By Albert Samaha
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Runaway Bay, JamaicaOn my last visit to Jamaica, one of the things I looked forward to was staying at Hedonism III; unfortunately, my reality porn-TV judging duties didn't leave much time to immerse myself in the resort experience. You see, Hedonism III, sister resort to Hedonism II (the flagship), is known for hosting nudist, swinger, and fetish events, naked beauty pageants, and other debaucherous activities. Promotional materials tout "a sandbox for your inner child" where "pleasure comes in many forms" and "just about anything goes." There's no specific mention of fantasy role-playing, partner swapping, or threesomes, but it's implied, and Hedonism's reputation as an erotic playground precedes it.
Back in March, the amateur adult stars may have exceeded my expectations, but Hedonism did not. Sure, there was flirting in the clothing-optional pool by day and hooking up in the hot tub by night. A water slide runs through the ceiling of the disco and there are mirrors above the beds, just as promised. But seeing people's asses above me as I dance to '80s music, or my own reflection overhead first thing in the morning, can only make up for so much. Award-winning cuisine was really a mediocre buffet, top-shelf liquor more like watered-down cocktails. Festive, dress-up theme nights brought out middle-aged guys in white sheets who looked less like Greek gods and more like men in diapers. It was swinger central, and all the swingers, were, well, too swinger.
I don't want to dis swingers. Some of my best friends are swingers. But I continue to feel alienated from the swingers who you know are swingers within the first few minutes of meeting them. It's like someone who's obsessed with exotic fish, and jumps at the first chance to talk freshwater versus salt. But that person can also talk about their job, their family, other stuff. For these "super swingers," their identity, their hobby, and their passion are all one and the same: sex.
Which makes you think we'd have lots in common, but somehow we don't. Maybe it's their endless supply of dirty jokes and innuendo. Maybe it's because I'm queer and I rarely drink (drinking would at least make the jokes funnier). Maybe it's because I see a distinct line between flirtatious and predatory. I want to love them for loving sex, but it never works out, like hooking up with someone you met on the Internet.
Going to Hedonism III is a lot like online dating toothe fantasy is just so much better than the reality. It promises a sexual environment that encourages uninhibited behavior, and it delivers, yet it's not exactly a sex-positive place. So what's the difference? With all the talk of hooking up, after the gift shop closes you cannot get a condom anywhere on the property. There are bowls of condoms and lube everywhere at sex clubs and parties, but safer sex seems to be missing in action at Hedo. And if there were any non-straight people there, I never met them. It's supposed to be all about being free and being yourself, but all the selves seem to conform to one model of sexuality.
So I wasn't exactly gung ho to return, but I had made a commitment; besides, my friends told me to quit complaining about "having to go to Jamaica twice in two months for work." This time, the occasion was Soul Days with former porn star and current Playboy TV host Juli Ashton. Part birthday celebration for Juli, part all-inclusive trip, here's the idea: Folks pay for a week at Hedo III, and Juli plans everything, from dinners and excursions to entertainment. You get to do it all, plus hang out with Juli and her friendswho happen to be porn stars, musicians, and sexperts.
Since there was this porno angle to the whole thing, I assumed that there'd be lots of single, straight fanguys, the kind who wait in line at the adult expo every year for autographs from big-boobed girls. When I arrived, one of the first people I met was a cute redheaded femme from Texas. Right off the bat, when the word lesbian tumbled out of her mouth, it seemed like a sign that this experience might be different than the last. Then I met two butch truck-driving dykes, a fabulous couple from Cleveland, members of the band Boxelder, and unexpectedly down-to-earth porn stars like tattooed hottie Julian and Alana Evans, who is currently raising money for breast implants at boobgrant.comcool people I really liked hanging out with.
I had an incredibly vivid dream the first night. I was at Julian's house, and it was clear we were going to hook up, but I really had to pee. I went to the bathroom, and as I sat on the toilet pissing, through the crack in the door, I saw Julian watching me. He said, "I'm coming in," and I said, "No, I'm peeing, just wait a minute." He burst through the door dressed head-to-toe in cowboy drag. The hat, the boots, the chapshe even had a saddle slung over his arm. Then his houseguests showed up, the electricity went out, and my western fantasy went up in smoke.