What do you say when you run into your doctor at a sex party? “Hey, you’re my doctor ... wow, what do you know? Well, this is why I get tested so often … so have you been here before?” I had never seen her without her lab coat and she had never seen me wearing make-up. Now here we were, at a Brooklyn loft, standing across from each other in our lingerie—she in black corset and combat boots, me in red bow topped stockings and heart-dotted, rhinestone retro bikini. It had only been a couple of weeks since I last saw her for my biannual STI tests. I had no idea she was in the scene, although when she asked me about my sexual behavior (How many partners in the last year?) she didn’t flinch at my answers and I remember thinking, ‘Wow, she’s totally non-judgmental.’ (Of course doctors are supposed to be neutral with their patients, but sometimes a moralistic bias filters through their professional veneer.) She introduced me to her husband. He stood aside as doctor and patient exchanged pleasantries for a few minutes. Then Porno Jim sauntered over and flashed his promotional stickers before us like a pair of pasties. I stuck one on my belly.


Could this get any weirder? Hold your ponies, this is just Act 1: the orgy was hours away from starting. At first, it appeared to be your average artsy New York party with guests hovering around the bar, snacking on crudités dipped in hummus and mingling in a perpetual promotion of something or someone such as themselves, a business, or a product. Corseted women and topless men slinked their way through the punctuations of burlesque dancers and Hula Hoop girls in striped stockings. My solitary slinking was challenged only when sly couples tried to chat me up—the man presenting his woman as if she were a rug for sale. “Feel free to touch her,” said one pimpy boyfriend.

Maybe it wasn’t so weird; after all, this is New York, the city of weird. Woman in rainbow fur? Normal. Guy in metallic pants offering samples of his soon-to-be-patented herbal beverage? Run-of-the-mill. Backdrop of porn? Couldn’t be more standard. I’ve seen these things at non-erotic events and they receive no more attention than a jazz trio in a crowded French bistro. Just because Porno Jim’s latest output is silently moaning on the screen doesn’t mean the actors’ moves will be reflected in gyrating guests on the curtain-enclosed beds. Needless to say, that’s exactly where we were headed and yet it was so beautifully understated, as understated as a hand reaching into a bag and pulling out a vibrator then placing it on the perfect spot without the slightest interruption to the sensual flow. It was so understated I couldn’t even discern what he had removed from the bag until I felt the sensations between my legs, and I had no idea when the caresses of three females had begun—I was on my stomach and couldn’t see whose hand belonged to whom, nor did I care. All I knew was that they were not strangers, as my friend with the vibrator informed me.

You mean you didn’t have sex with strangers? But isn’t that what people do at orgies? This is a common assumption that carries a fraction of truth: although anonymous sex does occur, it’s not the backbone of the experience. Of course, every party is different, but once you’ve been in the scene for a while, you’ll discover that the lips and hands of strangers are usually accessories to the sex between couples and friends. I usually don’t have sex with someone the first time we meet (at parties), but maybe the second or third time, I’ll open myself up to a “stranger,” as I did with the bearded guy in a caftan who mellifluously praised the fine quality of my “yoni.”

I arrived at the Brooklyn loft with friends, and left with new friends. At least they felt like friends. How can one not feel a connection with people who collectively bear their bodies and desires and fetishes in a place that eludes the general public? This party was called “Chemistry” and it lived up to its name, as inchoate flirtations sparked gradually and organically toward early morning climaxes. I’ve been to many different brands of orgies from expensive, exclusive classy club extravaganzas to lame apartment gatherings of restless people hanging around waiting for something to happen. They all have their appeal, but Chemistry was surreal, spiritual, and creative beyond any other large-scale erotic event I’ve experienced.

I saw other people I knew besides my doctor. The New York sex scene is a small world like any network of like-minded people who sweat and breathe in the same circles. Part circus, part Burning Man, part speakeasy—it’s an underground playground where familiar faces collide: you might not know her name, but you’ve seen her breasts somewhere before, and suddenly you’re in touch with the greater urban orgasm. Or you could run into your doctor and realize you have more in common with her than you thought. During my next check-up, I’ll be thinking, “I’ve seen your heaving naked chest.” Now that’s weird.

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When I pose for Pedro, I feel like he’s fucking me with his eyes. He’s been working on this drawing for about a month. It was supposed to be a template for a painting.  He usually doesn’t spend more than a few days on a template drawing, but every time I come over to pose, he says my mood is different, so the drawing takes a new direction. I wonder if he can tell when my mind wanders off to Joanne or Juna and Kali or the latest hottie from Chemistry, my favorite sex party in New York. When we first met I told him I’m polyamorous. He had never heard the word before. When I explained what it meant, he said, “Oh I understand. When I love someone, the first thing I give them is freedom.” How could I not fall in love with him? How could he not partake in joint sexual adventures? Unfortunately he works Saturday nights, so I usually go to Chemistry alone.   

Unless he has the night off the same night as Chemistry. The one time this happened, the theme was Enchanted. I went as a forest nymph: nearly naked with a repurposed elf costume from childhood. If my mother knew the real reason why I collected all my old Halloween and dance recital costumes and brought them back to New York, she would probably die a little inside. I go to a lot of costume parties, I told her. It’s amazing that many of these pieces still fit me. My mother sewed the elf outfit, as she did most of my Halloween costumes. Leaves of Kelly green fabric sewn on an elastic circle alternate with hanging green ribbons displaying bright red pom poms which could be berries or magical dewdrops or sugarplums. An elastic of lesser circumference connects smaller leaves without ribbons and berries. This was originally meant for my skinny eight year old neck. Now it sits atop my crown of long red hair. I wore the larger piece over my hips with nothing underneath. Red glitter covered my nipples. I bought some fake vines in the flower district and draped them over my shoulders and wrapped them around my torso and legs. Strappy gold shoes, long green lashes, and vintage red lipstick completed the look.   

Pedro wore his sexiest underwear, black combat boots, a pair of horns from my costume collection, and a faux fur vest. With some smudgy black eyeliner he was the perfect urban satyr.

Even though it was his first party he fell into it as naturally if he grew up on an island and we were going to the beach. We played with a couple I knew. My favorite part was riding him while teasing his mouth with my fingers. When his hand wandered over to my friend’s breast, he remained focused on me. Even when her boyfriend was going down on me and she was sucking Pedro, it felt like we were all one pulsating organism.

He paints my hair red today. The rest of the drawing is black and white. 

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Pleasure & Pain

I bring Joanne to the Pleasure Chest after Sunday brunch. I’m hoping she’s still in a kinky mood since we spent half the day in bed. We browse the BDSM section. She aims for the floggers. A salesgirl makes a beeline for us.

“Can I help you with anything ladies?” She is perhaps a bit too perky.

“I’m looking for something to dominate my wayward girlfriend with,” Joanne says.

The salesgirl puts on an expression of forced intrigue. “Oooh, well we have lots of options for that.”


She picks up a black crop. “This is a beginner crop.” Then she picks up another one with a smaller point of contact. “If you want something more intense, I recommend this one.” She slaps her own wrist with it and hands it to Joanne.

“Let me know if you need anything else,” the salesgirl smiles and walks away.

“You know, at Chemistry there are lots of sexy women who would love to play with us,” I say, stroking her arm with the crop.

“You know I’d rather play with you. Besides I work Saturday nights.”

(Why does everyone I love have to work on Saturday night? I suppose it’s the trade-off for never being attracted to nine-to-fivers or the independently wealthy.)

“You said you would ask your manager to trade Saturday for Wednesday.”

“She’s been too busy to shift the schedule. She needs me on Saturdays.”

I want to say “I need you on Saturdays” but it’s not true. I want her some Saturdays. Some Saturdays I want Pedro. Sometimes I want someone new. Other Saturdays I just want to be alone. “I want you some Saturdays,” is a lame argument so I say nothing.

Joanne’s never been to a sex party and always has an excuse not to go. “I don’t have any costumes” or “I have to work” or “I don’t do well in loud social situations”. The last one is ironic as she bartends at a place where you have to yell when ordering a drink. The real reason is she doesn’t want to see me have sex with other people, especially men.

Sometimes I wonder if it’s the challenge that keeps me so into her. I feel like every time we make love I might break into that mysterious place of resistance within her and she’ll join me in poly explorations. Maybe I feel that way because she broke into my resistance around falling in love with a woman.


I had been curious for a while when we first met two Prides ago. I had sexual experiences and crushes with other women, but never anything serious. On Pride day I was marching somewhere in between the poly group Open Love and Radical Fairies, a group of queer middle-aged men. After the parade a bunch of us tumbled into the Stonewall and I got smushed between this stunning Asian tomboy and a big hairy bear. The tomboy was wearing a button down shirt, a guy’s fedora and loads of rainbow beads around her neck.

“Sorry I’m so close to you,” I said. “If I step away I’ll be very intimate with a hairy belly I have no interest in.”

She laughed. “I don’t mind.”

“Do you have enough beads?” I pointed to her chest.

“Too many. You want some?” She was already taking some off and putting them on me.


Her friends were caught on the other side of the bar. I didn’t have any commitments to the people I came in with. We danced and after a couple of tequila shots she was calling me beautiful. I took hold of her beads and pulled her toward me. She did not resist. Nor did I. 

I didn’t think I would call her after that. But that night she entered my dreams, and in the morning I couldn’t stop thinking about her. I had never experienced this sort of lust for a woman before. It was like her beads transferred a new kind of infatuation onto me. I replayed our bar tryst over and over in my head. All we did was dance and make out. But my stubborn mind couldn’t argue with my body. When I touched myself I was already wet with thoughts of her lips, the weight of her tattooed arm around my waist.

I called her. We made a date. Over Korean dinner, she told me that she’d been in the city since she left home at eighteen. She immigrated from South Korea when she was five, and her family settled in Minnesota. She got bullied for being Asian and dressing like a boy. She ran away from home at fifteen, lived with a friend’s family for a while, dated a drug dealer. The friend’s father forced her to give him blow-jobs. She went back to her family, told them what happened, they blamed her for it, saying if she had acted like a girl, it never would have happened. She fled to the east coast, stayed with a distant cousin, went to bartending school. She wants to be a fashion designer. She tried to get something started a few times, but nothing panned out enough for her to quit bartending. At thirty-five, she regrets not going to college. She told me all this on the first date. Because I asked, “So what’s your New York story?”


After dinner, she invited me back to her place. She showed me some of her fashion sketches. She was not a great artist, but I liked her ideas. Menswear-inspired casual looks for hipster lesbians. As she scrolled through looks on her IPad, my body pulsed with desire. It was so intense I felt the remnants of adolescent shame: you are not supposed to be feeling this! This is not what you were raised to be! But I’ve been with women before! Not like this! I’m pro-gay! Your puritanical roots don’t care! The little voice of shame only strengthened my desire. My body inched toward hers of its own free will. When her thighs touched mine, my lust broke through the dam of shame and nothing could’ve held me back. I had never been so excited about a pair of breasts. Was it because they were hidden beneath boyish clothes? I took her hat off and was surprised she had long hair up in a bun. Hat on, the buzzed sides and back of her head suggested a rejection of femininity. But she had only redefined it. She brought me to her bed. She went down on me and I came within a few minutes. Then she asked me if I wanted to get fucked.

“You mean, with a strap-on?”


“Yes, but I’ve never done it before.” I felt eighteen all over again.

Our bodies melded together as if the dildo was part of her. I was so turned on it didn’t matter that it wasn’t real. But it was real. It was so real that the following week I co-signed her student loan application. And two months later she moved in. Even though she knew I was poly.


At Pleasure Chest she corners me into a rack of lingerie. I tease her with a sample vibrator off the shelf.

She says, “I’m going to fuck you so hard you won’t be able to think about anyone else but me.” 

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I never felt totally myself being monogamous. I suppose a lot of people feel the same but can’t admit it. But I have no reason to hide.  

Juna and Kali are in their 40s, married. He’s a graphic designer, she’s a life coach. They are fans of my blog, always commenting with curiosity and praise. Then they start messaging me, asking for advice. I get annoyed with the back and forth typing so I suggest meeting for tea. They send a picture. I’m surprised they’re so attractive. A lot of my fans are nerds who don’t get out much.

We meet at Elephant and Castle downtown in the village, near their apartment. He is swarthy with a beard and beautiful brown doe eyes. She doesn’t wear her age as well as he, but she has an attractive face, with an eagerness that makes her seem younger. They are both unconventionally sexy. The first half hour they flood me with questions. How did you know you were poly? When did you know? Do your lovers ever get upset when you write about them? He leans into the table a lot and dominates the conversation while she smiles and nods and echoes his words.

            “What about you?” I ask. “What’s your story? Why are you so interested in my lifestyle?”

They get quiet. Kali looks down and laughs. Juna takes her hand and nods at her. This time she carries the words.

“We’ve been together fifteen years. And it’s been wonderful. We love each other.” She looks at Juna and his eyes get soft and watery.


            “But lately, in the past year or so, we’ve had less and less sex. At first I thought it might be getting older, hormonal changes, but then I would see a young couple making out in a bar and I would get wet.” She turns her eyes down again, at the word wet. “I’m curious about women. I feel like if I don’t explore now, in five to ten years, it will be too late. But I don’t want to jeopardize our marriage.”

She looks up at Juna. They hold hands on the table as though they are talking about a family crisis. Parents getting older and infirmed. A serious diagnosis. Their building being taken over by the mafia.

“And how do you feel about this?” I ask Juna.

“It’s a little scary, but I want her to be happy. And actually I’m titillated by the idea of us being with a woman together.” Juna caresses a finger on his wife’s chin.  

Kali plays with a brown curl, mouth wavering in a tentative half-smile. “But we don’t know, we have no idea how to go about it.”

I’m tempted to ask her, “What would you say to a client who came to you with the same problem you’re presenting to me?”

I refrain. They look so sweet together, holding hands, as if I’m their therapist and they trust me to help put the spark back into their marriage.

“Which is why we thought, you could maybe, give us some advice,” Kali says with more confidence.

“Do you do that sort of thing? Professionally?” Juna asks.

I could quote them a price and they would accept it. But it doesn’t feel right. Who am I to give a married couple advice? I’ve never been married. And yet they’ve never…


Juna has gorgeous teeth. Off-white, straight, narrow. Perfectly aligned. The kind of teeth I wouldn’t mind seeing up close. And Kali has the cutest nose. 

“I don’t. But I do play with couples sometimes.”

Juna’s eyebrows shoot up. Kali leans forward and lowers her voice. “By play, you mean…sex?”

I nod matter-of-factly.

“If there’s a connection,” I add, placing my hand over theirs. 

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Triple Date

“That seems easy enough,” Juna says.

Kali squeezes his hand and smiles.

“Just don’t put anything in my ass,” I say.

Kali laughs. “I love how direct you are!”

“I’m not opposed to it generally, but tonight I’d rather not.”

“Can I spank your ass?” Juna asks.

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“Sure. Would you like to spank me now?”

“Yeeeesssss!” He is as giddy as a boy feeling up a girl up for the first time.

I turn around and bend over with my hands on my knees. He gives me a little spank.

“Aw that’s just a little tap. Go for it. I can handle it.”

He hits me harder but it’s still way below my threshold. He spanks me several times at the same level.

“May I?” Kali asks.


She pats my other cheek. They spank me a few more times and stroke my legs and Juna’s hands slide up my dress. He makes an “oooh” sound when he feels the garters. Soon the dress is off and I kiss Kali and she kisses me and Juna kisses me and she kisses him and I kiss her neck while he kisses her lips. Then Kali’s shoulders are bare. And Juna’s hard-on is pressing against his pants. And it progresses from there as these things do… after the initial awkwardness it flows. We flow to the bed. They are naked. I keep my stockings and garter on because there’s no reason to take them off. I feel sexier with a little something on. Besides I’ve always loved the vintage look. And I know they appreciate it.

“Those garters!” Kali squeals.

Juna and I gaze at each other. I play the part. He is amazed. Of course. He’s living a sexual fantasy for the first time. Who would not be amazed at a fantasy coming true? I try to match his amazement, though I’ve been doing this sort of thing for at least seven years now. There are only so many times one can be amazed in a threesome. I try to focus on the little things. He has beautiful feminine doe eyes. She’s on his other side, looking at us looking at each other. It amazes me that they are so excited. That I’m responsible for their desire right now. For a long time the focus is on me. She changes her mind about the penetration. She wants to watch. She plays with me while I ride him. She kisses my breasts and I knead hers. I am turned on by the contrast between her pendulous heavy curves and my petiteness. And his cock feels so right.

I move in the way I know how to make myself cum, and when I’m close I hook my fingers in his mouth and imagine Pedro’s sculpted torso and Joanne’s flicking tongue and when it starts to pulse I pull Kali’s hair and kiss her with abandon. I’m in ecstasy as my climax erases all thought and I’m fully present with this couple I hardly know. In the end, I’m still amazed that three people can come together in mutual desire and not fall apart. In the end, I’m still amazed that three people can come together in mutual desire and not fall apart.


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Sex Imitates Art

I’ve dated a lot of artists. Probably 90 percent of my lovers have been either professional artists or fascinating dilettantes. For me, a relationship without an artistic connection is like sex without chemistry: dull, flat and mechanical. And sex without chemistry is like bad art: forced strokes that inspire nothing but rolling eyes. Creative people are creative in every context, and sex is no exception. Musicians and dancers have rhythm and timing. Actors like to play. Painters and poets tend to be the most sensual and detail-oriented, like my ex, who turned me into a canvas and painted my body with his tongue.

What is an artist without a muse? The dynamic between artist and muse is erotic whether or not sex is involved. I was an art model for three years. Posing nude for classrooms of strangers inspired erotic poetry and thoughts of exhibitionism. I wrote in a poem: Choosing to strip without de-veiling, choosing to draw without failing into reality: the charcoal sweeps shouldn’t look like me, exactly, but they are still me. I wondered if the students had lewd thoughts about me—of course they did. I interviewed some on the topic and the consensus was, “Yes. It’s inevitable. Especially if the model is attractive.” My ex—I’ll just call him Picasso—is a teacher at a leading New York art school. We met when I posed for his class and our attraction was instant. He asked me if I would pose for him, privately. As I lay on the tattered couch in his studio, I was high on the awareness that every time he looked at me, he was seeing what lovers see, and yet all he was doing was painting me. All he was doing was transforming me into art while I was thinking about him licking my twat, and the idea that my arousal could be perceived in a brush stroke was more erotic than the fantasy itself.

I enjoy being a muse. It’s an empowering role to play. Throughout every one of my artistic affairs, I was conscious that I was a source of inspiration, and that at any moment something I produced could be immortalized. A gesture, look or mood has the potential to become a masterpiece. Once Picasso and I became passionately involved, I felt as if the orchestration of our relationship was an art, and the art itself (his paintings, my words) evolved as we did. He gave me erotic sketches, and I emailed him poetic excerpts from my journal. Our creations competed for our attention like a third lover: “I can’t see you tonight, I’m writing” or “Can I call you later? I need to paint.” When two artists have a romantic relationship, the art is just as important as the couple, perhaps even more so. Lovers come and go, but the art stays.

Whatever the medium, nothing heightens eroticism like artistic romance. It bleeds into every intent and emotion and sensation. It opens up the mind and body to the vast spectrum of erotic experience, from coy flirtation to orgiastic madness. No wonder so many artists are into sexual experimentation; you have to be intuitive, curious and willing to take risks to be an artist as well as a libertine. But not all artists are as sexually free as they could be. Picasso wasn’t a huge fan of my polyamorous nature. I can see this point of contention in his final portrait of me. I’m standing in front of a window like Mona Lisa, my mouth tightly closed, my eyes locked in a blank gaze, looking askew at an elusive thought. I hold a restless feline in my lap while fish float behind my head … He started this painting before we broke up and even then it seemed to know more than we did. Oscar Wilde said, “Life imitates art far more than art imitates life.” I would add that sex imitates art far more than art imitates sex. Picasso drew me as a horny cat, and look what I’ve become.

Recently my ex-boyfriend sent me an art catalog in the mail. “Thought you should have this—you will not hear from me again,” read the attached post-it note. I recognized myself on the glossy cover, an abstract figure with Egyptian posture, my flaming red hair flattened against my head in thick orange crayon-like strokes, my face tilted upward in shadow. The image recalled feelings and thoughts that now, more than a year after we broke up, seem as abstract as his paintings. Yet he captured me in a way in which no one else did. He painted my moods before I expressed them. He painted what I couldn’t tell him. He painted our separation before either of us knew it was coming.

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Three of Hearts

When I arrived at the bar she did not acknowledge me at first. I started to apologize for my lateness but she didn’t want to hear it. I made a comment about the fading rainbow décor, wondered if it was left over from Pride. I bought her a beer and a harder drink for myself. No sooner did I have a sip, she blurted, “That fucking Pedro!”

 “It wasn’t Pedro…” I said, offended that I had to defend myself from her assumptions again.


But she wouldn’t let me get in a complete sentence. “You could’ve checked in…” 


“I know, I know, I’m sorry I got carried away. . .” (What else could I say?) I withered in the lameness of my excuse. 

 “We have a relationship,” she said, placing extra emphasis on the pronoun “we” as if I had forgotten the fact.   

 The clinking of our glasses on the bar sounded like a judge’s anvil, rising above the static of voices, TV, music, and every other noise in the place. 

 I tried to apologize again. “Yes, I’m sorry, there wasn’t a convenient time. . .” I cringed at the words coming out of my mouth. . . how something so true could come off so false.

 She narrowed her eyes at me. “Did you enjoy it?” 

 Was she aware of the catch-22 of her question? If I say yes, I betray her. If I say no, I betray myself. If I lie, she will forever hold it against me and I’ll have to reassure her with more lies.This trap is familiar to cheaters.  When cheaters are caught, they often say, “It didn’t mean anything.” Yes it did, you idiot, it meant at the very least that you were sexually attracted to someone else and you acted on that attraction. Think about it: If you murder someone, you can’t tell the prosecution, “It didn’t mean anything,” and expect to be forgiven. 

 My gut reaction to the absurdity of her question made it impossible to answer. “Joanne, please,” I said. She asked me again. I got up off the stool and walked away toward a bench against the wall. 

 As soon as I sat down she started making a speech declaring her love and that she did poly for me, and hey everybody… Wait, what? Why is she stepping up onto that chair. .  . “Hey everybody, this is my bisexual girlfriend, she only wants to be with me if she can be with guys too!” Then she said some other things that pain me too much to repeat here in writing. And before I knew it I was trying to pull her down. And then she was on the floor, in a pile of broken glass, screaming, “What the fuck? What’s wrong with you?” 

 Although her words hit me like bullets, and the entire bar seemed to be shooting at me too, I don’t believe there’s actually something wrong with me. Or that there’s anything wrong with her.

 Relationship agreements are like allergies. There’s no obvious reason why one person has a violent reaction if her husband holds another woman’s hand in a movie theater, while another, like my ex-girlfriend, explodes when I have sex with someone else in our apartment. Polyamory makes me feel like I’m above cheating because I make my own rules and agreements. But when I break my rules, there’s no one else to blame. Joanne was never totally comfortable with my lifestyle. I needed to end my relationship with her but didn’t know when or how. Along came someone to do it for me. 

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