Have you heard about “chemsex”? It’s apparently a trend among gay men: weekend-long parties, fueled by research chemicals, that move from club to loft orgy back to club. I’m a straight man, and I seriously hope there’s a straight-world equivalent. I’ve done party drugs, and I’d like to meet women who also enjoy them—especially ones who are curious about the potential of sex and drugs.
Chemsex has a mix of critics and proponents both within and outside the gay community; media have branded it as everything from a “niche sexual phenomenon” to a “modern sexual health crisis.” But as with any trend, activity or idea worth talking about, an accurate definition of chemsex (and to what degree it is or isn’t dangerous) ultimately depends on the individual participating in it. Regardless of how you weigh in on the chemsex debate, one truth we do know is that things only get hotter when they’re forbidden.
Consider the Dionysian mysteries of ancient Greece. These celebrations used music and intoxicants to lull partygoers into a sexual trance. Social inhibitions were shed as bodies twisted with abandon. At today’s Dionysian warehouse parties and boho gatherings, sexual assault is a danger—drugs can be used to lower inhibitions or induce blackouts. Yet there are positive facets of drugs and sex that don’t see the media light: Many of us view drug use as an invaluable part of our self-exploration, sexual and otherwise. We consensually engage in drugged-up sex and find it transformative, romantic, ethereal.
So as I lay in bed, drying out from the previous night’s Bushwick rave, I posed your question to a few of New York’s finest party girls. We decided on a few rules of thumb for a straight man looking to explore drugs and sex with a mind toward enthusiastically consenting and transcending.
(1) A gentleman has drugs to offer: Always keep a few options on hand, with enough to share. As an engineering undergrad at Harvard, Stefanie kept a vial of LSD in her bag at all times. “It was a great pickup line,” she says. “I’d go to parties and offer to dose back at my place. Men, women—it was sexier than asking them back for a drink.”
(2) Know your drugs—and your partner. Before dosing on a date, it’s best to know the drug and how you react to it. (Ideally you’ve already tried the batch.) Note the many types of drug sex: the psychic playfulness of LSD, the deep joy and fated connections of molly, the Lynchian fever dream of ketamine, the lucid fluidity of opiates. Also know what your date likes sexually. Leila, a software engineer who throws research-chemical parties at her New York estate, asks that guests familiarize themselves with the concept of “set and setting”: Scope your surroundings and your mental state, and assess your comfort level before dosing. Leila has one rule: “Don’t offer a drug to a woman if she isn’t already familiar with it. If you mention a drug and she replies with an anecdote about that time she did it in high school and it was awesome, then you can offer.”
(3) Let her lead. “Drugs are communal, but they also pull you deeper into yourself,” says Monica, a poet. “It’s about losing yourself in your own interior and in each other.” And since you want her to be present, ask that she direct the hookup. Let her be the boss.
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