The Mail on Sunday
8th September 2012
By Emily Hill
Emma Sayle may arrive in what looks suspiciously like sleepwear, suffering from the after-effects of an all-day wine tasting – but she can go from slouch to sex kitten in 60 seconds. From her cavernous bag, Emma whips out a little blue dress by a chic Parisian designer. She smoothes her hair, moistens her lips, hoists her never-ending legs up on to the sofa – and all but purrs.
As the camera clicks and flashes, the 34-year-old sex-party entrepreneur suddenly remembers her one demand. ‘I don’t want to see the word “swinging” anywhere in the article,’ she announces. ‘ “Orgies” is fine.’
Seven years ago, Emma founded Killing Kittens, a company dedicated to helping women explore their fantasies. Ever since, in stately homes and luxury penthouses, she has hosted hundreds of exclusive sex parties for society’s most beautiful people.
Before Christian Grey was even a twinkle in E. L. James’s eye, Emma was empowering women to take control of their desires, in an emphatically liberated and sophisticated way.
The set-up is simple. Emma hosts two parties a month for the ‘sexual elite’ at secret, upmarket locations, which include a discreet boutique hotel in Surrey, country estates in Berkshire and West Sussex, and luxury penthouses in London and LA.
Emma Sayle organises sex parties for the elite
Emma Sayle organises sex parties for the elite
Those who hope to gain access must be aged between 18 and 45 and must either be a single girl or part of a couple. Applications are made via the Killing Kittens website and must be accompanied by a photograph. The parties cost between £120 and £150 for a couple, or £50 for a single girl.
It is free to apply, but a platinum membership, which includes one entry to a party a month among other perks, costs £100 a month.
Inside the party, there are three simple commands: ‘girls make the rules and only girls can break the rules’, ‘no means no’ and ‘men cannot approach women’. The guests arrive, immaculate in evening attire, with masks around their eyes. As the drink flows, the ladies will gradually peel off their cocktail dresses, revealing the expensive lingerie beneath.
The chosen men get to live out their fantasies; some ladies depart together. The intimacy all happens subtly at first, but as the night wears on virtually anything goes.
Boosted by the impact of Fifty Shades Of Grey, which has suddenly brought suppressed female desire screaming to the surface, applications to join Killing Kittens’ elite guest-list have soared this year. Its online membership now stands at 25,000 worldwide.
‘Our parties are very elitist, very underground,’ Emma explains. ‘The women are always in control. There is no tying up and no spanking. And we have strict vetting criteria.
‘If I wanted to open it up to anyone and everyone and make hundreds of millions of pounds, I could have done that in year one. But it’s all about keeping it really elite and niche.
‘It’s not the case that everyone has to be a supermodel but if you are ugly you can’t get in.
‘Everyone has to send a photograph if they want to join and we decide if they can or not. People don’t want someone weighing 20 stone walking in naked.
‘We have jazz, oysters and champagne – with a very posh crowd of about 100 people a time.
‘They are nice cocktail parties, really – and then you might go upstairs, or out on the terrace, and you’ll see stuff going on.
‘Some people come and get involved, and about 40 per cent don’t – they just dance around in their underwear and chat.’
What makes Killing Kittens unique among sex parties is that women have taken charge.
‘Since I set up Killing Kittens, there has been a lot of stigma against me – and there still is,’ says Emma.
‘Often it is the alpha men who have the worst reaction to me. They want to be in control all the time. They just can’t get their heads around female empowerment.’
Asked to reveal who, specifically, attends her parties, Emma remains evasive, nodding to say, yes, Rhys Ifans was once turned away from one of her parties because he was inappropriately dressed.
Yes, Premiership footballers are desperate to get in and, no, she can’t name any of the actors who came to the party she just threw in a penthouse in the Hollywood Hills.
‘Let’s just say it was very interesting,’ she says.
Bankers, models, property developers, ad executives, Louboutin-clad City girls, high-flying City boys – all flock to her call.
‘The owners are all high- profile, so I have to keep quiet,’ says Emma, revealing the only location that she can discuss is 33 Portland Place, the Georgian townhouse in Marylebone where Colin Firth filmed his speech-therapist sessions in The King’s Speech.
The Portland Place property once belonged to the government of Sierra Leone, before the controversial fraudster Eddie Davenport took residence and began to use it to host his own riotous parties.
Davenport may now be in prison, but his furniture was still very much in evidence at the time the Oscar-winning film was shot.
It forms the set for the speech therapist’s consulting rooms – all of the furniture on which Emma’s guests had previously frolicked can be seen.
‘I ruined the film for mum by telling her how much action had taken place on the therapist’s couch,’ Emma confesses.
‘Colin Firth had no idea at all. Mum said she couldn’t watch the film properly because of the images that popped into her head every time that couch appeared.’
Fortunately – for Mrs Sayle – Emma never indulges in any of these Bacchanalian revels herself. She is a Christian, who one day hopes for marriage and babies, and always keeps her own sex life private. She remains, always, the stunning 6ft blonde on the door, ticking off the entrants, making sure nothing gets out of hand.
‘So far I have not had the urge to throw myself into the middle of a writhing mass of 20 naked people, with other people watching,’ she says.
‘It’s not because I am a Christian – although I tick that box and have attended church since I first went to Sunday school. I am just a private person when it comes to sex. But you never know – in two years’ time, maybe I will get that urge.’
The daughter of Colonel Guy Sayle OBE, who was once Britain’s defence attaché in Egypt and Kuwait, and his wife, Malvin, who is currently head of fundraising at the Royal Marsden Hospital, Emma was a tomboy as a child.
‘I was a daddy’s girl and he was in the Army,’ she says.
‘Wherever he went, I went. If he was climbing a mountain, I would climb a mountain. I was permanently outdoors and filthy.’ Sent to boarding school aged seven, Emma went on to attend the elite, all-girls public school Downe House, where Kate Middleton was also briefly a pupil.
Fish out of water: Kate may have left the £10,000-a-term Downe House School in Berkshire because she was unhappy
Sayles attended Downe House School where Kate Middleton briefly attended
Kate transferred to Marlborough College after being bullied.
Emma, who was several years above the future Duchess, says she has no recollection of Kate at her school, but leaps to the defence of her alma mater. ‘Downe is pushy and it’s driven and if you’re not an outgoing person you might struggle. But there wasn’t any bullying in my year.’
Bizarrely, for an institution which prides itself on its academic reputation, Emma’s progressive attitude to nudity and experimentation appears to have its roots at Downe.
‘I went to boarding school for ten years,’ she says. ‘Boarding-school girls are much more open-minded. They will walk around gym changing rooms stark naked because we’ve grown up naked – with each other.
‘And often, when you didn’t have boys to practise on, there were lots of girls.
‘It’s not necessarily public-school girls who really need my parties!’
After Emma achieved top grades in maths, chemistry and economics, her father, a Cambridge graduate, tried to persuade her to apply to Oxbridge. However, sports-obsessed Emma insisted she wanted to study sports science.
‘I had one argument, which was completely watertight – Oxford and Cambridge didn’t do sports science, whereas Birmingham did.’
At Birmingham University, Emma first developed her talents for throwing parties and charity events, captaining the lacrosse team and devoting a great deal of energy to her social life.
After graduating, she did a stint in the City before gravitating towards PR. It was then that she became acquainted with the sex-party industry.
Her clients included people who ran upmarket fetish and swinging parties, where the atmosphere was full of machismo and women were completely dominated by men.
After falling out with one client, Emma decided to take on the men at their own game – and do it better.
Her parties would not be about men. They would be primarily for the pleasure of women.
It was in a similar spirit of sheer bloody-mindedness that Emma’s other great enterprise, The Sisterhood, was launched. The charity fundraising group of 70 girls made Emma famous thanks to one of its earliest – albeit fleeting – members, Kate Middleton.
‘I set up The Sisterhood at the end of 2006,’ Emma recalls. ‘Basically, I made a bet with some guys who were calling themselves The Brotherhood and planning to row across the English Channel.
‘Drunk, I said, “Sod it, I’m going to form The Sisterhood and race you across.” We decided to use dragon boats and it grew from there.’
In 2007, Prince William suddenly split up with Kate. Devastated, she turned to her girlfriends for support. Among them was Alicia Fox-Pitt, already a member of the budding Sisterhood, who persuaded Kate to join the dragon-boat team.
The sight of Kate as she trained for the record-breaking cross-Channel attempt – with her hair flowing in the breeze, her complexion rosy with exertion – set the Royal pulse racing.
After a few days’ hard training and a few wild nights out at Boujis – where Kate showed Wills exactly what he was missing – the Prince once again fell at her feet.
The Royal couple are said to have reconciled at a Moulin Rouge-themed Army party, enjoying a passionate clinch ‘among the Ann Summers lingerie and the blow-up dolls, before disappearing into the Prince’s private quarters’, according to one newspaper report.
The rest, as they say, is history. With the relationship now firmly back on, Kate quit the dragon boat under pressure from the Palace, which was worried about the attention the venture was generating.
But in those few weeks of strenuous training, Kate displayed a previously unseen feisty side. Her involvement with The Sisterhood had clearly boosted her confidence. Emma says that this is what the group, which has since raised more than half a million pounds for various charities, is all about.
‘It was great Kate being there,’ says Emma.
‘She was only around for three months but she is a nice girl. The dragon boat showed her doing something on her own.
‘With a certain type of girl, they go into a relationship and the next thing you know their whole life has become about the man and his social life.
‘The Sisterhood is great for a girl’s confidence because it gives them something of their own.
‘A lot of my guy friends call it a cult. But I say, “It’s not a cult just because these women stand up to you now.” ’
While she may, inadvertently, have contributed to the Royal reconciliation, for Emma, true love remains elusive.
Until recently, she was engaged to the son of cricketer Ian Botham, Liam, a former rugby player. The pair had been due to marry in May but she called off the wedding.
‘That chapter is now closed,’ says Emma, determinedly.
For now, she is keeping her head firmly focused on business and an intriguing new venture – attempting to outdo E. L. James herself, with a kinky book.
‘Fifty Shades Of Grey just didn’t do it for me,’ says Emma.
‘I only got two-thirds of the way through it and it’s just so badly written. So I am writing my own book now.’
‘Let’s just say that if Fifty Shades is common-entrance level, my one will be PhD level – and all true.’