Dominique Strauss-Kahn told a court yesterday (Tuesday) that women had a habit of "offering themselves" to him and that he took part in "only" four orgies a year.
The former head of the International Monetary Fund was being questioned for the first time at his trial on charges of aggravated pimping.
Mr Strauss-Kahn, 64, who denies the charges, told the court in Lille, northern France, that he had no idea that he was having sex with prostitutes and described one such encounter as "a festive evening".
He claimed that he had been wrongly depicted as being engaged in "frenetic sexual activity", whereas he partook in only four orgies a year.
Referring to group sessions in Lille, Paris and Washington, Bernard Lemaire, the judge, told Mr Strauss-Kahn: "Everything appears to have taken place at your request and for you."
Looking weary but self-possessed, DSK, as he is known, retorted that he had "committed no crime", adding: "I don't see myself as organising these soirees in any way. I didn't have time. At no moment did I think these evenings were organised for me.
"I had other things to do. I had political ambitions. And a complicated couple," referring to his ex-wife Anne Sinclair.
The former French Socialists presidential hopeful maintained that he "would never have come" to what he saw as libertine sessions had he known that prostitutes were involved.
"I have nothing against prostitutes, but that's not what I like. I like to party," said Mr Strauss-Kahn, who faces a 10-year prison term and euros 1.5?million (pounds 1.1?million) fine. Relations with them would have been "far too risky", he said.
Mr Strauss-Kahn complained that investigating magistrates suggested he did little else than attend soirees dedicated to sex. "When you read the indictment, you get the impression there was a frenetic (sexual) activity. We are talking about four meetings per year over a three-year period," he said. "These were recreational activities - a pressure valve in my hectic life."
He contended that his businessman friend, Fabrice Paszkowski, one of 13 other defendants, had sought to hide the fact that girls were paid "to please him".
Mr Paszkowski suggested that women flocked to Mr Strauss-Kahn because of his charisma as a public figure. "People say the girls were the gift, but the real gift was DSK," he said.
Mr Strauss-Kahn said he had suspected nothing as "women had a habit of offering themselves to me. It was not uncommon".
That account was firmly denied by two former prostitutes. The first, Mounia, said she had consented to "brutal" sex with the former IMF chief only because she needed the money.
In tears, she recounted her first meeting with Mr Strauss-Kahn at the Murano hotel in Paris in 2010. Brought along by Mr Paszkowski, David Roquet, a businessman, and Jean-Christophe Lagarde, a policeman - all friends of Mr Strauss-Kahn and defendants - she said the sole aim was to satisfy his urges.
After "brief" preliminaries, Mr Strauss-Kahn appeared in a dressing gown and swiftly imposed what she called "unnatural sexual practices".
"I didn't want to do it but didn't say so orally, rather with gestures. I cried a lot at that moment and he noticed it. I was struck by the smile on his face from beginning to end," she said.
"It was a brutal show of power - but I consented as I needed the money."
The judge repeatedly asked whether Mr Strauss-Kahn was aware the women were paid. "He can't have been unaware that I was paid, which is why he did what he liked with me. He carried on even though I had made him understand I didn't want to," said Mounia.
Jade, another former prostitute, gave evidence, saying: "I was just a thing who had to accomplish something. I was not there as a person... Normally in libertine sessions there is toing and froing. In this case, it was a one-way ticket."
However, both said they never discussed payment. "We didn't talk about money at all", said Mounia.
Mr Strauss-Kahn said: "I never knew. For me, they came with friends to participate in a festive evening. I never had the impression they were there for me."
Earlier, he told the court his current career as an "economic consultant" earned him euros 2.4 million in dividends last year, and he receives a further euros 10,000 per month in pensions.
Asked why he had taken such risks as an international public figure, Mr Strauss-Kahn said: "I considered that while my private life didn't harm my public life, there was no issue. I was wrong. Was there a risk? Yes, but it was one I was prepared to take."
Mr Strauss-Kahn's arrival at the courthouse was disrupted by three topless protesters from the provocative group Femen, who were detained by police.
The trial continues.