“All the guys have to be naked wearing nothing but bowties,” my partner informed me in the car ride over. “And you serve all the women there. If they want a glass of wine, you pour it for them. If they want to use you as a footstool, then you drop down to your hands and knees and give them your back.”
I was 24 when I went to my first sex party. It took place an hour drive outside of Boston, where I was living at the time, and as I walked into the mansion, I felt woefully underprepared. I was excited because sex. I love sex. I love having sex with new people. I love kinky things, being watched, watching others, toys, groups, all of it. But I was also petrified. While I was told what to expect from my partner, who was 31 at the time and no stranger to sex parties, I still didn’t really know what to expect. It’s one of those things that you just have to experience for yourself, ya know?
Once I entered the house, I stripped down to my birthday suit and grabbed a bowtie from the bowl beside the door.
I seemed to be the youngest person there, with the average age being folks in their late 30s, although some women were in their 60s.
I bee-lined it towards the alcohol to help calm my nerves, and after about three hefty glasses of tequila on the rocks, I felt more relaxed and began schmoozing. I walked around, butt-ass naked, asking to refill the drink of any woman there. The women would say things like, “You’re cute. Come find me later.” Then I’d scurry off, both aroused while simultaneously frightened.
Then the owners of the abode brought us into the living room to lay a few ground rules. “You can have sex anywhere in the house except the kitchen and the children’s room,” the couple explained. (Their children were spending the night with their grandparents.) Then a few notes about enthusiastic consent—emphasising you need an affirmative “yes” before engaging in anything sexual.
They even did something that no sex party or club I’ve been to since has done—and I’ve been to a few dozen more. They encouraged you to say what it is you’d like to do with the person sexually, and to finish it with, “If you’re down, come find me later.” That way, it makes it a lot easier for the person to reject you without verbalising it, and the rejection itself feels less personal. If they’re interested, they’ll find you. If they’re not—or get too tied up (pun intended)—then it doesn’t happen. No hard feelings. Awkwardness removed.
That night I didn’t have penetrative sex with anyone—mainly because my nerves got the best of me, and I couldn’t hard. I did, however, eat out a few women who were double my age, which I enjoyed immensely. I also got to see my partner go to town on a few attendees, which, again, great stuff.
While I couldn’t tell you the name of anyone I kissed (or more) that night, there are a few things that have stuck with me from that fateful evening.
First and foremost, I remember how playful sex was. Even as I saw a man’s testicles tightly wrapped by a professional dominatrix, there was laughter in the air. Before that night, I had described my sex as incredible, passionate, intense, a bonding experience, or any number of other words, but I don’t think I’d ever described it as fun. Sex can and should be fun. It’s okay to smile during sex, to laugh, and to not take things so serious.
The thing is, you never see the guy and girl laughing together in porn. You just see plowing. I wanted to be the Terminator of sex. I wanted every person I was with to say, “Yeah, Zach was so good. He was so intense and passionate.” Now, sure, I do have that type of sex from time to time, but I prefer to have sex that’s described as silly, stupid, and fun.
Second, people who go to sex parties are just like you and me. As I type this out, I realise how corny this sounds, but goddamn, it’s true. There were accountants, doctors, teachers, grandparents, and just your regular Joe Schmo looking to have some fun. They’re open-minded, sex-positive, and don’t judge. It’s for these reasons most of my friends are people I’ve met at sex parties. (No, they weren’t people I had sex with.) I’ve noticed that I tend to like the open-minded personalities and share my core values with people who frequent orgies. (Go figure.)
The last thing isn’t something I learned, but rather, a realisation. It’s changed the way I view myself and society at large: This is what the world could be if people didn’t suck when it comes to dating and sex. Since again, all these people were “regular people,” and the world is filled with these so-called regular people, then why not create a world where it could be totally cool to go up to someone you’re friendly with and kindly ask, “Hey, I wanna do X. If down, come find me later,” instead of living in a world where we play hard to get only to then ghost completely. Not to sound like some kumbaya, sex Hippie—even though I’ve come to grips with the fact that I totally am—but let’s all try to be a little more honest, open, and non-judgmental about our sexual desires.
This article originally appeared on Men’s Health