• You’re going to want to start raising your blinds first thing in the morning. Research shows, people who were exposed to sunlight in the early morning had lower BMIs than those who weren’t, probably thanks to sunlight giving the body’s internal clock (metabolism included) a kickstart. Here, four more morning habits to tweak for weight loss. [Prevention]
In a Philly campus apartment, a student is selling her worn underwear online for weekend spending money. In Center City, a gay man is shaving everything to keep up with the onslaught of hairless, six-packed sex gods on Grindr. And all over the city, people are meeting for steamy sessions of Orgasmic Meditation. (Don’t know what this is? You’re in for a treat.) Welcome to sex in Philly in 2017.
Our always-connected, anything-goes world is changing the way we do it, taking formerly fringe practices mainstream and making it easier than ever for us to get busy. This is what sex in Philly looks like now: how we’re having it, where we’re finding it, and what’s turning us on — and getting us off. Read on. (You know you’re curious.) — Edited by Emily Goulet Read more »
“The men’s locker room at a certain ritzy Philly fitness center is infamous. There is so much sex that goes on that male employees won’t even go in there. I’ve heard stories of guys servicing each other in the steam room.” — Center City personal trainer
“When Continental Midtown opened, a couple didn’t realize the mirrors were double-sided, and a gent had a lady bent over the sink looking into the mirror at herself, not realizing the crowd that had formed to see her.” — Former GM at Starr Restaurants
“Two chicks recently jumped in the back in the pouring rain and told me to just drive around. One asked for a paper towel, and then she dried off the chest of the other one and did coke off her breasts. Stuff like that happens all the time. I don’t want no one actually having sex, but if two girls wanna go at it, I’m not gonna say no.” — Cabdriver, Quaker City Cab Company
“Oh, I hear plenty of stories. Especially the Trenton line and Norristown line, the late-night rides. Lots of BJs.” — SEPTA Regional Rail conductor
“When I would sit at the front desk, I could sometimes hear people having sex in the first-floor guest rooms. In training, we were told that we weren’t allowed to call a guest to tell them they’d left something in the room because someone once called and told a man’s wife that she left behind lingerie and it turns out he hadn’t been there with the wife.” — Former GM of a Center City hotel
I’ve been on seekingarrangements.com for a little over a year. I can decide what type of relationship I want to have and how much money I want out of it each month. What I wanted was a very casual thing where we see each other a couple times a month and I get benefits.
Usually, it’s older men. The last one was about 15 years older than me, a very discreet married businessman. Most of them are married. But some are just so busy with their jobs that they don’t have time to invest in a real relationship, and I’m exactly what they’re looking for. It’s a very easy way to make money. My usual range is $1,000 to $3,000 each month, depending on the level of commitment of a relationship. The ideal situation is a monthly allowance, but my last one usually worked out to being gifts, or he would take me shopping and out to a nice restaurant. One time we went to a tea shop and he spent $200 on tea that I wanted.
For me, the sex has been primarily straight stuff. I try to talk to them a lot beforehand, and then we have a face-to-face meeting in a public place. Depending on the guy, I’d be open to doing fetish, but for the most part, it’s all very normal.
I know some people consider this prostitution, and I guess that’s okay. I am a sex-positive person, and this is a mutually beneficial relationship between two adults. The fact that they’re married doesn’t come into it for me. They’re on this site, they’re going to do it anyway, so why don’t I get something out of it? — As told to Victor Fiorillo
“I lost count. Maybe 20?”
I was standing in Transit, the long-departed Spring Garden Street nightclub, talking to a woman I ended up going home with that night. It was late. We were drinking. I can’t remember who asked first, but I ended up telling her I couldn’t remember how many people I’d slept with.
We dated for two years, but after we broke up, my unknown number ballooned. Not bad for a guy who didn’t have his first kiss until age 15 (in a movie theater, during Godzilla). Perhaps in a subconscious effort to make up for lost time, I tore through Philadelphia in my 20s. I had a few short-lived relationships. But mainly, I just hooked up with people.
I went on more than 100 dates over a two-year period, but I was never able to nail the door shut on a long relationship. I often did the reverse, ghosting on women who liked me more than I liked them. I didn’t plan on getting laid as often as possible, but it ended up that way.
My sex life took on a mind of its own: Post-coitus, I drunkenly passed out on a woman who left in the middle of the night and then awkwardly returned the next day to claim the stuff she’d left at my place. I went home with a woman who’d repeatedly insulted me during our date. I had sex in the Gallery (my greatest triumph). I had sex 14 times with a woman as we watched the Wimbledon final one year. (Roger Federer beat Andy Murray. It went four sets and was delayed by rain.) I took a lot of women to Atlantic City, eventually realizing that things went better when I checked into nicer hotels. I briefly hooked up with someone who worked for Philadelphia’s Licenses and Inspections division. It went about as well as dealing with L&I.
I didn’t plan to stop. Things were empty but fine. But after 103 first dates, I met the right woman; we’re still together. I still don’t know my number. But I no longer care what it is.
Start with the bar. Beer and sweat splotching my shirt, seeping through my push-up bra. A plastic cup of vodka-soda I crinkle with my teeth, my boots tapping the beat to Sweet Caroline, BUM BUM BUM. We throw our hands up, a circle of girls I know from class and student groups, crammed into tight black shirts, jeans that leave marks on our thighs, and makeshift chokers (ribbons, shoelaces) that loop around our necks. I check my phone — 1:30 a.m., half an hour until last call. Only 30 minutes to find someone, or the hair-straightening and winged eyeliner and overpriced shots will be wasted. Good times never seemed so good, we sing. I glance around. I look for a guy.
Maybe I’ll meet his eye in line for another drink. Or maybe he’ll come up behind me in the center of the dance floor, palm my hips, thread his fingers through my belt loops. As the clock ticks closer to last call, I’ll search for him in the booths with checkered tablecloths, in the row of international students smoking cigarettes outside. He can be anyone: a frat boy from the Main Line, an English major with poems tattooed on his wrist, an exchange student winking beneath a backwards hat. The details don’t matter. What matters is, he’s there.
We’ll bend our heads together and kiss as “Closing Time” plays. Around us, the crowd pairs off. We’re a collective force: making out, groping, exchanging numbers. The template for these nights never changes. I’ll giggle my name, and when he asks, “Do you want to get out of here?,” I’ll nod and wave ’bye to my friends. The sex will be fervent or fast or awkward or loud — it all blends together. In the morning I’ll leave with his number in my phone (“Kappa Sig boy,” “Guy from Cape Cod”), plus a few details. His major. His favorite song. I’ll pride myself on not thinking about him emotionally — “I don’t catch feelings,” I’ll tell my friends. I’ll see him around, won’t make eye contact but will add him to the list of boys I text when the tequila hits me next weekend. Or the weekend after.
Lather, rinse, repeat. As for so many college kids, sex is an extracurricular activity, baked into my routine like going to the gym or looking over my poli-sci notes. It doesn’t matter who I’m having it with. What matters is that I’m having it at all.
There was a time in my life when all my sexual adventures and misadventures originated in one way or another at the Rittenhouse Square outpost of La Colombe. Such was the case with my descent into the world of swingers parties.
My girlfriend at the time had the hots for one of the baristas, a real femme-fatale type who suggested we all go to a Halloween party together. But this wasn’t just any Halloween party. It was a full-fledged swingers party, the first of many we attended as the “throuple” we became.
Swinging may seem like some bearskin-rugged, lotioned-up practice from a bygone era, part of Uncle Ned and Aunt Myra’s past that you’d rather not know about. But the truth is, the scene is still going strong. From South Philly to the Main Line to Center City, there are swingers parties, sex parties and all-out orgies happening in warehouses, private homes and suburban motels. You don’t have to look very hard to find one.
And it’s not just older men with mustaches populating these things — although there’s always a guy sporting a big ol’ Burt Reynolds. At the parties in the city, which skew younger, there are plenty of experimental millennials you’d swear just waited on you at Standard Tap.
It’s common for a young couple to show up — the woman obviously dragged there by her boyfriend — and after 30 minutes of total abandon, he’s suddenly jealous of all the attention she’s getting but she can’t be pried away.
When we were at these parties, it was mostly voyeuristic. Oh, the three of us would have sex with each other, sometimes right next to other people engaged in other libidinous activities. But we weren’t into just randomly having sex with whoever walked into the room, although there were plenty of people more than willing to do just that.
Take, for instance, this one Eastern European woman in her late 40s, a married suburban schoolteacher with three kids — and the most enormous, snow-white breasts I’d ever seen. While her super-suave husband was getting a seemingly endless blow job on a couch (and man, what he had between his legs would make almost any guy feel inferior), we watched as on all fours, she went to town with six men (six) at the same time. Outside of porn, I had never seen anything like it before.
As our throuple dissolved — they always do — so did my excursion into that world. And I was happy to leave it. It’s difficult enough to sexually gratify one partner at a time, and relationships between just two people are plenty complicated. I’ll take the good old traditional one-on-one. But thanks for the memories.
*Some names in this essay have been changed.
Like most gay men, I discovered the real truth about myself the first time I had sex with another guy. Consider it this way: Imagine you spent your entire teen years (and, in my case, up to the ripe old age of 30) eating vanilla ice cream. It was nice, it was pleasant, but you never really craved it and sometimes even felt you could do very well without it. And then one day you have a triple hot fudge sundae with nuts and whipped cream and cherries, and you think, Holy shit! This stuff is amazing! Why haven’t I been having this all of these years?
So you’re finally on the right side of the menu. But relief is quickly replaced by panic, because it turns out that when it comes to sleeping with other men, there are all sorts of rules, norms, and strongly warranted hygiene rituals that can take years to master. And, it feels, just as long to maintain.
My hetero brethren, you have no idea. You can skip the gym, dismiss the belly as “dad bod,” have sex without showering, never think about your body hair — where it is, how it looks or feels or smells. As I soon discovered, switching sides meant signing up for a full-time job of keeping up appearances. I had never even heard of a body groomer. (In case you haven’t, it’s a special battery-operated clipper for men that trims body and pubic hair.) There are special straight (ha!) razors for scraping and smoothing genitalia. There are entire websites devoted to explaining how to properly shave one’s butt, how to prepare oneself to avoid pain (or get more of it — vive la différence!), and what lubricants are best for which scenarios. And there is a virtual ocean of foams, gels, cleansers, balms, moisturizers and body powders to ensure that you are sparkling, smooth, and, most of all, fresh fresh fresh all over, so that when it’s time to get busy you both smell appropriately like Snuggle fabric softener. Ask any gay man and he’ll tell you that his weekly (yes, weekly) body-grooming routine can easily take two hours — more if it’s going to be the “first time” with someone. Half the guys I know at least trim, if not downright shave, their torsos and legs, especially if they have nice muscle tone and want to show it off. (In gay world, marketing is everything.) For the truly committed (and, in my view, satanic), there’s waxing for the chest and ass.
All of which makes spontaneity impossible. If you haven’t been, ahem, randy in a bit and have let your routine languish, a sudden opportunity quickly becomes a lost one. (I can’t let him see me like this, you think.) It all looks so easy in gay porn, where the two mechanics take the guy who can’t pay for his car repairs and toss him over the hood. In real life, not so much. For one thing, no mechanics actually look like that.
Every straight man I know looks at gays with at least some modicum of envy, in large measure because of the easy availability of casual sex; a tap of a phone app can have Mr. Right Now at your door in 20 minutes (10 if you offer to pay for the Uber). But it turns out being part of a culture that objectifies men like, well, women isn’t all no-strings fun and games. It’s work. And it’s certainly not an easy culture to age in.
But still, hot fudge beats vanilla every time.
I came to the practice of Orgasmic Meditation nine years ago via a circuitous 20-year route of other practices: yoga, seated meditation, bodywork. I haven’t found a more powerful catalyst for really effecting change in my life than OM.
Orgasm, the way I know it, is indirect, unpredictable, expansive, inclusive. It’s a state rather than an event. What the rest of the world calls “orgasm,” we call “climax”: part of orgasm, but far from the whole story. If the climax is the cymbal crash in a symphony, we’re looking at the whole symphony. We learn to up our attention to the more subtle stuff; the low oboe line is just as interesting and relevant.
OM is a 15-minute partnered practice in which a stroker strokes the upper-left quadrant of a woman’s clitoris with no goal except to feel what arises. The stroker is fully clothed, and the strokee is undressed from the waist down. It’s a strict 15 minutes — we set a timer. Part of the beauty of the practice is that it’s so self-contained; I know exactly what’s going to happen in those 15 minutes. The protocol of the practice is quite rigid. This isn’t a professional service, like getting a haircut or a massage. Rather, it’s a community of folks who practice, meaning they’re co-creating an experience. The whole notion of giver and receiver falls away. It’s more like jazz. The bassist isn’t giving Miles Davis a bass line. Rather, they’re both just responding in pitch-perfect resonance to the thing that’s between them.
Both stroker and strokee train in this practice — private training is three sessions to get started. (My intro package is $450, for about three to four hours of instruction.) After training, all practice sessions are free. Once you’re trained, you’re added to a private community page or forum, and that’s where you find partners for your practice. There are probably about 500 or so folks who have learned to OM in Philly. It’s not like a dating app, either. I OM with people I would never date, and I’ve had amazing experiences with partners I don’t know socially. All genders train and practice — of course, you need a minimum of one clitoris to practice. Usually it’s done in somebody’s home; just like you’d have a friend over for tea, you have a friend over for an OM.
We look at orgasm as a flow state, something bigger that overtakes you. It’s so different from other sexuality practices out there. It’s not “15 tricks to blow her mind tonight!” It’s more similar to the Slow Food movement, which took all the crap out of our food so that we can learn to truly taste how, say, an apple tastes. This is learning to feel again.
I expected OM to change my romantic relationship, and it did — it improved our communication, and we became more honest with each other. But I was blown away by the impact it had on my other relationships. The range of people I enjoy has expanded infinitely. I have more empathy and better boundaries, and I’ve learned to ask for and receive what I want more fully. Practicing that, day in and day out, with the most sensitive part of my body has made it so much more available when my pants go on and I’m out in the world. I’m nine years into this practice, and the only things I know for sure are that I’ve never had the same experience twice in an OM, and I’ll never feel all of my orgasm. And that’s the beauty of it: This terrain is infinite.
“Lock the door.”
“I locked it.”
“Are you sure?”
“I’m gonna check.”
“I locked it.”
Bow chicka wow wow.
“I’m just … I just … I just need to … ” [Get up. Wiggle doorknob. Return to position.] “It’s locked.”
Bow chicka wow wow.
“Did you hear that?”
[Lean toward door. Freeze. Return to position.]
Bow chicka wow wow.
“I did hear it.”
“The squeak …”
Bow chicka wow …
“… on the stairs.”
“There’s a squeak on the stairs?”
“A squeak. Someone’s coming.”
“Are you sure?”
“I don’t hear — ”
“Quiet. Just wait a — ”
Bow chicka …
[Hover. Deep, irritated sigh.]
[Deep, irritated reply sigh.]
“Like clear clear?”
Bow chicka wow wow.
Bow chicka wow wow.
Bow chicka wow …
“I have to pee.”