Where on the “party” spectrum do sex parties fall? The idea might sound extreme or hard core, but in truth, a sex party can feel more like a casual cocktail party among friends or, on the other end, like a bacchanal European sex club. You choose what you want.
Sex parties are endlessly customizable, appealing to all ages and sexual orientations. They are accessible to singles and couples (depending on their openness more on that later), and can be as vanilla or hard core as you like. In a stranger turn of my life, I was the lead copywriter for a major sex toy company that I can’t name. But if you’re a hedonistic gay man, you’ve heard of it. I was “lead copywriter” in name only: yes, I wrote all the website and product copy, along with all instructional inserts, promotional emails, and packaging text, but I also managed social media, ran the blog, redesigned the website, refined the brand’s style and messaging, led promotional events and campaigns, directed promo videos, and did everything else a creative director does, minus a creative director’s salary. Part of that job meant setting up (and taking down) the brand’s legendary sex parties. I have scrubbed lube (and more) off countless sex slings and can assemble any sling from any manufacturer with my eyes closed. I know how sex parties, large and small, work.
This being Out’s Design issue, I figured I should offer practical advice on making something I love a space where people come together for casual, easy fun. For economy, I’ve distilled my advice down to some necessary points.
*With the ongoing MPV (monkeypox virus) outbreak, it's always important to play safe, and get vaccinated when you can. For all of the latest information on MPV, visit CDC.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox.
Thiis seems basic, but I have attended sex parties where the actual owner of the space suddenly walked in. Inviting a group of people — for any reason — to a place that isn’t yours is not only unspeakably rude, but if property is damaged or pets harmed, you can quickly have a lawsuit on your hands — and probably should.
I’ve written this in other articles on the subject and received pushback: doesn’t everyone deserve to know who they’re going to see there? No. By revealing the attendees, you’re breaking their entrusted privacy. Once someone is there, they can see who is in attendance and decide if they want to stay. At that point, they are equally implicated — they showed up to a sex party as everyone else did — so blabbing to the outside world about someone’s attendance reveals their own. Which brings me to my next point.
Define “essentials” as anything attendees need for sex — lube, poppers, toys, fetish gear, or whatever else. Sharing toys and lube, especially in sex practices like sting, can lead to disastrous health outcomes, so it’s best if everyone just uses their own (or dedicates certain toys to only be used with the partner they come with).
From warehouse sex-dance parties with hundreds of attendees to private sex clubs and everything in between, the rule is the same: if people can close a door, they will only play in that space. Then it’s no longer a sex party, it’s a bathhouse where people have private encounters in private rooms. The key feature of a sex party is communal participation, so even though you may have hot little nooks and crannies where people can wander in and out but enjoy relative privacy for a few minutes, you should not have closable, lockable doors. The exception, of course, is the bathroom(s), where privacy is necessary. I would make it a policy to keep the bathroom open for those who need it (no sex allowed).
You likely have some substances you are comfortable with and some you absolutely won’t permit, so set that rule and state it directly when you invite folks. If you want a sober party, have a sober party. Most parties, in my experience, have some chemical encouragement — drinks, pot — but I’ve been to hot sex parties for people in recovery. As the host, you make the call on what will be permitted.
Forget overdoses, messes, and broken lamps: the most feared thing at a sex party is a broken heart. If you want to invite a couple, ask them if they’ve ever attended a sex party before. If they haven’t, that’s not a deal-breaker, but be ready for drama — you never know how people will react in the moment to seeing their partner have sex with someone else.
This means you might need to keep a clearer (soberer) head. If there’s drugs and booze, count on the fact that someone will get too drunk or too high and will need a cab home. You are allowed to be firm in your regulation of the space. This space is your home (or a space you are renting or otherwise paying for).
You don’t have to have a hard-core kink fest with everyone in leather hoods (though that does sound fun). Yes, you can have food or hors d’oeuvres at a sex party. You can have a theme. You can interrupt the sex to cut cake or watch a movie — or interrupt a movie or cake with sex. Costume sex parties are lots of fun!
Most private sex parties are free. It would be odd to charge admittance to a birthday party for the same reason it’d be odd to charge for a sex party. But the cleanup after a sex party can be extensive (silicone lube will permanently stain sheets), so it’s perfectly reasonable to ask guests to contribute some money for cleanup and to replace damaged items.
That’s it! Sex parties don’t have to be a headache. I can’t help you with finding people to attend your party (well, I can, but in another article) or with the limits of space-sharing that many city dwellers live with, though most private spaces can work — all you need is a bed, a bathroom, and an adventurous spirit.
And towels. Good luck.
Alexander Cheves is a writer, sex educator, and author of My Love Is a Beast: Confessions from Unbound Edition Press. Follow Alex on social, @badalexcheves.
This article is part of Out's September/October 2022 issue, out on newsstands August 30. Support queer media and subscribe — or download the issue through Amazon, Kindle, Nook, or Apple News.