Some reasons why I love the community

(Or the musings of an occasional hypocrite: A post dedicated to Greg)

“You know it tickles me to no end to see you at sex parties, given how negatively you’ve written about them in your blog,” he said to me while we were chatting at the latest Wonderland party.

So, yes, I’ve been pretty critical of the scene in the past, and yes, I still sometimes go to parties, and yes, I sometimes still enjoy them (although Wonderland and that thing in New Orleans were the only events of this sort I’ve actually enjoyed in months if not longer). So I know what you’re thinking, what gives? Or better yet, you’re such a hypocrite! Which is true, I’ve admitted to occasional hypocrisy already in this post.

And don’t worry, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure it all out in the past couple of years. The thing is that I’ve spent so much time on the scene and made so many great and lasting connections there, that even though I might not always want everything that the scene offers or promotes (polyamory, public sex, open relationships, swapping partners and so on), I still enjoy spending time with my friends there. And parties are a great venue to catch them all at once, when we’re all busy New Yorkers (some with multiple partners) and trying to make plans with people often looks like this. Continue reading

Did You Know You Had Options?

Open Options, Beth Pelletier, polyamory, short film, open relationships

The Open Options movie poster

When it comes to the kind of romantic relationship you get into, that is? If not, you should! And my friend Beth’s new film does a fine job of introducing you to some of these options and to the people that are living these experiences.

I went to see the premier of her film, Open Options, in February at IndieScreen and it also debuted at the CineKink film festival this year. In a mere 14 minutes, it did a great job of presenting the sorts of open relationship options that are out there and did so in a very casual way: with a few friends sitting on a couch and chatting about their experiences over food and wine. And may I just say….the lighting looked really good! (by my friend Deacon, I hear).

But on to the content… Continue reading

The Doctor Will See You Now

nurses, sexy doctors, role play

A couple of naughty nurses (photo by the talented Ms. Creamy Coconut).

When I interviewed my friends Trevor and Vanessa* about their open relationship, I also talked to Vanessa a bit about her funny experiences of running into her patients at sex parties (and vice versa) since she works as a physician at a local family practice in Brooklyn. I decided to do a whole separate post on those stories, as they’re quite amusing.

The first time she remembers running into a patient was at one of the Chemistry parties. She says she was mingling and meeting people and thought she recognized one woman from somewhere but couldn’t place where. “She said we probably had sex somewhere,” Vanessa recalls, “and I just laughed, but then Trevor came up and for some reason it occurred to him. He said, ‘are you her patient?’ and her eyes went bulging out of her head, like ‘Oh my fucking God!’” Continue reading

The EX Factor

So we don’t often talk about this because we take these (very strange) truths to be self evident, but running into your ex at a sex party is a common thing on the scenes I roll in. Which also means that you might see your ex having sex (or doing other sexual things) at a party, or they might see you. Which is, or could be, admittedly awkward. Or, depending on the people or situation in question, painful, even. As poly, schmoly, open or whatever you might be, it’s probably still strange to watch someone you were once deeply involved with have sex with someone else, especially if there are any latent feelings of hurt, anger or resentment lingering. Continue reading

Growing Pains (& Gains)

Trevor's Hipster Journal (by none other than Trevor himself).

Trevor’s Hipster Journal (by none other than Trevor himself).

Although I might complain about how my experiment with polyamory blew up in my face, and in the lovely visages of some of my friends, I can’t deny that there are open relationships out there that have worked for a long time. My friends Trevor and Vanessa,* for example, have been together for almost 20 years and have been open, in theory or in practice, for the majority of that time. But, like many couples in open relationships, they’ve encountered some difficult roadblocks along the way. Though Vanessa says she appreciates the lessons they learned from it and how these lessons helped them navigate other tricky forks in the road.

Vanessa is pregnant with a baby that’s due this winter and while the couple had decided earlier in life not to have kids, they recently re-negotiated on that agreement and changed their minds. Namely, Vanessa found that she actually wants a child and convinced Trevor to do it. And Vanessa says that learning, earlier in their relationship, to negotiate around poly-related issues where the two of them wanted different things, in a way, gave them the tools necessary to work through other such things. Continue reading

Years, Yardsticks, Yins & Yangs

yin and yangAnother one of the criticisms on my poly rant post, I believe, was something about how “you’re always going to get upset if you judge the success of a relationship by its longevity or potential to be a life-long one.” I feel like a lot of people still judge relationships and whether they are “working or not” on their ability to last forever. And the truth of the matter is that very few do these days.

My friend Sara, who is monogamous and broke up with her boyfriend of three years some time ago, once alluded to this and said that just because she and her boyfriend broke up, it doesn’t mean that it was a “failed” or “bad” relationship. “Three years is a pretty good run, after all. That’s a pretty successful relationship,” she said. And I’d tend to agree. A relationship may have worked very well for a number of years and then maybe one or both of you changed or grew in another direction or needed/wanted different things in life or whatever the case may be. And just because you broke up, doesn’t mean  the relationship was a failure. Continue reading

Responding to Critics on Poly Post…

emerson quoteI figured I’d get an avalanche of hate mail/commentary on my Let’s Talk About Polyamory post/rant, so I thought I’d dedicate a whole separate post to respond to critics (there will always be critics, of course, regardless of what you say, but I at least want to clarify some points). So in no particular order, here are my thoughts on some of the issues that were raised: Continue reading

Let’s Talk about Polyamory (a rant)

There have been a lot of articles floating around lately about how polyamory is gaining speed and open relationships might actually become the norm in x number of years. (See here, here, and here, for reference).  Though I’d beg to differ and think a lot of the journalists writing these articles are probably not involved in the lifestyle and don’t really know enough about it to ask the critical questions, so they are getting a lot of this “polyamory marketing/PR” from their subjects. And are also probably late to the party.

Many of my friends and I have experimented with open relationships and polyamory over the years and the model has failed for us, some have chosen to depart and go back to monogamy, some haven’t, but the fact remains that the idea isn’t “all that and a bag of chips” after all and usually doesn’t work for sustaining relationships in the long term.

A number of my friends have asked me what my personal beef with polyamory is about, so I thought I’d share it here. I was in a three-year open relationship with a trans woman. It was my first relationship with a woman and my first attempt at an open one. She was the one that requested it. Prior to meeting me, she had just gotten out of an eight-year-long monogamous relationship/marriage, she was new to New York, she had recently started transitioning, so she was at a point where she wanted/needed to experiment with her sexuality more and didn’t want our relationship to thwart that, which I understood so I said OK. Continue reading

Sex Party Dropout

Sex parties, orgies, naked bodies

Photo by Archbishop Tutu

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. Continue reading

Interview with the (original) Vampire

jefferson currentWhen a caravan of us sex-party-going types were en route to a day at the beach last summer, my friend Ken started talking about who brought whom into the scene and how we all got to our first party. He referred to it as “who sired whom” (I love me a good vampire reference!) When we all told our individual stories, we saw that all roads led back to Jefferson—a friend of ours in the New York kink community who had started this particular string of parties some 10 years ago, before they moved to another friend’s lavish house in Bushwick.

He was the original vampire, who (figuratively or literally) bit the necks of other curious kinksters, exhibitionists and experience junkies that were interested in exploring their sexualities. Those newly anointed kindred of kink went on to beckon others into the scene, like my friend Andrew did when he invited me to one of his parties three years ago, after I had met him at Burning Man. The parties had moved to Andrew’s house from Jefferson’s at that point.

Jefferson, 49, often describes himself as having grown up a bisexual kid, suspicious of monogamy, who later gave up his sexual proclivities for the woman he loved. After 15 years of marriage and three children, his wife filed for divorce over a spat, at which point Jefferson returned to kink and began writing about it on One Life, Take Two, a sex blog, penned under the Jefferson pseudonym, that details his experience as a parent and pervert.

Between the blog, his bisexual tendencies, orgies, sex education classes, sexy story telling nights and various other BDSM-related endeavors, he might appear quite eclectic to the average person, but if you had met him some 10-15 years ago, you would’ve encountered a regular guy with a wife and three kids, who lived and worked in the suburbs, drove a Buick and led a fairly normal life. And unlike many other people on the BDSM scene, who are often proud to say that they threw their traditional lives away to pursue kink and sex exploration, Jefferson always admits that he didn’t want to get divorced and speaks of his marriage with a certain fondness… and… sadness, even. He was glad to have had the experience of a faithful husband and doting father, and is now on to the next act of his life.

His ex-wife later discovered his blog (it became popular quickly and was reviewed in a few mainstream publications at the time) and tried to sue him for sole custody of their children. But she lost the custody battle and, in frustration, outed Jefferson to his family (traditional folk from Birmingham, Alabama) They didn’t bat an eye. Jefferson once told this tale at one of his storytelling nights and said that when his parents found out, his father just said, “Well, I’m glad he’s having fun,” and his mother added, “I always knew Jefferson was a good writer.”

Although he has completely cut ties with his ex-wife, he still sees his kids often and is very involved in their lives. They are now 13, 16 and 19, and he has another 25-year-old daughter from a previous relationship.

After getting divorced at the age of 39, he was intent on avoiding committed relationships, though he has spent the last five years seriously dating his girlfriend, Kay, who is 21 years his junior. They still see other people and the relationship occasionally gets strained by their attachments to other partners, but they’ve managed to pull through so far. Jefferson says that even though he didn’t plan on a committed relationship, this one just happened to work well day in and day out.

In the ten years after his divorce, Jefferson has become something of a vamp of all trades. In addition to his professional experience in curating museums (including the opening of the Museum of Sex in New York) and writing art criticism, he hosts story telling shows (à la NPR’s The Moth, but based on topics of sex, desire and romance), teaches sex classes and participates in a variety of kink/BDSM events around the country. He recently began taking his Bare and Spill shows on the road to other cities (Boston, D.C., etc.) and I now often jokingly call him “kinkster on wheels.” Not too shabby, following a particularly gruesome divorce and a drawn-out public custody battle.

One of his mottos is: “If the scene you want doesn’t exist, it’s incumbent upon you to create it.” And so he keeps creating and re-creating his world as he sees fit at any given time. He often talks about hosting orgies the way he talks about curating an art show: you can’t overcrowd the space, like you can’t overcrowd a museum wall; all the right elements have to be in place, and they have to jibe with one another – they have to somehow connect. I recently picked his brain about his various ventures over oysters in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Here are some tidbits from that conversation.

Continue reading