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In the Purple Haze with Brad McCray

Michael Love By Michael Love

Tell us about who you are and who you are in the community
I don’t know if Tammy and I are anything special in the community except for the fact that we did help start what is now a much larger scene because we were one of the first people to embrace this concept of how to use a sex positive website. Back then they were paid websites and they didn’t call them Sex Positive websites they called them either Swingers websites or Lifestyle websites. So we started throwing events that were more geared towards fun first, and sex second. That was very different than anything we’d come into contact with and obviously that was what a lot of people wanted. That has led us down a weird path of our lives.

We were never intending to own a nightclub, we were perfectly fine to just throw parties and have fun. That was not born out of any desire to create what we have now, it was created from a sense of “Hey wait a minute… I think I can do this better.”  It’s easy for people to complain about something, but then when you say, ‘hey do you think you can do it better’, and it’s time to put up and they’ll shut up… So we did.

Are you referring to Slutgarden?

Image courtesy of Spacekitt3n

All of our events, we throw a lot of events. We have Glow Job and that’s the best party in Portland. We do Super Sluts in Seattle, and that’s a Slutgarden event, but Glow Job is just mine and Tammy’s. We’ve done that for 10 years. It takes care of itself at this point, all I have to think about is dealing with the nightclub and getting the acts in and focusing on what I want to focus on.
So that’s what we’ve always done… We’ve been throwing events since before Slutgarden started, we continue to throw events, and now we just have our own places to have  them.

 

The Glow Job parties… are they once a year? I always seem to miss them, or catch them too late to get involved in them.
Its an annual event that we do locally and it sells out pretty quickly. We also do it in Vegas, we’ve been to other places, we’re going to go to Vegas again this year.

What is Slutgarden?
Slutgarden started as a Burning Man Camp. Then it began to take on a life outside of Burning man, where there is the same desire of people who want sexual freedom and to not be judged for what they’re doing. In fact they want to do what they want to do, as long as they are not hurting anybody. That’s always been our message.  It caught on with people at Burning Man and we’ve taken it off the Playa as well and people seem to accept it. There are a lot of people who come to the Slutgarden parties who have never been to Burning Man, and don’t really know anything about it and don’t care to go. They come to all of our events and that’s great because we do try to get a different vibe than most events we’ve been to.    

Our community consists of a diverse community of different lifestyles, ethical non-monogamy, BDSM/Kink, LGBTQ+. As much as we hate labels, how would you identify yourself in the community?
Yeah, I really don’t like labels. I always find that labels are for people who say they don’t want labels and then immediately try to label things. It’s a short cut. Usually misleading. We consider ourselves individuals. None of the labels really fit us, other than just non-monogamous. That’s just fact. Either your monogamous, or your non-monogamous… and I guess if you’re not getting with anybody you’re “un-monogamous” so we’re definitely non-monogamous.

How long have you and Tammy been married?
Um, we can never remember? That’s the honest truth. There’s a couple of reasons why…

I surprised her with our 10th anniversary on our 9th anniversary. I thought that would be a great surprise because no way she would have seen that one coming… and she didn’t. By the way, if you’re going to have an anniversary party, or some other self serving event, pay for the open bar and everyone will come. We paid for an open bar and had to beat people off with a stick to keep them out. We had some entertainment and stuff like that too.

Because of that, we’re not quite sure how long we’ve been married….  I would definitely say, not long enough.

How long have you been in the lifestyle? Have you been in the lifestyle through your whole relationship?
We actually met in a threesome situation. She was with a girl that was following my band around. Tammy was the best looking groupie I’d ever seen. After a couple of shows, I finally got to meet her. We went back to her friends place. Her friend left us alone while she went and got burritos.. It was late at night.

Made a run for the border and the rest is history…
Her friend came back, and she was like.. “Oh you guys are getting it on… I thought maybe you guys were just talking”. It was pretty much love at first sight… at least from my side.

And so… did the burrito’s ever get eaten?
No actually, they were just kind of sitting there on the floor. That’s how I know what she got. I remember eyeballing them.

Were you personally into the lifestyle prior to that, or was that kind of the beginning of it for you?
Monogamy had never interested me. Even back in high school, I remember trying to explain why monogamy was kind of silly. Of course I was a little bit of a player as well so it might have been self serving.

Tammy always felt the same way. Honestly we didn’t meet until we were adults. We went to different high schools even though we had mutual friends.

You are both originally from Vancouver aren’t you?
Yeah we grew up in Vancouver, but back then, really every night was about going down to Portland. We used the cruise the gut, and that was it… I thought that was the most fun a person could have.
People would actually bid for my services as a wingman. By bid I mean… this is probably going to date me, but people used to bribe me with California Coolers. California Coolers used to be really really tasty, there was one flavor that tastes like Orange Crush, one flavor tasted like Squirt and they had really high alcohol content. So people would be like, “Hey Brad, I’ll give you a green California Cooler if you’ll come down and cruise the gut with me” and the other guy would be like “Well I’ll give you a two liter of the Orange California Cooler” and I’d say “Ok, we’ll do that” and then we’d go down, and my job would be when traffic stopped, to get out and go and talk to girls in their cars. Those were simpler times back then, you’d probably be arrested for it now. I would be like “Hey what are you girls doing tonight? Do you wanna pull around and park in Safeway parking lot on Jefferson?” and they would be like “Yeah”… so that’s how I was basically an eternal wingman.
I was fearless because it was easier to be a wingman.  If they reject you, it’s no big deal because you’re setting someone else up. So it was all in fun and all in good humor. Like I said… simpler times.

What would you say that you enjoy most about the lifestyle?
I feel like we can live honestly. I know so many people, because of Sanctuary, but even before that. As people that throw a lot of events, we know a LOT of people. We’ve seen the relationships and we’ve seen them for over a decade. I can see when people have dishonesty in the way they live and how it is eventually going to catch up to them.  I know people who are “cheaters”, I know people who are “supposedly” in the lifestyle and they are being dishonest with each other and it just falls apart. It’s not where we want to be as humans. It should be a goal of every human on the planet just to live honestly whatever that is. I feel like that is something Tammy and I were both striving towards before we met, and so when we did meet and found ourselves feeling the same way… well, like I said, it was love at first sight. That’s why we work so well together.

So to get back to your original question was the fact that we can just live honestly like that. I’m not worried if she likes some guy. I don’t care if she wants to have sex with some guy. I mean of course I care, but I probably care in a way that’s different than most people would expect.

Sorry to make a short question long, but when people are in the lifestyle and they can explore non-monogamy, you’ve eliminated like 90% of all of the problems that most people have in their relationships. How many relationships end because of infidelity?  We’ve eliminated that, we’ve also eliminated the “oh well so and so… he cheated on me and now our relationship is fucking over!” Really? Really, just because he or she got drunk and acted naturally? That’s probably a dumb reason to end your relationship.
We are doing it with our eyes wide open. We can explore with other people and have other relationships, but our main relationship is ourselves. That’s something we wouldn’t necessarily know without the lifestyle. There would always be the thought in my head, “Well shit if I wasn’t there to ‘guard’ her like some kind of dog, who knows if she would have run off with another guy? Maybe she would prefer to be with the other guy. We’ve already answered all of those questions. We know how we feel about each other.  To me it’s just the honesty of it all.

We know for a fact there are other options out there and we just stick with the “stay at home” option.  

One of the main tenets of SlutGarden from the beginning was “you don’t own anyone”. There’s so much language particularly in modern day creative media, television, movies, music, etc. that continue this concept of “ownership” like…I don’t want them to do their “thing”,  I want my partner to do the thing I want them to do whether they want to or not. I feel like the lifestyle breaks those walls down. She’s not with me because she HAS to be. She doesn’t sit with me because I tricked her by putting a ring on her finger and now she’s gotta stick around. Instead, we CHOOSE to be together even when we have other options. I feel like that understanding would have never occurred without the lifestyle.

There’s a million failed relationships out there every day that speak volumes to that… that ownership doesn’t work.
I know many friends who used to be in the lifestyle, that tell me the lifestyle doesn’t work. Because they… I don’t know, cheated or stole shit, or were just total dirt balls. Then they get into another relationship and say they are going to be monogamous and then that relationship falls apart too. Well hey it isn’t necessarily the lifestyle or non-monogamy or monogamy, maybe some people are just shitty in relationships.

I’m sure you’ve had numerous crazy experiences…If you could pick one of your favorite experiences in the lifestyle, what would it be?
Let me go in two different directions here— maybe even three

Image Credit – Alden Rodgers Photography

We made a lot of friends in the lifestyle and that’s the best thing. I know it sounds cheap to say that like it’s a cop-out answer, but it’s the truth. One of the things that has always bugged me about people that want to judge the lifestyle, non-monogamous people, or even other groups within non-monogamy that will judge “swingers”. They like to say that our friendships are cheaper than their friendships or that we are shallow because we have sex… I always find that to be just preposterous. Our friendships are better because we’re having sex. We’re far more intimate than most traditional friendships. I know all their hopes and dreams…They know my hopes and dreams, we know each other’s fears. I’m far more intimate with a number of people than I would have ever thought possible.

Right, and really close friends because you’re also sexually involved with them?
One of the misconceptions people like to reinforce is that it’s only sexual. There’s a lot of people that maybe flirt, but we haven’t had sex with them. There’s other people that we maybe had sex with 10 years ago, and just never happened to do it again…nothing against it. It was good and fun and a zesty activity, but for whatever reason we just never did it again.

Those are still our friends, and I’m not talking about, “oh I see you at the bar friends,” I’m talking the kind of friends that when there’s trouble, they are a first call.  There is this misconception that somehow lifestyle friends aren’t friends you can rely on and that’s just wrong.

We have a bunch of people and a great community that we’ve been building. So I guess that’s another one of my favorite experiences.

But… if you want something a bit more sensational… our experience on the Playboy show was one of the best experiences. We were on the Playboy TV Swing for 5 episodes. That was a lot of fun because… well… everyone on the show was extremely good-looking. They put you in a house, in a mansion really, they give you all the booze and food you want….and then they say now go mess around… ok… we can totally do that.

The show that eventually aired  was nowhere as near cool as being on set with all of these people from all over the country that were chosen for whatever great qualities they had. All of them are very, very good looking and all of them are very funny. In between the shoots… that’s when all the fun happened.

On the night of the shoots, when they’re shooting you and there were cameras in the room, and you’re having sex, and there’s some direction because its a reality show…it was fun, but meh whatever.

On the nights when there were no cameras in the room and we’re all just sitting around we’re like, ‘hey guys there’s nothing to do, what do you want to do? {laughs} I don’t know…let’s get naked!’

But yeah that was super fun,  The show itself Tammy and I can’t watch it, we can’t watch ourselves on TV…I can’t stand it. Tammy has done a lot of stuff like that and she won’t watch any of herself ever. I kind of feel the same way, We’ve been in some shitty B-movies.

Actually, we were the first people in the history of Playboy TV to have sex on camera. We kind of wear that like a badge of honor. Playboy producers had a huge problem fitting us into their format. Let’s just say that our “wild night” line is way out there. We were way too dirty for the brand and the producers told us so repeatedly and specifically no anal. They don’t even talk about it. Naturally, we prepped to do it that night. We wanted to make it look legit so we’re just going at it HARD. Tammy is just taking it like a champ and I’m on her like a gorilla and I yell out “Breaking the law, breaking the law” like Judas Priest. The whole room died laughing because the actors knew. Playboy actually used that moment in one of their promos.

[Laughs]Stripperland… you’ve been in “Stripperland”
[Laughs], Yeah, I wrote “Stripperland” and I was in it. You know, it was a shitty B concept movie. Somebody else was doing it and I just came in to kind of fix the script and ended up being the main writer. I did a sex scene in another crappy movie called “I Am Virgin”, that was interestingly enough named Worst Movie of the Year by Fangoria. I’ve never seen my scene I actually left the room during the screening.  

Was that the extent of your acting career then?
Yeah I was a drama nerd in high school. I did a bunch of theater stuff and there were some opportunities for me to continue that after high school. I was a little naive so I didn’t pursue it the way that I should have. I just figured well that will always be there and then I realized later, that that was not necessarily the case.

So let’s talk about your work a little bit, It looks like you partnered up with someone recently and re-did the Paris Theater?
Yeah, you know Sanctuary is my main love but, yeah we bought the Paris Theater. For 10 years it had been a jack shack, and prior to that it used to be a music venue.  So I had the opportunity to buy it. Everybody wanted it, but because of the nature of the business it was very difficult for anyone to get a line on the owner. A very good friend of mine Ken Budde, the owner of Taboo Video–  hooked me up with the owner. It was a surreal experience, we actually met him at midnight, and it was very much like we gotta sell now, we had to get cash as soon as possible which was a challenge… I mean like… We had to pay him in cash… like… you know… money in a bag.
Then he left town immediately., I don’t know what was going on, I can only speculate.

So we took the Paris and totally revamped it. As you can imagine it was not very clean.

The funny thing about that is is for the first year maybe even longer every single day we would have somebody wandering in and… hoping to jack off. It was strange.  

Our very first event after we bought it, we had cleaned it up a bit, not as nice as it is now with all these lights and a good sound system. It was very much just a shell. I thought we could throw a little rave in there and raise some money for the rent. So we had a bunch of girls there and they were dressed very provocatively. This guy comes to the door and he wants to get in, and I said no man first of all it’s 20 bucks, and he goes “oh it’s only 20 bucks huh” and I say “yeah but not for you though”, and he says “Well why??”  and I said “Because you’ve pissed all over yourself”

He’s wearing two pairs of sweatpants and he looks down and he sees that he’s pissed on himself and I’ll never forget the tone of his voice, it was not like anger… he just said “ahhh”.. .like… “ahhh not again”… and then walked off.

It’s a music venue now, and they are doing a great job down there bringing in acts that are appropriate for that size. It’s difficult in Portland… there’s acts that we want to bring in there, but you still have to be able to pay the rent.

So it’s not even a sex related club at all anymore.
No…it’s not sex related at all, it’s just a music space now.  So that’s the irony, we buy two locations one of them was already sex-positive and we turn it into a music space,The other one was a salon and we turned it into a sex-positive event space. I don’t like to call Sanctuary a sex club because that puts us in categories that already exist. I feel like Sanctuary re-invented the wheel. We’re the first club that I’m aware of that did non-gender specific pricing. There’s three reasons we did that… number one, when a club lets women get in for free or whatever, they are using women as a commodity — like the women are lambs tied to a stake, waiting for the wolves to show up. I feel like that is a sexist way to look at things. It’s the problem with Ladies Night.. Ladies Night is never about bringing in ladies. Ladies Night is about bringing in men, that’s why they let the ladies in free.  We have a low door charge anyway, so we’ve never had any females complain.

Conversely, when males are overcharged then there is an expectation created. Imagine a typical nightclub as an example… a guy pays $30 or $40 to get in, or sometimes a lot more, and the ladies were free. He feels like he’s got to get his money’s worth, so it creates a different environment that is not very pleasant. Women aren’t excited to be in that kind of environment because for the guys it creates a higher level of aggression and they feel like they’ve gotta get something done tonight or they have wasted their money. So part of why you see so many problems at so many nightclubs is the pricing inequity.

The third reason and the most important reason for us is… there are no longer just two genders in American society. That is something that needed to be addressed and to me it was obvious that the way to handle that was to acknowledge that all genders are equal now regardless of what that may be.

So at Sanctuary we’ve created a different environment because it is equally open to everyone. The LGBTQ community feels very comfortable there. We’ve always had a very strong trans element there. A strong gay element there, and a strong lesbian element there.. And you know what, we’ve also been criticized for being inclusive too… that’s fine. Everyone is allowed to have their own opinion about whether that’s good for them or bad for them, but its just something that we’ve felt strongly about.

We’ve had so many people who have told me that this was their first night going out as a woman and so it’s a big deal… it’s very important that we make the space safe.

What would you say are some of the challenges of opening the Sanctuary, you guys are almost a year in now right?
Technically January of 2017 was when we really opened…
We’ve tried to blend all sex positive lifestyles into one. Everyone told us it wouldn’t work, the kinksters hate the swingers, the poly people hate the kinksters and blah blah blah. In our experience, other than certain dogmatic individuals, that’s just not been the case. People can exist together, I mean, they’re just people, if you respect people, and treat them like people, everything is gold. We have a guy that comes in every night who makes floggers and he flogs people every night. That may not be my thing, but he’s a nice guy and he’s not hurting anybody and everybody likes it and he’s definitely positive when he’s there.   

So we’ve had many people tell us it wouldn’t work and why it wouldn’t work. However, it does work, if you accept people as people. The same thing happens when we have Femme parties or Gay parties or whatever. We believe that there are a lot of people out there who just want an environment where they can be themselves and experience the joy of other people being themselves.

The biggest thing that we have to fight against is the baggage that people bring in. They come in with an idea of what we’re going to be like. Then they find out, oh… that thing didn’t exist here, oh it’s a lot more open than I expected, or oh it’s cleaner than I expected, I mean we use black lights, we put black lights in the rooms on purpose. Yeah man, we’ve got black lights everywhere, you think we’re dirty? Take a look… here’s blacklights, you can see that we’re clean. That’s a big thing to us.   

We are also fighting the stigma of being one of the “three clubs”, but honestly I consider those clubs to be something different. We kind of patterned ourselves after Crush Bar which is an awesome bar on the eastside. It’s basically Crush Bar with beds, and they definitely have better food.
The irony of all this is that Tammy and I did not enjoy going to sex clubs, so we didn’t want to re-create what the others are doing. We wanted to do something different. You know there are going to be some similarities because at some point people can get horizontal, and because most things are sexual. We have people that come that are regulars — because our door prices are low enough that we can have regulars and I don’t know if they’ve ever done anything sexual here. We’ve had people that have been coming for a year as far as I know they’ve never done anything here. Then there’s other people that have done things there like 10 times and I’ve never even caught their name They just come in and they’re busy and I’ve never said a thing to them.

One of the things that I think that we all have to fight against, is the notion that all clubs are the same. If someone comes to Sanctuary on one of our queer nights they might go “oh all sex clubs are queer” and that’s just not true

And in the same vein if they were to come into the Sanctuary on Queer Night they would have an entirely different experience  the next time they came out.
You know that’s one of the things that we’ve tried to do and that stems out of a couple of things. One the fact that Tammy and I have always thrown a lot of events, even Slutgarden at Burning Man is known for throwing a lot of events. We would just get bored if we open the doors and have it be the same every night. Sometimes I’ll just change the furniture around the room just to change it around. I’ve got no plan, I’m just changing it around to give it a different look. Try how this looks and see what happens when we push people this way. There’s a little bit of bar science to it, where you’re trying to funnel people in a certain direction.

So yeah, we want to throw a lot of different kinds of events. We sometimes get people coming in, and they didn’t read the website and they’re coming in on the wrong night for them. They went to karaoke on Thursday and then they come in the next week and it’s Suga which is our LGBTQ dance night  and they’re going what the hell is this? We get that all the time…

We have people who come in on Friday or Saturday where it is really sexual, then they come in on Wednesday night for game night and it’s people playing Cards Against Humanity and Settlers of Catan and they’re like what the hell is going on here? It’s just a different time. It’s for people who like playing games and if you like playing games you’ll enjoy that night. If you don’t like playing games, you probably aren’t going to like that night.

You’re a person who has been around in the lifestyle, I’m sure you’ve seen just about every mistake that a person can make in the lifestyle, or in the community. If you had one piece of advice for everyone in the lifestyle what would it be?.
Find compersion… I’m sure you’ll have to define it for your readers, but it’s taking pleasure in your partner’s pleasure. I think once that happens you’re pretty much set because that will abate your desire for “ownership”.  It will release you from expectations, then it’s just fun… after that you’re just having fun.

One thing we see a lot of is people wanting certain things and being very results driven. Those people are never happy and they tend to suck the joy out of everyone around them. We definitely think that fun should be at the heart of everything. If you have fun, then who cares what else happens?


Michael Love No one got my little trivia contest… where the Title “In the Purple Haze” came from…
The answer is in the movie that Brad wrote and had a cameo in Stripperland…  you’ll have to watch it to see (thank me later… )  Brad plays an occult leader and he is about to make a human sacrifice… and as he chants his spell (which is really a series of music lyrics… did we mention its a shttty concept B movie?) he says:
“Hello Darkness old friend… we who were born in the crossfire hurricane, and are hungry like the wolves down to long in the midnight sea, they shall destroy the night and night shall divide the day and vengeance from the grave to kill those that once were saved. Exit… light, enter… night! I am he as you are he and we together shall stand up to be counted for what we are about to receive and we shall climb… climb… CLIMB the stairway to kiss the sky! Purple Haze… Purple Haze… PURPLE HAZE!!!

If you’ve not seen Stripperland… I highly recommend seeing Zombieland first… Stripperland is very much a tongue in cheek interpretation… and with the right expectations (it being a B movie) it can be fun to watch knowing that some from our own community are starring in it. It’s available to view on Amazon Prime (free if you’re a Prime member) I promise you it will be about 2 hours of your life you’ll never be able to get back… but at least you’ll get a little Portland culture…  ~M♥~

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