No Attitude, No Standing Around: The Organization of Social and Sexual Interaction at a Gay Male Private Sex Party in New York City.

Published: August 24, 2013

 Abstract

 
Following the onset of the AIDS epidemic, many jurisdictions have outlawed commercial sex-on-premise venues (bathhouses, adult theaters, sex clubs), greatly changing the culture of public or group sex. Today, in New York City (NYC), private sex parties are the main venues for group sex. Dozens of such events are held on a regular basis in the city, attracting sometimes a few hundred participants. Past research in group sex venues shows that different spaces allow for different kinds of sexual and social interaction. What are the norms of interaction of today’s private sex parties? This article answers this question by using data collected ethnographically in one recurring gay male private sex party in NYC. The event was a small organization that brought all its participants together in one space at the same time, thus creating great physical intimacy and leading to convivial socialization and interpersonal bonding. This differs from the model of anonymous and impersonal sex that previous researchers have seen in public and commercial spaces. Private sex parties present risk for the transmission of HIV and other sexually-transmitted infections, but their organization and norms of interaction also present new avenues for prevention. Policy-makers should work to make these places safer rather than outlawing them
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