It’s 2016 and I’m somewhere east of familiar, trying to keep the speedometer at a consistent 69 m.p.h. because I’m about to have sex with my boyfriend in front of 100 strangers. Sixty-nine seems ceremonious considering the situation, so I decide I’m doing it the whole way there or I’m not going at all.
Plus, I’m nervous. I’ve never had sex in front of anyone. I’ve wanted to; we’ve always wanted to, but it’s not like someone asks you what are you doing tonight do you want to eat a shrimp cocktail together and then fuck a guy in front of 100 strangers? Where do you even find a 100 strangers? What are their names? Are they gluten-free? What are their dads like? I need something else to focus on; something like keeping it over 68 and below 70.
The Prius C revs imperceptibly as we pull up to the address scribbled on the back of a cocktail napkin.
“This might make you feel better,” my hairdresser had told me as he’d written it down in the crowded bar where we’d met earlier. He considers himself to be an expert at these things. He’s got a nose gauge and his name is Stallion, so I take his word for it.
“Fetish Play Party,” it reads. “BYOSlave.”
Ha-ha, I think, because I’m not there for the D/s b/s. Far from it. I’m there with my boyfriend of what feels like 60 years for the entirely selfish reason that our monogamy has made both of us feel unseen. The authoritarian “thou shalt not cheat” dictum of our relationship works for us, but we’ve come to the mutual agreement that the gaze and adulation of other people is a nothing short of a mental health solution for a relationship to maintain a long shelf life.
And so, we’re ready to be ravaged — at least visually — half because we want to prove to each other that we can still conjure up strange boners, and half because one of us (me, hi) was born with an depravity feature that’s biologically predisposed me to seek out weird sex. Fucking each other in front of a crowd at kink party is simply how we’ve decided to spend minimal effort and money to do this. Still, I hold the napkin in front of me and scrutinize it, wondering if we should go in.
The glovebox tequila makes the decision for us and we walk up a path to a house that’s an exact replica of the one from Psycho. Inside, we’re checked in by a bear with a lisp and a leather butcher’s apron who informs us that any type of play is cool as long as it’s consensual.
This becomes evident when we enter the party.
Picture a large, dark, open room. Music is pounding. Porn is projected on every wall. Every type of fetish equipment imaginable. People in leather. People suspended. People being whipped senseless and quaking in pleasure. People who really went out of their way to dress like they’re not new at this. I’m watching him … will he do the same for me?
We pass a man whose wrists are fastened to a large metal grate by well-worn leather handcuffs. An older woman wearing a cherry red corset sucks him off, causing him to moan and squirm in delight. She tells him to shut his pretty mouth if he knows what was good for him and he looks at us with bemusement as we passed by. In another room — much more brightly lit than the others — a group of women simulate a medical scene. The game is gynecology. A side table bearing a speculum and a Hitachi wand wait for the patient to be subdued. I catch her eye as her friends place her legs in stirrups and tell her the doctor will be in shortly. She is glowing with the satiation of fantasy.
We turn the corner, and there, like a gift, is a phone booth. The crowd parts so that we have a clear view of it. Old-school, bright red and more British than bad teeth and blood pudding, it’s outfitted with a grid of clear glass panes on it so you can see just who’s inside calling collect. In this particular shadowy, leather-clad location, it’s really, truly out of place.
I can relate. I have no choice but to fuck in it.
His mouth tastes like off-brand Mr. Pibb and I’m feeling more incisor than I’m used to because his smile is pressing his lips flat against his teeth. The way he runs his hands over my body and up my skirt is hesitant and slow because who knows how far we’ll go with this shit? This is a sporadic and unnegotiated way to spend a Friday night and so the moments last as we size each other up, daring each other in tiny increments to go further.
Things change when I feel the heat of eyes on me. A crowd has gathered. The thrill performance hits me like a come-up as I go from area-girl-getting-felt-up-in-a-phone-booth to that moment’s solitary entertainment. The sudden attention has a physical effect. I find myself on an elevated sensory plane, laser focused on him, but absorbing most of the pleasure from the warm aura of gaze in my periphery. My hands are static and tingly on his body. His kisses are a surge. Our bodies magnetize and synchronize and every brush of tongue feels like falling and every raking pull of fingernails on flesh makes the rest of the world dissolve.
I drop down on my knees and look up with him. On the way down, I meet the eyes of a generously sized woman bent over an IKEA loveseat.
She’s being flogged and the impact of leather on her considerable flesh makes a cracking sound that ripples over the moaning and the Peaches remix. Our eye contact is punctuated by the metal bars between the phone booth panes, and every time it disappears and reappears, the smile on her face gets wider and wider as I get closer the ground.
She approves what I’m doing with a silent nod. The permission given by someone who belongs here makes me bold. My boyfriend follows my lead. We’re locked in now and we’re doing this.
I suck his dick like a champion, like I had Wheaties for breakfast. Tens of people see his most private appendage which, I’m ecstatic to expose. When he can’t take it anymore, he stands me up and turns me around, pressing my body against the glass for all to see.
I see too. I count 12 voyeurs as he thrusts in and out. It’s exponentially less than the hundred people I’d been promised, but when you’re being fucked weak in an English telephone booth , 24 eyes feels like at least 240,334. Good boys. Good girls. Make me get what I came here for.
His orgasm provides a brief moment of dissociation and I think about what I’m doing. Why am I here? I’ve always wanted this. It’s always super-soaked me to imagine being watched, and I’ve always loved fucking people in semi-public places where the possibility of being caught exceeds the possibility of getting away with it.
Yet, the reality of spectatorship provides so much more than the fantasy of it. An unexpected sense of relaxation and inner calm pervade me as I pick my clothes up off the floor. Pure, grade A, grass-fed satisfaction. I’ve never felt it so completely.
We kiss as the crowd moves on to greener pastures. I feel valid. I feel seen. Not just in the sense that I’m in people’s ocular fields, but … acknowledged. It’s something I haven’t felt a lot of in my long slow dance with monogamy. When you’ve been together for more years than you have orifices, attraction and sex can feel obligatory and preexisting. It’s not bad, it just is. Sometimes you want something different.
When you’re seen — witnessed, rather — by a new person or 12, it reaffirms that you’re worthy of being watched. Not subjectively, like by the person you’re in love with who has to find you worthy, but objectively, by strangers, who are under no obligation to spend their time doing this. Strangers who, in fact, could be watching someone, anyone else.
Is it shallow or self-absorbed that we’d need that kind of external validation? Probably. I don’t care though. Especially because it did something else for me: being watched provided me with a brief, cum-filled millisecond in which I was who I really am — a person who needs to have bizarre, risky sex to feel satisfied in an otherwise tame and vanilla relationship. I know this because there are witnesses to me in that state. People saw it happen. Their participation in my fantasy proved I exist how I want exist.
Back in the miracle of modern engineering that is the 2012 Prius C, we speed away, still seeped in the absolute delight of a fantasy actualized. We’re ecstatic in that gross couple way; the one that makes people grimace and sigh “Get a room!” I can’t stop myself from unbuckling my seatbelt and sliding over the center console to put his cock in my mouth. I want to continue the thrill. I’m high on adrenaline and fuck hormones and I want every man, woman and adult child to crash their cars trying to figure out what’s happening in that car over there.
In the days after, the effect lasted. We fucked constantly. We were doe-eyed and gooey with each other. I couldn't wait to see him after he left for work. Our communication improved. Talking about what happened and what we saw brought us closer.
Maybe what I wanted was less to be watched, and more to be seen. Watching is topical, like you watch TV. Seeing is deeper. It’s like knowing. “I see you” means “I understand.” Wordless, instinctual, and really fucking hot.