what to say so many black women are losing their men to this and I do not believe this is what God wants I am losing my man to this and I pray every day that he fights it hard he needs to get this demon out of him I think that men who do this have a demon in them and need to seek God!

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  5. First I wish to say that this blog is an interesting one. I am currently a graduate counseling student and I am interested in doing a study on the subject of down low black men, married or not. The subject interests me, because I am finding that it is a prevalent issue that is impacting the black community greatly, on so many levels. There are many issues at play.

    But in response to what I have read here tonight, I feel saddened. In this life we all have choices to make. And whatever we choose, we must live with the decision (s) made. I just wish folks chose the path of honesty more often. I am not here to judge anyone, but I am here writing this response to encourage if only one dl brotha' to tell the truth to his lady. Let the chips fall where they may, but man, your lady has a right to know the truth. Don't take that away from her. Don't.

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  10. Anonymous

    I am sure that my ex husband is gay. We were married for over 15 years. And I divorced him after he had an affair and HIV+. He would never tell me the who or when it happen. By the grace of God and several tests I am not. I always had the feeling that something wasnt right. My suspicions of another woman proved to be true and the bonus was voice recordings of him with his male lover. I think he used me and the other woman as covers. And for 15 years I allowed it. The other wowan he met on line, HIV+ too. I asked about the man. He told me they were just friends. My true insanity was calling the man. And then I realized something. Calling another woman was one thing. But calling a man was more than I could bare. But I called him, he told me he and my husband were just good friends. I told him about the recording. He told me then you know the truth dont you. I was not mad. I told him yes I do and that I guess I always did know the truth but I did not want 15 years of my life to be a lie. What would I have told my family, our children, and our friends. My husband retired from the military as a high ranking official. I was angry with my husband and even more angry with myself. For staying when I knew something wasnt right. But apart of my heart goes out to this man. A black man that was raised in the black family home where being a “sissy” was unspeakable. He had to be “a man” in his father's eyes and for 15 years. I was apart of that approval. I was apart of his cover lie. He has told me that he is greatly sorry about what had happened in our marriage and that he has some”issues”. To this day I have never said another word to him about his “Male Friend” and the recorded conversation. In his mind we divorced because of the affair with the other woman. I now realize that some of my earlier suspicions were proabaly about men. I do feel sorry for him and all the men that feel like they have to lie about their sexuality. They married women have children and continue with the deciet until they are caught or the lifestyle catches up with them and their wife. Some choose to do this because they want to get away with it. Some do it because they cant bare for anyone to know their secret. I want to tell all of the DLs out there. Stop thinking about what feels good to you and think about your wife and children, and the lie. The lie that is your life. The lie that is your family. The lie that you live with your wife. I wonder now if my ex husband truly understands the damages he caused in my life. I believe that being DL is truly a selfish act. It okay to be selfish when your single life is about you but not when your married life is about your wife and children. I dont believe there is any such animal as “Bi”. I believe in the “Lie”. So be who and what you are. Either you are gay or you are not. Dont make your family's life a lie too. I dont judge anyone. But it is what is it.

  11. Anonymous

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  12. Pingback: Wifey wants to Party | Confessions of a Down-Low Brother: The Sequel

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