Burning Man: Sex on the Playa!

By: Gay.com
10.29.2008

By Bradford Noble
Sex On The Beach is a cocktail with vodka, peach Schnapps and some fruity juices thrown in for color. It's sweet and refreshingly thirst quenching in your mouth.

Sex on the "Playa" (a dry lake bed in the Nevada desert) is a cocktail of dust, sweat and unwashed bodies, with some fruity costumes thrown in for color. It's salty and chalky, and there's no water to wash out your mouth, ears, eyes, nose, or any other hole in your body. For these reasons I tend to avoid sexual encounters when I go to Burning Man. But not always.
(Photo: Steve Cabrera)

Burninghotphotostevecabrera (Photo: Steve Cabrera)
It's hard not to get horny when surrounded by so many beautiful boys running around naked, or scantily clad in colorful costumes (both gay and straight) and not want to grab and lick them like lollypops. The only hitch is everyone is coated with thick layers of playa dust, and various & sundry items ranging from skin protection to body paint. Being that there is NO running water in Black Rock City – Burning Man's yearly fabricated Brigadoon 75 miles outside Reno, which disappears leaving no trace - the boys tend to stay dirty for the week-long art festival and no amount of wet wiping can keep me from thinking I'm kissing a camel's ass. But that's just me.

Cuteburnerboys_3 (Photo: Steve Cabrera)
Instead of plunging into the prolific plethora of procurable porking at the wink of a brown eye, I suffice myself in the abundant visual stimuli with artistic expression in every eye-full. Sexually speaking however, a lot of "Burners" feel otherwise inclined when they visit The Man. Gay sex is rampant and often boundary-less, and this holds true for many straight boys who feel that if they are going to wear a little drag, they may as well live the role - at least experimentally. The Vegas mentality prevails in the mantra, "what happens on the playa, stays on the playa," and it can always be blamed on the drugs - even if none were taken.

Comfort_and_joy_camp_2 (Photo: Steve Cabrera)
While watching a writhing pile of naked bodies in the "AfterGlow" tent at camp Comfort & Joy, I got to thinking about what sexually motivates people when they go to Burning Man. So with my dusty micro-cassette recorder in hand and a fist full of double A's, I set out to find out how people think about sex on the playa.

"How about it Cabbage Head," I say to a beautifully tall boy wearing a lime-green mop for a wig, "are you feeling sexual here on the Playa?"

"Absolutely!" he says, shaking his green tendrils with vigor while watching the orgy.

"But what about the grimacing grime?" I retort, side stepping a gooey puddle of "moop" (matter out of place) on the dusty tent floor. "How do you deal with it?"

"I have plenty of antibacterial wet wipes in my tent, so we can use those to get clean before we have sex."

Fishartcar (Photo: Steve Cabrera)
"What about you Mac," I asked of my campmate later while peddling past an Art Car sculpted like a giant fish with three eyes and giant teeth, "Are you looking to hook up here?"

"I'm not planning on it," he said, "But if it happens, I'd be open to it."

"Would you go to a gay camp like 'Comfort & Joy' and have sex in the open, or in one of their circus tents while other people are having sex around you?"

"I think I'd have to be really drunk first, but you never know. I mean we're at Burning Man and it's my first time, so we might as well go big or go home."

"I'd like to have sex out on the desert," says another campmate Brian, eyeing his boyfriend Tim with a raised brow, "But not around all these people."

"I'm not into sand," piped in Tim. "It's a little too abrasive, unless packaged with some kind of moisturizer, like an exfoliating body scrub. Then again, perhaps lube would do."

Kittencalfreebydot (Photo: Dot)
Later I talked with Kitten Calfree (pictured)- one of the originators of camp Comfort & Joy - about his thoughts behind the anything-goes atmosphere . "We try to create a space where people are allowed to touch each other, but rather than letting it get too weird and cruisey, we do a lot to try and manage the energy in the space, like workshops where people can talk about sexuality in discussion groups.

The "man-scaping" workshop is one of the first things we do. It helps people open up because they get to be naked while getting groomed. It's warm and friendly, without being a jump-to-hard-core-sex club. It says 'you are worth cleaning up down there. Even if you aren't super beautiful, you are still worth paying attention to grooming.'

The other thing we do is provide entertainment. Yeah, there are still a lot of cuddle spaces, but we bust up the sexual energy with theatrical distractions. It's still okay to be naked with a hard-on, but it's more like a communal love-in, and less like a dark room where nobody talks."

"Are there any gay camps that are only about sex," I ask, "like Jiffy Lube camp with the slogan, 'Get in - Get off - Get out'?"

"Well, it's now called 'Stiffy Lube' because they got sued or something, but it's closed this year. Their whole thing was to set up a couple dark green army tents with a few cots, and throw some glow sticks on the floor. Very basic. I mean they might have had a couple events like a deep throating contest or something, but it was all about hard cock and sex, sex, sex.

Photocredit_dot_3621_2 (Photo: Dot)
We started Comfort & Joy sort of as a response to that. We wanted to create a gay lounge environment. It's surprising that in Black Rock City, with its 40 thousand inhabitants for the week, there really isn't very many cuddle tents where you could spill into after dancing, lay on something soft, and touch your naked Playa boyfriend without being treated strangely.

This year we sort of did an homage to 'Stiffy Lube,' since they were supposed to be next door to us and didn't show. People are still coming to our address because they're still in the Playa registry, so what we did was - in the smaller tent where we have yoga in the mornings, discussion groups during the day, and at night a hosted a game show - after eleven, we hang some curtains and throw some glow sticks on the floor. Presto! Instant Stiffy Lube. So people who want that 'dark room' experience can have it, and now everyone's happy. Meow."

Photocredit_dot_3284 (Photo: Dot)
After I got the low-down on the love-fest, who should I run into next in full clown face but Gregg Taylor, one of the originators of camp Stiffy Lube (may it rest in peace). I asked him about the now defunct gay sex-dive and he said, "The first year at Jiffy Lube we had a 'Hello Mr. Butthole – Anal Sex 101' seminar, and it was mostly straight couples, where the guys just wanted to get poked. That year we started with 25 couches in one big open army tent, behind it we had a little back-room inside a U-Haul truck. That first year it felt more like a community, then it just became a sex camp after that. I was shocked when I had a friend come out here and said, 'I just come to Burning Man to get laid.' I think that's so strange because there are so many other reasons to come, but it's not uncommon.

In the past, Burning Man used to be much more about sexual empowerment. Now it seems like it's become about sexual power."

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"The ideas of, 'I feel good about my body,' and 'Being naked is okay,' used to prevail. Now it's about assertion, and power and dominance, and 'You will look at me!' That's the difference between empowerment vs. power, two very diverse things.

Burning Man has changed a lot, it used to be about explosives and robots and geeky shop guys blowing shit up. The only two sex oriented camps were Bianca's Smut Shack, and us. Now, if you look at the program guide, half of it is sex-workshops, and the other half is relationship seminars."
(He sighs)
"No more robots."

2834710500_192641e57f_o (Photo: Eric Glaser)
A naked man named Tree stood rooted in a people watching spot long enough to grow on me. He told me, "This is my first year at Burning Man. What's amazing is that this environment provides opportunities for me to push myself in ways that I normally wouldn't do."

"How so?" I asked, toying with his twig.

"I'm certainly being more open to public nudity, or even being aroused in public… it just feels safe here. One thing I'm enjoying about Comfort & Joy is that it's a really sex positive space. I find that there are a lot of straight identified guys who will play around with boys here, where they wouldn't normally."

This held true later when I witnessed an erotic massage workshop, hosted by Dharma in the AfterGlow tent at Comfort & Joy, where a mix of gay and straight couples crowded together like sardines touching their partners to the point of orgasm - although this was not the point of the seminar.

Photocredit_dot_3579_2 (Photo: Dot)
About his experience at the workshop, photographer "Dot" commented, "The workshop was based on the Body Electric genital massage techniques, and focused on spreading sexual energy through the body rather than achieving orgasm.  Out of the 100 or so couples, about half were gay and half were straight.  At the beginning I could tell that some of the straight guys were a bit nervous about being naked (and erect) in front of other straight guys - let alone a bunch of gays – however, as the workshop proceeded, I felt that this fear completely dissipated. It was as if all of the masculine energy (both straight and gay) became synchronized together in our focused breathing.  When it was over, I felt there was a new understanding and unity between gays and straights by sharing such an intimate experience.  It was totally what Burning Man is all about."

A non-flirtatious muscular man named Gary told me, "I come to Burning Man to connect with myself and other people. There are so many other things to do, that sex becomes unimportant to me."

2833873499_612764f945_o_2 (Photo: Eric Glaser)
"Amen to that Gary." I said before donning my dust mask and goggles to head out onto the Playa for a "Critical Tits" after party in the middle of the Playa. In the land of Burning Man there is so much art to see, and music to dance to, that I found myself drawn away from the sexual allure of the boys in the AfterGlow tent.

"Then again," I thought to myself, "that cute blonde boy I was eyeing earlier is heading into the tent right now, maybe I'll stick around and partake in a 'seminar' or two."

Electricbubblekostumekult2
(Photo: Steve Cabrera)

Art_caratnight_dragonfly
(Photo: Steve Cabrera)

2834710760_122e9e1cc5_o(Photo: Eric Glaser)

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