Swinging on the king’s couch


22 September 2013
The Sunday Times

MILLIONS saw the Frenchstyle sofa with its flaking gold paint in the Oscar-winning film The King’s Speech. Now the elegant piece of furniture on which King George VI, played by Colin Firth, sat during his visits to the speech therapist Lionel Logue, is to be seen in a very different role — as the centrepiece of a book that reveals the sexual adventures of London’s high-flyers.

During the day the couch was a prop in The King’s Speech, but at night it was used by members of an upmarket swingers’ club called Killing Kittens.

Now the woman behind the sex parties, Emma Sayle, a friend of the Duchess of Cambridge, is writing a tell-all account.

Sayle, 35, said last week: “That couch could write its own book. You have no idea how much action it has seen.”

The action has certainly been lucrative. Sayle’s club recorded a profit of £250,000 last year and has 40,000 members, with up to 200 attending each party.

The membership of Killing Kittens is said to include actors, footballers and a Scottish politician.

Party goers are meant to wear a mask — as in the film Eyes Wide Shut starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman — but sometimes famous clients and even work colleagues are recognised.

“We’ve had a lot of high-end legal and City people. The likes of Goldman Sachs and JP Morganbankers tend to be regular fixtures,” Sayle said.

“I would say 50% of people at the parties fall into the banking world. I think it’s their release, escapism.”

The sofa first appeared at the sex parties four years before the filming of The King’s Speech in 2010. It belonged to Edward Davenport, a convicted fraudster whose 24-bedroom mansion in Portland Place, central London, had played host to some of the parties.

“We brought it out of a cupboard where it was all dusty and said we were having that in our parties and it stayed out,” Sayle said.

Davenport, a property developer who organised the Gatecrasher balls for wealthy teenagers in the late 1980s, is now serving a seven-year prison sentence for fraud.

Sayle, a 6ft blonde, is a committed Christian who was educated at Downe House, a £30,000-a-year private boarding school in Berkshire. She never indulges in any of the louche activities at the parties she organises.

The events are held in hotels or private houses in the London area and only “good-looking people under the age of 45″ can take part. Couples pay from £150 and single girls from £50, but arranging a fantasy in which the victim is “kidnapped” by someone dressed as Marilyn Monroe or Superman can cost £5,000.

The daughter of a former defence attaché, Sayle insists that her book, Behind the Mask, to be published by HarperCollins next April, will not name any of those who have frolicked on the furniture. But it will describe some of the downsides of organising sex parties in drawing rooms.

Once a party was visited by police acting on a tip-off. “I did have to tell several girl members that the men weren’t in fancy dress, they were Metropolitan police,” Sayle said.

Sayle insists Killing Kittens is not sleazy and enforces a clear code of conduct. Men cannot approach women they do not know without an invitation. “It means that women are very much in control,” she said.

While clothes may be removed, this happens only in certain areas. “Things might happen in the playrooms, but when they come back down to the bar the clothes are back on,” Sayle said.

Despite that, business was brisk when the world’s fashion industry descended on London this month. “A group of five girls came along and three of them were London fashion week models,” she said.

Sayle, who met Kate Middleton when they were both training for a charity boat race, insisted that no real-life royals have been to the club or used the infamous sofa.