Podcast Season 2 Episode 34
Host: Karen Yates Running Time: 45:16 min
Group sex: Is it all it’s cracked up to be?
Panelists answer a listener question on planning or attending a group-sex event for the first time.
Wild & Sublime Podcast Transcript
#S2E34 | “Group Sex! How-tos and more”
[Wild & Sublime theme music]
Aiden Nicholson: I think it's really helpful to know, like, what expectations you have, and what you're looking for out of the experience. Like, are you an exhibitionist? Is it going to turn you on to watch people? Is it going to turn you on to be watched?
Mksthingshappin: When they talk about fantasy versus reality — that's the reality. You're dealing with human beings who, in this situation, are going to be unreliable. It's not like a job interview, where they're going to show up promptly at eight. Just keep that in mind. Just keep it in mind!
Karen Yates: Welcome to Wild & Sublime, a sexy spin on infotainment®, no matter your preferences, orientation, or relationship style, based on the popular live Chicago show. Each week, I'll chat about sex and relationships with citizens from the world of sex positivity. You'll hear meaningful conversation, dialogues that go deeper, and information that can help you become more free in your sexual expression. I'm sex educator Karen Yates. Today, our knowledgeable panel answers questions about group sex. How? When? Who? Keep listening.
Guess what, folks? It's our podcast birthday. Mere days ago, this podcast celebrated its one-year anniversary, and to mark that, we have some very fun gifts for you. For the entire month of August — also known as "Anal August" in the sexual-industrial complex — we will be giving our Afterglow members on Patreon access to "Butt Basics," the webinar we did last year with sex educator Ren Grabert about posterior play. Butt Basics gives you oodles of information to consider as you explore your hiney, by yourself or with a partner. Support our work and get this webinar by joining The Afterglow, starting at just $5 a month. Plus bonus content like Q&A sessions with sexperts, my audio creator notes, special announcements, and more. You'll be helping us meet our monthly expenses, and also waving the sex-positive flag simultaneously. It's kind of like a complex 69 action, don't you think? If a monthly membership is not your thing, consider throwing some bucks in the tip jar in appreciation for our work. More info is in the show notes.
Hey, folks. It is so exciting that we have hit the one-year mark with this podcast — and weekly episodes, no less. I can hardly believe it. I see the episode list, and I think. "Did that really happen?" It did! It did, one step at a time. Moving forward, there are some very cool episodes in the planning stages right now, and I'm looking forward to being able to share them with you soon. Plus, in addition to the birthday webinar I just mentioned, we will be doing some giveaways on Instagram. So follow us there for more information.
On to the episode. Well, this was a lot of fun to do. One of my favorite topics is group sex, and I was so excited when an Afterglow member on Patreon put a bunch of questions to our panel a few months back on this subject. What then happened was a rollicking, no-holds-barred conversation on sexual groupings and gropings. In this episode, we all share our sage advice, based on our collective experience. The nitty! The gritty! The philosophical! The silly! We have today recurring guests MksThingsHappin, kink and relationship coach; we have queer, sex-positive midwife and OB/GYN Advanced Practice Nurse Aiden Nicholson; and Tom Pardoe, sober leather daddy and titleholder, dancer, teacher, and certified massage therapist. Enjoy.
So, the question we got this month from a Patreon member is: "Group sex. And I guess I mean orgy?? Is it all it's cracked up to be? Is this one of those things that is a lot better in fantasy than in reality? How do I even go about putting something together? Is it okay if I say, quote, must be vaccinated, unquote?" So, a lot of questions from this person who did not sign their question. So I thought I would begin with a quick "yes/no." Group sex. Is it worth it? Yes or no? MksThingsHappin?
Mksthingshappin: Yes. For the street cred alone. [laughs]
Karen Yates: Tom, is it worth it? Yes or no?
Tom Pardoe: Well, I'm gonna say no, then. I'll say no.
Karen Yates: Oh! Are you just being contrary?
Tom Pardoe: I am! Let's roll, Karen.
Karen Yates: Okay. All right. Fine, fine. Aiden: Yes or no? Is it worth it?
Aiden Nicholson: It depends! [laughter]
Karen Yates: Augghhh, you guys are so tough!
Mksthingshappin: [laughs] You picked a good panel!
Karen Yates: I did! All right, well, I'm gonna tip it over into the 'yes' column. I will do an affirmative "Yes." It is worth it. It is worth it, but it does depend.
Aiden Nicholson: It can be. It absolutely can.
Karen Yates: Okay, it can be, if — a particular sort.
Aiden Nicholson: And I think it's really important, Karen — like, this person asked, you know, group sex-slash-orgy, and I think it's important to know that they can be different. I think there are expectations that are different, depending on what they're signing up for.
Karen Yates: Okay, well, yeah, let's talk about this. Because what would you all say the difference between group sex and orgy is? Do you see a difference?
Mksthingshappin: That's a great question. I was mentioning to a friend of mine — actually, one of my partners — that very question. Because in my mind, a threesome, I don't consider an orgy. And even a foursome, I think, in my mind, depending on the configuration, could actually be a gangbang. But then you go, well, how is a gangbang different from an orgy? It just really depends on your own personal definition.
Karen Yates: I've got to say, five. I gotta say, five is the minimum that makes it [[ ?? ]] sex.
Aiden Nicholson: Right.
Karen Yates: Thank you. Thank you! Thank you.
Aiden Nicholson: Well, but I think that, like, a three- and four-person fun time is still group sex, and it still can be really satisfying. Like, you don't need to have five or more people for it to be an awesome time. So I think sometimes, people go, "Oh, this orgy is where I'm going to have the most fun." And maybe what they're looking for has more of a feeling of intimacy — maybe they want more connection, and they're not going to really find that in an orgy setting. But they might find it by getting their besties together and having a great old time.
Mksthingshappin: I think that's a great point.
Karen Yates: Okay, if we look at this question — this person said, "Group sex, and I guess I mean orgy?" I would have to say, this person is probably not thinking of a threesome. Now, Tom, in your estimation, what is the difference between — is there a difference between group sex and orgy?
Tom Pardoe: Well, I think so. Because, I don't know — group sex, to me, implies there are really specific boundaries, and maybe scenarios and roles that are defined, perhaps. But for me, when it turns into, like, an orgy, everything that I've ever experienced was much better in fantasy than reality. But I'm also considering the ones that I've been a part of, and in terms of orgies, where there was no boundary around drug use, or who can come in, or who's there, or whatever. So it can turn into — certainly can turn into a mess. But a controlled environment? I'm all for it. And that can be super hot, and a lot of fun.
Karen Yates: Yeah, I love it. I love it. I think you're 100% right. Any thoughts from MksThingsHappin or Aiden?
Mksthingshappin: Aiden actually prompted a clarification in my brain. In my experience, there is less emotional investment with the people that you are playing with in five or more than I have experienced in four. You know, is it worth it? I think the answer lies and what were the consequences afterwards? Now, obviously, there's health consequences. But I'm not actually talking specifically about that. I think most of us are aware of that. And I'm sure Aiden can expand on that more. But I'm talking about the emotional consequences. Threesomes easily can fall into jealousy and repercussions there. Foursomes, one or two people get more attention, then you're dealing with insecurity there. But if it's five or more, it's likely you don't know all of them intimately. And now it's just the act of enjoying the pleasure of whatever you're doing. So that just got clarified in my brain — just now! Live.
Karen Yates: Yeah, I would 100% agree with that. I'll kind of just do a round-robin here. What was your takeaway from your very first group sex experience? And let's, for the sake of the conversation, let's set this at group sex meaning not threesome or not foursome. Let's say five-plus, okay? What was your first takeaway? And when you walked away from that first encounter, what were you thinking?
Mksthingshappin: Holy shit. [laughs] I can't believe that happened!
Tom Pardoe: I think like, shaky knees and a smile on my face?
Aiden Nicholson: So, as the token assigned-female-at-birth panelist, I gotta say that my first experience was overwhelming, overstimulating. I was in my 20s, and I felt, like... I felt very vulnerable and unsafe.
Karen Yates: Okay.
Aiden Nicholson: So it was a very different experience for me. You know, like, I walked in, and I was just like, everybody was like hands-grabby, kind of whatever. I didn't feel like the boundaries and rules that I have since been in spaces that create — those weren't in place. And so, I didn't feel like anybody was really asking me what I wanted to do. It was just, things started happening. And I was just like, oh, not cool. Like, yes, I might want to just watch for a minute. Participation does include watching, and I wasn't really given that opportunity. You know, as a young, very pretty, if I say so myself — at the time, I was very young and pretty and thin, and exploring my sexuality at the time — I did not feel empowered. And I went in there thinking I would feel that way. Since then, I've gone to more queer spaces, more sex-positive, less swing, more kink spaces, where I've felt more empowered, where I've felt there was more space for, "Do you want this? Can I hear a yes?" Not just, "I'm gonna take liberties, and if you don't tell me no, or kick me in the groin, you know, I'll take that as a yes." Different spaces definitely create different feels.
Karen Yates: Yeah. I think, Aiden, you're bringing up a great point, because I first encountered the group scenario when I was much older, and really self-possessed, and also sober. And also very aware of rule structures — for myself. And walking into a place that I had ascertained had rules — maybe even not as super consent-based, like, maybe that you're going to see at a queer play space, maybe not extraordinarily sex positive, you know what I mean? But there was definitely a rule structure. And there was a "yes means yes, no means no" situation in place. So, yeah, I think it depends on your age, I think it depends on your self possession and your awareness of consent, and how you operate under consent, and knowing what am I walking into? Right? And am I under the influence, too? Because I think a lot of these scenarios happen when people are—
Mksthingshappin: Most likely.
Aiden Nicholson: [They] usually very much encourage imbibing.
Karen Yates: Right.
Aiden Nicholson: Whatever that might be. I think in a lot of cishet spaces, alcohol tends to be the drug of choice. Whereas, in more gay spaces, more leather spaces, there might be some other drugs in play, poppers and whatnot. You know, it depends on the group. But yeah, I mean, there's definitely — in order for people to let go of their inhibitions, oftentimes, there are things to intoxicate you.
Karen Yates: So one thing you brought up, Aiden, prior to the panel — when we were writing back and forth, you had brought up this idea of knowing yourself around what you like, before you go into your first scenario, or the first time you organize a party or get-together. Do you know who you are sexually? And can you go through that? Because I thought you made some really good points.
Aiden Nicholson: I think it's really helpful to know, like, what expectations you have, and what you're looking for out of the experience. Like, are you an exhibitionist? Is it going to turn you on to watch people? Is it going to turn you on to be watched, or are you more of a voyeur? Is it a mixed bag? Are you going alone, or are you going with somebody? That changes everything. Starting out in my 20s, I went as a single female. Like, I went in, I got in free — there's a lot of gendered stuff, right? And it was a very different experience than when I later went with partners. And it's very different when I went with a female partner versus a male-assigned partner. Different rules can come into play. Knowing whether or not it's the idea of having sex with multiple people at the same time that really gets you excited; is it that you just want to have sequential partners? Like, the ability to go throughout a play space and find different partners to have one-on-one encounters, or is it like, no, I really want this puppy pile of sweat n' stuff? If you're going with a person, do you want to see them with other people? Is that going to get you turned on? You know, is it the idea that all of your senses are going to be stimulating? Is that really what gets you hot? Is it the fact that you're going to smell, and you're going to feel, and you're going to hear things and touch things — possible tastes, depending on your safer sex practices. And then, also, when I was thinking about that, I was also like, well, if you're really into being overstimulated, then a gangbang might be more where you're headed. Just from my own personal experience of doing two gangbangs, both of them were really overstimulating, and I was like, hmm, maybe this is not my jam. Tried it twice, maybe I'll try it a third, but I definitely tried it twice. And I was like, no, not me!
Karen Yates: You know, something you're bringing up that I think is interesting, and I wanted to ask — well, I would love to hear MksThingsHappin and Tom's thoughts on this. I learned a lot about myself going through these situations. You know what I mean? That I wouldn't really have known before. Because they're rich experiences — no way around it. They're incredibly rich, experiential... experiences. [laughs] But MksThingsHappin and Tom, I would love to hear your thoughts. And MksThingsHappin, were you about to say something?
Mksthingshappin: Yeah. I mean, this panel easily has 20 years of experience collectively, maybe more? And it would be—
Aiden Nicholson: More!
Mksthingshappin: I know, I'm being conservative. [chuckles] How about hands-on experience? Number of hours.
Aiden Nicholson: Now we're talking.
Mksthingshappin: So, we might forget what it's like to be at the beginning stage. And it's great to say, "Know your expectations, know who you are." All that is absolutely true. But if you don't even know the questions to ask yourself, there's no way you can answer it. Now, if someone's listening to a podcast such as this and getting really great questions, they're ahead of the game... But they're likely not. And keep in mind — and this has been my experience — the whole reason I was doing all this sexual exploration in the early days was to push beyond my known limits. Did it work out? Not every single time. And I'd go, "Oop! Never doing that again," or "Oh my God, I cannot wait to do those things again!" And you want to take reasonable risks, and you want to not have consequences that are going to be lifelong. But the whole point of doing this stuff is getting out of your comfort zone, and doing something that is unknown. So, yes, you need to have a firm foundation, and know who you are as a person. And you'll learn the questions, and have the values to go, "Okay, am I going to be safe?" And then have integrity the entire time, no matter how drunk you are? Okay, that's a personal choice. That is your values. That's what's driving that decision, not the questions you find out ahead of time. In the heat of the moment — like, literally, in the heat of the moment — that, you need to wrestle with. But as far as trying to ask all the right questions, I think it's a lot to expect to someone who's asking, "What's the difference between an orgy and a gangbang?"
Karen Yates: Tom, what are your thoughts?
Tom Pardoe: I agree. That was terrific to hear. My experiences were really very different, in that my early explorations, when I was involving drugs and alcohol, with all of that, and they became very specific to me and memorable. As you mentioned, Karen, some of these were, like, extraordinarily out there. And at the same time, certainly after I reached sobriety, I had a really big shift in what worked for me, and where I played, and where I didn't play. I found even when I was going through the title system, there was this idea that you're supposed to fuck all your title brothers during your year. That's what you're supposed to do. And I was like... So I went to a couple of my mentors, some of the elders in the leather community, and I was like, "Do I have to do that? If I don't want to?" And they said, "Absolutely not." And I was like, okay, that's cool. Because I don't have any desire to do that. I'm happy to go to Berlin and jump into a sex party, and that's fine. That's a lot of fun. And the truth is, at this point, I do know what the questions are, and I do know more about who I am. And I do know that I have a set of boundaries walking in, for my own safety, around being in recovery, and whose piss I'll drink, and whose piss I won't drink. You know, things like that. And there's a lot of things that kind of go into this whole exploration, right? And I think, the other thing that was mentioned — Aiden was talking about going alone in the beginning. And I find that really courageous, and almost crazy! [laughs] Which is — you know, good for you. But I think that there's something to—
Karen Yates: Hey, I went alone a lot myself. Yeah.
Tom Pardoe: A lot of times, that's what you have. That's all you have. Especially if you're early on, and you're like, "I'm different from other people, you know, and so I have to do this alone." And I think what I would say to those people today is, "No, you don't, if you don't want to." I get that you'd want to, if you do, because I certainly wanted to do all that stuff on my own. But you don't have to do it alone. And you certainly can ask questions previous to kind of exploring it.
Karen Yates: Mmm.
Aiden Nicholson: Yeah. As somebody who did their earliest explorations into kink, and then in the world of swing, and then nonmonogamy just in general, being assigned female at birth — even though I don't identify as a woman, I definitely know that lived experience — and I would say, having a buddy, even if it takes you longer to find somebody to go with you, is definitely a safer bet. You know, or having a safe call — like, "Hey, did you make it home from that party?"
Karen Yates: Oh yeah. Safe call. Safe call, one hundred percent.
Aiden Nicholson: You gotta have something in place. You know, a different experience for folks that are AFAB, versus AMAB. But not — I mean, safety is still an important thing for everybody. Especially, I feel like in queer spaces, it's still an important piece too.
Karen Yates: And before we move on to the next piece — how do you even go about putting something together — I think we do need, again, to clarify that there are many different types of group sex situations that are in place. There is the sex club, in some cities; there are swinger parties, swinger clubs; queer spaces, dungeons... So, that's something that bears investigating. And we don't have time, really, to go into all of — MksThingsHappin, you're laughing,
Mksthingshappin: You can always find what you're looking for.
Karen Yates: You can always find what you're looking for.
Mksthingshappin: [[ Hop into the bar,? ]] and you'll find other people that are into it as well.
Karen Yates: We'll return to our panel in a moment. Are you liking what you're hearing, and know someone who might be interested in learning more about group sex too? Send them this episode, and bring them into the Wild & Sublime circle.
Wild & Sublime is also sponsored in part by our Sublime Supporter, Chicago-based Full Color Life Therapy, therapy for all of you, at fullcolorlifetherapy.com. If you would like to be a Sublime Supporter, showcasing you and your business and supporting us at the same time, contact us at .
We now return to our panel conversation on group sex with Tom Pardoe, Aiden Nicholson, and MksThingsHappin. In this half, we discuss how to host an excellent group sex event, and how to attend one, and what to bring.
[to panelists] So, the next question of this person that put forth a number of questions, is: "How do I even go about putting something together?" So, let's start with Tom. How do you even go about putting something together?
Tom Pardoe: Okay. Well, I guess it would be a short list, probably. Which is okay. I would gather those people that I, you know, completely trust, and also connect with that way. And in a sexual way. And we would start formulating the when, and the where, the time, and who gets to come. And the boundaries — people are like, whoa, is there gonna be cannabis here? Can you smoke weed? Can you do poppers? You know, clarifying some of that stuff. Just so that everybody in that primary group of people that I've brought together to do this with are on the same page, basically. Whatever that would be. Yeah.
Karen Yates: Would you say that getting co-hosts together is optimum?
Tom Pardoe: It depends. It depends on who you are, and how controlling you are. I suppose. You may want to just run the whole show, which is fine. And maybe that's part of what gets you off, is being that person who gets to direct the evening. That can be a whole thing, right?
Karen Yates: And on that note, let's ask MksThingsHappin.
Mksthingshappin: You can go into a ton of directions. I mean, you literally could invite strangers to your home, and do it that way. I wouldn't recommend that in any way, shape or form. If you go a better route and invite people that you know, the mechanics of setting something up looks very similar to a party. That's a regular tea party, cocktail party. The bigger challenge that you'll have are people actually showing up, getting cold feet. They are probably sitting in their car for two hours...
Karen Yates: Everyone on this Zoom call is nodding very... bigly. They're nodding bigly. [laughter]
Mksthingshappin: Two people show up, is more of the reality. The other thing — it's very similar to, like, a junior high school dance, where you have one group on one side, and the other group on the other side, and no one's dancing.
Karen Yates: [laughter] Okay, Aiden is going crazy.
Aiden Nicholson: It's so true, yeah. Go ahead, MksThingsHappin.
Mksthingshappin: When they talk about fantasy versus reality, that's the reality. You're dealing with human beings who, in this situation, are going to be unreliable. It's not like a job interview, where they're going to show up promptly at eight. Just keep that in mind. Just keep it in mind!
Tom Pardoe: The best parties I've been to are the ones that are thrown by people that will have particular guests there already having sex. You know, and you walk into that, and it's already happening.
Mksthingshappin: Party starters.
Tom Pardoe: So there is no pre-party. There is no, like, oh, let's wait an hour or something, until things get going. You know that going to the party, that it's gonna be, like, right through the door, you can shed your clothes and get going.
Karen Yates: That is primo, primo advice right there.
Why do I believe the people on this call are likely the party starters?
Tom Pardoe: Hmm, I wonder...
Mksthingshappin: Just just guessing. [laughter]
Karen Yates: Well, you see, I've invited you all to this Zoom call... [laughs]
Aiden Nicholson: Yeah, Tom, I was gonna say, you really need fluffers. You need folks that are going to get it going. And it's funny, because I remember doing — I did a safer sex orgy. So, oftentimes, these spaces might not feel safe for some of us for different reasons, either for communicable diseases, or whatever. Right? So there's a question about, can you require COVID vaccines? There are airborne virus. You want to consider that, right? So, I wanted to create a space, and I was at a kinky sex camp — like, this sounds like the ideal — like, adventurous people who are going to just show up ready to party. And I was surprised that even there, we were all a bunch of junior high kids standing at the wall. And I was like, okay, well, I'm throwing this party, and I need to get other people to, like, feel comfortable. But I guess that the way I'm going to do that is by having sex. Okay. Ready to go. [laughs]
Mksthingshappin: You wanna — [let's] have you back up for a second. You might have to define "fluffer." That's no longer a thing. That's no longer a thing!
Aiden Nicholson: Really?
Aiden Nicholson: [sadly] Oh.
Karen Yates: Do you mean with the advent of Via—? I mean, I'm just kinda...
Mksthingshappin: That's exactly right.
Karen Yates: Because of Viagra?
Mksthingshappin: Yeah. Fluffers are no longer a thing in porn. So you might want to define that.
Aiden Nicholson: Oh. Well, fluffers used to be folks that kept everybody hard and going. But I guess... huh.
Karen Yates: Aww, fluffers! Are they out on the streets?
Mksthingshappin: Yeah, they're out of work.
Tom Pardoe: We can start fluffers.com.
Mksthingshappin: That would be huge!
Karen Yates: "Love a fluffer today." [laughter] Okay, so let's talk about venue. Let's talk venue, because I think that's kind of critical. Maybe me, as the former director, is thinking about the venue space. So, what is better about, say, doing it in your own home, versus a hotel?
Aiden Nicholson: MksThingsHappin already was spot on the money. Like, don't do it in your own home unless it's people you already know. You don't want them to know your—
Karen Yates: Everyone is now shaking their head "No." This is hilarious. It's like, "noooo, do not dooo itttt."
Aiden Nicholson: You don't want to clean up. People get their bodily fluids on your ceiling, on your lamp. I mean, you can replace it...
Mksthingshappin: If it's a good party, you don't want to clean up.
Karen Yates: [gasping with laughter] Ceiling!
Aiden Nicholson: I mean, ideally, you want a space that has access to a shower, you know, because you can have some hot sex in the shower, but also, like, clean up afterwards.
Mksthingshappin: In my experience, play parties that happen in a private home take a lot longer to start up than in a designated venue — a dungeon or a swing place. Maybe because it's a destination. You know, you have to go there, and you psych yourself up, and whether you are able to take that first step mentally, you're charged up and your sex energy spikes, from the time you wake up that same day, until you're there. That happens, but then you go into someone's home, and you're looking at pictures of their, you know, grandma on the wall, and oh my god, these are real people! Then you might be less inclined to play, and that's been my experience.
Karen Yates: I think there's also this idea of a neutral space. There's something very neutral about hotels, or maybe play spaces that are always play spaces. Tom, what do you have to say? You've been nodding.
Tom Pardoe: There's like, warehouses that have big freight elevators, and the occasional bathroom. Sometimes you can find a tub in one of those spaces, which is always good, but I like—
Aiden Nicholson: I'm salivating over here. Thanks, Tom.
Tom Pardoe: I love going from room to room. I like to hunt, I like to travel, I like the darkness in some spots, and the lighting—
Karen Yates: Okay, honey. Okay, I 100% agree, but this is a newbie host that we're trying to give advice to... [laughing]
Mksthingshappin: This is legit advice though!
Karen Yates: It is! One hundred percent.
Tom Pardoe: Okay. If you live in the 'burbs, have it in your garage.
Karen Yates: We're all pondering — like, "Hmm, garage. What does that...?"
Tom Pardoe: I don't know. I mean, I think the space is everything. A shed in the back, or a barn. Places like that are really cool.
Karen Yates: Oh my god. You could do a total backyard with tents, different size tents, and each tent has a theme.
Tom Pardoe: Yeah, that's what I'm saying!
Karen Yates: Oh my god, that would be amazing.
Aiden Nicholson: You just need to make sure that the neighbors can't see anything. And are they going to—
Karen Yates: The neighbors!
Mksthingshappin: Or participate.
Tom Pardoe: That's right. Invite them over for tea.
Aiden Nicholson: MksThingsHappin, you've got much better neighbors than most of the folks listening, I'm sure.
Mksthingshappin: No, I'm the creepy, weird neighbor. [laughter] I'm the one that they don't make eye contact with. [laughter]
Karen Yates: Okay, so let's talk about — the person asked at the end, "Is it okay if I say, 'Must be vaccinated'?" Let's talk about that.
Aiden Nicholson: Absolutely.
Tom Pardoe: Yes, absolutely.
Aiden Nicholson: Absolutely. I mean, I'm also the person who encourages safer sex at these parties. And I know that many of these places don't. One of the things that keeps me from doing more group sex is, unfortunately, that I go into these places and I see — you know, as a health care provider, I'll see somebody fingering two people with the same hand. And I'm like, you're just introducing their fluids to each other. You're crossing... That still counts as sex. You know, I've seen a lot of people making unconscious... faux pas, I guess I'd say. So, I mean, to me, this is going to be a place that encourages safer sex, or requires safer sex, and that says that they want vaccinations would be good, and make me feel safer. And especially as somebody who has children — not everyone's single, not everyone doesn't have children at home. Like, you might be vaccinated, but maybe you're concerned about bringing something home to your two kids that are sleeping while the babysitter is taking care of them. You also have to be prepared to check. Like, if you're going to ask, you need to, like, look at their cards. You can't just go by the honor system. And if you're not willing to actually be that person who says, "That card isn't legit," or "If you don't have proof, I can't let you in," then I wouldn't bother making a point of it.
Karen Yates: You know — and I do want to jump in and say that, I think it's a point you made earlier, Aiden, when we were corresponding, that people do have a right to have the kind of sex party they want to have. And you know, we're all in favor of, say, maybe showing the card at the door, or however, but you know, if this person does not want that, then you also have to be prepared that maybe some people won't want to come to your particular party. It's all trade-offs, I think, when you are organizing something like this. For example, it might be under a queer context, where it's okay if, like, men are touching men, that there's no heteronormativity — which is more part and parcel of swing, swingers' parties. But for you, maybe your party is like, hey, anything goes, and some people are like, oh, I can't handle that. But if that's important to you, that's what's going to be put out, just like for some people, it's not important that people be vaccinated at the door, and for other people it is. So it's really understanding, if you're going to be hosting something, where do you fall on all of these pretty important ideas? MksThingsHappin, were you gonna say something?
Mksthingshappin: Yeah. I mean, you have to build a risk profile that is going to keep you and yours safe. Okay. I think Aiden said that way better than I. But that was my takeaway. But on the flip side, if you are going to a party, or an event, or engaging in this activity, you are assuming risk, whether we're talking about being vaccinated, whether we call it STIs. You can do everything you can to try to be safe, but you are engaging in an activity that is risky by definition. There's no way to 100% keep yourself safe. You can do things to, once again, mitigate harm. So someone has to keep in mind that if they are engaging in this activity, they really need to understand what they're getting into.
Aiden Nicholson: I think it's really important — and I usually have this conversation in classes where I'm talking about nonmonogamy, and I'm talking about couples opening up or creating a relationship of their dreams. You know, whether it's going from one to three, or one to two, whatever it might be, is to kind of know what's okay for you. Are you going alone, or are you going with a partner? If you're going with a partner, what rules do you each agree to? What's important? What are your deal-breakers? You know, like, if you go, are you going to require that you use condoms for every person that you have sex with? Are you going to use dental dams? Are you going to not do oral sex? Do you kiss? Do you not kiss? In a lot of swing environments, kissing is the rule that a lot of couples don't cross. They'll do everything else, but they won't kiss you. You know, and as somebody who is polyamorous, I'm like, kissing gets me really, really hot. So if we can't kiss, and/or you can kiss and it's horrible, I'm not doing anything else with you! So, everyone's a little different. You got to know where your limits are, so that you know how to stay in them.
Mksthingshappin: A kiss represents an emotional connection, which goes back to some people, you're just looking for the act, and not the connection. That's why it's kissing, sometimes off the table.
Karen Yates: Good point.
Aiden Nicholson: I get it, I totally get it. And to me, it's all about, like, it creates chemistry. And it doesn't necessarily have to create, like, lifelong emotion, but it does make me feel hot and bothered. But that's me. And that's a need for me. And so, that has helped steer me towards environments where kissing can be a thing. While I'm fucking their brains out. You know what I mean? Like, I need that.
Tom Pardoe: Yeah, you could have a kissing booth at your party, as a precursor to—
Karen Yates: Oh, that's cool.
Aiden Nicholson: Okay, Tom, we need to exchange information.
Karen Yates: I know, I'm thinking, oh my god, we all need to to create — maybe, instead of the live show, we'll just be producers of sex parties.
Mksthingshappin: I'm in.
Aiden Nicholson: I'm in.
Karen Yates: [laughs] Wheels clicking, clicking, clicking, clicking,
Mksthingshappin: It's gonna be big business, when everything opens up...
Karen Yates: I know, right? The other thing I'm gonna ask: What should be on hand at a party? And what should you bring to a party?
Mksthingshappin: Bring your own condoms. Bring Your own lube.
Aiden Nicholson: Lube packets are really a great way to go.
Karen Yates: I still have your segment when you were on in, I think, December 2018, that I still have to air, of, like, how to have safer sex in groups. That's a goodie, that's a really good episode. That'll be the addendum to this episode. Tom, what would you say?
Tom Pardoe: Well, see, you know — okay, just to be honest for a second, I enjoyed those parties a lot more when I didn't care about germs. I didn't care about my well being, or yours. I just wanted to have, you know, raw sex with people. So there's that. But now that, you know, I have a conscience, and I've got self love, and all that other good stuff that we have — bring whatever you need, number one. So, I don't know if this is a flogging party, or if that's something you are planning on doing at this event, and you should bring your own stuff. Lube? Yeah. I don't know how long you're going to be at this party. Do you need to—
Karen Yates: Bring a pillow?
Tom Pardoe: Yeah. Do you need to clean out at the party? Are you going to be needing that kind of, you know, facility to take care of that?
Aiden Nicholson: Well, I would hope that you would do that before you showed up, no?
Tom Pardoe: Of course you do. But like I said, it depends on how long you're there, and how much you've been filled. Maybe you've been filled up to the brim, and you just need to do another cleanout. Just for fun, for round nineteen. I don't know. Depends. I think you just learn that stuff as you go along, right?
Mksthingshappin: I want to change my answer.
Tom Pardoe: To what?
Karen Yates: Change your answer to what?
Mksthingshappin: I think you should bring anything that's going to reduce your anxiety and make you feel more comfortable.
Tom Pardoe: That's great.
Karen Yates: Yeah, that's awesome. So, now that we are sort of coming to the end of our conversation, I asked everyone to talk about the takeaway from their very first experience. Now, on down the line, what is your general takeaway from the later experiences that you've had?
Mksthingshappin: I'm not opposed to group sex. If there's an opportunity that I'm comfortable with, I will take it. However, I would rather have connections with my partner. So even if it's a multiple-partner situation, I don't have to be so concerned with the safety piece, how everyone's feeling, my anxiety, anything like that, because that's already been discussed. It's built into the cake. So now, it's just one more fun thing that we're doing. So once again, I'm not saying I would not go out and go nuts. But given the choice of staying home and being with my people, versus being with strangers, I would rather be with my people in a multi-sex orgy, juices-producing, slippery-when-wet, oh my god, what is that on the floor?, kind of thing.
Karen Yates: All right, Tom.
Tom Pardoe: I totally agree with MksThingsHappin. Yeah, especially since COVID and everything, too, it's like slim pickins at this point, you know, right now, still, for us. That's kind of how we're rolling. And we are just now starting to get back to engaging with people that are vaccinated, that we really trust, that we've known for a while, all of that. But you know, my partner had COVID, so he's having a really difficult time kind of crossing that bridge. But he wants to. And it always is gonna boil down to — like, I like leaving parties feeling fulfilled and comfortable and confident, and not cocky so much, but just, like, confident. I'm so used to, in my early days, walking away from places full of shame, and guilt, and remorse, and, like, fear. Tons of fear. And now I could walk out, you know, "Can we go to Denny's?" Where do we go?
Mksthingshappin: The official post-orgy place.
Karen Yates: Pancakes. Aiden, what would you say?
Aiden Nicholson: I think I learned to change my expectations of what it needed to look like. I think I went in, like most people, thinking it was going to look like porn. You know, that it was going to be — I think what I wanted was maybe what you experienced early in life. A., I wasn't born into that body, and B., I never was able to reduce my anxiety enough to really let go in a group setting where I didn't know the people involved. And I think for me, I also realize I'm far more demisexual. So as much as I really like doing sexy things and doing lots of exploration of all the things, and you know, I really am the person who loses at "never have I ever," I have definitely discovered that I would much rather go to a party that's, like, more broadly a kinky, queer, sex-positive space, and have different episodes of sex with different people throughout the event. As opposed to this puppy pile, everybody's doing everybody all at the same time, quote-unquote, "typical orgy." Because then I can have more connective stuff that really feels juicy to me. And I can delve deeper with each person, in whatever capacity that's going to look like. You know, whether it's pounding of fists and fisting, or it's super intimate, sweet touching rope, or over here, it's completely something different, you know, and it's predator and prey. So it can look different, and I can have all of those under one roof. Super awesome! And then I can feel different in each of those interactions. And that really feeds me, because I'm a multifaceted human. And we all are, we're all complicated. So I think that's why I added the "do you want it all at once, or sequential partners?" Would that be as satisfying or more satisfying? For me, I find that it was more. I like prowling — like, finding partners with my partners. That's always fun. You know, like, ooh, they're cute. Can we go get them? You know, like, cool. That's super fun. But generally, my stuff doesn't look like a whole bunch of people, because I don't know where you were beforehand. I never think of myself as a germaphobe, but I find that more people have a better tolerance for risk than I do. And so you always operate as who has the strictest. And so if I'm the strictest, I guess I'm the killjoy. So how do I do it? [laughs] How do I make it more fun for me? Self awareness.
Karen Yates: Well, I just want to thank you all for this amazing conversation. Very rich, very... I don't know... juicy. Thank you, MksThingsHappin. Thank you, Tom. Thank you, Aiden.
To find out more about MksThingsHappin, Aiden, and Tom, go to the show notes. And did you know the sex-positive resource page on our website might give you information you can use? Directories, listings, and more. Check it out at Wild & sublime.com.
In addition to being a somatic sex educator, I also do healing work with sound, both remotely on Zoom groups and in person. Biofield tuning uses frequency to help repattern your bioelectric field, and can support you in getting out of stuck behaviors and feeling better. One client said: "I find Karen's ability to read and interact with an individual's energetic field quite extraordinary. Biofield tuning has been invaluable in addressing the chronic issues and opening the door to a more healthy life." For more information, go to karen-yates.com. That link is in the show notes.
Well, that's it, folks. Have a very pleasurable week. Thank you for listening. If you know someone who might be interested in this episode, send it to them. Do you like what you heard? Then give us a nice review on your podcast app. You can follow us on social media @wildandsublime and sign up for newsletters at wildandsublime.com. I'd like to thank associate producer Julia Williams and design guru Jean-Francois Gervais. Theme Music by David Ben-Porat. This episode was edited by The Creative Imposter studios. Our media sponsor is Rebellious Magazine, feminist media, at rebelliousmagazine.com.
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- Aiden Nicholson – Queer midwife and OBGYN advanced practice nurse
- Tom Pardoe – Sober leather daddy, titleholder & certified massage therapist
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Header photo is the painting “The Romans in their Decadence” by Thomas Couture (1847).