A Field Guide to Orgies
By Anna Pulley
Illustrated by Verity Slade
Attending a sex party for the first (or hundredth) time can be intimidating. Who will be there? What will they be like? Will I want to bang them? Will they want to bang me? Fear not! While humanity is vast and wily and unpredictable, and no two sex parties are the same, there is a reliable cast of characters* you’re likely to meet at any preplanned orgy. Refer to this handy list (perhaps laminate it and bring it with you) when you enter their native habitat.
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The Orgy Achiever
Identifiable characteristics: You will often hear the Orgy Achiever before you see them. Their orgasms are operatic, loud, lengthy, and frequent. Once spotted, you will note their ostentatious plumage and often Oscar-worthy costumes. Be nimble when tracking an OA! One minute they’re in the midst of an ecstatic mob of writhing bodies, and the next they’re upstairs, in a different room, and with an entirely different mob.
Courtship behavior: “Have you tried the Anxious Manatee?” they’ll ask you, explaining it’s a move they’ve perfected involving jujitsu, a monologue on animal rights, and the choreography to Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies.” Their determination to succeed is matched only by their unabashed enthusiasm. They have been to More Orgies Than You and are not shy about mentioning it repeatedly.
Mating ritual: You will love the Anxious Manatee. You will not be surprised when the Orgy Achiever is awarded a MacArthur Genius Grant for this innovative sex position, which later becomes a law in the state of Oregon.
Key learning: The Orgy Achiever likes two things: sex and accomplishment. Whether it’s orgasms, partners, or positions, the Orgy Achiever is in it to win it and to beat! their! personal! best! Luckily for you, partner pleasure is one of their goals, and they are goal-oriented.
The Extremely Open Couple
Identifiable characteristics: You’ll find the Extremely Open Couple doing one of three things: casually prowling the room for a threesome target, celebrating after a particularly zealous Eiffel Tower attempt, or processing in a hallway about “overstepped boundaries.”
Courtship behavior: “I can’t wait for you to see Joel’s dick!” Joel’s partner will exclaim casually, as if discussing succulent arrangements and not someone’s penis. That someone who’s standing right there, holding a tiny tray of Triscuits.
Mating ritual: Because the Extremely Open Couple rarely scores, when they do succeed, they will be so grateful and attentive to your desires that afterward you’ll feel like the erotic equivalent of a mint-condition Princess Diana Beanie Baby. They are also zealous about rules and consent and will ask for permission before touching your hand to shake it.
Key learning: Like Nutella, sex is fun to share. And can get very sticky.
Identifiable characteristics: You’ll recognize the Sextrepreneur by the swath of blue light illuminating her face from her smartphone. She’s there to find investors for her new app, Throuple Thrust, which turns first impressions into digital impressions.
Courtship behavior: “Are you in the market? Because I’d love to go DOW on you.” “Are you interested in the cloud? Cloud NINE?”
Mating ritual: Like any good start-up, she’s determined to give you a good ROI and make sure you have the best time possible. She’s also fantastic at ideating back-end value, if you catch our drift.
Key learning: The Sextrepreneur is merely a slight variant on the Introvert, one who has concocted a more complex ploy in order to feel comfortable. She wants to connect, but is caught in a capitalist web, like all of us.
The Bang Boss
Identifiable characteristics: The Bang Boss is everywhere. You’ll find them entertaining small crowds, teaching newbies how to do ethical and safe fire massage play, ensuring that everyone is engaging in enthusiastic consent, and all the while getting exuberantly laid themselves.
Courtship behavior: They have a ton of experience, know exactly what they are doing, and can fix anything. Don’t be surprised to find them appearing in a room as if by magic and assisting an orgy with a can of baked beans, 14 paper clips, and a lawn chair—What? you’ll wonder. A lawn chair? HOW? Yet it will somehow be exactly what was needed.
Mating ritual: As the host, the Bang Boss excels at anticipating and meeting your needs. If you’re shy, the Bang Boss will engage you in titillating conversation. If you’re crying, they will lend you their hankie, which also acts as a flag for whatever sex act they are into that night, one which you’ll soon be engaging in.
Key learning: The Bang Boss is often seen as a hero. And they are! They’ve created a space to bring fuckminded people together, facilitate connections, and abandon themselves to hedonism, but there’s more to it. They also want a guaranteed fuck. What better way to do it than by throwing a party and inviting everyone over?
Identifiable characteristics: Looks like a cat. Acts like a cat. Why is there a cat? We don’t know, but there almost always is one.
Courtship behavior: Using a lethal combination of aloof and cute, the Cat will challenge and confuse you. It will ignore your attentions until you give up, only to jump in your lap or knock your lube off the table at the most inopportune time. The Cat also loves to curl up in boxes. (Not that kind.)
Mating ritual: Pet the kitty. (Not like that.)
Key learning: The Cat is determined to live how it pleases. Chasing the Cat will teach you important lessons about life and relationships, such as how affection is a two-way street, how to gracefully handle rejection, and how following someone while crying, “Why won’t you love me?!” is not an effective strategy. For anything.
Identifiable characteristics: Naked. Promptly, even prematurely naked. It’s always strip o’clock for this one.
Courtship behavior: The Nudist excels at instigating then strategically losing clothing-removal games in creative ways. “If you’ve never played Strip World of Warcraft,” she’ll say enthusiastically, “you haven’t lived.”
Mating ritual: She loves her body, and all bodies, and will be so complimentary about yours that it will give you a newfound outlook and appreciation for your world-weary flesh. I DO have amazing forearms, you’ll think to yourself for weeks afterward.
Key learning: She just wants to be naked. It doesn’t matter if she gets laid. It doesn’t matter if anyone gets laid. She merely wants to be free of the oppression of fabric.
Identifiable characteristics: Wearing a hemp loincloth, with his hair in a French braid (a technique he learned from his 12 sisters and the single mom who raised him), the Emotionalist will be playing mournful steampunk on his didgeridoo.
Courtship behavior: “What is sex? I care only about connection.”
Mating ritual: The Emotionalist will engage your every faculty and perception. When “making love,” which is the only way he refers to sex, it will be accompanied by a musical playlist that has at least 600 songs, because that’s how long you deserve to be pleasured! He’ll subject your body to every texture and sensation imaginable. He’ll burn candles made with cruelty-free soy and lavender that he grew himself and feed you whipped cream that he churned by hand slowly and rhythmically for 48 hours under the light of a gibbous moon. By the end of the experience, the Emotionalist will have teased you to the point at which a gust of wind from a door closing somewhere in Idaho will be enough to make you come with banshee abandon.
Key learning: Avoid if you’re in a hurry. Fucking the Emotionalist takes anywhere from four hours to 13 years.
Identifiable characteristics: He’s often found on the stripper pole, often because he brought it there and installed it himself. He may also be hula-hooping, dangling precariously from aerial silks, or otherwise performing feats of derring-do. He's flexible in every meaning of the word, will have unbelievable stories about dating contortionists, and his hair color is most likely “unicorn.”
Courtship behavior: He needs none because everything he does is a “move.” Even watching him put spoons in a drawer will mesmerize you to a frenzied point of catatonic stasis.
Mating rituals: His imagination is as limber as his hamstrings. Are there no more available beds at the party? No problem. He’ll fuck you in a tree. He’ll fuck you in a tree while blindfolded with both arms tied behind his back and his torso in a tennis racket while he’s on fire. You will be as afraid as you are aroused, and it will be the most memorable sex you’ve ever had in your life. Which is good, because he’ll never call you again.
Key learning: The sex party is just a tick in the box of the Sexcrobat’s lifestyle brand. He happened to have a small break in between his time on the fire poi festival circuit, her doula practice, his AcroYoga intensives, spreading the word about her “DIY tattoo art for prisoners” nonprofit, and doing a first round of fundraising for his cannabis-infused fizzy water business.
Identifiable characteristics: She’s the one scrutinizing (and quietly judging) the host’s bookshelves (really? Infinite Jest?) and spending an inordinate amount of time trying to befriend the cat that is roaming around. To get over her shyness, the Introvert often brings props, like dental dams, to hand out. “But it’s grape flavor!” she’ll say to the cat, who sniffs the air disinterestedly and walks away.
Courtship behavior: You won’t know she’s hitting on you, because she’s so subtle about it, but if she doesn’t look you in the eye while asking you if she can compost those strawberry stems you’ve been recently eating off a lover’s navel, it’s not because she desperately cares about the earth (though she does!). It’s also because she’s hitting on you.
Mating rituals: The Introvert is incredibly selective, so if she chooses to give you her attention, she will REALLY give you her attention. Because trust is paramount and she gets laid approximately once every 80 sex parties, you can rest assured that the Introvert will be careful with your boundaries and be so, so eager to please you. She also knows when to be quiet.
Key learning: Her therapist told her she needs to “put herself out there” and “try new things.”
*Humanity is vast and wily and unpredictable...and then there’s gender and sexuality! This field guide to orgies embraces (literally) all forms of identification and expression that don’t harm others. Pronouns used in the guide are fluid, just like good lube and your roommate.