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June 1, 2023 54 mins

2013, the year Damon started SNCTM, was a decade ago – gag. And, at the time, this high-end sex club was new, exciting, and transgressive. Now, looking back, we examine the complicated legacy of SNCTM – from pleasure paradise to messy free-for-all – and the lasting impact it had on the people who worked and played there. After all that went down, where are Damon and Melissa today? 

And we ask the question: is sexual freedom like… even possible? Plus: Karley goes to SNCTM – yay!

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:02):
School of Humans.

Speaker 2 (00:05):
Sanctum Unmasked is about a sex club and describes various
sex acts. Please use discretion where and when you listen.
So let's go back for a minute to twenty thirteen,
the year Damon started Sanctum. Twenty thirteen might not seem
that long ago, but it was definitely a decade ago
gag and also a very different time. If you need

(00:28):
a refresher, President Obama was beginning his second term, Wrecking
Ball by Miley Cyrus was driving everyone insane. The world
was finally emerging from the recession of the financial crisis
and entering a period of refocusing on wealth and status. Also,
sexual taboos were still very much taboo back then, like

(00:51):
high end sex clubs weren't really a thing yet, at
least in the US. People still liberally threw around the
word hooker as an insult. Gave marriage wouldn't be legalized
in the US by the Supreme Court for another two years,
and the Me Too movement and all of the conversations
around consent that it inspired was still years away. Basically,

(01:14):
we've come pretty far. You couldn't conceive of Sanctum today
and build it to be what it was yes It
was new, exciting and transgressive, but it was also very
right place, right time.

Speaker 3 (01:30):
Damon just represented this culmination of seeking the high end.
So what was the ultimate of sex? Damon brought that
culture to, you know, a certain level of people who
could pay for it, but weren't cool enough to find
it themselves. He took the obvious and made it work.

Speaker 4 (01:51):
Maybe what I did is fucking stupid and pointless and
just like all about gluttony and selfishness, turn it into
whatever you want. I created, you know what became quoting
the press the most elite sex club in the world,
whatever that means to people.

Speaker 5 (02:06):
Does that have any value? Whatsoever? I mean, I don't know,
but certainly there is incredible value.

Speaker 4 (02:12):
I think in this idea that we set ourselves free
to consider what are the possibilities for us as individuals?
You know, what might we do if we weren't so
constrained in our own minds about what is right and
wrong and correct and incorrect? Because if I did anything,

(02:33):
I actually allowed myself to dream and then made.

Speaker 5 (02:36):
That dream come true.

Speaker 2 (02:45):
Welcome to Sanctum Unmasked. I'm your host, Carl Schortino. So
to answer Damon's question, Yeah, a lot of people would
argue that Sanctum in an out of itself, had incredible value.
Of all the people we talked to during this process, Claudia,

(03:06):
Sanctum's longtime performer, was the one who consistently spoke of
her time at Sanctum as deeply transformative.

Speaker 6 (03:14):
I feel like it just opened my eyes to so much.
Like it opened up my eyes to sexuality, my own sexuality,
my comfort level with myself, and just looking at sex
a little less taboo.

Speaker 2 (03:28):
And she credits a lot of that to Damon personally.

Speaker 6 (03:31):
Damon just has like a natural aura to him, Like
if you talk to him for five minutes, you're like, Okay,
this guy doesn't like have a bad bone in his body.
He wants everybody to do well. He's everybody's biggest fan.
Like he's a lover of life and love, and like
you pick up on that.

Speaker 2 (03:46):
David Winkler had a somewhat similar experience. Remember he's the
sugar Daddy who had a threesome at Sanctum that ended
with applause from boy or guests glamorous. For David, his
time at the club had a laugh impact on his
relationship with himself and his partners.

Speaker 7 (04:04):
I think Sanctum contributed to my sexual exploration in that
before I went, I wondered, is there something really kinky
about me that I just don't know that I haven't explored?
You know what am I missing? Because I'm really vanilla?
Like I tried choking a girl in section. She laughed
at me, She's like, come on, David, you're too nice cute.

(04:30):
You know, you go and you see people with whips
and chains, and you see people tied up, and you
see people using toys you've never seen before. And I
was actually surprised that I didn't discover that there was
anything kinky about me that I never knew. I don't
know if you can call anybody who has a threesome,

(04:51):
you know, on a massage table in front of twenty
people vanilla. I think that what I discovered was I
was more confident than I ever knew. But I definitely
felt that I was part of a community, and I
definitely felt that I was not alone. And I definitely
became much more comfortable discussing sex with other people. And

(05:13):
I feel like I'm a better partner because of my experiences.

Speaker 2 (05:17):
Yet again, wholesome. Now, this is not the outcome most
people would expect from an elite and depraved Hollywood sex party, right,
but it's kind of inspiring, of course, Like literally anything
on Earth, people's experience of Sanctum varied widely. Take Lea,
for example, who we met in a previous episode. She's

(05:39):
been going to Sanctum as a guest since twenty fifteen,
and she's a bit of a sex party connoisseur, having
been to many different types of events, from high end
sex parties to more DIY floor mattress vibes to be
DSM dungeons, and so her take on Sanctum as an
institution is pretty specific. In certain respects, she could see
that it was offering something invaluable.

Speaker 8 (06:02):
When I've gone to Sanctum, it's been a lot of newbies,
and I do feel like it has been nice to
see people take that first step. I brought a friend
and there was someone flogging and sinking, and she had
never done anything like that, and so it was really
lovely seeing her kind of like spread her wings a

(06:23):
little bit and have that like first effort vescence of
like ooh. I liked this sensation.

Speaker 2 (06:29):
However, from her perspective, Sanctum didn't offer the depth of
community that other sex parties have been able to In part,
she feels because the elite and exclusive nature of it
creates a kind of performativity that can be a barrier
to connection.

Speaker 8 (06:45):
I feel like spaces to explore sexuality should be affordable
and accessible. I would say that Sanctum is a very glamorous,
elite sex that focuses on aesthetic and offers opportunities to
be a voyeur and to dip your toes into the

(07:09):
realm of sex parties. But I would say that it
does not necessarily offer the authenticity of intimacy. I think
that anonymous element is actually a really huge part of it,
and it's funny because it's personified literally through the mask
that is the emblem of Sanctom, and it encourages you

(07:34):
to continue wearing the mask, not literally but symbolically. And
I feel as though some of the other sex party
experiences I've had really wants you to take off these
layers so that you can connect deeper in maybe that
intimate way you've never shared with anyone else before, but

(07:56):
in a space that you can be held in and seen.

Speaker 2 (07:59):
So like Sanctum was fun for sure, but for Lea,
and I'm sure a lot of other people. There's something
about having a more inclusive space that allows for a
more meaningful community to develop too. Of anyone we spoke to,
Ambrose's experience of Sanctum was definitely the most complicated. He

(08:20):
held multiple positions throughout his three years working the club,
from the bunny role he was hired for, to being
a dom to a live sex performer, and as we
talked about, a side hustle sex worker, and there were
some times when the club was empowering for him.

Speaker 9 (08:36):
It meant so many different things to me at different
points at Sanctum, I was in the dom role, Like
I was like the house dom and stuff, and like
sometimes during that time it was literally what was saving
me and keeping my head above water because I felt
so meek and small and like fragile from my abusive
ex And then I'd like be able to come to

(08:57):
Sanctum and like step into those six inch I heels
that I wore, whar this tight skirt thing or what
have you, and have the whip, but know that people
listen to me and looked up to me and whatnot.
It definitely kind of helped me through that in some.

Speaker 2 (09:12):
Ways, at other times it sucked, if you remember. Ambrose
also talked about being sexually assaulted by guests, particularly one
creep who was trying to put his fingers in Ambrose's
vagina when he wasn't looking, which clearly falls into the
category of never fucking do that. I mean, I've said
it before, but it bears repeating. Sanctum was a messy

(09:35):
free for all at times. Stuff that was happening at
the club in twenty thirteen, even twenty seventeen would never
fly now.

Speaker 9 (09:43):
They didn't like teach people enough about like informed consents.

Speaker 1 (09:48):
They would also like, let you drink a lot.

Speaker 9 (09:50):
And it wasn't until like towards the end of being
there that they tried to cut back on people's drinking
as performers. And I feel like it definitely added to
my alcohol problem, And there were different times when I
got coke from people who worked there or people who
were guested there who had it.

Speaker 2 (10:11):
Ambrose's experience was also especially complicated because of his close
personal relationship with Damon. They've both said that for years
during Sanctum they felt almost like siblings. They were each
other's confidants. However, after Ambrose left Sanctum and had more
distance from it, His feelings about his time there started
to sour. He started talking negatively about the club publicly

(10:34):
saying that Sanctum was a toxic working environment, and Daemon
was upset about it and also confused because he says,
Ambrose never aired those grievances with him personally. Today they
don't speak. Of course, our experiences of our lives, sex,
very much included, are not binary. Something can be fun

(10:56):
and enlightening and traumatizing all at once. It's like a
but for feelings. Or sometimes something can feel okay or
even good in the moment, and then years later we
look back and think, oh my god, how did I
survive that.

Speaker 10 (11:12):
For lobsters, right, you put them in the water and
then it starts boiling and they're like, oh, what a
nice warm Beth. They don't realize they're in the boiling
water till it's killing them. And I didn't realize I
was in a not great environment. So it was like,
you're really not okay for me.

Speaker 9 (11:30):
In some ways I regret it. In some ways, I
wouldn't change anything.

Speaker 2 (11:34):
What seems consistent is that people were changed by their
time at Sanctum. For better and sometimes for worse. Despite
the emotional chaos, rampant elitism, and murky boundaries, Sanctum was
able to offer something to people that they couldn't find elsewhere.
When I asked Melissa about the cultural significance of Sanctum,
she had this to say.

Speaker 11 (11:55):
I think as a society, as a community, I think
it's a good thing to open up the dialogue of
sex and sexuality. And if Sanctum was that, then I
think that that's great. I'm sure it helped some couples.
I'm sure it tore some couples apart. It did for me,
you know, my relationship fell apart. But I do feel like,

(12:20):
all in all, it's exactly as it should have been.

Speaker 2 (12:25):
What's that saying hindsight is I was twenty twenty. But
where are Damon and Melissa today? We'll get to them
after the break. So when we left you last episode,

(12:50):
Damon was confronting the reality of his sex and alcohol addictions,
and he ultimately decided to sell Sanctum, a decision he
never thought he'd make. And if you've been following the show,
you know that Damon went on quite the odyssey to
get to that point. From bankruptcy to billionaire orgies, to
blood oath initiation rituals, Damon achieved his crazy, honestly stoned

(13:14):
sounding dream. Who have thought Tom crowse would be so inspirational.
Damon bluffed his way to incredible success and then delivered.
And throughout this process, his morals were tested and he
was forced to make big decisions. When I asked Damon
if he feels he chose wisely, he said this.

Speaker 4 (13:34):
These were things that I couldn't say no to. You know,
I had to go on this journey. But having done it,
you know, if someone could give me this time machine
and say you can go back to that time and
you can just put your head down and keep selling
real estate and not have created this thing at this
moment in my life, I would have never drawne that symbol.

(13:55):
I would have never gone on this journey because losing
and giving up and pushing away the things that meant
and mean the most to me in this life was
a mistake.

Speaker 5 (14:10):
That's my truth.

Speaker 2 (14:13):
So we all know Damon's like, whoops, I gave up
my family for this dream. But you might be asking yourself,
where's Melissa in all of this? I don't know about you,
but I'm really invested in her happiness. By this point,
Melissa was always Damon's biggest supporter, through the good and
the bad. Through losing everything in the financial crisis, escaping

(14:35):
to Bali only for Damon to refuse to pay them
mafia and almost get himself killed. Through raising kids, infidelity,
dealing with substance abuse issues, multiple emotional breakdowns, more infidelity, divorce.
You can imagine how that relationship today might be difficult,
But actually they're pretty good friends and successfully co parenting

(14:57):
their kids. Melissa is now happily living that domesticated family life.
She always felt drawn to remember her boyfriend Billy, who
she broke up with to get back with Damon, only
for it to crash and burn for the seventieth time. Well,
Billy ended up sticking around.

Speaker 11 (15:13):
Currently, I'm remarried with four teenagers living in Westwood, super
domesticated life or like the Brady Bunch.

Speaker 2 (15:23):
That's Damon and Melissa's two daughters plus Billy's two teenage
kids as well, living that mixed family Kardashian general lifestyle.

Speaker 11 (15:31):
I'm going to culinary school, taking a course in restaurant
management because I have been asked to open a restaurant
with a friend of mine, and I'm like, well, yes, but.

Speaker 1 (15:42):
I don't know anything about the restaurant business. So currently
that's literally what I'm doing. I'm like in school and
I'm a mom and just live in here doing the thing.

Speaker 2 (15:54):
When I asked Damon how things were going between him
and Melissa, now you could tell it was a vulnerable
question for him.

Speaker 5 (16:01):
I'm curious to know what she would say.

Speaker 4 (16:03):
You know, our relationship now is very loving, very caring,
but we don't spend much time together. She is married
and she is on her own path, and she's trying
to make the best life she can with her new husband.
And you know, she has the kids far more than
I do. I do plan on adjusting that now soon.

(16:27):
But our relationship is as good as it can be.
You know, we shared an intimacy and a love and
a companionship that we just can't anymore. But we are
very kind and civil and good with each other. I
hope that she would say the same thing to me.
I mean, is she carrying around like animosity and like
bad feelings towards me? I mean maybe somewhere, but she
doesn't express it to me.

Speaker 1 (16:48):
He seems great and better than I've ever seen him.

Speaker 11 (16:50):
And I'm proud of where he's come from and everything
that he's done and gone through and he's come out
the other side, and you know, we're still great friends
to this day.

Speaker 2 (17:01):
I mean, you know, he says, if I could go back,
I would never do it.

Speaker 5 (17:05):
Yeah, I know.

Speaker 1 (17:05):
He said that to me all the time, and.

Speaker 2 (17:09):
I don't want to put words of mouth, although I'm
not really, but I think he's like not over it.

Speaker 11 (17:13):
I represent a security for him. It took care of him,
cooked for him, coddled him. I was a loving, affectionate
like I was all of that enveloped for him for years.
I was also incredibly codependent, you know, like I'm doing

(17:33):
my own therapy and work on myself and I'm the
biggest codependent there is, you know. So I just wanted
to be loved and I just thought that that's what
it was, and so I gave everything and then some
and the boundaries were pushed and I didn't care, and
I just kept the relationship afloat and a float and

(17:53):
a float, and that was that's on me. You know,
I'm still that woman, and I'm still doing all the
things taking care of my family, taking care of my
new husband. But I think that I represent security, and
I'm the mother of his kids, and I know that
he loves them, and I know that he loves me deeply.

Speaker 2 (18:13):
Damon and Melissa met when they were really young. She
was eighteen, he was twenty six, and they were together
for twenty years. That's a long time. Actually, it's three
times longer than the average celebrity marriage. Fun fact, if
anyone cares. And in that time they realized that what
they each needed to be happy was really different. It's
a familiar story. You remember Hadria, Damon's sister. Well, she

(18:38):
and Melissa are still close too, and they still sometimes
get together and gossip about Damon. I mean, how could.

Speaker 12 (18:45):
You not Damon when he met mel I feel like
they were partying a lot. They grew together, but a
part in ways, because Damon is still Damon and mel
kind of grew up and they still have an incredible
love for each other and an understand I don't think
anybody understands Damon the way mel does. But as I
was saying, you look at her partner. He's not like Damon,

(19:08):
Mel's husband now, he's like super grounded, works hard, does
well You know, it's like stable.

Speaker 2 (19:17):
Which is what Melissa always wanted. Stability. And while Damon
has many wonderful qualities, I think he himself would admit
that stability has not been one of his top priorities.
But one thing he does excel at is saying exactly
what's on his mind, which is a quality that's perhaps polarizing,
but that I definitely feel drawn to. It certainly makes

(19:39):
for a good podcast subject. At least. It's this sort
of unfiltered honesty that is made speaking with Damon over
these past months so fun because he says shit like this.

Speaker 4 (19:51):
I mean, I've always wondered I'm going to say it
out loud, because fuck it, you know, I've always wondered
what it would be like if we had sex again.

Speaker 5 (19:57):
Like I can't help but wonder.

Speaker 4 (19:59):
I mean, we're like brother and sister in a way
at this point, but I still wonder, like, what would
it be like if me the way I am now
and her the way she is now, if we came
together and we could really just like have that experience.
I mean, it might be just fucking stellar. You know,
I don't know, and I'm never gonna find out, but.

Speaker 5 (20:22):
I just said it out loud.

Speaker 4 (20:24):
I hope you're listening, Melissa, She's gonna be like, Damon,
shut the fuck up, what the fuck is wrong with you?

Speaker 2 (20:31):
I can tell you hear her saying that right now,
and I can hear her saying that too. So Damon
and Melissa's daughters are now fourteen and seventeen, which is
a complicated period of your life to confront the fact
that your dad ran, you know, the most elite sex
club in the world. It's kind of a given that

(20:52):
no one wants to think too hard about their parents
having sex, let alone having blood, ritual porn, fivesomes or
whatever the fuck Damon was up too. But Damion and
Melissa are doing their best to manage this reality for
their daughters in whatever ways they can.

Speaker 1 (21:07):
They don't follow him on social media.

Speaker 11 (21:09):
We've like blocked that connection, like we got smart with
all of that because we weren't back then. He's sat
them down and talked to them about what he did
for a living. And I know they've seen some imagery
online because you can google it and you can find
a whole bunch of stuff.

Speaker 1 (21:27):
So I know that they've done that.

Speaker 11 (21:28):
They all have phones, they all have access to the Internet,
so cats out of the bag, like they know. But
the thing with our girls is they're very mature. They
are super savvy and street smart.

Speaker 1 (21:43):
It just is what it is.

Speaker 11 (21:44):
And I think they love their dad so much and
they love me so much, and.

Speaker 1 (21:49):
It's just an accepted part of their lives.

Speaker 2 (21:54):
But also there might be some perks to your dad
being a former sex god.

Speaker 4 (21:58):
I'm so when they can talk about anything about sexuality
with them, not like, you know, make sure he wears
a condom, which of course is important, but like there's
other parts of sexuality they're important too, you know, And
I'm able to talk to them about that stuff, like
have conversations, Like sex can be fucking amazing and beautiful,
but you have to really be open with your partner
and talk about it before and some of it's going

(22:20):
to be embarrassing, So like, you know, make sure that
you have a dialogue because it's going to be a
major part of your relationship.

Speaker 5 (22:25):
It just is.

Speaker 2 (22:28):
So one of the most interesting parts of this whole
story to me is that after all of his exploration,
after years of doing sanctum, trying nominogamy, fucking ten thousand women,
and flogging every willing Hoe in Beverly Hills in search
of sexual enlightenment. After all that, where Demons ended up

(22:48):
today is he's realized that what's right for him is monogamy.

Speaker 11 (22:53):
I know.

Speaker 2 (22:54):
Right now. Demon says he's been alcohol free and casual
sex free for about a year and have and that
journey began at the start of twenty twenty two with
sixty days of celibacy.

Speaker 4 (23:06):
I mean, I've been in AA and I spent a
lot of time. Then I did the steps and all
of that. But you know, when I went to the
sex anonymous meetings, I don't know, I felt uncomfortable there.
It didn't feel like it was working, or I shouldn't
say it didn't feel like it was working. I didn't
give it a chance to work. But what I did
was I just because alcohol is abstinence, I decided to

(23:26):
be sexually abstinate, you know, I decided to be celibate.
And in sixty days of celibacy, my compulsions and the
things that I was doing became under control and I
and one day at a time, I would say like, okay,
no texting, you know, no sending videos back and forth.
If you receive a video deleted immediately, like any interactions
you have with women are platonic. You are not having
sex one day at a time.

Speaker 2 (23:48):
After sixty days of not railing, for the first time
in years, he felt like he had some semblance of
control over his sexuality. He felt good, and he discovered
this this other crazy thing, which is that you can
be a man who's actually just friends with women who
knew now. Damon says a primary focus of his life

(24:11):
is making sure that he maintains discipline when it comes
to his addictions, because he wants to show up as
his best self for his family, and he's actually really
enjoying his new, less unhinged lifestyle. Yeah.

Speaker 4 (24:23):
I mean, it's an alcoholic, always an alcoholic. I mean probably,
it's a sex addict, always a sex addict. Probably it's
in you. But you know, if you do the work,
then I don't have the cravings to either drink or
you know, engage in sort of like sexual activity that
could be harming to myself or others. And when I
say harming, I don't mean in the sense that I
would ever do anything nonconsensual, because I wouldn't, but that

(24:44):
I would do things that maybe would harm a relationship
I'm inn I would do things that were just extremely
selfish and I just didn't care. I didn't give a fuck,
Whereas now I do feel like, you know, I have
a responsibility to the people in my life that I
care about and that I love, you know, and I
want to be who I am today.

Speaker 2 (25:00):
Essentially, after rebelling against the status quo, after his Holier
than Now monogamy is for idiots, marriage is bullshit era,
he was able to step back, assess his own experiences,
and make an informed decision about what actually makes him happy.

Speaker 4 (25:18):
I stepped into monogamy with a feeling that this is
how it had to be. That's all I heard growing up,
and that's all I knew. And I was like, I
don't like being forced into this thing. I'm going to
rebel against it. And boy did I rebel against it.

Speaker 11 (25:29):
Right.

Speaker 4 (25:29):
Like, if you force people to do things that you
think are morally right, if you force them into that
place and you cancel or shame them because they're not
in that place, they're going to rebel against it. What
I learned was that once I was given sort of
my free will back, Okay, damon, you're free choose what's
best for you. I actually ended up choosing monogamy and

(25:53):
committing to it as a personal decision, and it made
such a fucking difference.

Speaker 11 (25:59):
Right.

Speaker 2 (26:00):
Doing something by default doesn't leave much room for autonomy.
And this isn't to say that monogamy is right or wrong.
The point is not being shoehorned into a lifestyle because
you know, society told you it was the only option,
having the space and opportunity to choose something that's really powerful.
Until recently, Demon was in a monogamous relationship for one

(26:23):
year until they mutually called it quits. But the monogamy
was a positive experience. Now he's single, and according to him,
he's decided to only have sex within the context of
a committed relationship.

Speaker 4 (26:36):
I am experiencing sexual enlightenment, but as far as, like,
you know, really having sort of a transcendent sexual experience,
I'm finding that it comes with commitment to a person
and trust and feeling really safe with that person. You know,
having that kind of sexual enlightenment cannot come from having
multiple partners and different people every night. And you know,

(26:57):
can you find it there? I didn't find it there.

Speaker 2 (27:03):
There's a quote from the famous sex therapist Esther Perel
that I really love and I think is relevant here
she says, sometimes when we seek the gaze of another
it isn't our partner we are turning away from, but
the person we have become. We are not looking for
another lover as much as another version of ourselves. Basically,

(27:26):
it can be unfortunately easy to start feeling like you're
boring or unattractive, or like your life has become too predictable,
And a big way that many of us try and
mend that problem is by seeking out someone new who
could make us feel desired or interesting through their eyes.
And it works for a while, at least until you

(27:47):
have to do it again and again, and you know, it's,
like Melissa said last episode, I'm paraphrasing, but if you're
trying to fill the emotional black hole inside your chest
by fucking as zillion people, it's.

Speaker 1 (28:00):
Not going to work.

Speaker 2 (28:01):
Ultimately, it's about are you enough? Sure? Sanctum and all
the sex and praise and celebrity it brought to Damon
made him feel special, but like with any addiction, the
highs were high but short lived, and the lows made
him want to blow his fucking brains out. His words

(28:22):
clearly this emotional rollercoaster was rough on Melissa too, but
there was something she took away from spending so much
time with all those pervs.

Speaker 11 (28:31):
In my sex life. Now, I am not any of
those things. I'm not kinky like, I'm not like that.
But what I did take away from that whole experience is,
you know, a knowledge of human desires and what people
want and need. I saw so many different types of

(28:53):
people at that club, because there's a lot of celebrities
that went.

Speaker 1 (28:57):
There, are a lot of moms and dads that went,
people that you would think would be at a club
like that.

Speaker 11 (29:02):
So now when I walk around on the street or
when I'm like in some kind of social place, I'm like,
mm hmm, you don't fool.

Speaker 1 (29:08):
Me with that, Paullyanna look you're trying.

Speaker 11 (29:10):
To do Because everybody I think has some kind of
interest or some kind of thing with like exploring that
where they want to tell you that or not.

Speaker 2 (29:21):
It's true. Believe me, I've interviewed enough square seeming marine
biologists who moonlight as professional doms to know that while
one may read as normcore, there's a good chance they're
actually a freak from how It's part of what makes
people so weird and exciting, and as hard as it

(29:41):
all was for Melissa, she's come to accept the journey
for everything it represents.

Speaker 1 (29:47):
It was an interesting part of my life, for better
or worse.

Speaker 11 (29:50):
I don't really regret it, like it's all part of
the movie, the Story of my life.

Speaker 1 (29:54):
It was a chapter. It happened. I own it. I
did it, like just that's what I was.

Speaker 2 (30:05):
Interestingly, in the process of making this podcast and reflecting
on his own experiences, Damon made some unexpected discoveries about
his past. If you remember a few episodes back, we
learned about Demon and Hadria's childhood growing up in northern
California and a household full of alcohol and drugs, physical
and sexual abuse. In one particularly harrowing moment, Hadria recalled

(30:30):
being present while Damon, who was six at the time,
was being molested by an older family member of theirs,
and what Hadria didn't realize during our conversation was that
Damon actually didn't remember her witnessing that well.

Speaker 4 (30:44):
Before she did the podcast, she said, can I talk
about everything?

Speaker 3 (30:47):
You know?

Speaker 4 (30:47):
Is there anything off the table? And I said, no,
I've I talked about our childhood. I'm not holding anything back,
and then afterwards, you know, she said, I talked a
little bit about what happened with you. And I was like,
what do you mean, And she was like, well, I
was there. I had forgotten that. I had forgotten that
she was in the room when it was happening and
she was watching. I don't know if I had forgotten

(31:07):
it or blocked it out, but when she said it,
I instantly remembered that she was there. I instantly remembered
moments when she said to me, like, I want to
do this too with you. It looked fun because you're
a kid, and it does look fun, probably, And I said, no,
I must have known that it wasn't okay. We were
there together in this, in this insanity and this abuse,

(31:31):
and we were like each other's there was no one
else there to protect us.

Speaker 5 (31:38):
But each other. And yeah, so like I knew that,
I knew that I couldn't.

Speaker 4 (31:45):
I knew that I didn't want to cross that line
with her even as a little kid.

Speaker 2 (31:53):
After this revelation, demon put together that there might be
some connection between his sister watching him expe sperience this
as a child, and thirty five years later choosing to
have sex in front of an audience at Sanctum.

Speaker 4 (32:07):
At Sanctum, I mean it's fun to have people watch,
and I could almost feel especially energy from females who
are watching, like that feeling of like that looks fun.

Speaker 5 (32:18):
It's so weird. It's what happened when with my sister
though that looks fun.

Speaker 4 (32:23):
This is like the stuff you talk about with a shrink, right,
I mean it really is, like, you know, to be
saying all of this out loud is insane.

Speaker 2 (32:31):
Perhaps insane, but also interesting. I guess podcast interviews are
the new therapy.

Speaker 5 (32:37):
God.

Speaker 4 (32:37):
All of that stuff is just so intense and I
definitely have like pushed it down and in some ways,
you know, this project Sanctum was, you know that there
was a lot of that in there. There was this
incredible childlike beauty and curiosity about sexuality mixed with this
darkness of abuse and confusion.

Speaker 5 (32:57):
And that's what Sanctum was.

Speaker 12 (32:59):
I do want about Sanctom Why Damon chose all that
and then getting celebrities to think she's great and all
the people celebrating him, and its confusing as being sexually abused,
Like physically it feels good, but maybe it's not good,
Like how do you connect those two. That's what's so
confusing about sex in general. I think that what Damon

(33:22):
and I went through as children definitely fucked us up somewhat.
I know I have issues that I'm still working through.

Speaker 5 (33:29):
I think he is too.

Speaker 12 (33:31):
I feel like he's in a much better place, and
it seems like that's where he is now.

Speaker 2 (33:39):
Obviously growing up together in that often dark and chaotic environment,
demon and Hadria share a specific and special connection. Like Melissa,
Hadrian knows Damon in a rare and intimate way. She
knows his joys and his pains. She knows him at
his best and his worst too, and like any sibling,
sometimes she like to drag him.

Speaker 12 (34:01):
I love him. I think that Gamon is he doesn't
even realize sometimes what he does. I was talking to
Melissa about this, like he's kind of like, oh did
I do that? Like I didn't realize that my behavior
had affected you, kind of thing like well in a
china shop.

Speaker 2 (34:19):
So basically, Damon's a hasti verkle. But seriously, those who
know Damon best seem to mostly agree that his sometimes
shitty behavior isn't coming from a place of malice or manipulation.
He's just kind of clueless about it. Like Mike Sager
put it, Damon just blunders forward. And honestly, all those

(34:39):
billionaires and slubs that were jizzing all over his living
room should be grateful for that, because Demon could have
been way more conniving with the power he amasked.

Speaker 4 (34:48):
People were telling me at one point, like, you should
get collateral on these people, you should hide cameras, so like,
you know, you've got these billionaires fucking you know, these
these girls, you've got like all these celebrities. If you
had that man, you'd control Hollywood. But thank god, my
instinct was to be like, ah nah, that's fucked up.
Like I don't want to be that person, because I've

(35:09):
made so many fucked up moral decisions in my life.
You know, I've done stupid things. And I understand how
you could cross that line. I understand how you could
take that power and be like, Okay, let's create like
a secret cult for just these women, and we'll brand
them and they'll be.

Speaker 5 (35:24):
Like our slaves.

Speaker 4 (35:25):
But luckily I could see how just manipulative and fucked up.

Speaker 2 (35:30):
That is. Lucky for the billionaires. Damon cared more about
blowjobs than blackmail, as we've learned. While all the money
and validation from celebrities were definitely perks, Damon's goal was
more about sexual enlightenment, even if that desire led him
down some dark paths. And Hadria sees that too.

Speaker 12 (35:51):
He's very spiritual, you know, but he's always right too,
Like what he's doing in the moment is acceptable and right,
and then maybe after the fact to look back and
he'll think, that's not who I want to be. I
want to do esteemable acts and be a good person.
And like when he was doing Sanctum it was great,
and now that he's not doing it, I think that

(36:14):
he sees the things that aren't good anymore. It's funny
because he's really naive in ways. He's not out to
hurt anybody, because there's no time for that. It's Damon's world.
It's like he's a spiritual narcissist.

Speaker 2 (36:29):
You can always count on your siblings to be a
little too real with you. But also, I mean, who
among us hasn't looked back at our past and cringed
about something or realized we were living life in a
way that felt right at the time, but now looking
back seems deranged. I'm pretty sure, that's called growth. After
the break, I go to Sanctum.

Speaker 13 (36:51):
Yay.

Speaker 2 (37:03):
So a few weeks ago I finally went to Sanctum
for the first time. This is Sanctum in its new incarnation,
of course, if you remember from last episode. In twenty nineteen,
Damon sold the club to an anonymous investment group called
The Circle. Fittingly, I have to admit I went to
the party not expecting to love it. I just anticipated

(37:24):
it being a bit elitist and cheesy.

Speaker 11 (37:26):
You know.

Speaker 2 (37:26):
I was being pretentious about the expectation of other people
being pretentious. But honestly, I had the best time, and
I'm truly not just saying that because this is a
podcast about Sanctum. Remember, they confiscate your phone at the door,
so I don't have any photos or audio from the night,
so you'll just have to take my word for it.
The party starts late, so I showed up at eleven thirty.

(37:50):
I'd come from a birthday party and was wearing a
sun dress with healed sandals. I'd brought a nicer outfit
for the party, but I was being lazy and thought
that I could maybe get away with what I had
on and the dormant immediately looked me up and down
and made a really disappointed face. And I was like,
I have a slugier outfit in my bag, should I change?
And he was like, please, l rude. So I put

(38:12):
on a corset dress and stilettos, and honestly, thank god
because when I got in, everyone was very elegantly dressed,
like tuxes or chic cocktail dresses or a lot of
the women were wearing extremely high end slash complicated lingerie.
There were about one hundred and fifty people there. No
one was wearing a mask. Interestingly, I guess we're in
a post mass society. To give you a picture, the

(38:35):
party was at a giant penthouse in downtown LA. The
place was crazy. It took up the entire top floor,
so all the exterior walls were these ginormous floored ceiling
windows that had epic sweeping views of the city. The
main area was a big open living room space with
a free bar, and then there was a handful of bedrooms,
which is where most of the fucking was happening. And

(38:58):
then you could walk up this grand staircase to the roof,
where there was a glamorous pool and a hot couple
of naked, coked up hot girls giving blowdrops, and network
execs all overlooking the glimmering lights of Los Angeles. So basically,
would all of those QAnon freaks think that Hollywood people
are up to They're right, at least in this case.

(39:18):
There was actually more racial diversity than I expected based
on what we heard about Sanctum and its previous incarnation. However,
it was still overwhelmingly white. It also skooed younger than
I would have thought. The majority of people were mid
twenties to forty ish, which is younger than in the
Damon days. I guess it's all that young tech money.
Of course, the hottest guy talked to there founded a

(39:39):
vight pen company, and Damon was there too, So in
the years since he sold the club, he has not
said the nicest things about its current iteration, saying that
it feels sanitized, more corporate, that sort of thing. However,
he's recently gone to the party a couple times after
having not been in over a year, and he had
an ex experienced that he wasn't expecting.

Speaker 4 (40:02):
Strangely enough, I went, and I was so happy and
impressed by what the new owner is doing. It felt
like a family reunion in some ways. There was so
much love in that room. There's a lot of sexuality,
and there were great people, and yeah, I just saw
that like this thing that I created that I sort
of have been in a way talking down on, you know,

(40:24):
because for me, it was something that I needed to
walk away from, and maybe to walk away from it,
I had to have some animosity for it.

Speaker 5 (40:31):
But being there, I didn't hate.

Speaker 4 (40:33):
It at all, and I saw that I did create
something really beautiful and really special.

Speaker 2 (40:38):
Honestly, he was kind of a celebrity at the party.
A lot of people knew who he was and wanted
to talk to him, and he was constantly surrounded by
women who wanted him to tie them up in shibari
rope bondage. I saw a couple of real celebrities, but
iHeart lawyers won't let us drop any names, which is annoying. Also,
I probably shouldn't out people if I want to be
invited back. A real takeaway from Sanctum for me was

(41:00):
how almost eerily nice everybody was. There's also something about
being in an environment where people are naked and having
sex that just shatter social norms. It makes people way
more likely to talk to strangers and just be vaguely
unhinged in a fun way. And while it's annoying that
I don't have any audio to play you from the night,
it's also just so nice to be at a party

(41:21):
where no one is texting or in a selfiek hole.
I got a chance to talk to Robert Artes, who's
now the managing director at Sanctum, about all of this.

Speaker 14 (41:31):
I mean, it's like no other party and a degree
of openness people have and how friendly they are. I'm
continuously kind of surprised and our guests to come. Often
the feedback that we get is about the crowd and
the experience of meeting these other people.

Speaker 2 (41:44):
Currently, Sanctum hosts regular parties in New York and LA
and occasional one offs in places like Miami and London.
In Manhattan, they have a massive three story penthouse where
they host all of their events, and the payment structure
has stayed somewhat the same sense. Damon sold it. If
you're approved into this exclusive society, one off tickets to

(42:06):
the party start at twenty five hundred dollars per couple.
A yearly membership is twelve five hundred dollars. A Dominance
membership is fifty thousand dollars a year, and there is
also still a Violet Key benefactor tier, which they treat
as more of an investor than a member that sells
for one million dollars. Rich people are fucking crazy, And

(42:31):
I mean, yeah, this shit is definitely elitist, but so
is a lot of stuff like I can't go to
the metcalap But I don't think that means it should
be canceled. I do think it's valid to examine the
ways that the vast inequalities in our society can be problematic,
and this is in part what we have attempted to

(42:51):
do on this podcast. Interestingly, when I was at Sanctum,
the majority of guests did not have sex. For the record,
neither did I. I can barely hold hands in public,
let alone hook up in front of an audience. Many
of the guests I spoke to about why they came
to Sanctum said something similar Basically, where else can you
get the experience of watching other people have sex and

(43:14):
be part of that energy? I mean, fair point. The
basic party format is the same as when Damon was
running it. They still have the choreograph live sex shows. Obviously,
there are some things about the party that are different now.
I mean, in a post me to world, how could
there not be.

Speaker 14 (43:32):
There was nothing so much that I wanted to change
drastically about it, but I wanted it to evolve. I mean,
we are a sex positive brand, and one thing that's
incredibly important to us, and it's prerequisite for this working
at all, is that we operate, for instance, on affirmative consent.
If someone violates a core conduct, we have essentially a
one strike policy. They just won't be friends.

Speaker 2 (43:51):
Fact, the club also occupies a different space culturally now,
but according to Robert, that doesn't make it any less relevant.

Speaker 14 (43:58):
I think when it starts, it was on the fringes,
but his time goes on, it's becoming less on the fringes.
It's become edgy now. So I think the culture is shifting,
and I think has a role in shifting the culture
as well, showing people that this can be something beautiful.

Speaker 2 (44:13):
And it is beautiful, or at least beautiful enough that
I stayed until four am and made roughly ten thousand
new best friends that I'll probably never speak to again.

Speaker 4 (44:22):
When I was running it, you know, especially in the heyday.
I had management coming at some point and start to
kind of take over because to me, it was like,
this is our world to just be fucking debochrous and
anything goes. And you know, I don't like to say
this out loud, but my performers were fucking guests and
it was a free for all at times. But that
doesn't happen anymore. He drew the line because he's a

(44:43):
businessman and so with that mindset, it's a different party.
He found a way to sort of contain the parts
that maybe weren't okay and still make it an incredible party.
He took what I did, and he made it safer.

Speaker 2 (45:01):
Now, while Damon acknowledges all that's great about Sanctum today,
he doesn't think it's perfect. And who can create the
perfect sex club. Well, according to Damon, it's him and
him alone, and so, shock horror, Damon is about to
start another sex club. The club, which launches this summer,

(45:22):
is called Puzzle. According to the website, it's a quote
sensual utopia for fine dining and celebration in a member's
only sanctuary on the Sunset Strip. So Puzzle will feature
fifteen dining tables, a swanky bar, a dance floor, and
there will also be some tables with privacy curtains so
people can indulge a bit more so to speak, so

(45:45):
also sometimes host pajama parties. It's essentially a hybrid between
what Sanctum was and a brick and mortar restaurant. There
are three membership tiers. The top is ten thousand dollars
a year, the bottom is twenty five hundred dollars a year,
plus the arm and a leg. You'll spend on the
fancy food and champagne of course, And as the Puzzle
application makes very clear, quote if you are accepted as

(46:08):
a member of Puzzle, know how special you are. We
don't have enough space to say yes to many. In fact,
we only have room for the best. In other words,
this podcast has not solved economic inequality. Damon's also launching
a new cannabis brand, aptly titled sex Weed. Honestly, I

(46:29):
got to give it to him. The name is good.

Speaker 4 (46:32):
I'm working on some incredible things right now, and I'm
really excited about what's next for me. The things that
I'm interested now in doing still involve sexuality. There's this
skill set that I have that not that many people have,
and I don't understand what it is exactly, but it
comes from this root of love for being together with

(46:53):
another person, for making love and feeling those feelings. So
I'm not abandoning sexuality, but I I'm ruining myself more
in a place of how can I make these experiences
the most beautiful and the most healthy that they can be.

Speaker 2 (47:09):
So the question we keep coming back to on this
podcast is what happens when you shed societal expectations and
just unapologetically pursue personal sexual freedom. What do you gain
from that? And does there have to be a cost? Well,
I think there's a lot to be gained. It's potentially

(47:30):
an incredible adventure full of fun, weird, sexy, hilarious and
connective experiences. There's also a lot of self knowledge to
be gained in the exploration of sexuality.

Speaker 13 (47:41):
But yeah, I.

Speaker 2 (47:43):
Do think there's also a cost to this sort of pursuit.
The physical and emotional vulnerability that's inherent in this exploration
is risky fucking territory. Hello, That's why most people don't
do it. For Damon, obviously, the cost was his marriage
and not being around so much during his daughter's childhoods Unsurprisingly,

(48:04):
a common cost of pursuing sexual freedom is sacrificing the
opportunity to have a more traditional, committed relationship. As the
platitude goes, there's no reward without risk. But we also
have to ask what does sexual freedom mean anyway? Does
true freedom mean being able to do whatever the fuck

(48:25):
you want twenty four to seven or does it mean
something different? Because having zero boundaries isn't the same as
being free. It might seem counterintuitive, but boundaries can actually
be well Freeing limits help provide a structure for our
lives and help to clarify expectations, which can be grounding

(48:46):
and can make us feel safe. And there's no freedom
without safety. Also, too much choice can be oppressive and exhausting.
It's like when you go to Sephora and are faced
with a wall of forty thousand vitamin C serums and
you freeze and then spend forty five minutes panic googling
reviews and they get so overwhelmed that you leave with nothing.

(49:07):
The irony is demon needed to make those choices, to
take that risk in order to learn that actually it
wasn't a risk worth taking, at least for him.

Speaker 4 (49:19):
And I do think that I started Sanctum with an
idea of this like spiritualized sexual experience, but I got
caught up in the ego of it. So rather than
just say, okay, well this was all a wasted effort,
what I'm feeling now really truly is that this was
an incredible learning experience and I can go into places
I wasn't aware of before and really make some special

(49:41):
things happen. You know. I just want to be a
great dad. I want to be a great ex husband.
Maybe I can go on to do something that has
some real value.

Speaker 2 (49:52):
Our pal, Mike Saeger, had one final poignant observation.

Speaker 3 (49:57):
The conflict was Damon. He missed Melissa because he's a lover,
not a fighter. He wants to be in a relationship.
He's like the caricature of a man in that sense,
wanting variety and yet wanting to be loved. Damon made
that perfect kind of character that he's got it all,
but he's not happy because he just wants to be

(50:19):
like the rest of us. And that's the thing that
really strikes any audience. That's why fallible heroes and underdogs
are the best characters in literature and storytelling, because people
identify with that.

Speaker 2 (50:35):
And this is probably why you listener have made it here,
because Damon's story, as bizarre and outlandish as it is,
is inherently relatable and obviously all the blood of Ceremony
stuff was hilarious too. But maybe something about this story
sparked a curiosity about these things for yourself. So what

(50:55):
can you do to find sexual enlightenment if you can't
afford thousands of dollars for a ticket to an Illuminati
sex party? I don't fucking know. I don't know you,
But a good first step, as Damon has pointed out,
is to ask ourselves what would I want if I
could have anything? Because when we break through our mental

(51:16):
barriers and challenge the default settings we're taught to obey,
that's when we begin to understand what we want and need,
Like what turns me on? What kind of relationships make
me feel safe and fulfilled? Where can I buy one
of those sexy lamp costumes? And why the fuck is
sex work so taboo in our society? Why don't I
just ask my partner to strap me down on the

(51:38):
dining table and feed me lobster and donperi yon, or
more realistically, shrimp from prosecco and then have their way
with me. Having conversations about these things with your partner
or your friends will ideally make you feel less alone.
Like David Winkler said, You're not the only pervert in town.
Because true freedom, I think, is being able to decide

(52:01):
for yourself, whether that means having daily five sums to
the soundtrack of Monks Chanting or spending seventy years in
a monogamous relationship. But finding what works takes some trial
and error.

Speaker 4 (52:14):
And I'll leave it with this my Aunty West. You know,
when I was doing Sanctum, she was.

Speaker 5 (52:19):
Like, what are you doing to change the world?

Speaker 4 (52:22):
All these you know, rich guys and young girls and
it's just bullshit? And I'd be like, no, West, Like
I'm fucking opening up people's minds and like society's been
making people feel like sex was bad, and I'm like
liberating people you don't understand, you know. While I was
sort of like having that conversation with her and fighting

(52:43):
against that any of what she was saying could be real.
You know, with time, I look back and I think
maybe she was right about some of that. Maybe my
intentions were good, but maybe I wasn't getting it right,
and so yeah, maybe I'll get it right this time.

Speaker 2 (52:58):
And isn't that the hope for all of us? Then
we'll get it right this time. Okay, I gotta go.
I'm late for original sacrifice and I'm playing the Virgin
Sanctum Unmasted is the production of School of Humans and
iHeart Podcasts, Hosted and written by me Carly Schortina. Edily's

(53:22):
Perez is our lead producer and story editor. Amelia Brock
is our senior producer. Sound design, scoring and mixing by
George Hicks. Original music composed by Jesse Niswanger, backchecking by
Austin Thompson. Local illustration by Linda McNeil. Clay Hillenberg is
our recording engineer. Recorded at iHeart Studios in Los Angeles, California.

(53:43):
Executive producers are Nick Stump, Jason English, Virginia Prescott, Branded
barr Els Crowley, and me Carly Schortina. If you're enjoying
the show, help us get the word out by leaving
a rating in your favorite podcast app. You can keep
up with Damon on Instagram. He's at Father Damon. Thanks
for listening.
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