When friend had mentioned she’d been to sex parties, I knew I wanted to go, too. Could she bring me along next time, if it wouldn’t be too weird? As it turns out, she would soon be hosting one at her very own house. Sure enough, an invitation came in my email a few days later, sternly worded emphasis on consent.
In preparation, I treated the sex party as if was a date — a group date, of sorts, where I was sure to get laid. So I did what I’d do before a normal date: I shaved the winter fur off my legs, blowdried my mane, and did my eye makeup real fancy. I squeezed into a sequin Forever 21 dress that I first/last wore at a club on my 24th birthday party, then unrolled it off like sausage casing when I realized I couldn’t breathe. I tried on my sweetest LBD and chucked that aside, too, for not being “sexy” enough. I’m supposed to look fuckable at an orgy, right? I’m a slightly overweight feminist WASP with eczema on my ankles. The Victoria’s Secret definition of fuckable isn’t really my look. I settled on jeans, boots, and a gorgeous silk blouse over some pretty lingerie.
Worrying so much about how I looked was a colossal waste of time.
The orgy hostess could not have been more sex-positive and pro-consent about the night’s activities — so much so, in fact, that the ethos of “no pressure” meant I didn’t know what to expect. Sex-positivity and respect are the best possible qualities of any sexual partner, of course. But I wasn’t sure what the social codes were, like being a freshman plunged into a class of seniors. Cue a Google search prior to leaving the house for “do orgies provide condoms …” (It turns out, they do — in a big bowl in the living room.)
Like the dork that I am, I was the first person to arrive. And there was no way would I show up at an orgy emptyhanded! My mama raised me right: I came with two kinds of crackers and three kinds of cheeses. After greeting the host and hostess, I sat at the kitchen table, chatting with each new guest, but also wondering if all I would do was eat snacks. There was a lot to think about, admittedly: every person who comes through the door is a potential sex partner.
Everybody kept their clothes on for a lot longer than I would have expected — when, all of a sudden, a man exited the bathroom wearing only his underwear. That seemed to be the cue to begin, that people were going to start getting naked. I felt surprisingly uncomfortable about stripping down to my own lingerie while everyone else was clothed; it seemed exhibitionistic, which at the point in the party, seemed like a bad thing. So instead, I chatted like I was at a normal cocktail party.
How I would initiate sexual activity was another area of confusion. The same as with wondering if/when I would take my clothes off, there wasn’t a buzzer that sounded when group sex would commence. The hostess had graciously asked me how I wanted to be approached about sexual play: ask or be asked? I’m a pretty empowered woman, so I assumed that I’d just size up a hot dude, strut over to him and ask him to doggy-style. Why not?
But my friend seemed to be suggesting that someone had their eye on me and would I prefer him to proposition me? Flattered, and without thinking, I told her, yes, he could come proposition me. That turned out to be the wrong decision, actually, because I wasn’t digging the guy in question. I had to figure out the polite, kind but firm way to convey to a complete stranger, “I don’t want to play with you.” Another thing I hadn’t anticipated: what if I don’t want to have sex with some of these people?
Leaving that fellow behind the kitchen, where more people had started taking off their clothes to reveal lingerie or underwear, I walked out into the living room. A man and a woman were fucking on the couch on the far side of the living room; he was on top with her breast in his mouth, pounding away. Oh! I thought. The orgy has started! Suddenly a little bashful, I turned a corner into the bedroom and saw four people, three women and a man, in the hostess’ bed. It felt much more cozy and intimate in there. That’s when I learned something about myself: I like to watch.
Watching other people have sex in person is completely different than watching porn. That might have been my favorite part of the entire orgy — whenever I got to watch other people fuck. The 360-degree angle is hugely arousing. And as someone who has never been satisfied by anything other than homemade porn online, watching real people experience real pleasure is totally hot. At first I wasn’t sure if it was “okay” to watch (I mean, are we supposed to avert our eyes lest we seem creepy?), but I quickly realized that the apartment is so small that everyone knows that “privacy,” such as we know it, doesn’t exist. In fact, some people seemed to be putting on a show!
The hostess saw me watching and climbed out of bed, where she had been playing with one of the three people. “What do you want to do?” she asked me. “Actually, I’d like to make out with you,” I told her. And that’s when I finally took my clothes off, climbed into her bed, and hooked up with a woman for the very first time. (And then, um, another woman.)
Women’s bodies are so different than men’s bodies. I never knew that before. From the softness of their skin to the roundness of their breasts and ass, I felt (but, I hope, didn’t act) a bit like a gawky, fumbling adolescent. Being so up close, hands-on and exploratory female nudity — feeling both their chubby places and their bony spots — satiated a desire I’d had for a long, long time. I felt more whoa about another person’s body than I’d felt with any man in a long while.
I also learned that my sexual energy alters with the same sex. That was a surprise, as the more dominant men behave in bed, the more submissive I become. But hooking up with women, I carried the more aggressive energy. I was the one who pulled hair and wanted to grab and squeeze. As much as I love being a submissive with male partners, it was exciting to learn that I’m switch-y with women.
Weird, then, that the next activity I found myself engaging in was paddling a guy’s ass. Yup, I did that. The second guy to proposition me throughout the night had brought a paddle with him and after he gave me a public spanking on the hostess’ bed, he asked if I could do the same for him. I’m not sexually turned on by spanking men at all, but I suppose I obliged out of politeness. And come to find out, I’m good at it! I’ve gotten enough spankings over the past decade-plus to know how to give a good one. He seemed satisfied. Still, it was out of my sexual character — not in a bad way, mind you, just in a different way that my usual behaviors.
My paddling friend and I spent the rest of the night making out in bed together alongside two or three other folks. We weren’t alone: the hostess got down on the floor with someone and the guy who was first to walk around in his undies fucked someone up against the wall and on the dresser. That’s when I learned something else new about my sexual self: as much as I love to watch, listening is different. Hearing the man dirty talk with his female partner about how she was a “bad girl” as he fucked her against the wall gave me the giggles. (Perhaps it was nervous energy because it was so hot that I was wishing I was the bad girl getting fucked?) The exhibitionism was no longer something to be embarrassed about — it was the best part!
I stayed in bed almost until I left. Why did I spent the rest of the night with one partner? Well, my paddling friend was absolutely rapturous about my ass. I have an otherwise slender frame with large, pear-shaped hips/ass and weight gain tends to show just on my stomach. Even though I love my curves on my boobs and butt, I’m less enthused about my belly. But he didn’t see that: he just saw curves, curves, curves everywhere and made me feel like I have an amazing body. He couldn’t keep his hands off my ass and hips — and I lapped up the attention. In my normal day-to-day life, I have mean Internet commenters telling me a couple times a week that I’m fat or unattractive. Those are the poison darts stuck inside my brain. I don’t walk around thinking,I have a great ass. I walk around thinking, Who’ll be able to see past by belly?
But, in fact, going to an orgy turned out to be the most healthy decision I’ve ever made for my body image. It wasn’t just my paddling friend’s praise or the other men who propositioned and flirted with me throughout the night. It was the first time I really saw naked women before: Every woman in the room had a completelydifferent body and everyone appreciated, if not outright complimented, everyone else’s physical beauty. It’s rare that we see women’s nude or nearly nude bodies portrayed in ways that aren’t shoving it down our throat as “sexy.” I felt extremely desirable just the way I am, a feeling I haven’t felt since my early 20s when I felt naturally “pretty” a lot more than I do now, which is not often. It’s no surprise that the physical beauty present was a much wider range that what we see in movies, TV, women’s magazines, or even porn. This was a truepanoply of women. A few women had no hips or tits. Another girl was much larger. One woman had the longest hair I’ve ever seen in my life. There was tons of pubic hair. No one seemed to care one whit about whether these bodies were ready for a Calvin Klein ad — bodies were people.
The negative side to all those bodies, though, was my germophobia. By the time I felt ready to leave, I was thinking less about what I wanted to do with whom and instead who everyone had already hooked up with. I didn’t have much concern for STDs, because I didn’t engage in behavior that would have exposed me to any, yet I did start thinking about how quickly the common cold could fly around this party. The OCD, obsessive-hand-washing germophobe in me felt squicky about swapping so much spit with people who had already swapped spit with others. As a result, I didn’t actually have penetrative sex at the orgy because by the time I was done with my prior activities, everyone else had already hooked up with other people. My problem wasn’t “the ethics of group sex” so much as “how the common cold could spread around a group sex setting.” Alas, I managed to handle the fact I found a used condom on one of my boots with uncharacteristic calm.
Tucking myself into my own bed that night — alone, happily — I felt whoa, I can’t believe I did that about hooking up with the two women. What didn’t occur to me until the next morning and stayed with the strongly in the days since was how good I felt in my own skin. I had brunch with my friend Megan the next day and lunch with my friend Lilit the day after that and texted with my sister. All anybody wanted to ask was the nitty-gritty details of the orgy — how many people were there? was it gross?! was it hot?! — but I wanted to kvell about my newfound love for my own body. Yes, it was a big deal that I explored my not-quite-straight sexuality. And yes, it’s also a big deal that I played with being the more aggressive/dominant partner with one woman and the man.
The night was less about the notches in my belt, though, or the new skills on my resume. It was about how the best thing about having sex with other people turned out to be myself.
The Treasure Club
520 Swannanoa River Road
Asheville, NC 28805