Sexual Freedom League

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The Sexual Freedom League was an organization founded in 1963 in New York City by Jefferson Poland and Leo Koch.[1] It existed under the name New York City League for Sexual Freedom to promote and conduct sexual activity among its members and to agitate for political reform, especially for the repeal of laws against abortion and censorship, and had many female leaders.


West coast formation[edit]

When Jefferson Poland moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, he started the East Bay Sexual Freedom League there, near the University of California, Berkeley in 1966. Although Poland founded the League, he did not try to establish it as a conventional organization with membership lists, dues and meetings. Instead, he went around establishing various Leagues and allowing others to run them.

The League first made national news in August, 1965 with the "Nude Wade-in" led by Poland, 23, Ina Saslow, 21, and Shirley Einseidel, 21, at Aquatic Park, a public beach in San Francisco.[2] The S.F.L. was featured in an article in Time magazine for March 11, 1966, which attracted thousands of curiosity seekers and a few active participants. In early 1966 Poland transferred the East Bay League to Richard Thorne, who proceeded to organize nude parties, which were thinly disguised sex orgies. Thorne fled to Mexico in the summer of 1966, later changed his name to Ohm and started a religion by that name.[3]


Following Thorne's departure, a rift developed. One faction wanted members to have open meetings and discussions about sex but not actually to engage in sexual relations. The other wanted to continue the tradition of orgies. The non-sex branch was headed by Linda Lindvall and the pro-sex branch by Sam Sloan, a student at the University of California at Berkeley.[4]

Sloan's faction was recognized by UC Berkeley as an official, registered on-campus student organization under the modified name "Campus Sexual Rights Forum," because the Dean of Students would not agree to register it under the name "Sexual Freedom League." The Sloan group set up an S.F.L. information table on campus and distributed literature, held rallies and sold buttons to finance its activities on campus, while holding orgies (mostly involving Berkeley students) off campus. It was featured in articles in Time, Playboy, and Sexology magazines as well as in numerous articles in the San Francisco Chronicle, the Berkeley Gazette, and the Berkeley Barb.

Starting in 1970, through 1975, Sexual Freedom League Member Arlene Elster owned and ran the Sutter Cinema, showing quality pornographic movies "that consisted of more than a penis going in a vagina". Besides many arrests, the lack of quality films to show was one reason for the theater's demise

The other faction, the East Bay S.F.L., established headquarters in Oakland. Instead of holding nude parties it formed "circles," including the "Horny Men's Circle" and the "Wanton Women's Circle." Even so, the Coordinator (Chairman) of these circles, Lisa Lindvall, also participated in the sex orgies of the campus group. By December, 1966, the East Bay Sexual Freedom League, forced by competition from Sam Sloan's Campus Sexual Freedom League and also by the influence of an article in the September "Back to School" issue of Playboy which Sloan helped to write, started holding nude parties and sex orgies again.

Leaving the East Bay[edit]

The Campus Sexual Freedom League disappeared when Sloan left town due to an arrest in April 1967. The last of its 28 nude parties took place on Christmas Eve of that year. By then the East Bay League had also folded and Alida Reyenga had moved to Los Angeles, where she took up Scientology.[5]

While the East Bay versions were dying out, other chapters sprouted up all over California, and the San Francisco Sexual Freedom League emerged at the forefront. It was at first headed by Margo St. James, who claimed to be a "former prostitute" and participated in social activism while she organized sex orgies, then taken over by Frank and Margo Rila, with ongoing involvement of Jefferson Poland, and members such as Mother Boats. Frank, who edited the Sexual Freedom newspaper, eventually committed suicide.

Margo St. James ran for San Francisco Board of Supervisors many times but all without success. She has often been criticized by feminists such as Dorchen Leidholdt.


  1. ^ Allyn 2000, p. 43-44.
  2. ^ Hoffman 2015, p. 221.
  3. ^ "Sex educators & organizations". Retrieved June 29, 2016.
  4. ^ Pitcher, Michelle (February 13, 2015). "A brief history of sexual liberation, orgies at UC Berkeley". The Daily Californian. Retrieved June 20, 2016.
  5. ^ Berkeley Daily Gazette Tuesday April 25, 1967 Samuel Howard Sloan, Party host for Sexual Freedom Forum parties at 2714 Telegraph Avenue, was given 12 hours to vacate the premises by Berkeley-Albany Judge George Braun yesterday. Sloan, 22, was arrested by Berkeley police over the weekend for contributing to the delinquency of a minor and for possession of marijuana. Judge Braun ordered the bail reduced on the contributing charge to $550 from $2,200 and to $1,000 on the marijuana charge on the condition Sloan will vacate the "orgy house" across the street from Willard Junior High School and if he will avoid associating with minors at any party involving alcoholic beverages. His case was put over to Monday at 2 pm for plea. The Telegraph Avenue Party Pad was raided by Berkeley police Saturday night, armed with a warrant for Sloan's arrest and a search warrant. Both were issued on the basis of findings made by officers when they arrested two Oakland juveniles who had attended a party at the house and were caught drinking alcohol outside. Sloan told officers he may move his 'operation' to Emeryville. Source:

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