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.