Question: What happens erotically, between a group of people in a completely dark, anonymous, anything-goes-but-consent-is-required space?
Hypothesis: Participants will explore their own erotic desires, curiosities, hang ups, and boundaries, and will move beyond who they know themselves to be as erotic beings.
Before HIV, in the 1960’s and 1970’s, gay male bars often had something called a “darkroom” or “blackroom.” This was a space, in the back of the establishment, that was unlighted and could be used for anonymous sex. You know, stop in for happy hour on a Friday, order a Bud, go in the back and get a blow job, come back and finish your beer. Does that sound good to you? I have always wondered why gay males get a different kind of sexuality than everyone else. Why do they get glory holes, bathhouses, anonymous sex? That’s always felt unfair, and I’ve decided to do something to change that. It involves my living room.
Today, as I’m writing, I keep glancing in there, wickedly imagining. Come Friday evening, it will be magically transformed into an erotic pleasure laboratory. Four sexual “scientists,” together with an invited group of people, will participate in an experiment called “Black Velvet.”
Consider this imaginary scenario, culled from the invitation:
In this Black Velvet space, although there is no light, you will begin to notice the presence of other bodies. Slowly, as you crawl through the space, you bump gently into a soft, warm presence. You reach out a hand to touch, and jump slightly as your own erotic energy becomes merged with that of another. You don’t know who. You don’t know what that person looks like, their name, where they work, or what bits they have. All you know is whether you enjoy the energy between you or not.
If you do, and if they do, you stay and explore being in bodies in the dark together. If one of you doesn’t enjoy the shared energy, you move away, move their hand away, or whisper “busy.” There is no shame. There is no expectation or obligation. There is no commitment, other than to the truth of the moment.
Consent is always necessary… and it is given by your potential partner choosing to engage with you. Your boundaries are not negotiable, and indeed the entire group is responsible for creating safer, supported space that welcomes all bodies, genders, sexual identities, and desires. This group holds as its most profound value that the decision not to engage with someone is a decision to trust our deepest knowing, and is therefore a gift to everyone.
What will happen in this Black Velvet Space? That’s completely up to you. You may leave after being deliciously fucked by a hot stranger. Or, you may explore what it is to be in a space like this and hold your boundaries and not engage at all. Or a thousand other outcomes. The only requirements for how you explore a space like this is your desire to know yourself better as an erotic being.
Are you still breathing? Does this sound intimidating as hell to you? I know it does to me. I am really pretty scared about Friday night. My intention is to open my body in new ways, and I don’t really know what that means or how it will manifest. What if I go too far beyond my boundary? What if I fuck someone I don’t want to fuck, but they smell and feel so right? My control issues/needs make it really, really hard to imagine being in a space like Black Velvet, and just surrendering.
However, I am on fire with conducting erotic experiments. I am deeply committed to using my body as a pleasure laboratory. I am ‘all in,’ for maybe the first time in my life, in my ongoing explorations of body, sex, spirit and intimacy.
I’m really quite tired of my erotic limits. I’m tired of only seeking the kind of sex that connects, builds intimacy, and endures the test of time. I’m tired of sensation and pleasure being limited by my own narrow capacity. I’m ready to push past the boundaries I think I hold, and find what lies beyond them.
How do I know what I am erotically capable of, unless I conduct experiments? How do I know what I might like unless I try it out? What else is possible for my genitals to feel? For my hands to learn? What else can I do with my erotic energy? How can I use the power of my orgasm to make electricity that lights my house? What happens if I turn my bits inside out and stimulate them? To what edge of beyond trust can I push myself, while still staying connected and compassionate with my heart?
Oh there’s that trust word again. I will say it is pretty intense, to be on this erotic journey in such a public way. It’s crazy hard sometimes, to claim radical sexuality and pleasure in this queer, fat body. I am deeply trusting my own process as alchemical. I hope it stands for something that is meaningful to you. Learning to trust diving into the void of not knowing, and learning to trust that I will emerge, intact feels like my great work.
So what will be the conclusions of the Black Velvet erotic experiment? Will participants explore their desires, curiosities, hang-ups and boundaries? Will we emerge from the darkness, with deeper and fuller knowledge of our erotic capacities? And will we be able to make it stick, make it count, make pushing our erotic edges translate into more space in our whole lives? Or will it just be a cool, I-live-in-the-Bay-Area-and-we-do-weird-sex-shit-like-this-cuz-we-are-so-hip kinda deal?
I do not know. Participants have agreed to send me their reflections within 48 hours of the event, so there’s my data collection. I will write to you next Monday (are you noticing that posts come out every Monday? You could *subscribe* if you never want to miss one again!) Next Monday, I will describe the event and my experiences, should you be so interested. (I’m also teaching an Intimacy Technology class next Monday on trust: please consider attending.)
If you like this post, it would make me deliriously happy if you would consider conducting your own erotic experiment in the next week or so. Post a comment below telling me what will be, or drop me an email and tell me what happened. I know I’m not the only erotic revolutionary here!