Tristan is on vacation. We reprint, here, a favorite column from December 2005.
In September 2005, two students at the University of Pennsylvania were having sex against a dorm room window without a shade. Apparently, several people took photos of the couple, and the images were circulated via e-mail and on various websites. A student who snapped a shot and posted it on his personal site was charged with several violations by the Office of Student Conduct. One charge was sexual harassment, based on a complaint from the female student (who believed she could be identified) that posting the image created a hostile environment for her. Debates raged in the student newspaper and online forums: Why was the photographer being charged with sexual harassment but the couple was not being charged with public lewdness? What about the shutterbug's right to free speech? If the two were putting on a show, how could they expect privacy? From the photos I've seen, it doesn't look like a case of a Peeping Tom with a telephoto lens. Pictures were taken in broad daylight, and although the couple was in a high-rise building, one look up let you see a whole lot. One person posted this comment on the Daily Pennsylvanian website: "You don't smash your buttocks up against a window unless you're looking for attention." I'll agree: The twosome wanted to be watched or wanted the possibility of being watched to exist. However, being an exhibitionist and having your exhibitionism photographed and published are two very different things.
I can't remember the first time I had public sex. I am not counting the times I had sex in a semi-public or public place where I could have been watched but wasn'tlike in a car, at the beach, or in a park. I am talking about having sex in public to be seen. Was it when I went to a sex club in Florida during a leather conference? It might have been the night that I hooked up with a well-known sexpert couple at a sex party in Boston. As I recall, she fucked me on a couch, then I fisted her partner. It was the first time I used the female condom for anal penetrationand I remember thinking it was ironic that I was trying it out in a guy. Maybe it was at the porn star orgy I was invited to, where I was one of only three non-porn people (they called us "civilians"). I got to fuck a performer briefly, until his girlfriendwho was doing someone elsekind of flipped out. I did hook up with a retired porn star, who put almost her entire fist in my ass. Wow, the mid '90s are already a blur.
I used to be an exhibitionist. I go-go danced at dyke bars, where women stuck folded bills in my G-string. I had my pussy shaved onstage by a stranger as part of a performance. At a storytelling event, another stranger put a butt plug in my ass as I read my erotic story. I got pierced, poked, and paddled at kinky parties. I fucked my entire cast in the final scene of the first porn video I directed. I preferred to indulge my love of the spotlight while naked. I loved to fuck and be fucked while people looked on.
Maybe it's just a phase, but lately I'm not so gung ho about having sex in public. I still put things in people's orifices in front of a roomful of otherswhich I know looks a lot like sexbut I don't count that, because it really is an educational thing. I mean wrists-and-ankles-strapped-to-a-bondage-table-while-hot-wax-is-dripped-on-my-tits public sex. Or facedown, ass in the air, on a bed in a room with no door. Or lubed glove dripping as I lean over some hot number, her legs spread wide as she seemingly floats mid-air in a sling.
Thankfully, I still get plenty of opportunities to have public sex. But seeing a 10,000-square-foot dungeon and 200 pairs of eyes doesn't do it for me like it used to. Public sex was exciting and validating, and it fed something in me that's no longer hungry. In the past, one of the thrills of public sex, especially at parties, was that I felt free to do whatever the fuck I wanted to. Whether in a corner or center stage, I was just another girl with tattoos and high heels getting off; I felt free. One of the last times I had anonymous sex in public, I found the entire encounter written up in my playmate's blog, which wouldn't have been so disturbing if she hadn't used my full name without my permission. That felt icky.
These days, when I pick up a cane or slip off my panties in a public place, I feel an enormous weight on my shoulderslike there are these expectations of me, as a sexpert, to give people a great show and to rock the world of whomever I am playing with. That kind of pressure, whether real or imagined, just kills my libido. Part of fucking in public is a performance, and for whatever reasons, I'm not in the mood to perform. That part of it distracts me and gets me out of the zone I need to be in. Right now, I want to go places in my sexual life that I'm not ready to share with an audience. Some of those places are dark; others are goofy, tender, and complicated. I'm hesitant to do the things I want to in public because I feel too vulnerable.
In early December, the University of Pennsylvania Office of Student Conduct dropped all charges against the photographer who caught a moment of young lust and exhibitionism. According to several reports, the couple, especially the woman, is embarrassed and humiliatedwhich is really the opposite of how it could have gone down if the looking had been fleeting rather than captured digitally. Some of the best public sex I've witnessed is when the opposite emotions are evident, and the woman feels incredibly empowered. When I watch a woman shed her inhibitions and bare herself for all to see, sometimes I envy hershe can embrace and even sexualize her erotic vulnerability. Or perhaps she doesn't feel vulnerable at allshe just likes to show off.
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