Is exhibitionism an all-or-nothing proposition? The thought of having sex in a public or easily discovered place, being caught or otherwise exposed, is an active turnoff. That’s partly due to an intense fear of public humiliation, but there’s also a consent issue: if I’m doing it in a public park, and someone uninvolved interrupts the scenario, that person did not consent to becoming part of my sex life. Shocking, embarrassing, or upsetting people is not my thing. However, the thought of fucking for an audience of willing watchers, who are getting off on the sight of me is massively arousing. So, do exhibitionists necessarily have to enjoy both aspects?
When I was preparing to get liposuction in the autumn of 2004, I of course returned to the surgeon who had done such a stellar job on my tits. His office manager brought me to the exam room and gave me the obligatory gown, but when the doc came in I asked, “What is this thing actually for?” He replied, “It’s for modesty. Why, don’t you have any?” He was of course half-joking, and I explained that since he had already seen my top half nude many times and was about to see my bottom half nude, the whole gown thing seemed a pointless exercise in prudery. But really, the short answer to his question would have been “no”; I’ve never been afraid of nudity, at least not in the conventional sense. As I’ve explained before, I was dreadfully self-conscious about body hair and flat-chestedness, but those are concerns of not being attractive enough; modesty is in a sense the opposite, the concern that one is the subject of too much sexual attention. And for me there was no such animal, short of actual violation (but my first experience of that wasn’t until years after my personality was pretty much set in stone). I’ve always enjoyed dressing sexily, have never had any problem getting nude in front of others, and my chief concern with stripping was whether I was really a good enough dancer to make any money at it. I had my first three-way at 17, and my first sex in front of a spectator not long after that; I’ve never had any hesitation about having sex in front of others, as long as the door was locked.
Because as it turns out, I’m exactly the same as you on this subject. Being watched by willing spectators in private is a huge turn-on, but being concerned about arrest or other associated dangers of public sex is a gigantic turn-off. In one of my very earliest column, “Aversions”, I wrote:
I know most guys and even a lot of women think [sex in weird places] is very sexy, but as far as I am concerned a bed is more than adequate as a venue for sexual relations. Sand, dirt, dry leaves, insects, spiders or other, less identifiable debris in my genitalia are NOT my idea of a smashing good time, nor is being arrested for indecent exposure, nor having my head banged repeatedly against concrete, nor being crammed into some weird, cramped, smelly, unsanitary or all of the above position.
Though I was quite promiscuous as a teenager, I never once had sex in a car, and the one time I let myself be talked into sex in Audubon Park was such a traumatic experience I still remember it as though it were last week (though it was almost 30 years ago). I would consider being turned on by the possibility of discovery to be a separate thing from pure exhibitionism, and even though the two are popularly associated I don’t think they really hail from the same region of the psychosexual landscape.
(Have a question of your own? Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)