Inside Silicon Valley's 'Game of Thrones' sex parties and hi-tech BDSM dungeons

As Silicon Valley boomed, several tech entrepreneurs and engineers opened up to concepts like orgies and polyamorous relationships with a tech edge


                            Inside Silicon Valley's 'Game of Thrones' sex parties and hi-tech BDSM dungeons
A growing number tech entrepreneurs and engineers have embraced concepts like sex parties and polyamorous relationships (Getty Images)
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Laurie Segall, a former tech journalist for CNN, covered a generation of Silicon Valley founders before their companies went on to disrupt society. She gained access to a period of both remarkable innovation and monumental backlash as the industry was plagued by questions of election interference and data privacy.

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In her new memoir, 'Special Characters: My Adventures with Tech’s Titans and Misfits,' 36-year-old Segall reflected on her years covering the likes of Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter's Jack Dorsey, Instagram's Kevin Systrom, as well as Uber's Travis Kalanick. As Silicon Valley boomed, a growing number of tech entrepreneurs and engineers were opening up to concepts like sex parties and polyamorous relationships through the lens of technology. 

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In the summer of 2013, Segall was given a tour of a sex dungeon designed for Silicon Valley geeks. Madame Rose, a dominatrix from Oakland, took the tech journalist on a tour of the private club "adorned with sex swings, leather restraints, silver chains, and at least one device designed to give low-grade electric shocks," the New York Post reported. These contraptions, however, weren't typical sex toys. “Everything in here is high-tech,” Rose told Segall. She explained how the gas masks came with Apple earpods, and how a large iron cage was "constructed in perfect proportion to the jail cells in Alcatraz by an MIT engineer."

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"Perhaps a part of me felt a certain delight, imagining the over-confident bros of Silicon Valley getting locked up,” Segall wrote, noting that the industry was increasingly driven by “excess and possibility, defying norms, power, and control — I could feel it all hanging in the air, alongside whips and chains. I wondered out loud about the connection between power, control, and sex.”

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Laurie Segall of CNN during the Sime Awards at Epicenter on November 16, 2017, in Stockholm, Sweden. (Photo by Nils Petter Nilsson/Ombrello/Getty Images for The Sime Awards)

That same year, the author made a trip to San Francisco to cover a story about sex workers who regarded themselves as Silicon Valley's "other entrepreneurs." Segall wrote of the group from “the world’s oldest profession taking advantage of the new money pouring into the world’s newest profession." Social media marketer Kitty Stryker, who moonlights as a prostitute, told Segall that when a new startup in the Bay Area is doing well, she's regularly visited by their employees. According to the author, the escorts were not only taking advantage of the economic boom but going out of their way to target the computer geeks. Another madam told Segall how she ensured her stable of prostitutes always wore “Game of Thrones underwear” and lingerie emblazoned with phrases such as “Winter is Coming” and “Geeks Make Better Lovers" in order to appeal to "nerdy guys flush with startup green." 

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(L-R) Adult film actresses Kitty Stryker, Vixen Gamer, and Busty Cookie attend the 2016 Adult Video News Awards at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on January 23, 2016, in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

 

Segall also came across an active swingers' community in Silicon Valley, which held weekly orgies where little was left to the imagination. She secured an invite from a former tech entrepreneur who sold his first startup for $5 million, to “Silicon Valley’s premier sex party." Segall noted in her memoir, “I’d learned that 4,000 people around Silicon Valley were on his mailing list. Many were startup employees, software engineers, and venture capitalists.” She recalled how guests checked into the party with an iPad using a software allegedly designed by “the same guy who built Oracle.” The tech correspondent made small talk with couples she recognized from their tech careers and realized how easily they spoke about their swinging lifestyle.

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“I remember when we slept with another couple and high-fived after,” one woman dressed in a Catholic schoolgirl outfit told Segall. Her husband, an employee at Square, blushed as she spoke. Then, in an upstairs area dubbed the “Magic Carpet F–k Space,” Segall saw a room carpeted in mattresses with red sheets and blue pillows. “That’s where I saw him — well, the back of him,” she wrote of a venture capitalist she’d had a cordial but unmemorable conversation with earlier in the evening. He was now “on his knees, naked, a giant multicolored tattoo on his lower back, thrusting back and forth.”

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