Sex in places where lovers run the risk of being caught can make sex a thrill ride that neither partner expected. But every good thing comes with a price.
By Joel Hersch
The following student sources have had their names changed to protect their identities.
Sex in alley ways. Sex in the woods. Sex in libraries, cars, parks and empty classrooms. Sex in bushes and even sex on buses.
Cultural norms traditionally make Sex something that most people prefer to keep behind closed doors, but some daring lovers choose to make sex in public another way to pump a burst of passion into their sex lives.
“I fantasize about public sex all the time,” said Hannah Burns, a senior at Chico State. “I’ve done it more than once and it’s a rush.”
One of her more fond sexual memories took place during a formal “boat dance” on the San Francisco Bay her freshman year of college, she said. She had been invited by a close guy-friend that attended Saint Mary’s college.
Everyone attending took a party bus to the marina where they boarded a big white ferry covered in Christmas lights, she said. At the end of the dance when they all got back to the marina, the same bus was their ride home.
“There were probably about 30 people on this bus and I was really into the guy I went with,” Burns said. “We knew we were going to get down later.”
Burns and her date sat near the back of the bus, she said. The sun was setting and everyone on board had drunk quite a bit; some couples were kissing in their seats completely oblivious to the other partygoers.
“We had been dancing all night on the boat and when we sat down I started grabbing his dick,” Burns said. “I really liked catching him by surprise.”
Burns’ date pulled her onto his lap and the next thing she knew they were having sex, she said. Knowing so many people were sitting around her while she was having sex was extremely exciting for her. It took a lot of effort for her be discreet so they wouldn’t be too incredibly obvious.
“When I was sitting on his lap I had to talk to people sitting in the seats in front of me,” Burns said. They must have known because whether you’re having crazy sex or just really slowly like we were, you can’t just talk like nothing’s going on.”
Later when they got back to Saint Mary’s the two found an unlocked classroom on the campus and had sex on a desk, she said. The perfect way to end a great night.
Having public sex is a way to embrace your sexuality, Burns said. It’s empowering because it’s not a socially acceptable thing to do. Sort of like how you’re not supposed to drink when you’re under 21 but you do because it’s taboo.
The spontaneity of it and not knowing if your going to get caught makes it a wild and exciting experience, she said. And that can make it more passionate.
“The feeling is, ‘I want to fuck you right here, right now,’ and all the emotions you have for each other just come out all at once,” Burns said. “Of course the feelings and passion you have for the other person are what make it good, but I always fantasize about getting caught.”
Often sex in out-of-norm places can be a heat of the moment decision.
Buddy Mathews, now a fifth year student at Chico State, was a freshman living in Whitney Hall when he found himself drunkenly walking home down Warner Street with another young freshman woman he had met that year, he said.
“It was kind of random,” he said. “Just another night in Chico getting pretty faded. It was like 2:30 a.m. on a Thursday and we were walking home from a party downtown.”
Despite it being so late people were still out and about walking to and from parties, he said.
“We were walking by Tehama Hall and she suddenly decided she wanted to get frisky right then and there,” Mathews said. “I was kind of hesitant because there were still people walking around everywhere.”
The young woman he was with pulled Mathews on to a patch of grass behind some bushes between Tehama hall and the sidewalk and started unbuttoning his pants.
Her initiative took Mathews by surprise at first and he couldn’t focus because he was so worried about other people seeing them, he said. The sex was some what awkward because they both had most of their clothes on and Mathews kept on hearing people walk by less than 5 feet away.
Right when Mathews started to get comfortable with the situation his adventurous friend started to get cold feet, he said.
“So then she started getting all stressed that we were going to get caught, so we stopped,” Mathews said. “It was definitely fun though. Scary at the time but awesome looking back.”
Mathews thought it was strange that the girl was the one that was determined to try out public sex but the first to chicken out, he said.
The things that cause people to get aroused can stem from many different life experiences.
Sometimes, especially with younger people like high school and college students, their first sexual experiences are in semi-public areas, not because they want to but for lack of a better option, said sociology of sexuality professor Liahna Gordon. For some people sex in a car or a park is as private as it gets.
Because sex in out-of-the-ordinary places can be associated with early sexual activity, it can become eroticised later on in life, she said. Primary sexual experiences can have a major impact on arousal later on in life.
It also, of course, has to do with the excitement in breaking social norms, which in a way challenges the “scripts” men and women adhere too, Gordon said.
“Sex is private and personal,” Gordon said. “Even though we see it in the media all the time, there’s still a sense of privacy around it. Sex in public places challenges those scripts and that can be very arousing.”
When sex happens in public places it tends to not be premeditated, so there is this sense that two people are so passionate for each other that they just can’t control it any longer, she said. That two people are so into each other that they are willing to take the risk of being caught so they can have sex right at that moment can be very arousing for both partners. The very fact that the other is willing to take the chance.
“There’s also something to be said for other people knowing you’re getting sex,” she said. “It’s cool and it’s also just a good story have.”
Many people are intrigued by the allure of sex in a public places but, after considering the pros and cons decide to not run the risk of being caught.
“It would be really fun,” said Kathy Ridder. “The chance of being caught could make it really hot. It’s a good way to spruce up your sex life but there is definitely a lot of risk involved. It’s something people tend to not plan out because if they thought about it more they’d realize there could be some pretty serious repercussions if they got busted.”
In fact there are repercussions that public lovers face if they are caught by the wrong people— the cops.
“People that have public sex are running the risk of getting busted for two crimes: indecent exposure and lewd conduct, which are both misdemeanors,” said Chico Police Sergeant Corinne Beck. “I personally have never charged anyone with doing that and we haven’t had a lot of cases with it, so it’s not something we put a lot of focus on.”
A lot of the charges would depend on just how public they were being and how indecently exposed they really were, she said. If people were caught on campus it could definitely land them in judicial affairs.
While public sex does hold its thrill factor for many couples, it does lack in some respects, said Liahna Gordon.
Public sex can be exhilarating but it’s not necessarily going to be the best sex, she said. It tends to be very fast so it’s not easy to have the time for the most intimate and deep connection with you’re partner. It also has the tendency to be unprotected sex.
“That rushed, raw sex can be a turn on,” Gordon said. “But at home a woman may be able to have 15 orgasms over the course of an afternoon. You won’t have the time for that on the fourth floor of the library. That kind of sex can be a lot of fun now and again but if it’s your regular M.O. you’re missing out.”
12:15 a.m. 12/15/09, Chico, CA.
Click here to read a story related to this article.