A couple of gals’ journey into, and out of, the sex party scene in New York.
(First of all, I want to write a song with this title to the tune of Beauty School Dropout from Grease. Although I haven’t written songs since high school and am a bit rusty. All I’ve got so far is “Sex party dropout/go back to dancing” for the refrain, instead of “Beauty school dropout/go back to high school.” Anyone want to help with the rest of it? H? C? In the meantime, I’ll write the post and maybe it’ll help inspire the song).
My friend Jen and I caught up over brunch recently, as we do on summer Sundays, and talked about how we’ve largely dropped off the sex-party circuit in New York. I’m not sure about her, but I haven’t been to a proper sex party (I will discuss later what this means) since October. We both found that the parties no longer have a place in our lives or are giving us what we need.
A lot of the people that go to these parties are polyamorous and swear by The Ethical Slut as their bible. The book basically promotes using the word “slut” as a term of empowerment and suggests that women should be free to be as sexually open and promiscuous as men and shouldn’t be shamed or stigmatized for it. And that everyone should have the option of having multiple partners, or open relationships, as long as they can do this in a way that’s honest and respectful to all the parties involved.
Well, this is a nice idea and all, but I find (as Jen has found, and as many of our friends have witnessed) that the double standard is still very much alive and well on this scene. The men are often irresponsible womanizers who use and recycle their partners at record speed (and why wouldn’t they in a culture that advertises free, no-strings-attached sex?). A lot of women, myself and Jen including, wind up burning out of this scene and its parties after too many bad experiences with these men. New relationships are particularly hard to build in the midst of all this. Granted, some do sustain for a while, but many wind up eventually failing over time (as my three-year open relationship experiment did last fall) and the ones that do last involve SO MUCH (ridiculous sounding) back-and-forth, negotiation and introspection, that it becomes way too complicated, nauseating and narcissistic, in my opinion.
During our brunch, I relayed a story to Jen that I had recently heard. It was about a woman who was recently led around a sex party by her boyfriend/Dom and made to go down on other guys.
“I’m sorry, but that sounds really unappetizing to me. I have no interest in it at all,” Jen said, with a disgusted look on her face. “That’s not to say I haven’t done it,” she added.
“So what changed?” I asked.
She thought about it and said, “Been there, done that.” I can certainly agree. Though I still think it’s funny that we’re so blasé about things we still have access to, but no interest in, while so many other people are gaga over it. I still meet plenty of people (mostly men), who don’t know or realize that this world actually exists and when I tell them, their jaws drop. “Ooh, can you take me there??” they plead. Well the answer is: no, baby, I can’t take you to a party as I don’t go to them myself anymore, they are invite only and I can’t vouch for you unless I’m coming along.
Jen also told me about a young girl (early 20’s) that she had recently met. A friend of a friend that got introduced to these parties not too long ago. She asked Jen why she doesn’t go anymore and Jen explained that it was a time and a place in her life that served its purpose then and doesn’t really do anything for her now. That she needs something else now, something more meaningful.
“Oh,” the young ‘un said, “I thought that the people that didn’t go anymore couldn’t handle it.”
Again, I laughed. What’s this nonsense about “handling it?” Why does everyone think this is something that needs to be “handled” or else you’re somehow not evolved, enlightened, open minded or mature enough? That’s bullshit. Some people are simply not into that and that’s just fine. It’s a lifestyle preference that’s as valid as any other.
Granted, I’ve been there myself. When I first started going to fetish or sex-parties, with a partner that I was already deeply involved with and was trying out being open/polyamorous, I initially also wanted to prove to myself that I can handle it. Well, I handled it fine for a while. And now I don’t really care to “handle it” any longer and don’t really need to prove anything to anyone.
Also, disclaimer: I went to a private party last night hosted by a friend, who calls himself Infinite Eye. The gathering was lighthouse, enchanted forest, woodland creature themed. His parties usually involve some combination of fantasy, costuming, dancing, role playing, theatrics, covert ops and games, and, yes, fetish play and sex. But he always says, “I don’t have sex parties, I have parties where sex is allowed.” This is an important distinction to me (though I know anyone reading this that’s not privy to these scenes would roll their eyes at this, but bear with me). At his parties, there is enough other stuff going on that I can entertain myself with, if I don’t want to hook up with anyone. Last night, I threw on my black and silver cape, did some coat check duty at Infinite Eye’s bequest, caught up with a few friends, danced around and avoided people’s advances. And I had a jolly good time. So much so that I didn’t even leave until 6am.
But back to my conversation with Jen. Her (further) thoughts on the subject of what’s changed were: “I want something different now. I want intimacy.”