Image by Helmut Newton, via.
As San Francisco prepares for next week’s joyous parade of gleeful brides and grooms to walk down the aisle — and SF’s flower shops lose their minds — it seems only fitting to dedicate this week’s column to sex and marriage. So as I prep to go to City Hall on tuesday and toss rose petals at the lines around the block and generally cry in happiness in the direction of a mazillion fiancees, I decided to look for solutions to the “sexless marriage”. Because you can buy as many hot sex books as you like, but until you find one that tells you exactly how to start sex once it’s stopped (or how to never let it stop, ever), all the Ultimate Guides in the world are just going to make very appealing bedroom coasters, and your sexual to-do list is only going to get longer. I hope you like My Big Fat Sexless Marriage, snip:
Ironically, my drink was called Vow Of Silence. Grinning evilly over my delicious Alembic cocktail, I leveled my gaze and stared directly into Patrick’s beautiful eyes. My handsome porn-star pal raised a recently waxed eyebrow in challenge. I asked, “So. what food do you eat if you want to eradicate your sex drive?”
We were tipsy, and feeling bitchy. “Oooh, I dunno. What?”
I paused and sipped for suspense. Finally I said, “Wedding cake!”
He erupted into peals of too-loud cackles, just as I’d expected. We had been drinking and talking shop — he was telling me stories about the gay porn industry’s use of performance enhancers while I cringed, giggled and imbibed. Then we’d drifted into the topic that eventually comes up in every San Francisco dinner conversation since May 15: yes, gay marriage, but more so, comparing notes in a who’s-doing-who to see which same-sex friends are — and aren’t — tying the knot. When Patrick brought it up we both got teary with excitement at first, and then quickly descended into snark. Some of our marriage-making lesbian and gay friends were, in fact, already married, and just happily taking the final step for legal reasons. We knew at least one couple who had broken up when gay marriage became legal — he had always told his lover that they’d do it if it became legal, and then when it did, could no longer put off commitment decisions by blaming the injustices of the law. Another couple we knew hadn’t had sex in a year, complained about it privately to each of us, and seemed about to break up — until they could legally get married. Now, we joked, it seemed these women could join the ranks of straight couples who make a big life change to “fix” the relationship: have a baby, buy a house, and now, get married. We wondered, why get married when you’re already sexless? Prompting my bad, bad joke.
And it is a joke, because I actually know more wedded, committed couples having hot, crazy, swinging-from-the-chandeliers sex than I know sexless pairings. And it’s not the San Francisco bubble, or the sex educator bubble, or the plastic sexier-than-thou attitudes of sex industry people I know. It’s the regular folks. OK, it’s the regular folks with rebellious spirits and slightly more open minds than some. But looking around at the bazillions of articles about how to “bring back the spark” in everyone’s presumably sexless marriages, it’s easy for me to be someone who loves sex, takes one look at a wedding dress, and runs the other direction in terror. I want cock rings, not wedding rings. Yet, I know plenty of people who have both. What the hell are they doing right, that some other people seem to be doing — well, not doing at all?
I decided to pester two people whose personal missions are to eradicate the sexless marriage, Felice Newman and Alison Tyler. Newman is a local sex educator, sexuality therapist for lesbian, gay, straight and bi couples, and an author who is working on a book about hot sex in lasting relationships. Since Newman’s upcoming workshop on the topic is aimed at lesbian couples, I had to ask her about something I’d heard of called “lesbian bed death”. I wondered, is it like “straight bed death?” (…read more!)