What do you wear to a sex party?
This is a question I never thought I’d have to ask myself, but thanks to a lucky invite to such a party in Los Angeles, I was forced to ponder its perplexities. The party would be in a warehouse near the airport, for what I presume was easy access for people from all walks of life—because everyone winds up in an airport loop sooner or later. It was billed as a “sexy dance party,” where you go to drink, dance, get naked, and have some fun.
By all appearances, I’m not the type to show up at a sex party. My style is less “rugged man” and more “Diane Keaton in every film ever.” I often feel like my body looks like a Minion after an intense workout, blotchy and bouncy with vague genitalia. My personality exudes zero sexiness and tons of anxious Jew. My best pickup line is, “I know my parents’ HBO GO password.”
But throwing caution—and details—to the wind, I went. I had a loose understanding of what was going to happen. Years ago I visited Berlin, a town where many bars feature dark spaces in the basement or back room where you can get a little tickle-tickle with your beer. If you think about it, it’s awfully practical. Better to find out that your potential mate has a micro-penis at the bar rather than in your bed, amirite?
“Here’s a trash bag for your street clothes,” the person at the coat check said. I shuffled to hand over my sweatpants and jacket, leaving me clad in short-shorts and a sleeveless hoodie. I hoped to gain the confidence to eventually take the hoodie off, or at the very least unzip it. I signed the legal waiver—essentially saying that if I got an STD, it was my own damn fault—and entered the party, hoodie zipped all the way up.
The space was dark, with red, green, and blue lights illuminating the dance floor. A DJ played music that made it clear that any requests for Taylor Swift would be out of the question. People milled around in all states of undress, many totally nude. Fat, skinny, built, old, young, black, white, brown—they all were there and ready to unload...wind.
After grabbing a drink, I took a tour of the four “themed rooms” available off the dance floor, all featuring different accoutrements to meet your sexy-time needs.
The first room was totally open and lit with just a red light, with only a large mirror in the corner. Why people would want to see themselves having sex is beyond me. I feel bad enough for the things my cat sees at home.
The second room had more of a bluish tint and also featured a mirror (it’s an epidemic), along with a sling, a table cut out in the shape of a person (like a police crime scene chalk outline), and a small cage that could only fit one person on all fours.
The third room was more traditional, but it didn’t feel like any home I’d ever visited. It had a purple tint and a large bed in the center and—you guessed it—more mirrors!
Finally, the fourth room was larger and brightly lit, with a sling on a stage (for the live theater fans) and a flat surface where someone could get tied up. I hated this room the most. Who needs all that light?
So I’d gotten the lay of the land, now it was time to put on my sexy face. After multiple rejections, I learned that my sexy face had to go. As someone who relies totally on personality, this was not the environment for me. My hoodie remained zipped as a I bounced from room to room.
“Mazel tov,” I heard someone say. I turned around and pointed, “Jew!” From their frightened expressions, I could tell I should explain.
“I’m Jewish, too. Wouldn’t it be weird if someone had a Nazi fetish?” I said, laughing.
“That’s hot,” one of the Jews replied.
“Yeah,” I said, awkwardly laughing to make them like me, making a mental note to apologize to my rabbi later on.
These three Jews became my support group throughout the night. More than once I walked into one of them having sex, and they’d smile and say, “Mazel tov.” New friendships are the best!
But even with my Jews, I still wasn’t getting hit on. I wanted to leave, run away, but I knew my rabbi would have challenged me to stay, to say yes to life. So instead, I became determined to get laid.
I unzipped my hoodie, but didn’t remove it completely. Baby steps. Then I noticed that everyone was showing whatever goods they wanted to put out there. So I pulled my shorts down, just over my front side, and began to play with myself.
The thing was, well, you know those moments when your junk has been squished up in your shorts and doesn’t look at its peak girth? Yeah, that was me.
“I wish I had one of those ring thingies,” I said to one of my new Jew buddies, hating myself for saying “thingies.” The Jew gave me a ring to place around my genitals. It was too big.
“Oh, man, it’s probably because I had cancer a couple years ago, lost a testicle,” I said, and proceeded to tell the story. Right around the getting really sick during chemo part, I realized that story was the last thing someone wanted to hear while having sex.
So my junk is small and I’m a buzzkill. Maybe this party isn’t for me? Try something new, I told myself.
“Great ass,” I said to a person dressed in an assless football uniform. The wide receiver kept on walking. No compliments: noted.
Then I reached out and grabbed someone’s junk. He pushed my hand away. Doubly noted: no grabbing without an invitation.
One last lap! I walked into the fourth room, the one lit like a Broadway stage. I noticed someone I had been smiling at all night. He had wavy black hair, a caramel complexion, and chest hair for days.
“Hey,” I said. Then, without knowing what came over me, I took control. The shocking thing was, he responded. He began to pull my shorts down, revealing my Kathy Bates butt to all, and you know what? I let him. We kissed. Slowly he started to unzip my hoodie, bits of my body-conscious anxiety morphing into confidence with every rivet the zipper passed. The hoodie dropped to the floor, and with it went many layers of shame that had been stacked on my shoulders all night.
It’s fitting that I eventually found my confidence in the room I initially liked the least. By risking my own self-conscious fear of exposure, by letting the hoodie go, I discovered a part of myself that I didn’t know was there. The Diane Keaton-styled anxious Jew that overshares could also be the dude that totally scored at a sex party.
I’m not suggesting that everyone try a sex party to gain some confidence—but maybe it couldn’t hurt. If you free your mind, and sometimes your extremities, you might just learn something new about yourself. Or at the very least, you might learn that the only thing you should wear to a sex party is easy-access clothing or nothing at all. So, like, leave the hoodie, and the shame, at home.
This piece originally was published on Fusion.